Mobile Technology Predictions For The App Economy In 2016

Partner Post - Appnext Monetization platform for native app discovery

Posted: January 20, 2016


Elad Natanson has more than 15 years experience founding companies in the digital space focusing on the future of the internet, mobile user experience, product and revenue models. He has founded companies in various fields: online advertising, gaming, Internet services, downloadable software including Prime Gaming, Active Labs, Whoislive and more. Currently he is the co-founder of Appnext, a monetization and app distribution platform, exclusively dedicated to building mobile businesses by promoting apps.


Greetings, dear readers! It’s the start of a new year, and that means in addition to reminiscing about the holiday season, we can engage in another time-honored new year tradition: making predictions for 2016! Rather than just offering up my own ideas, I decided it would be more fun and interesting to reach out to a variety of other mobile industry CEOs to get their predictions on what will be hot in the mobile economy in 2016 and what current trends/paradigms are on their way out.

I managed to get valuable insights from some very knowledgeable people, and sure enough, a few common themes and ideas emerged. With six contributors, this column is going to run longer than usual. So kick back, grab a cup of egg nog (or other warm beverage), and enjoy!

1. Sheng Fu, CEO of Cheetah Mobile


Cheetah Mobile is a mobile app developer headquartered in China. Its mission-critical applications, including Clean Master, CM Security, Battery Doctor and Photo Grid, help make the Internet and mobile experiences speedier, simpler, and safer for users worldwide. As of September 2015, Cheetah had over 567 million monthly active users.

What are your predictions for the mobile ecosystem in 2016?

I see 2016 being the year in which native ads really come into their own and in-app advertising really starts to define the industry. It will become clearer next year that native mobile ads are the future of app monetization. In-app ads shouldn’t be a distraction, they should enhance the experience and naturally live alongside the content.

What will be the hot topics in mobile next year?

Technology is constantly in a race towards being more personal. How can it be simpler, how can it help you more, and, even in terms of hardware, how can it look better. Technology is already “smart,” but smarter virtual assistants, better health coaching, and even more personalized and relevant ads will definitely be hot topics in 2016.

Wearables are the most obvious evidence of a more personal technology push, but I think that type of thinking will spread wider and integrate in lots of new products.

What trends will fade into the background in 2016?

Computing performance on mobile devices will reach a high enough level in 2016 where users can pay less attention to it. Many users rely on phones as their main computing device, and in some cases, such as emerging markets, phones are users’ only computing device. As phones approach PC-level performance, app developers can spend more time focusing on building creative new uses for our phones instead of getting hung up on everything a phone can’t do.

2. Matan Talmi, CEO and co-founder of Drippler


Drippler’s discovery app inspires people to make the most of their tech and apps, by providing personalized tips and recommendations. Drippler has been featured by Google, Apple, Samsung, Verizon and AT&T, and was selected by Google as one of the Must-Have Apps of 2015.

What are your predictions for the mobile ecosystem in 2016?

Big data – more and more companies will start leveraging big data to provide better experiences.

Commerce – time and spend will drastically shift from desktop to mobile apps, opening up room for big and small players alike to massively grow on mobile.

In your opinion, what will be hot topics in the mobile landscape in 2016?

Video – 2015 was just the beginning; everything video will grow on mobile as users get bigger data plans and faster streaming rates.

What trends will fade into the background in 2016?

Incentivized installs – ultimately the app stores need to surface quality apps and are working hard to do so, and as a result, app marketers will find it less rewarding to use incentivized installs to boost organic discovery.

3. Dennis Crowley, CEO and co-founder of Foursquare


In 2009, Foursquare launched check-in and real-time location sharing with friends. Five years later, the company decided to give the check-in its own app. Swarm is the fastest and easiest way to keep up and meet up with friends.

What are your predictions for the mobile ecosystem in 2016?

For years, we’ve been watching apps get smarter and smarter while running in the background on your phone. In 2016, I think we’re going to see innovation among the “invisible apps” – apps that run in the background on your phone and provide proactive and contextual notifications. Interactions with these apps will also become increasingly conversational. In a world where apps know where you are, your schedule, your closest friends, and your favorite things, really magical things can happen.

4. Derek Ting, CEO of TextNow


TextNow is making mobile phone service ultra-affordable through its unique cloud based technology. Through TextNow Wireless and the freeTextNow app, the company provides millions of users a better and more affordable alternative to traditional wireless plans and services.

What are your predictions for the mobile ecosystem in 2016?

As the market matures, there will be a lot more focus on engagement and retention of users vs. just acquisition of users.

As Apple continues to crack down manipulation of the rankings and incentivized downloads, there will be even more emphasis now on a value of a download vs. how much a download costs in terms of marketing.

Android phones will get better and much cheaper (high resolution screens, more powerful, more memory for fraction of the cost).

In your opinion, what will be hot topics in the mobile landscape in 2016?

As we head into 2016, new technologies and trends will greatly influence the decisions that developers and consumers alike will make as users have more choices in the content and devices they engage with. Strategies to maximize the value of a user once they’ve downloaded an app, how to engage and retain the user, will become increasingly important to app developers. We’ll start to see new monetization strategies focusing more on new forms of native advertising that go beyond just the traditional banner ad. New technologies that help leverage 3D user interfaces such as Apple’s 3D touch and curved screens will come to the surface. And as users become even more mobile, consumer adoption of mobile payments has reached a tipping point. Tap-and-go services that leverage Near Field Communications (NFC) like Android Pay and Google Wallet will start to permeate, leaving retail businesses to focus on an easier checkout to help increase sales. In order to understand and respond to consumers who are constantly on the move from device to device, cross platform user experience will become critical – how we follow users as they transition from desktop to mobile and vice versa.

