Liquid, a startup with an app analytics platform that lets developers dynamically serve different versions of their app based on whose eyeballs are looking, has closed a $1 million seed round, with investment coming from Faber Ventures and Portugal Ventures.
Liquid has also opened up its platform in public beta — letting interested developers sign up via its website. The platform is due to launch in full this July.
Developers wanting to use Liquid’s system integrate the platform into their app, via an SDK — which currently supports Android and iOS apps (Liquid says they are looking to expand support to other platforms).
Once installed, the platform can be used to track app events, sessions, users and devices — providing full analytics via a dashboard view, including demographic info, and app-specific data such as number of weekly visits or in-app purchases.
But the flagship feature is the ability to customise elements of the app to particular users in real-time — with the aim of boosting engagement and conversion rates through more personalised content.
As more apps go freemium to drive downloads, there’s inevitably increasing pressure on developers to ramp up user engagement and convert more of those free users into paying customers. That’s the opportunity Liquid itself is targeting.
The platform allows for particular in-app features to be prioritised for certain users, or new content or a different design to be offered based on a user’s behaviour — promoting an in-app purchase at a certain time, for instance, or even changing the colour of the app based on the demographic (which, let’s really hope, does not result in a deluge of pink-hued apps digitally stalking women).
All these targeted tweaks can apparently be made without having to change the app’s underlying code, according to Liquid.
Another scenario it sketches for a freemium app developer using its platform is to target non-paying users with tutorials and links to features that lead to higher in-app purchase rates — with any pop-ups timed to occur at times when past data indicates a higher chance of conversion. Sounds like the poor user doesn’t stand a chance.
Liquid said it will be using the new seed funding to grow its team, add new features to its platform and expand its customer acquisition activities — as it works towards a full launch this summer.
In terms of the competitive landscape, Liquid lists Google Analytics, Flurry, Mixpanel, UserArtisan.com and Localytics as direct rivals but lists drawbacks with each — including Google Analytics and Flurry ‘not offering user-centric analytics’; Mixpanel ‘not showing user sessions’; UseArtisan.com ‘requiring publishers to use their platform to build the actual app’; and Localytics ‘not offering any personalisation’.
It’s worth noting that others than those Liquid directly lists have tried the app personalisation aspect of its business before — such as Apsalar, which we wrote about back in 2012, although that business appears to have since shifted focus specifically to ad targeting, or TappingStone, which we also covered in 2012.
It’s possible that earlier efforts to do dynamic app personalisation didn’t quite live up to their promise. What’s beyond doubt is that the requirement for developers to find alternative ways to monetise their apps has only increased since then, with the proportion of paid apps vs free-to-download continuing to decline.
Analyst Gartner has previously predicted that — by 2017 — 94.5% of downloads will be for free apps, suggesting the vast majority of app developers will need strategies to monetize their wares that don’t involve the user paying to download the app. So the opportunity for Liquid is certainly there, if it can execute on its real-time platform personalisation promises — and convince enough developers to buy in.