Top 3 Strategies App Developers Can Use to Maximize Success this Holiday Season

There’s nothing like the excitement of unwrapping gifts on the holidays. More and more often those gifts are shiny new devices – ready to be filled up with apps. At family gatherings, we pull out our phones and share photos and videos – and recommend our favorite apps. So it’s not surprising that the holiday season has meant big business for app developers. But just how big, and how can you be ready?

It’s big

"With the holiday season upon us, app marketers have a tremendous opportunity to capture new users by jumping on the surge in downloads", said Marcos Sanchez, VP Global Corporate Communications for App Annie. "If last year is an indicator, it would be no surprise if we see a doubling in the number of downloads from Google Play in the US."

Cloud and mobile testing firm SOASTA reported that 3 in 10 mobile device owners were planning to download an app on December 25th of last year. Millennials were the most likely age group to say they would download an app that day, with 47% planning on it.*


Be ready with a winning strategy

Proper planning across the entire app workflow will help you reach this app-hungry audience. Here are the top 3 strategies for making the most of this peak time:

#1 Customize your app for the holidays

  • Small changes, like changing the background or app icon, can have a big revenue impact.
  • The more you customize for the holiday, the more likely your app will be highlighted in app stores. For instance, change to holiday colors or themes in your design.
  • Create multiple versions of your apps and target each version based on regions that celebrate the holiday vs. ones that do not.
#2 Plan ahead to ride the traffic wave

  • Be prepared for big traffic spikes so that you can capitalize on them – make sure to create and implement a load balancing plan, with an additional contingency plan in case systems get overwhelmed.
  • Keep approval periods in mind when scheduling and publishing app updates – iOS has a manual review process with a ~2 week approval period, so submit ahead of time to be ready for December.
  • Don’t do any new feature releases around peak times until they’ve been thoroughly tested – with so much competition during peak periods, you don’t want the user's first experience with your app to be buggy.
  • If you do have to launch, do vigorous testing first – use one of Google’s various A/B testing services for Android apps to help with this.
  • It doesn’t end at Christmas Day – it's great to get the download at Christmas, but what happens after is just as important. As more users come online and download apps, ad impressions increase through January. Consider optimizing the ad experience during that time and focus on retaining those users.
#3 Monetize, monetize, monetize!

  • Implement smart banners to optimize the size of ads that display across devices and various screen sizes to ensure higher click-through conversion rates.
  • When you drive more users, your rankings will go up, which will allow you to earn more through ads and in-app purchases. If you have a paid app, consider discounting or offering your app for free during the holiday season – app download and engagement is highest during the holidays.
  • Integrate interstitials – Developers tend to see good ad revenue growth when they implement interstitial ads, as seen by Raon Games with their game, Bouncy Ball. They achieved a 30% revenue growth even with a limited use of CPC interstitials. 
Implement as many of these best practices as possible and you’ll be ready for the holiday rush. To find out more about optimizing your apps, visit our Help Center. Be sure to tweet your holiday app wins to @AdMob.