App marketers seeking to find new users face a pernicious enemy: friction. This friction can come in two types – mental and physical – and both can have a large negative impact on UA campaigns. Fortunately, there is a hidden movement, a friction fighting cottage industry, that is actively developing solutions that eradicate both types of friction. Success for marketers will be tied to how quickly they participate and test in the solutions developed by this movement.

Friction, friction and more friction

Today’s app market sometimes feels rife with contradictions. Everywhere we look we see consumers using apps on their phones. Yet, per comScore, 67% of consumers say they don’t install apps. Why? Using a familiar app is easy; discovering new ones requires users to overcome fiction at critical junctures in the UA process. Let’s look at them in detail.

Mental Friction: Quite simply, a mind in motion tends to stay in motion. To win consumer attention means interrupting active engagement with something else – a social feed or piece of content. Which means that seeing an ad is hardly enough. The consumer has to believe that stopping what they are doing will deliver on the promise of something better. And consumer skepticism, borne of experience, is real. According to the Singular 2020 Mobile App Economy Report, the app uninstall rate now stands at 52.25%. It’s also costly to the marketer, as the price for acquiring an ultimate user is doubled.

Physical Friction: Even when people overcome the hurdles of mental friction, they still need to complete a series of swipes, taps, waits, and more to install it. Abandonment rates for app installs currently top 80%. And with all the friction that lies between the ad and the ultimate install, this isn’t a big surprise. The App Store itself is filled with competitive noise and other potential distractions that could cause a user to lose focus. And that’s the operative word.

Successful UA requires advertisers to find a way to gain consumer focus and then maintain it throughout a process filled with distractions and a potentially less than appealing reward. This is why finding methods that eliminate these friction points in some form or fashion is paramount in building campaigns.

The cottage industry that’s battling this friction

Every day we see new innovations in app advertising that when mixed and matched can go a long way in tackling these points of friction. There’s no one player or platform leading the battle against user friction, rather there is a cottage industry offering solutions that are aimed at eliminating some, if not all, of these UA sticking points. Here are some that we’ve seen have recent success:

Playable Ads: These interactive ads “cut through the noise” and allow a user to see very quickly how an app works through a 10-30 second experience – whether it’s a gaming app or not. This can help soothe the mental friction since it can demonstrate different parts of the app that the user might desire.

Instant Apps: Google’s “Play Instant” allows users to sample apps without actually installing it directly from the play store. These allow people to get the app experience without the full physical friction (eliminating the wait to download and install). From a mental standpoint, instant apps give users access to a greater range of the app’s functionality giving a better sense of its usefulness.

Rich Notifications: These engagements allow app marketers to add images, video, or sound to the formerly simple text push notification. While users have come to ignore in the clutter of notifications, rich notifications have been shown to improve engagement by 56%. This helps with the mental friction since the result is a more engaging option.

Preloads: Carriers and OEMs will now select desirable apps for their users and have them installed on the device to be available to users right from day 1 of their phone purchase. Preloads eliminate the mental and physical friction points in that the consumer isn’t interrupted from another activity nor do they have to go through the swipes, taps, and waits of a normal install process.

More innovation is coming

As the market starts to adapt to these solutions, many more will emerge. Savvy marketers will stay in tune to new emerging technologies and see which ones best eliminates the mental and physical frictions that clutter the current UA process. The key is to make use of a variety of strategies and find the right mix to reach their desired audience.

But before jumping in, make sure that you have a plan to test wisely. As new solutions come out, traditional metrics may not apply. Click rates might not apply if abandonment rates are high. And installs might not matter, if apps are being uninstalled at a high rate. Find the metrics that help you meet your end goal – which is finding long-term users of your app.