Whether you believe 2020 is the start of the new decade or not — it’s a touchy subject, we know — there’s no denying that the past 10 years (and near entire lifespan of mobile) have been full of changes and advancements. Each year, the iOS App Store and Google Play set new records, beating their accomplishments from the year before. In Q3 of 2019 alone, mobile consumers spent nearly $22 billion on apps in both stores, a 23% increase from Q3 2018.¹ 2019 was a game-changing year for the mobile industry and AdAction; last year we delivered over 80 million conversions across mobile, mobile web, and desktop in over 250 countries! With new subscription services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass, the Battle of Streaming Services, and social apps like TikTok closing the gap between entertainment and social media, there was no shortage of surprises and innovations. While we’re fresh into 2020, let’s see how some of our 2019 predictions played out and what we can expect this year.

More Subscription-Based Apps

Last year we predicted that subscription-based apps would continue contributing to the growth of consumer spend in app stores, and we weren’t wrong. Of the top 10 grossing non-game apps for Q3 2019, eight of them offered subscriptions.² This was largely due to streaming services. Veteran players offered more original series and movies, and newcomers offered exclusive, fresh content (hello, Baby Yoda). This year, App Annie forecasts that consumers will spend around 680 billion hours in these entertainment and video player apps on Android phones alone, an increase of nearly 560 billion hours from 2019.³ 

Let’s not forget about another familiar face at the subscription party; mobile games. Last year we were introduced to Apple Arcade, a set of exclusive games at a fixed-fee, and Google Play Pass, a subscription to games also available on Google Play. These services offer developers more freedom with their game mechanics and give games an additional revenue stream, complementary to existing in-app purchases and advertising. This year, global consumer spend on games is expected to reach $75 billion, so we think these services will remain a key component to mobile gaming strategy.³  Our subscription prediction for 2020: More streaming services are making their debut this year, like Peacock and HBO Max, and will need to offer exclusive and original content to be competitive in the saturated space. These services will likely form partnerships to create subscription bundles and attract more users. On the gaming side, both Google Play Pass and Apple Arcade continue to add more to their catalogs and could inspire competition from other rivals who want to get in on the subscription fun. 

Users Expecting Personalization

Last year, Artificial Intelligence became more accessible to mobile marketers and we thought it would be used even more to help with personalization. Well, we weren’t really right or wrong. Yes, apps continued to personalize user experiences, but users also placed a stronger emphasis on privacy while still expecting relevant and personalized messaging. According to a recent study, 51% of marketers are being more mindful about balancing personalization with privacy, but only 30% are satisfied with their ability to do so.⁴ Our personalization prediction for 2020: We think this balancing act will stick around this year, as marketers hope to keep their users engaged while respecting their privacy and trust. Marketers will also act smaller when leveraging personalization to be the most beneficial for users, rather than intrusive.  

The Arrival of 5G Networks

5G…the biggest tease of 2019. Like many, we were prepared for the rollout of 5G last year and are looking forward to coverage expanding in 2020. The network’s faster speeds and lower latency will go hand-in-hand with the increase of video streaming, and will also be leveraged by mobile games. Once carriers fully roll out 5G and users purchase compatible smartphones, marketers should incorporate higher quality and more interactive creative formats in their mobile marketing campaigns. Our 5G prediction for 2020: Engagement in mobile gaming will increase, especially online multiplayer games, with better connectivity among players. 

2019 was full of transformation and growth for both the industry and AdAction. We even developed a new product offering: AdGem, our proprietary rewarded monetization platform that provides conversions at volume, driving engagement at all stages of the user journey.  If you’re interested in leveraging any of these trends in your 2020 strategy, or if you want to learn more about how we can collaborate on a custom performance marketing plan, start here. Stay tuned for Part 2 where our mobile experts will cover even more trends and predictions for the year ahead! 

Sources: 
1. https://sensortower.com/blog/app-revenue-and-downloads-q3-2019
2. https://techcrunch.com/2019/10/10/app-revenue-climbs-23-year-over-year-to-21-9b-in-q3/
3. https://venturebeat.com/2019/11/13/app-annie-5-predictions-for-mobile-app-and-gaming-success-in-2020/
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddoty/2019/08/13/a-reality-check-on-advertising-relevancy-and-personalization

About AdAction Interactive
Driving 300+ million installs since May 2013, AdAction is the mobile app industry’s leading performance-based marketing platform with over 320% average year-over-year growth. Our team of experts deliver over 6 million monthly conversions for Fortune 100 companies and elite agencies, including exclusive partnerships with top media sources around the world.

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