Traditionally, the holiday season and year-end bring new devices and a significant increase in app downloads. During the holiday period of 2013, Windows Store saw 2.4x more revenue than the Jan-Nov average. We expect to see a similar trend as we begin the 2014 holiday season with the US Thanksgiving holiday on November 27, extending through January 2015. We attribute the increase to customers with new devices adding apps, games, music and video content as well as existing customers using more or different apps to help with travel, shopping and recreation.
New devices and holiday promotions are being unveiled, including new tablets from partners Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, E FUN, plus new HP Stream tablets and laptops. And, new phones from HTC and Microsoft Lumia, with the new Lumia 535 announced yesterday. We also continue to help customers purchase your apps and games, increase the number of carrier billing partners, now with 68 connections across 40 markets. Every time we enable users to purchase apps or in-app purchase through their carrier, the average number of paid transactions increases 8x in emerging and 2.5x for the more mature markets.
How Microsoft is Promoting Apps this Holiday
Over the coming weeks Microsoft and its partners will begin holiday promotions and advertising. We are anticipating roughly $100 million (USD) in Windows Store Gift Cards to be available in market, starting this holiday season for consumers to purchase Windows and Xbox apps, games, music and video content across 41 markets. This includes gift cards available for purchase in retail stores or electronically as well as those distributed as part of promotional offers from retail and hardware partners. Watch Blogging Windows for promotional news.
One offer already in market is for the HP Stream Laptop, which includes a Windows Store gift card in selected markets.
Microsoft will also be ramping up holiday advertising to keep Windows devices and the Store top of mind this holiday shopping season. This will include online and digital advertising in addition to in-app and television advertising in select markets. As always Microsoft will partner with retailers to help ensure that Windows is prominent in physical and online stores this holiday season. You can find the latest updates on windows.com and microsoft.com/mobile.
We’ve also taken steps at the OS and platform level to improve app merchandising and discoverability in the past few months. Since last holiday we’ve increase the local Store merchandising slots by 55x, dramatically increasing the chances that a customer will see your app when browsing the Store.
Windows and Windows Phone 8.1 have also made apps much more discoverable and engaging. The Store UI was updated to offer greater content density and improve navigation with fewer clicks. We also made the Store and modern apps more discoverable and accessible by placing a Store icon in the taskbar and enabling your apps to be pinned there as well.
What you can do to prepare
Although all Store categories tend to see increased activity during the holidays, there are a few that historically we have seen higher-than-average growth such as: Books and Reference, Entertainment, Games and Music & Video.
We highly recommend that you finish that app you’ve been working on and/or update your existing apps to take advantage of the holiday rush. To help you prepare, we have a few recommendations to increase downloads and revenue:
- If you monetize via in-app advertising
- Update your app to the latest Microsoft Advertising SDK that supports rich media and will help drive a higher eCPM
- Include Windows ad mediation, released last week, to increase fill rate and eCPM
- If you monetize through in-app purchase, make sure to deploy monetization best practices (for example offer items for several different price points), as in-app purchase is a leading source of developer revenue for the Windows platform.
- Ensure your app runs across all devices, by deploying it as a Universal Windows app and linking those apps to increase discoverability and usage.
- Optimize your app to run on low memory phones, with 512MB or less, as these devices generate roughly 60% of phone downloads.
- Promote your apps
- Through in-app advertising via pubCenter ‘Promote your app’ or through other networks such as Ad Duplex
- Your web site, social media and user communications. Use the Windows Store download badge to add prominence (Windows, Windows Phone)
- Respond to user reviews of your app, as this can help improve ratings and drive downloads
- Update your apps and promote those updates; updated versions of apps drive additional usage and downloads.
Now is the time: submit by November 19 for US Thanksgiving holiday
To take advantage of the holiday push, you’ll want to update or submit your app no later than November 19 for Thanksgiving (US) and December 16 for the Christmas holiday. Updating your apps now also ensures they are ready for other upcoming holidays and festivities around the world.
The table below provides a listing of upcoming Microsoft holidays and app submission deadlines. I do want to advise you to submit as early as possible, as volumes are traditionally high at this time of year and turn-around times may be a bit longer than what you normally experience as a result.
I encourage you to act now to take advantage of the increased potential this holiday season. We look forward to seeing your latest creations.