Observations on App Marketing in India from ad:tech New Delhi (2017)

By John Koetsier March 17, 2017

I absolutely love visiting and doing business the the Indian app industry, and the incredible dynamics inherent in app marketing in India. While we established a sizeable local team based in Bangalore, India in 2016, I continue to stay deeply involved with our Indian mobile app clients and prospects in this market. This year, I again had the good fortune to attend ad:tech New Delhi, India, the biggest digital event in the subcontinent. Given the importance of the Indian market for the iOS and Android app industry, I thought I’d jot down a few notes and observations from our exhibition and our more than 1000 conversations with clients, prospects and partners.

The incredible dynamism in this market is both inspiring and addicting. Every time I visit, I get to learn more and have new experiences that keep me so passionate about this marketing and innovation hotspot.

Continued Mobile Application Industry Dynamism in India

Apps continue to propel the Indian digital economy. Not surprising given the amazing growth in smartphone penetration we’ve seen over the past several years, and which we expect to continue.

Some estimates are that smartphones in use in India have actually crossed the 300 million mark. That’s about 50% more than there are in the US these days, and the market is really just getting started!

Given how apps drive a higher quality user experience than mobile websites, it’s natural that apps continue to be an area of business focus and investment.

Why the Fundamentals of the Indian App Industry are So Strong

Apps are seemingly tailor-made for a digital market dominated by mobile connectivity, and with a rapidly expanding mobile device install base. While average Indian incomes somewhat constrain mobile and other commerce, the $0 download price for most apps makes them an appealing way to shop. But it is not just retail that is doing well in this market. Mobile banking apps, message apps and ewallets have grown rapidly after the 2016 currency adjustments temporarily affected people’s ability to access cash. Android devices dominate in this market, and in addition to Google Play, consumers have ready access to Android device apps via sideloading and niche app stores created especially for India.

Evolving Indian VC Investment Environment

Two years ago, global and Indian VC dollars were absolutely pouring into the Indian app developer market. Now, while investors continue to demonstrate faith in the Indian economy and in particular the mobile device category, they want to see revenue and engagement results – quickly.

Brands that monetize well can continue to score big in investment. Brands that don’t, however, are facing a significantly tougher investment environment.

Retail App Consolidation in India

We all know that the app industry is consolidating in India, as the largest players in many industries snap up medium-sized competitors and create mega-brands. Being at the show, however, made that trend even more vivid. As mobile app development clients and colleagues shift companies, we see that even in a consolidating market there are truly outstanding professional opportunities and challenges for “the best and brightest.”

New Focus on User Quality in India

As we are seeing in most leading app markets around the world, Indian marketers are paying even greater attention to the quality of users they attract. Marketers care deeply about how many of their users eventually become payers or buyers, and are actively seeking out ways to improve user monetization.

We’re seeing an explosion of interest and growth in post-install marketing among leading Indian app marketers. We heard about the increasing focus on user quality in six different ways:

  • Continued interest in finding ways to combat install fraud
  • Partner research and messaging related to the quality of users they attract for their customers.
  • Growth in the number of marketers who say that they optimize to revenue and engagement rather than install counts.
  • Number of prospects interested in mobile analytics and how it can help them deliver data-driven post install marketing that drives maximum ROI.
  • Gradual media consolidation toward larger and/or more sophisticated media providers who can deliver higher quality users.
  • Explosion of interest in mobile marketing automation, push platforms, and more precise user level measurement.
  • Importance of service and insights so that clients can avail themselves of all platform value

At Singular, we’ve long believed that having a strong account management and support team is absolutely critical to driving the most value for our clients. My time at this year’s ad:tech convinces me even more that our investments here are key to our continued success in India.

Shows like ad:tech New Delhi give us a great opportunity to reconnect with our clients, partners, friends, and prospects. To talk about our services and the value they can bring to the industry. I want to thank every member of our team who helped provide a strong presence at ad:tech New Delhi. And thank our many Indian app industry and multi-channel clients for their business.

Note: This blog post was published first on the Apsalar blog, prior to Apsalar’s merger with Singular. Learn more about our united company at

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