Apps Have More Privileged Access
Apps are device-based and will always be given more privileged access to APIs, storage and other resources, helping to differentiate them from the web. App analytics can access these APIs natively, gathering device details, location, screen orientation, session length, etc. without requiring a single page view tag. The web is server-based and more removed from the client. Using web analytics in apps increases implementation time and cost and results in lost and incorrect data.
Offline Usage and Efficiency are Critical
Mobile bandwidth is not unlimited. Customers also expect their apps to work everywhere, even with no network access, and to do so without draining batteries or wasting data plans. Proper app analytics cache data locally and only periodically upload compressed data. Actions are time-stamped when they happen, not when they are received. Reports & analyses are updated as historic data are received.
Actions and Engagement, Not Page Views
Apps are built around actions: reading an article, playing a video, making an in-app purchase. Apps also have very defined starts, stops and pauses (ie, multitasking), rather than time-out settings used by web analytics. Apps are designed around screens that display new and changing content, not page views. Instead of referring links, search traffic or page downloads—the focus of traditional web analytics—app analytics is focused on events and engagement.
Multiple Device IDs, Not Cookies
Apps have access to multiple device identifiers that can be used to recognize unique devices, but must be carefully managed for accurate user counts, attribution and retention analysis. Apps can also create and store their own user IDs. These device and app IDs must also be specially secured and protected, with customers given the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of participation.
Compiled Packages vs. Server-Based
App analytics libraries (SDKs) are bundled into apps, which are only periodically released to customers. This requires small footprints, independent threading, stability, resiliency and code transparency. Also, specialized libraries are needed and must be maintained for each development environment.
Web Analytics Struggle to Support Apps
Traditional web analytics vendors could extend their solutions to fully support apps—but it’s not as simple as offering an in-app SDK. Supporting offline usage, cached uploads, client time stamps, multiple IDs, etc. also requires different back-end systems. For web analytics vendors, making these changes has too great of an impact on the established web analytics business and is therefore continually promised and postponed.