ABA – The Best Advice For Indie Devs

Katie Jansen
Feb 14, 2015

Recently, our CPO Mark Rosner wrote about the common pitfalls developers can avoid when making or marketing their apps. Now I’d like to talk about the most important fundamental advice I give to any developer or publisher when they ask what is the one thing they should be doing. ABA – Always Be Analyzing.

Before I go into more detail, let me say that having at least a good app is table stakes–and the better your app is, the more success you’ll have. So why is ABA such good advice for developers?

Analyze then monetize

Simply put, analyzing leads to more money in your pocket. The more you know about your app and how people use it, the more changes you can make to find that sweet spot in which DAUs, eCPMs and retention sing in harmony. Without deep analysis, you might miss out on some key factors that could make or break your game.

And while you’re at it, collect as many data events as you can, even those you think you may never need. You could stumble onto something that leads you down a road of wondering why users behave a certain way. If you’ve been collecting as much data as possible, there’s a good chance you already have historical it logged.

Anecdotes are not the antidote

All apps are different,  serving different functions for different users. What works for someone else, or even for you on one of your titles, may not work on another of your titles. Trust data before anecdotes or “common sense” that you believe to be true. For instance, did you know that for most publishers, showing ads in their games can actually increase IAPs? Lots of people think the two models are competitive ideas, but they don’t have to be. For many publishers, showing rewarded video (i.e. “Earn 10 Coins for watching this video”) will actually increase the user’s likelihood of making IAPs. Having seen the value of that currency early and often, when users progress in the game they are more willing to trade IAPs–rather than their time–for the extra coins.

Analyzing (as the name suggests) is not something you can phone-in. Analyzing can be hard, but a crucial part of your job as a developer. You can’t just set the “ANALYZE” switch to “ON” then go about the rest of your day. One of the best ways to take the pain out of your analysis is to use the right tools for the job.

Constantly track your vital signs

There are some excellent analytics platforms out there like Adjust, Kochava, or any number of other great options. You could also consider building your own tools specific to your app. The most basic tools you should have are those for monitoring retention, IAP (if applicable), and finally a measure of your bottom line ad revenue. Separately, these are all different ideas, but if you make your own tools, you should be able to have them reflect that these are not mutually exclusive things. Retention, IAP are all part of the ecosystem of you monetization strategy–the most important vital signs that regulate how you make money. You want to pay special attention to them and make sure you can monitor these with the least amount of friction possible.

Always Be Analyzing – it’s a mantra that you can grow to love, especially when you see the results reflected in your bank account.


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