The Evolution of Non-Organic Traffic


Danielle Blumenstyk Peterman, Content Marketing Manager at AppsFlyer

Remember the good old days? When you wanted to boost your organic traffic, so you embarked upon a UA campaign, knowing that you could rely on the organic multiplier to then increase your reach 1.5x or even 2x on a good day? Yeah, those golden days of bliss. Sadly, those days are gone.


Wait, what happened?

First off, organic app discovery is largely broken. The sheer amount of apps in the two major stores (over 2 million in both the App Store and Google Play) makes it nearly impossible for users to find your app in the hay stack, even if they happen to be looking for a similar one. With so many possibilities for every search term and keyword, the chances of a user landing on and installing your app are slim to none.

Another significant change involved  the app stores’ algorithmes. In the past, a quantity-based marketing campaign would have been enough to get a large amount of paid users for a relatively cheap price using burst campaigns, which would then translate into a bump in organic users as well. It was all about quantity. Now, the app stores’ algorithms have shifted their focus to quality, giving a much heavier weight in the formula to post-install engagement.

As many of you have noticed, the organic multiplayer has decreased significantly in the past couple of years. This means your ability to drive scale organically is very limited, as is your control over the flow of users. Since we’re all control freaks, we know that’s not a great feeling.

The transformation of non-organic traffic 

Because acquiring organic users at scale is not a feasible outcome for most apps, mobile marketers need to realize that non-organic users are no longer simply a means to an end – they are the end.

Unlike organic traffic, you can easily control the scale of your non-organic traffic. The challenge is usually a limited budget. The good news is that by putting your faith in measurement and advanced analytics, you will be able to gradually increase your spend where it works best, and thus drive more scale. Allowing data to work for you will pinpoint the sources that delivered the highest quality users (whether engagement, revenue and / or ROI are your KPIs).

Ultimately, in the non-organic world, you’re in control. You just need to ensure that all your instruments (analytics) are aligned so that you’re navigating your ship in the right direction.

So I can rely solely on non-organic users?

Of course not. Fierce competition has led to an increasingly high cost of media, while engagement and monetization are a significant challenge. As a result, most apps will have a hard time turning a profit with only non-organic users. You’ll need top quality organic users – even if just a fraction of them – to reduce your eCPI and drive profits.

To effectively squeeze the organic lemon, make sure you benchmark your campaigns with organic traffic and use a single dashboard to calculate your overall success – with organic and non-organic combined. It’s also important to invest in ongoing App Store Optimization (ASO) and keep your listed apps optimized according to the latest updates to the store algorithms and requirements.

At the end of the day

You can’t build a sustainable growth strategy based solely on paid users. However, in this day and age it also isn’t reasonable to expect a fraction of organic users to deliver sufficient revenue for your business. With non-organic traffic you are in the driver’s seat, and you can drive scale by relying on data to optimize your campaigns, while with organic traffic you can increase your ROI. You need a combination of both in order to propel your app into fame and success.

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