Consumers Spent How Much in App Stores Last Year? Damn.

MAU Vegas 2018


The mobile app marketing community descended on the desert in April at MAU Vegas 2018 for two days of growth, guacamole, and insane statistics.

It’s 7:00 am. The casino floor is quiet, but not silent. The slots still sing their hopes of big payouts. The Killers, the Vegas-born rock stars, whisper encouragement into hopeful ears, convincing those down on their luck into Mr. Brightsides. The bleary-eyed shuffle their chips, then place their bets. Then it happens.
The dice show seven. A jubilant shout. Blinking lights. An endorphin boost to stave off sleep for another hour. And a reminder to those of us who just woke up, on our way to MAU registration, that somewhere, someone is winning at all times, both at betting tables, as well as through killer mobile strategies that earn a place on our devices.
MAU Vegas 2018, the app marketing event hosted by, delivered on its annual promise to bring together the titans of industry to fuel our obsession with growth. And we certainly do continue to grow and win big. Here are some key lessons learned from MAU.

Mobile Transforms All Industries in All Geographies

Over six million apps are now available across Google Play and the iOS App Store. Those apps were downloaded over 175 billion times across the globe in 2017, a 60% increase from just two years ago. Consumers spent an eye-popping $86 billion in app stores last year, stemming from a greater share of wallets in developed economies, as well as broader adoption in emerging markets, including India, which surpassed the United States in downloads in 2017. Additional upcoming markets include Vietnam and Turkey.
Users now spend nearly three hours a day in apps, mobile becoming the first screen in many markets. In the United States, we average 80 apps on our smartphones, and use between 31 and 40 apps each month. Clearly, apps have evolved well beyond just a social messaging utility.
Whew, take a breath. Here’s some more crazy numbers.
There isn’t an industry that isn’t being transformed by apps, including the explosion we’re seeing in media and entertainment. Games comprise approximately 20% of time spent in mobile apps. Global rideshare revenues were estimated at $45 billion in 2017. Consumers spent 100 million hours in shopping apps during the weeks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Mobile sales reached $2 billion during 2017 Cyber Monday, surpassing desktop for the first time.
Mobile apps are everywhere, in all geographies and all industries. They are critical channels for customer interactions. And all trendlines are pointed up and to the right with plenty of runway in front of us.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Mobile data is merging. Many top brands now blend performance with brand metrics.
“There’s value in measuring beyond the numbers that are on a spreadsheet,” said Vivian Chang, Director of Digital Marketing at RetailMeNot. “The subjective measures really do matter.”
We learned that 83% of consumers buy from brands that align with their personal values. Metrics such as Brand Health ensure good long-term decisions are made for these discerning consumers, rather than only focusing on short-term performance. And these more qualitative measures are being looked at closely by both brand managers and digital owners to gauge sentiment.
“It’s possible to do both, and that’s what we’re increasingly trying to do with our media dollars and channel strategies,” said Chang.
In addition to brand sentiment, mobile marketers continue to look at the quantitative analytics and rigorous testing cultures that are the hallmarks of digital advertising. Incrementality through multi-touch attribution promises to find real-time leading indicators and predict user behavior along all user journey touch points.
The nuisances of cross-device, impression tracking, and transparency challenges marketers along this journey and drives them more and more to programmatic and visibility into all paths for getting an ad to a consumer.
“We’re all asking similar questions and demanding similar visibility,” Chang said. “That’s how this industry is going to move forward.”

AI Still Requires a Human Touch

While the Terminator reincarnates in Dolores Abernathy, currently conquering Westworld, mainstream consciousness again obsesses over robots taking over the world. It would be tone deaf to say automation does not displace an increasing number of tasks, but the ghost in the machine is still largely science fiction.
AI is essentially just multiplication done many times in a row really freaking fast. Great for reporting. Not great for concepting how to market a product, informing marketers what channels to buy on, or crafting good creative.
“Creative is king,” said Google’s Patrick McGuigan, who spoke in-depth about how to effectively scale apps on UAC. “With that in mind, the first thing you need to think about is coverage.”
Coverage means having as many different kinds of assets in place as possible. If a UAC account has only a half-dozen images and a few videos, it’s difficult to determine whether the tool is effective. UAC requires a full gamut of assets and aspect ratios to produce winning creative. And that takes people to make.

Mobile Is Kind of a Big Deal

If you go to Vegas and don’t party like Ron Burgandy, you’re doing it wrong. If you attend MAU, you better not be ready for a party, but for multiple parties.
TMGA was a proud Bronze Sponsor of MAU Vegas 2018, talking serious business over grade A sushi, facilitating convos with brand marketers at the spa set against the pool and palms, and co-hosting multiple happy hour events. Is there a better way to secure new business partnerships than over chips and guac with a gin and tonic, overlooking the Bellagio fountains? There is not.
Well, maybe there was one slightly better setting. The InMobi SkyLOFT Suite Party at the MGM Grand perched high above the parallel universes on Las Vegas Boulevard. The “loft” was more like a two-story palace with many leather-bound books and smelled of rich mahogany. Rumor has it, it’s where Barbra Streisand stays when in town to serenade the Strip.
Regardless of the stage, all of us at MAU won the day, if not at the craps table, then certainly with new knowledge and friendships to take our app marketing strategies closer to our customers and their passions.

Are you interested in a blueprint to optimize your app marketing strategy?
Let’s chat. Drop TMGA a note at to get started on acquiring and engaging more users.




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