App Monetization Trends 2020

Changing App Economics Affect Advertiser Options

Executive Summary

The coronavirus pandemic and changes set to take effect in iOS 14 are the latest shocks to the app ecosystem. With people spending more time on smartphones—and more money while on them—app economics continue to evolve. With these changes, advertising options will evolve as well.

What effect has the pandemic had on app monetization?

The pandemic has resulted in reduced advertiser spending overall, leading to lower growth of in-app ad spending despite significantly higher numbers of ad placements. At the same time, it has increased and redistributed mobile time toward social media, video streaming, gaming, health and fitness, and news apps—and away from travel-related activities.

Have consumer preferences for different monetization strategies changed?

Consumers are more apt to sign up for subscriptions and accept hybrid models of monetization—a combination of in-app purchases and in-app advertising. Hybrid models make it more important for publishers and advertisers to design and deliver ads based on the type of user of an app.

How will iOS 14 change monetization calculations for developers?

The loss of data tracking across apps in iOS 14 will likely lower cost per thousand (CPM) pricing and make personalized advertising much more difficult. This in turn will make first-party data and immersive ad units more valuable.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report looks at three major changes to the app economy and how advertisers should think about them.

KEY STAT: Although subscription mobile app installs have been up across most categories over the past year, only 2% of mobile games offer them.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. App Publishers Face New Economics
  3. The Pandemic-Driven Mobile Consumption Explosion
  4. A Rebound for Nonadvertising Monetization
  1. iOS Reshapes the App Economy with iOS 14
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. eMarketer Interviews
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Interviewed for This Report

Jeremy Bondy
Chief Operating Officer
Interviewed July 31, 2020
Benjamin Chen
Executive Vice President and General Manager, Global Developer Relations
Interviewed July 29, 2020
Tobias Dengel
WillowTree, Inc.
Interviewed August 17, 2020
Luc Dumont
Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
Interviewed July 25, 2020
Paulina Klimenko
Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development, General Manager, Mobile
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Ted Krantz
App Annie
Interviewed August 4, 2020
Paul Müller
Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer
Interviewed July 22, 2020
Jude O’Connor
General Manager, Brand, North America
Interviewed June 3, 2020
Anala Prabhu
Growth Product Marketing Manager, Facebook Audience Network
Interviewed June 25, 2020
Abeer Raza
Founding Partner and CMO
Interviewed August 18, 2020
Shani Rosenfelder
Head of Content and Mobile Insights
Interviewed August 5, 2020
Bryta Schulz
Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed July 31, 2020
Mada Seghete
Branch Metrics
Interviewed July 30, 2020
Albert Thompson
Walton Isaacson
Managing Director, Digital
Interviewed June 17, 2020
Natalia Vasilyeva
Vice President, Marketing
Interviewed August 10, 2020
Ted Verani
Vice President, Global Business Development
Interviewed July 27, 2020
Alex Austin
Branch Metrics
Co-Founder and CEO
Interviewed July 30, 2020

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Yoram Wurmser


Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Chris Keating
Research Director
Jennifer Pearson
VP, Research
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst

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