The global market revenue for app development is growing so fast that it is projected to reach somewhere around US $3,553m this year. With COVID-19 physical distancing, app usage has rocketed. Consider this: A good portion of the time and money that we used to spend on various activities—shopping for clothes, grabbing lunch with a colleague, catching a movie with friends, taking the kids to the zoo—are now largely spent on apps. And while a post-COVID world will find us spending money on other activities like we used to, app usage will still maintain an upward trajectory.
While you’re thinking about how to capture these consumer dollars, let’s talk about the types of app features that increase user engagement and how to use them to create monetization opportunities.
In-App Video Chat and Streaming Drive User Engagement
The average person spends 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media. While photos and text posts can be fun and engaging, some of the most popular social media apps, like Facebook, What’s App, Discord, and Instagram have integrated video chat and/or live video streaming.
This doesn’t surprise Geoff Cook, the CEO and Co-Founder of The Meet Group, which builds dating and social discovery apps. When The Meet Group added live streaming video to five of the company’s apps—MeetMe, LOVOO, Growlr, Skout, and Tagged—Cook says they found that video became “either the one or two biggest revenue segments for each app” and that more than 20% of their customers use video features.
The company was at the forefront of adding video to the dating space and Cook says people now rely on it: “More than half of daters in our surveys insist on having a video chat before they even consider meeting in person.”
Likewise, The Meet Group has found success with live video streaming. Cook says, “We have prided ourselves for being at the forefront of different technologies. We moved to mobile from web pretty early and that’s part of the reason we’ve been successful. And we saw live streaming video as this mega trend that was affecting social apps of all kinds.”
Every day their customers spend about 1.4 million hours live viewing or streaming and spend as much as 20 more minutes per day in video than in the core product.
Creative Ways to Monetize the In-App Experience
And that additional time spent in the app? Well, it directly correlates to more opportunities to increase engagement and monetize those engagements.
Cook says, “20 million text chats today are happening inside of our video feature” and they use this engagement to “entice [customers] into other forms of content and to increase their time with us.”
The Meet Group uses their culture of innovation to spur the creation of interactive social elements like dating games, real-time chat platforms, and contests. During those engagements, they give customers the opportunity to send each other virtual gifts and make other in-app purchases (IAP). They are even exploring ways to use augmented reality (AR) face filters to add another fun feature—and another monetization opportunity.
If you want to learn more about The Meet Group’s incredible growth and how they turn live video into transactions, watch Agora’s Virginia Liu, SVP Marketing and Ecosystems, interview Geoff Cook during the fifth episode of Agora’s V-Chat@RTE2020 series.
Any Industry Can Monetize In-App Engagement
Game developers already know that socializing and community building are a core part of the gaming world. Apps like Discord and Bunch are making it even easier for gamers to talk and see each other while playing. As we learned from Cook, this increase in in-app engagement leads to monetization opportunities. Most games already have built-in IAP options, but imagine creating real-time video streaming contests for your favorite YouTubers to battle it out while fans watch and send them points. You could also let gamers buy game-time with top gamers to learn tips and tricks.
In retail, designers can host large live-streamed buying events with full audience participation, implement global brand development, and grow international in-app sales. The gamification of shopping is a clever strategy that offers pop-up sale racks, free merchandise (2 for 1) for spinning the wheel, and other incentives to keep buyers shopping longer.
In education, virtual classes can offer real-time one-on-one or group chats as well as large-scale lecture-style classes. Besides the standard teaching tools like interactive white boards and screen sharing, teachers can also take advantage of fun features like AR face filters, voice effects, and background sounds. IAP for tuition, school supplies, books, and lunches, also add convenience for parents.
The opportunities are massive, and the barrier is probably lower than you think.
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If you have questions, please call us at 408-879-5885. We’d be happy to help you add voice or video chat, streaming and messaging into your apps.