Multiple app stores 2025: welcome to the multiverse of marketing

By John Koetsier April 24, 2023

It’s 2025. Welcome to the multiverse of marketing on iOS with multiple app stores, perhaps even too many to count. You had close to 400,000 reported new installs — most of which are fake — across 167 different app stores that you bother to track and better than expected D7 ROAS of 10% across all marketing efforts.


Some highlights:

  • Mr Beast is roaring
    A recent $50K activation on Mr Beast’s app store is showing real promise with strong pick-up and outstanding D7 revenue
  • The original App Store is king
    The original Apple App Store is still your major source of monthly average users
  • Facebook loves data
    Working on 100% first-party data, Facebook returns to ROAS supremacy 
  • 157 flavors of fraud
    Over a hundred app stores are telling you they’ve supplied you with over 350,000 new installs and want your ad dollars to make it even more. But your MAUs with these fly-by-nights total just a miniscule 3.

A brave new world of mobile app advertising

We’ve talked about it before. The European Union’s Digital Markets Act is an attempt to open up competition in app stores, and it’s likely to be just an early warning wave in a coming tsunami of global legislation demanding the same from both Apple and Google.

Google has plenty of experience with third-party app stores thanks to China, India, and global competitors like Samsung and Amazon.

Apple, not so much. There are third-party app stores for iOS like BuildStore, AltStore, EonHub, CokernutX, Cydia, Xabsi, and more. But none of these app stores have really hit the bigtime. None of them are top of mind for a significant number of iPhone owners. And many of them, like iOS Haven, offer “tweaked, modded, and covert” apps. In other words, games that don’t require payment for IAPs, apps that do things their designers and developers never intended, and — most importantly — apps that can’t really be fully trusted by end users.

But by 2025, we’re likely to have multiple legally available and commercially interesting app stores.

Amazon is a no-brainer. So are Facebook and Google, who can take advertising, sales, and analytics all in-house, completely removing the sting of App Tracking Transparency and operating on their own rules in an earned and owned first party data platform.

All of it means much more opportunity for mobile advertisers to take advantage of, along with much more complexity for mobile advertisers to manage. Amazon has a different audience than Facebook. Massive influencers have their own demographics, and a Mr Beast is big enough to spin up an influencer-focused white label of an app store platform that rabid fans would likely embrace.

Just think: the Mr Beast lifestyle, the Mr Beast app for this, the Mr Beast app for that. Other big brands — think sports leagues like the NFL or NHL — already have “official” brand partnerships. Their own app stores would be just one step farther. This new world really starts to make sense when you go global, and you work with a big brand in Germany versus one in Nigeria versus one in South Korea and yet another in Australia.

Now marketers have the option to target specific audiences based on their affiliations. 

But now marketers also have to gather data from dozens or even hundreds of different platforms to get a holistic picture of their global performance.

Multiple app stores: A brave new world of mobile app management

Of course, it’s not just marketers who get all the fun. Developers will get more than their share as well.

Different app stores will have different requirements. Different approval processes, both automated and manual. Some might sign lucrative partnerships that privilege one specific app or game in a category, and potentially even prohibit competitors from publishing their apps on the same store.

They’ll have different marketing strategies, ASO opportunities, search and discovery pathways. They’ll have different commissions, costs, and internal ad networks for promotion.

And shocker: they’ll also have different reporting.

Being able to assemble data from all these different outlets will seem familiar to old-school marketers in physical retail or multiple digital storefronts, but that won’t lessen the pain of aggregating and normalizing and standardizing all the different data points.

Developers won’t have to just navigate app submission requirements, but also updates, payments, notifications, refunds, reviews, and more. It will be a significant effort for each new app store, potentially, and it won’t be limited to app stores you choose. Many upstart app stores will look to grab apps and games off other stores and add them to their virtual shelves to bolster their own value proposition and revenue opportunities … and they won’t stop to ask permission.

Multiverse of madness: app fraud in so many new ways

App marketers know all about ad fraud that steals their ad dollars and shaves their ROAS margins, but it’s mostly Android developers who feel the special pain of hijacked or stolen apps marketed under different names in small, regional, or underground app markets.

Not to mention the blame they get when a hacked app does something nasty to an end user who then blames the original publisher.

With multiple app stores, iOS will join that party, and publishers will need some form of the always-popular (yes, this is sarcasm) digital rights management to ensure their apps aren’t stolen, altered, or hijacked in any way. Nothing they use for this, of course, will be 100% effective.

Multiverse of marketing: MMPs for sanity

All with aggregating all the various types of data from each platform, MMPs will also need to support and build integrations with app stores that matter. 

Which, of course, could number in the dozens or hundreds, and which might implement their own type of digital advertising identifier, or provide no means for any marketing measurement whatsoever. And which, also of course, will need to operate in an iOS environment where Apple grudgingly tolerates them for legal reasons, if at all, and locks down iOS in new ways to protect against a more open (and more vulnerable) ecosystem.

Which will make MMPs even more essential.

MMPs already have to integrate with thousands of ad partners, but they’ve only had to connect with two major app stores. Now, likely, the ad-mediated nexus between consumer demand for apps and platform supply of those apps likely becomes much more balanced, with hundreds of app stores taking up the role of supply ads for iPhones. (And, of course, Android as well.)

A big question: consumer uptake

The current system is simple. It’s trusted. It’s safe: one place to get apps, no thinking, no pre-installing of a new store, no wondering if you trust a new app store with your credit card, and all payments coming from one brand.

So it’ll be a big change for iOS users (and most Android users) to get apps from multiple places.

Once they start, though, it might just open the floodgates. And that will be a massive change to an industry that’s already gone through ATT and will have just made the GAID to Privacy Sandbox for Android switch.

It’s the new multiverse of marketing, and it won’t be easy.

Stay up to date on the latest happenings in digital marketing

Simply send us your email and you’re in! We promise not to spam you.