What trends will fade into the background in 2016?

Topics that are losing steam include ones that only take into consideration number and rankings. 2016 will be the year of real engagement. Trends like manipulating and reverse engineering App Store ranking algorithms, minimizing CPI while maximizing downloads (as noted above, retention and engagement will become more important than simple download numbers), incentivized downloads and rewarded ads, and traditional banner and display ads are all fading into the background and soon becoming strategies of yesterday.

5. Ross McCray, CEO and co-founder of VideoAmp


VideoAmp develops technology that enables advertisers and media owners to transact seamlessly across devices and has developed the world’s first Screen Optimization Platform. VideoAmp’s Screen Optimization Platform enables advertisers the ability to plan, buy and measure deduplicated and precise audiences across linear, VOD, OTT, desktop, and mobile content.

In your opinion, what will be hot topics in the mobile landscape in 2016?

No longer just for game and app downloads. Mobile provides the unique ability to drive immediate user actions. In 2016, brands will utilize CPI metrics to formulate implantation strategies and contribute to overall campaign impact.

Video within app experiences can tell brand stories while creating calls to action in a way that other mediums can’t match. When you combine the reach of mobile apps with data that can be connected to a device graph, mobile video with CPI takes on new strategic value to advertisers. More brands will create app content to engage their customers and continue the trend of brands becoming publishers.

Advanced TV advertising will become defined by the users and advertisers. Brands want to be able to buy advertising across multiple screens and using their own data. This allows them to reach customers with more precise uses of creative on the appropriate screen. Audiences have better viewing experiences with advertising frequency management and relevant messaging.

6. Oren Kaniel, CEO of Appsflyer


AppsFlyer is a leading mobile advertising attribution and analytics platform that enables app marketers, brands and ad agencies to optimize their marketing spend by measuring their campaigns across more than 1,000 integrated mobile ad networks, including Facebook, Google and Twitter.

In your opinion, what will be hot topics in the mobile landscape in 2016?

In the 2015 Superbowl, Kate Upton and Liam Neeson made memorable appearances in TV ads for Game of War and Clash of Clans, respectively. As the mobile landscape becomes more and more saturated and costly, marketers will increasingly turn to TV to drive reach (where they will find 285 million viewers in the US alone). Since 84% of us are watching TV with a second screen in hand, app install ads on TV are a great fit. And you don’t need millions to do it. There’s actually a lot of flexibility when it comes to setting a budget for a TV campaign.

Best of all, the impact of TV ads can be measured. And I’m not even talking about smart TV. This is done by tracking an install time stamp and attributing credit for the install to a TV ad that aired during or before the user downloaded the app (within a predetermined time frame – usually several minutes). When measured, TV commercials lead users to download apps with uplifts ranging from 56 to 74% during the ad airing and 10 minutes after the airing.

Despite all the talk of cross-device and omni-channel measurement, the reality is that many marketers have yet to ‘nail’ measurement of their own app. A recent eConsultancy/Adobe survey found that no less than 50% of marketers do not even measure mobile engagement and ROI at all, while only 40% measure app revenue.

The good news is that we expect this to change in 2016 as more and more marketers adopt a mobile-first strategy and focus on measuring in-app activity and ROI. We’re already seeing top media sources like Facebook, Google, Twitter, AdColony, Chartboost, and Vungle pass cost data so that marketers can measure their mobile marketing ROI, and we expect many more to follow their lead in 2016.

What trends will fade into the background in 2015?

Fact is that attribution and even in-app tracking will no longer become a viable option for networks to perform on their own. How come? First, because advertisers demand independent measurement solutions and when you have a party that has financial interest at stake, it’s only natural for marketers to be weary of first party reporting. Second, app owners want to offer their users the best possible experience, which is why they want to minimize the number of SDKs in their apps to boost performance. Third, more and more networks realize that it’s not worth investing resources into something that is not their core product.

However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t squeeze the data lemon for optimization. They certainly will, at least the smart ones among them. It’s just that the data will come from third parties.


Wow, those are very insightful perspectives! I’d just like to add my own. As Sheng said, I expect the explosive rise of mobile native ads to continue in 2016. We will see more apps opening their ‘indexing gates’ and deep links will guide our users deeper into a world of rich in-app content. App monetization platforms such as Appnext use contextually relevant data to suggested more relevant advertising or content to users. Native ads will become a natural part of the app experience while coexisting harmoniously with sponsored and related content from other apps.

As Derek and Oren asserted, I think a key shift this coming year in mobile will be from user acquisition/install quantity to user engagement/install quality. This means going away from tactics to drive low-quality user installs, such as incentivized installs, and finding better ways to acquire more organic, high-quality users who will stay engaged longer. Ad campaigns will be modified to produce more engaged users and analytics will be tuned to better measure their impact in terms of long term ROI.

Finally, as both Ross and Matan pointed out, 2016 is the year when mobile video is going to grow even more significantly, as computing power and network bandwidth become less constraining. As Ross pointed out, video will become a primary method for large brands to market themselves on mobile, and combining video with specific calls to action to engage with branded app content will become a powerful new strategy for brands to connect with their customers. As both Ross and Derek pointed out, video will be a cornerstone of cross-platform campaigns for major brands, where they will develop more integrated and “holistic” approaches to the multi-screen user experience.

Whew! That’s it! I hope you had a great year and have enjoyed reading about the mobile economy. I look forward to sharing more with you in 2016. Happy new year!

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