Why marketers in India must harness alternative app stores to tap greater audiences

Ashwin Shekhar, Co-Founder, Avow, writes that there has never been a better time for mobile marketers to gain a competitive edge over Google and Apple, by using mobile OEM advertising

BestMediaInfo Bureau
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Why marketers in India must harness alternative app stores to tap greater audiences

Ashwin Shekhar

With more than 80 million subscribers, six million of whom are paying users, the EdTech unicorn Byju’s is the second most valuable startup in India. Have you ever wondered, what has been its marketing mix mantra to acquire these users? Well, adding mobile OEM marketing to the mix (which by itself fuels more than 80% reach of android devices in India), resulted in amassing over 300k new app installations and over 30% app registrations for their top courses.

Joining the same strategy, some of India’s leading D2C companies like Amazon Prime, Unacademy, Upgrad, Moneytap, Avail and WazirX are also leveraging mobile OEM marketing. Their aim is to expand their mobile consumer base and achieve incremental user growth and engagement outside of their investment in Google, Facebook and other 3rd Party Networks.

Now, let’s remember that on average, 1,153 new apps are released daily on the App Store and 3,119 new apps each day on the Google Play Store. For the marketers responsible for such apps, acquiring high-value users while investing in the right combination of advertising channels is the most important task. The fact that the unchallenged oligopoly of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon (also named GAFA), currently owns more than 70% of the total digital marketing expenditure, is a major root cause underlining the struggles and limitations mobile marketers face when pushing for greater visibility and meeting their user acquisition targets.

Mobile OEMs like Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Huawei, and OnePlus, who manufacture and commercialise their brand smartphones globally, have launched their own app stores to offer device users a premium alternative channel to download apps. Such development has a direct impact on what is now offered for advertising budget holders, who can now access untapped placements that can help them to achieve their user acquisition goals.

Let’s pause for a minute to take stock of these OEMs’ market standing. As of March ‘22, Xiaomi was leading the smartphone market in India with 26.42% share followed by Samsung with 17.49% market share (source- Statcounter). Within this space, the Android Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as Oppo (Realme and OnePlus), Vivo, Samsung, and Xiaomi occupy 75% of the market share with 2.8 billion active users. Based on these figures, there is a plethora of opportunities for marketers who tap the vast distribution avenues offered by alternative app stores and their wide range of targeting capabilities and formats.

With these insights in mind, it is safe to say that there has never been a better time for mobile marketers to gain a competitive edge  over Google and Apple, by using these three main advantages provided by mobile OEM advertising:

1) Mobile OEMs offer a fully fraud-free user-acquisition ecosystem and a safe alternative to the overcrowded GAFA app stores. There are no additional layers between the budget holder and the OEM, and reach advertising placements are fully controlled by the OEM. Companies such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo and Oppo are directly distributing applications to their customers via their own dedicated stores. This is a great value add against the backdrop of them enabling marketers to grow on a global scale by reaching new audiences and accessing new markets- helping them achieve their growth goals.

2) Mobile OEMs offer access to untapped markets at better pricing. They assist marketers in reaching their acquisition targets by offering a flexible CPI (Cost Per Install) pricing model, whereas third party ad networks such as Google and Facebook have rigid pricing structures which cannibalize app developers from leveraging ad inventories to grow and scale further. 

3) Last but certainly not the least, Mobile OEMs empower marketers to build trust with their audience. Users who are brand-loyal to the OEM will view ads as more trustworthy and relatable.

So what is the best route for app developers, brands and marketers  to take while engaging with mobile OEMs?

While it can be challenging to steer through the various platforms and offerings of each alternative app store, the long-term benefits that marketers gain when they choose to work with mobile OEM advertising outweigh the hassle .

The best approach is partnering with a specialist in mobile OEM on-device user acquisition to function as an extension of the app developers’ in-house marketing team, and to manage all various mobile OEM channels and activities with a holistic approach.

A specialised agency provides a consultative approach through the whole campaign cycle - from getting the app listed on the different app stores and setting up tracking, to its distribution, performance analysis and optimization. Working with such experts directly becomes a game changer towards expanding the app’s reach and unlocking new revenue streams.

As businesses strive to flourish in the post pandemic world, mobile marketers need to leverage alternatives to the mainstream platforms and to get the competitive edge they need to stand out in the noisy mobile app arena. Mobile OEMs are the only viable alternative in mobile marketing to tap into a new user base outside the mainstream and by default should be considered as part of every marketer’s marketing mix.

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