Retention Measurement Issue in Mobile

Retention Measurement Issue in Mobile

Along with user acquisition and engagement, retention is probably the most important metric for freemium apps and free-to-play games. Retention level and lifetime customer value (LTV) are key metrics in assessment once you have acquired high-quality users for your mobile game. Retention is also a strong indication of the general quality of the app and its user experience.

Despite its importance for developers, retention has a problem. Everyone talks about it but perceive the meaning differently because there is no industry standard for retention. Unfortunately, there is a certain level of speculation around this term and its usage in the context of mobile app marketing. The truth is that there are several ways to compute this metric, all of which lead to sensibly different results. For example, the company AppLift discerns five different types of retention metrics.

Other key metrics in mobile analytics like ARPDAU (day X revenue / day X players) or daily/monthly active users have been standardized. Why can’t retention be the same way? The main issue resides in the absence of the possibility to compare apples with apples, because companies are using different formulas to calculate retention rates. When the calculation is inconsistent between different companies, studios, agencies, and 3rd-party tools, how can you benchmark?

It becomes especially critical when you, as a product marketer, have to assess the quality of players coming from each partner if each partner is reporting a different number. It’s very easy to lose faith in a product when you can’t trust the information it’s giving you.

Major mobile industry influencers have to set the standards for the retention metric or perhaps a governing data-scientist organization has to make its input in creation of the universal retention formula. More accurate and consistent data will contribute to the strengthening of relationships between mobile gaming industry players where each of them will define “retention” the same in order to benefit the entire mobile app ecosystem.

Oles Dzyub,
Branded Content Manager at ComboApp