Given the growth in smartphone adoption and app usage in recent years, it’s hardly surprising that mobile analytics firms would emerge to track that activity for developers, marketers and others. A new Forrester report examines no less than 17 companies involved in mobile analytics, from major players. like Google and Adobe to specialists such as Apsalar and Flurry.
Even so, the research firm finds that only 46% of eBusiness executives surveyed have used a third-party service for measuring mobile activity. The pace of investment among the vendors and sophistication of their offerings still exceed most companies’ ability to use them.
Most businesses (69%) rely on existing Web analytics providers for the mobile Web, with only 4% opting for a specialized mobile solution. For mobile apps, 42% use their current provider. Only about half (52%) of large enterprises have a mobile solutions provider of any kind.
Why the indifferent embrace of mobile analytics? The report, authored by Forrester analyst Julie Ask, points to the small role mobile still plays for most businesses. The platform contributes less than 5% of sales, unless they’re selling hotel rooms or tickets. Furthermore, they spend less than 2% of their marketing and ad budgets on mobile.
Ask suggests that companies could make better use of analytics at least to drive customer engagement and loyalty -- the principle opportunity in mobile. But choosing from the crowded field of vendors itself is no small task. Forrester doesn’t even attempt to rank the analytics providers, since they are too varied for apples-to-apples comparisons.
But it advises that businesses consider some basic questions when hiring a provider, including whether the service is free or paid, the data will be shared with a vendor, and if analytics is offered on-site or as a hosted service. Flurry, Apsalar and Google offer free services, for example, but customers must share engagement, performance and audience data.
Given the fragmentation, increased consolidation in the mobile analytics space seems logical. Last fall, Facebook acquired Israel-based app analytics startup Onavo to bolster its intelligence around mobile data. And just last week, app analytics and data firm App Annie acquired competitor Distimo.
“There are a lot of players along the mobile marketing intelligence continuum that will look to consolidate around data and/or user scale, plus breadth,” said Amir Akhavan, a managing director at Jordan Edmiston Group Inc., which advised Distimo in the transaction.
The Forrester report did not include App Annie but cited Distimo for its scale, being used by more than 225,000 apps and tracking 20% of app downloads globally each quarter.
A separate report released by Jordan Edmiston today estimated m-commerce companies, along with
app and related service companies, had a potential spend of $2 billion last year on app marketing intelligence. It also cited data from IDC and Flurry indicating that 87% of all time spent on mobile
devices takes places on apps.
"Smartphone User" photo from Shutterstock.