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App developers should focus on digital analytics: AT Internet’s Fai-Keung Ng

As the industry tries to make sense of the consumers, data was the hero that stood out from 2015. The more data that a company has, the better it is able to engage with its consumers. Today’s digital sphere is marked by the proliferation of mobile applications, with the number of available apps for download in Google Play standing at 1.3 million and 1.2 million for the Apple app store. By 2017, Gartner predicts the number of apps being downloaded annually will soar to 268 billion. To date, one of the most popular use for mobile apps is entertainment viewing, including video and photo, entertainment, and gaming apps, with all three categories dominating the top three spots for category downloads in the Apple app store.

In Singapore, there are 8.3 million mobile subscriptions and 34 per cent of this market uses their mobile device to watch videos. As the market for mobile entertainment viewing continues to expand, local content providers such as Singtel and StarHub are seen to move to the mobile platform through mio TV GO and StarHub TV Anywhere. But being present on the mobile platform is just the first step. Knowing the behaviour of users and understanding what is important to them will allow developers to adapt applications to users’ needs, thus enhancing their user experience and satisfaction. Digital analytics is the key to unlocking this potential that could ultimately translate into increased usability and engagement. In a conversation with Digital Market Asia, Fai-Keung Ng, Group Country Manager, Southeast Asia at AT Internet, explains the importance of digital analytics and data.

He explains, “Digital analytics are important for any business with digital properties – referring to website, mobile site, mobile app and so on – and ideally would be in place from the initial set-up stages of these properties.”

How apps and analytics go hand-in-hand
For entertainment viewing apps, data and analytics is doubly important. Mr Ng says, “Data enables businesses to track who they are reaching and how their audiences are interacting with their digital properties. For example: you know that your audiences are spending a long amount of time on your app, but do you know whether it is because they are consuming media via the app or if they are simply spending a long time waiting for the content to load? Analytics can also help determine where and how many times an app crashed or which push notification get the best responses. These are just some examples of how digital analytics can play a crucial role for entertainment viewing apps. With a comprehensive digital analytics tool, these businesses are able to ask – and answer – questions that could have a significant impact on how their audiences are interacting with them and will interact with them in the future.”

Even from marketing ROI point of view, a good tool can help mobile app developers understand if their app has been downloaded, and go beyond that initial download to see if the app has been opened and used as just downloading the app doesn’t mean the customer has used the app. “The data that can be gleaned from digital analytics enables developers of entertainment viewing apps – and in fact, any business with digital properties – to better understand their audiences and make decisions that can improve their digital properties to suit their audiences’ needs,” Mr Ng added.

How best can the brands and marketers use the data thus collected? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, feels Mr Ng. “At the end of the day, it all comes down to what problem or question you are looking to address with your digital analytics strategy. Actionable insights are gained on a case-by-case basis,” he says.

However, as consumers move to consuming media across different platforms, digital analytics can help brands and marketers in cross-channel marketing measurement. In a report by Appier recently, it is said that nearly 40 per cent of multi-screen users in Asia were operating more than three devices. Cross-screen and cross-platform marketing is no longer seen as an option but a must-have.

“Digital analytics can help bridge the gap between consuming a content and taking an action. The true value of analytics lies in helping brands and marketers determine if their content on different screens are helping to drive consumer actions. For example, when your content is showing on the TV, how many people are visiting your website to find out more? Are there people buying the product or downloading the app? Are they returning customers?” he says.

He feels that measuring the cross-screen impact of TV campaigns have certainly given greater potential to marketers and brands, but they need to utilise and analyse the data they collect and convert them into actionable insights before it represents real value add to any business.

Right data not big data
The big data market will grow nearly six fold by 2019, according to a report by Ovum and data analytics will play an important role for many enterprises by 2019. “Big data has been the buzzword for many years but we rather focus on the ‘right data’. There is no point in having access to a large amount of data if they are not data that are useful to you. The majority of the market today is still using free analytics tools. Unfortunately, tagging, used for data collection and defining what data to collect, is not always done correctly. Therefore, a lot of customers believe they are utilising ‘big data’ to grow the business but they could be misled by such numbers. This is why it is important for them to outgrow the free tools and invest in enterprise-level tools.”

Mr Ng highlights a need for the brands and marketers to shift to enterprise level tools. “This is gradually happening as more eyeballs and revenue are now shifted online. Switching to an enterprise level tool also gives them access to expert support so that they are able to convert ‘big data’ into the ‘right data’ that enable them to get the insights they need for their business decisions. There’s just so much more traffic that they need to analyse, and free tools do not necessarily offer the flexibility, breadth, and depth of insight that can be offered by enterprise-level solutions. With free tools, businesses are limited in terms of data sampling, longer latency of data availability, and lack of ad-hoc analysis capabilities. As a result, one trend we’re seeing is the increased adoption of more sophisticated, enterprise tools,” he explains.

AT Internet’s regional focus
Speaking about the future plans of AT Internet in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr Ng says, “Other than allowing subscription to our digital analytics tool, we started providing local consulting service last year and we have been growing our business steadily across the region. This year, we are looking to set up full-time technical support in this region as our business have been growing since we entered the market.”

He adds, “We will continue to invest in technical consulting to improve the digital literacy of the market and we are also exploring opportunities to adapt our product to specific Internet ecosystem in markets such as China. At the moment, Southeast Asia has been a key region for us. They are very receptive to foreign solutions and we expect continuous growth across key ASEAN markets.”

Shubhi Tandon

Shubhi Tandon is the Assistant Editor at Digital Market Asia. Fascinated by the evolving digital media industry, she has focussed on tracking developments in the Asia Pacific market since 2014.