Mobile App Terminology

App session

What is an app session?

An app session refers to a period of time in which a user interacts with an app. Typically an app session is triggered by the user opening the app, and then a session is recorded for a certain period of time when the user is interacting with the app. But a single “session” could include some closely-connected opening and closing of an app.

For example, Google Analytics defines a single app session as follows:

By default, Analytics groups hits that are received from your app within 30 minutes of one another into the same session.

App sessions are often used to show developers and marketers how much engagement an app gets, how much

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Why are app sessions important?

App sessions provide key insights into how users interact and engage with an app. Typically, marketers and developers will combine app session data with other metadata such as the session length, in-app events during each session, purchases, levels achieved, ads watched, and so on. This provides key insight into user behavior, which can then be used to optimize app experience and improve app publishers’ marketing efforts.

For example, if app session data shows that the majority of app sessions occur at the same time of day, a marketer may use that information to show relevant ads to new users during that time period. Ultimately, app session data is used to improve user experience, app monetization, and marketing performance.

In order to make the most of app session data and improve marketing performance, app companies rely on in-app event tracking companies, live ops tools, and mobile measurement partners (MMPs) to collect data from various sources and display it in for analysis. 

As discussed in our article on MMPs:

A Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) is a third-party attribution company that collects, organizes, and presents data from marketing campaigns in order to provide brands with a unified view of their campaign performance. By tagging and standardizing mobile app data from various sources, this provides marketers with a single source of truth to analyze the overall ROI of marketing campaigns.

In short, with app data coming from so many marketing channels and sources, MMPs help marketers connect app activity and engagement data with marketing efforts. This helps maximize ROI on ad campaign investments, and increases user retention.

How does Singular measure app sessions?

As a leading mobile measurement partner, Singular helps marketers track, visualize, and analyze app session data by cohort and campaign in order to maximize ROAS and improve the marketing efficiency. On Android, that means marketers can tie in-app events to costs of user acquisition via GAID, and on iOS, brands can connect campaigns with SKAdNetwork postbacks and conversion data. 

Given that various marketing channels defines sessions in different ways, Singular measures app session as follows:

  • An opening of the app (in the foreground) by a user. If you integrate the Singular SDK/S2S in your app, it notifies the Singular servers whenever there is a new session, with several possible outcomes:
    • If it’s the first session ever detected for the app on a specific device (“first app open”), Singular triggers the install attribution process
    • If the session is not the first session, but it comes after the user has clicked on a retargeting ad, Singular triggers the re-engagement attribution process.
    • Otherwise, the session just counts as a normal session (useful, for example, to track user retention). A normal session is attributed to the source of the original install or the last re-engagement (if there was any).

With this data in hand, marketers can then use our suite of marketing analytics tools to analyze and optimize their campaigns to improve their overall performance, while also improving overall user experience.

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