Effectively marketing a mobile app might be one of the most difficult tasks a marketer can face.

Research has shown that a quarter of mobile apps that are installed are never even used, and churn can exceed 50% for those that aren't used twice within the first 12 hours after download.

For marketers, this dynamic can be very costly. Significant amounts are spent driving app installs that don't even produce use, and high churn among users that do use apps produces a never-ending need to invest in driving app installs.

Sometimes, the economics of mobile apps just don't make sense and some companies have decided to kill theirs.

Can new ad formats alleviate some of the pain marketers often feel?

Google believes so, and last week, the search giant announced two new ad offerings, currently being tested with select clients, that give marketers new ways to promote their apps to users.

With Trial Run Ads, which have been designed specifically for gaming apps, marketers can take advantage of Google's app streaming technology to give potential users the ability to try their apps for 60 seconds before deciding whether or not to install them.

According to Google's Sissie Hsiao and Pasha Nahass, "The immersive demo increases the likelihood that an install is coming from someone who enjoys playing the game.

Users get a taste of the game before going through the download process, and the app developer attracts better qualified users who've chosen the game based on their experiences in the app.

Google's other new ad format for promoting mobile apps, Interactive Interstitials, are similar to Trial Run Ads in that they allow marketers to showcase the experiences their apps offer using interactivity.

Designed to market apps of all types, Interactive Interstitials employ HTML5 and give marketers "a beautiful and flexible canvas for the advertiser to become truly creative."

For example, marketers can pull in content or replicate functionality from their mobile apps, or create galleries that highlight their wares.

Marketers using Interactive Interstitials can also access A/B testing functionality to identify the creatives and calls-to-action that produce the best results.

No lipstick on a pig

Trial Run Ads are likely to be attractive to marketers in the highly competitive mobile gaming space. Not only are marketers only paying for installs, those installs are coming after prospective users have interacted with their app experiences.

In theory, this will decrease the likelihood that apps go unused after install and reduce overall churn. Interactive Interstitials, if done correctly, might also be used with great effect by mobile app marketers.

But obviously, there are limits to what ad formats alone can do. To keep users engaged with an app, compelling content and functionality is a must, and attention must be paid to UX.

Putting all of the ingredients of a great mobile app together is still challenging, so while Google's new ad offerings look promising, marketers pushing mobile apps that aren't up to snuff will likely still find themselves battling poor engagement metrics and high churn.

In other words, the best way to successfully market a mobile app is to start with a good one.

Patricio Robles

Published 7 December, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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