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Consumer in-app spending on the rise due to pandemic lockdowns

ANZ apps had a financial fraud exposure of over AUD 21.3m (USD 15.7m) in the first half of 2021

Consumers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) explored adopted mobile apps en masse when both countries introduced widespread Covid-19 social distancing measures and lockdowns.

This saw a sustained year-on-year increase in consumer in-app spending across most categories measured from Q1 2020 to Q2 2021, according to the joint “State of App Marketing in Australia & New Zealand” study by App Annie and AppsFlyer.

“In many ways, the mobile app market in ANZ has never been healthier, and consumer spending has never been higher as Australians and New Zealanders double-down on new mobile-first habits,” said Cindy Deng, managing director for the Asia Pacific at App Annie.

“But if the pandemic created ‘app tourism’, the challenge for marketers moving into 2022 will be how to get consumers to settle down more permanently.”

Antony Wilcox, director of growth for ANZ at AppsFlyer noted six months into the enforcement of Apple’s app tracking transparency (ATT), marketers in the ANZ region are still struggling to understand the material impact of these privacy measures in their mobile marketing strategies.

“With ANZ being an iOS dominant region with a whopping 80% user penetration, we encourage all advertisers to find that balance between consumer privacy, while providing personalization through a smart approach to data insights,” added Wilcox.

The report used App Annie’s mobile estimates used by over a million registered users, measuring downloads among 3,250 apps across ANZ between Q1 2020 and Q2 2021 that have AppsFlyer’s SDK installed.

This covered 237 million app installs, including 136m non-organic app installs, across gaming, shopping, finance, food & drink, health & fitness, and social apps.

What did the study find?

  • The ever-present threat of mobile install fraud continues to loom - particularly among shopping and finance apps, where fraudulent installs can account for more than 50% of total downloads.

  • Overall, the report estimates that ANZ apps had a financial fraud exposure of over AUD 21.3m (USD 15.7m) in the first half of 2021 alone.

  • Even though the pandemic triggered a flurry of app downloads, categories like shopping, gaming, and health & fitness that enjoyed a surge in interest during the height of the pandemic, saw consecutive year-over-year dips from 2019 to 2021.

  • The introduction of Apple’s privacy-centric iOS 14 and the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework earlier this year has made remarketing more challenging, as reliance on user-level data becomes a thing of the past.

  • Finance app downloads in Australia and New Zealand grew 35% and 25% respectively year-on-year between H1 2020 and H1 2021 as the pandemic accelerated the trend away from cash.

  • Entertainment and Lifestyle (primarily dating) apps have been identified as standout areas of consumer spending growth, registering a 75% and 45% year-on-year increase respectively in Australia in Q1 2021, and a 45% increase all around in New Zealand.

  • Shopping apps have almost doubled in-app purchases year-on-year across both markets

  • Food and drink saw a 66% increase in remarketing conversations in Q2 2021 as residents turned to food delivery services to ride out the stay-at-home orders.

  • There was a quick and sustained bump in iOS budgets and install spend post-ATT enforcement, averaging at 66%.

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