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Why Your App's DAU and Impressions Decrease After the Summer

Chen Mizrahi is a BI analyst at ironSource.

Along with bathing suits, tanning, and BBQs, summer is known for an increase in metrics like DAU and ad impressions. Why? Children are out of school, adults are on holiday, and overall users have more free time on their hands.

When we looked back at metrics from summer 2017, we noticed a very clear pattern pertaining to DAU, impressions, and revenue metrics.

These trends seem to be repeating themselves this year. ironSource’s Business Intelligence team put together 4 insights that will explain the changes.

1. DAU isn't dropping in August, it's just re-stabilizing

Don’t be alarmed if you see a drop in DAU and impressions this month. There is a simple explanation for this: summer has ended and children are heading back to school.

During summer vacation, developers typically see a large increase in DAU and impressions, likely because users have more time on their hands, and are spending that time in-app.

At the end of August and beginning of September - as you can see from the graphs below, and similar to the metrics we saw last summer - DAU, and therefore impressions, return to their pre-summer numbers, once kids head back to the classroom and users begin to settle back into their everyday routines. This is why at first glance it seems that DAU and impressions are decreasing this time of year - when in fact they are just re-stabilizing.

On weekdays in the US, there might be a noticeable drop in metrics of ±10% according to our data. In China, this decrease may be more drastic, anywhere between 30-40%. However, DAU typically spikes on the weekends - ultimately evening out weekly DAU.

For this reason, our analysts recommend reviewing DAU and impressions from Sunday to Sunday - the weekend begins at different times across the world but Sunday is universal.

2. Changes in app metrics vary across geos, according to summer vacation dates

Drops in DAU and impressions depend on when summer vacations start and end.

For example, in the US, schools start as early as mid-August and as late as the end of September. However, in China, all students go back to class on September 3rd.

This is why performance metrics in China may experience a drastic drop after September 3rd. But don’t be alarmed, the trend is similar to patterns we observed at this time last summer, as shown below.

On the other hand, because students in the US return to the classroom at different points throughout the month, any drops in DAU at the end of the summer will happen far more gradually.

3. Engagement rates (ER) and usage rates (UR) remain steady

Engagement rate is the percentage of users who actively engage with ads on your app, and usage rate is the number of impressions per engaged user.

These rates should remain constant year-round. Why? While DAU may decrease since students are returning to school, the users who do stick around should still be watching, playing, and enjoying ads at the same rates. See below.

That being said, it is possible to observe a slight decrease in ER and UR, mainly on specific genres.

4. Changes in app metrics vary across genres

Metrics like DAU, impressions, engagement rate, and usage rate vary across game genres. For example, metrics in hyper-casual games might behave differently than they would in mid-core games.

Specifically, hyper-casual titles might experience a sharp decrease in metrics, as users are less tied to the game - in other words, they aren’t coming back to complete actions as they would in other genres. This unstable retention ultimately affects DAU and impressions.

The fluctuation of in DAU and impressions across hyper-casual titles ultimately impacts install rates for advertisers, as well, since install rates mimic DAU trends. That said, while there may be less installs, IPM for advertisers remains stable.

As the year goes by, different events and factors will affect in-app metrics. Don’t fret, ironSource is always here to provide you with useful insights and help with any issues you may experiencing.

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