There’s an app for everything, but that might not be a great thing in 2015, in Google’s view.
For years, brands have been rushing to build apps for mobile. Your dentist had one. Allstate had one. Having an “app for everything” was considered a good idea and almost mandatory for the modern business.
On-stage at the the Mobile First Summit in San Francisco, Google’s vice president of performance media Jason Spero said brands have been “too busy” building apps over the past few years. They put up a mediocre mobile-friendly site that then directed people to an app, Spero said
Those brands have woken up in late 2014 and early 2015 to realise that’s maybe not the best way to reach customers.
“I think we’ve confused the consumer and I think we’ve confused the marketer about how we discover on mobile,” Spero said.
Allstate, for example, isn’t an app that most customers will use in their daily life, Spero said. Google and its advertising partners have come to realise that apps are only best for repeat, recurring customers. It doesn’t help to have a dozen apps on your phone that you maybe access once or twice a year.
“We’ve come to see this as a segmentation thing. Your best customers will engage you on your app,” Spero said.
Of course, Google’s attitude towards mobile apps is shaped by the fact that its web search engine generates the bulk of its revenue. Google’s money machine depends on companies maintaining web sites that can be indexed by Google’s web crawlers and included in its search results. Information in apps is tougher for Google to access.
Google has taken steps to boost its “deep-linking” capabilities, as it seeks to transition its business to consumers’ growing use of smartphones. If a consumer has downloaded an app, Google’s deep-linking will prompt the person to open the app without navigating there first. But a user shouldn’t have to leave a web browser to open the app that they need, in Google’s view.
“If the user has the app on the phone, let them navigate to the app from wherever they are on that app. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t hit a dead end and have a bad experience,” Spero said.
As a result, companies are starting to transition out of app-only and re-enter the browser world. Flipkart is now backwards deeply investing in a Google Chrome-friendly site, instead of only having a mobile app.
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