Blog

September 10, 2013

Measurement in the Evolving App Environment

By: Sherwood Pengel

comScore Digital Analytix® is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to measure and optimize your digital properties, especially across emerging channels like the mobile app environment. At comScore, we partner with top digital brands experimenting with innovative digital strategies to drive user engagement. And it’s because of these partnerships that we’re able to identify and address new developments in digital measurement early on.

Recently, a leading U.S. news publisher helped us uncover a surprisingly common issue with double-counting unique browsers across mobile applications. Double-counting browsers can cascade across all of your metrics and result in incorrect analysis of how your apps are actually performing. Does your organization have multiple mobile apps? If you answered “Yes” (or if you are even considering it)…keep reading.

The double-counting dilemma

A news publisher often develops multiple mobile applications – for example, one for Breaking News, one for Sports, one for Entertainment, and so on. Content publishers, analysts, marketers and executives within the organization will then evaluate performance of their apps by looking at data both individually by app and also in aggregate across apps.

For example, they need to know how many unique browsers viewed their Sports app today. How many downloaded the Breaking News app? How many stories did they read in the Entertainment app? But they also want to know total unique browsers across all of their apps and answer questions like: What is the most popular combination of apps downloaded by browsers? Which browsers are consuming the most content? In which apps should we focus on monetization?

It’s in the analysis of cross-app analytics that you may have a problem. The speedy evolution of new digital technologies is great for providing new ways to reach and connect with customers. But it’s also these new technologies and development environments that create challenges on the back-end when you’re trying to analyze performance and make digital investment decisions for the future.

Why your numbers may be misleading

Let’s take iOS as an example. If all of your apps were developed as native applications in the Xcode development environment, you might not have an issue. Apple provides access to IDs that allow identifying the device uniquely across applications on the same device. You can use these IDs in your apps to single out unique browsers. Multiple apps on a device = one unique browser across apps.

However, if you’ve developed multiple apps over time in different development environments (which is very common), you’ve likely got measurement trouble. For example, a device with one app developed in Xcode and one app developed in JavaScript/CSS/HTML5 can end up showing two unique browsers across apps. And certain app development environments will always show multiple browsers for multiple apps downloaded on the same device. For example, Adobe AIR applications running inside a runtime environment don’t allow direct access to the unique IDs that are available in the native applications and cannot share generated IDs between applications.

What you can do

To address this issue, comScore and its clients are harnessing the flexible architecture proprietary to Digital Analytix to unify browsers within the Digital Analytix platform using shared data identifiers provided by our clients. Using the unlimited custom variable capacity of Digital Analytix, clients can add a shared key or piece of information – like a login ID – which their customers will use across applications. This shared key can then be unified using the unique browser stitching capability in Digital Analytix.  No more miscounting of unique browsers across apps. No more erroneous analysis of your digital channels.

To take advantage of these capabilities in Digital Analytix and ensure your mobile app measurements are accurate, contact your comScore representative. If you’ve note yet a Digital Analytix customer, learn more by contacting us today.

Tags: Apps, Mobile, Smartphone, Tablets, Web Analytics