May 4, 2020

Mobile Industry Trends Amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 mobile industry trends

Well, it looks like we’re going into another month of lockdown. But before we go on and discuss some super interesting marketing mumbo-jumbo, we need to thank all those working on the frontlines during this pandemic. You are all real-life superheroes.

While they’re out there saving lives, we’ve been inside working from home. We know that this time has been difficult for many companies in an array of industries, which is why we’ve made it a point to continue providing our premium service.

We’ve been tracking loads of data to see the impact that COVID-19 has had. In this post, we will be primarily focusing on Social Gaming.

COVID-19 Impact on Social Gaming

With so many people now staying at home to help save the world, they’re looking for things to do to pass the time. And, since there is only a finite number of banana bread one can make, they turn to the internet for new forms of entertainment.

One form of entertainment that we have seen on the rise is Mobile Gaming. App installs for the industry have significantly increased during this time, and, as people are playing more on their devices, sessions have simultaneously increased.

The Big CPM Drop

Our teams have seen a dramatic decrease in upper-funnel areas such as CPM & CPC. These metrics dropped by 30-40% around March 14th, the start of lockdowns, and have been pretty stable since. You can see in the graph below the average CPM for several days before and after this drop.

COVID-19 CPM drop

*All Countries, Android & iOS

The drops in CPMs can be attributed to several factors. On the one hand, the amount of time people have been spending on their mobile devices has gone up. These users are spending more time online, and, with the increased amount of impressions, advertisers have a larger database to target.

On the other hand, COVID-19’s continuous negative impact on parts of the economy has caused many companies to pull their advertising budgets, thereby further contributing to the decrease in CPMs.

This makes it a good time for gaming companies to invest, as playtime has increased with people having more time at home. In-app spending has also increased, as people are replacing their usual outdoor forms of entertainment (e.g. movies, restaurants, robot fights, etc.).

We have seen decreased CPAs for FTD (First-Time Depositor rate). In Android, we saw a 14% decrease the week of March 16th. This trend has been maintained since.

COVID-19 FTD CPA trend

*Worldwide, Android

ROI Uplift

As predicted by yellowHEAD’s user acquisition experts, the decrease in these upper-funnel metrics led to a lift in lower-funnel ones, such as ROI & ARPPU. We saw some of the following trends for iOS and Android:

  • ROI D3 in the US increased by almost 90% on both platforms
  • ARPPU D3 in the US increased by 30% on both platforms
  • Worldwide increase of approximately 70% on Android for both ROI D3 & ARPPU D3

The data below represents weeks 8 through 12 of 2020, with week 8 being the week of February 17th and week 12 that of March 16th.

COVID-19 ROI trend - Android, WW

*Worldwide, Android

COVID-19 ARPPU trend - Android, WW

*Worldwide, Android

COVID-19 ROI trend - iOS, US

*US, iOS

COVID-19 ARPPU trend - iOS, US

*US, iOS

Spike in Ad Spend

We’ve seen gaming partners increase ad spend by nearly 50% since the spike in March, reaching all-time record highs. They have even expanded their budgets into more titles and activities. One type of activity gaining traction is retargeting, in which companies may try to reach inactive users who had previously completed in-app purchases.

COVID-19 Impact on Mobile in General


The positive trend extends to other mobile industries as well, including online Consumer Product Goods. Upon analyzing our CPG partner data, we saw an average CPM decrease of 10% for app activities across top-tier geos, while the CPM for web activities in the US dropped by 25%. As previously mentioned, the cause for these drops can be attributed to increased impressions and a decrease in competition.


As for delivery services such as UberEats, these apps are seeing a rise in popularity since people are unable to go eat at their favorite restaurants. Grocery delivery apps have also benefited, as people continue to practice social distancing.


Fitness apps are also finding success during the COVID-19 era, due to gyms being closed and people taking this time to do something new. Which brings me to our next industry: eLearning.

eLearning, Business, Social

With all this free time on their hands, people are learning new things by signing up for remote courses, using educational apps like edX, Duolingo, etc.. I, for one, have signed up for several online classes myself. Moreover, since schools are closed, classes have been moved online. Students are now logging into Zoom and other group video services to continue their education.

Such services have also seen a rise due to business meetings being moved to these platforms, as well as friends and families just wanting to hang out and keep in touch. For the same reasons, social media app usage has also increased, e.g. Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook and its subsidiaries including Instagram and WhatsApp.


And if you’re not working out, ordering food, or playing games, chances are you’re binge-watching something. Streaming services, like Netflix and Disney+, have gotten more trendy since lockdowns began. Some companies are even releasing more content to help people get through boring days at home.

What if the trend isn’t positive?

However, it’s no surprise that there were several industries that took a hit. Travel & hospitality for one. We only hope that they are able to use this time to focus on their product and take it to the next level. This is also a good time to create engaging content and maintain a positive brand image.

So how can you make the best of the situation?

For starters, we strongly recommend taking advantage of the recent trends in mobile, in order to maximize performance. With lowered CPMs, companies can adjust their media spending and allocate it to a broader pool of audiences. Companies should push more on the different platforms due to the fact that the competitive environment has changed.

People are actively searching online for new things to learn and try. This is a perfect time for companies to strengthen their discoverability on search engines and in the app stores via SEO & ASO.

Creating new habits within users can secure a company’s standings for when this is all over. One method that we’ve been seeing frequently is companies providing special offers of their products and/or services (e.g. free trials, discounts, etc.).

Marketers also need to be flexible during the current status of the world. They need to appropriately adjust their messaging, analyze their performance efficiently, and be able to make quick decisions in order to meet demand.

Luckily, yellowHEAD has all the tools at our disposal. With in-house performance analysis, alerting systems, and teams of expert marketers, we are doing everything in our power to help our partners make the best out of the situation.

yellowHEAD is doing its part by continuing to provide the best service we can in order to help our partners find success in such a difficult time. Plus, we can take client calls in sweatpants. So, that’s neat.

**In this blog post, we focused mostly on User Acquisition data. You can also read about how COVID-19 is affecting organic search.

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