One of the biggest white lies mobile gaming studios and other app developers often tell is that they don't rely on ad spending to get new users.
“It's all organic,” is the common refrain.
Or is it?
Onavo, which is like a Quantcast for mobile apps, is launching a new tool giving more transparency around this. Called Acquisition Insights, the new product gives clients a dashboard that shows how other competing mobile apps are using advertising to bring in new users.
“It's really going to give a first glimpse of how this whole ecosystem of paid app distribution with different ad networks is working,” said Guy Rosen, the company's CEO. “It will show what's working and what strategies different players are really using.”
While the product was in beta, a screenshot of it actually leaked to Gawker's Valleywag gossip site when there was controversy around how Path was attracting new users. The screenshot showed that a spike in spending correlated with a bump in the app's rankings.
Because the biggest mobile games and apps have multi-million-dollar marketing budgets every month, this is a tool that Onavo is going to offer in enterprise deals that are worth more than $100,000 a year.
They're betting that the user acquisition teams for these bigger gaming companies will want deep analytics where they can see how well ad campaigns for competing apps are working.
The dashboard can slice and dice advertising spend by different networks, so it can show a bump in activity on the Millennial Media network or on Facebook ad spend. It can even break out the actual ad units that other studios are using, so marketers can see the creatives and how well they are performing in terms of clickthrough rates.
The product has also been in existence for more than a year, so it has historical data as well.
Onavo, which is backed by Sequoia Capital, started out by offering mobile data tracking apps that helped consumers lower their monthly bills. Through those products, they are able to see the traffic that hundreds of thousands of mobile apps have on millions of devices.
They turned around and used this data to start building a Quantcast-for-mobile that gives observers visibility into which mobile apps actually have active users. It's data that's hard to come by since rankings in Apple's App Store, for example, focus on downloads and not retention. Onavo naturally uses aggregated anonymous data.
The company has raised $13 million in two rounds from investors, including Sequoia Capital, Horizons Ventures, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital and Magma Venture Partners.