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Google Play Can Triple Downloads of Featured Apps, But Favors Large Publishers

Sensor Tower data shows that Google Play featuring can have a significantly positive effect on downloads of featured apps.

Google Play Featuring Analysis

Last month, we produced a report on the impact of featuring on the iOS 11 App Store—but how does this compare to Google Play Store featuring? Sensor Tower's App Intelligence data reveals that Android apps featured on the Google Play Store can receive download increases of nearly 200 percent.

Games Receive the Largest Download Boosts

Our analysis examined two years of Google Play Store featuring data from April 2016 to March 2018. Most Google Play Store features are personalized; for example, common features include Recommended for You or Games You Might Like, which display a different selection of apps for every user. For this analysis, we studied three types of features that show the same apps to each user.

Chart showing download boosts delivered by features on Google Play

We found that the median U.S. downloads for games in the New + Updated feature almost tripled during the week of the feature compared to the week prior. While this is smaller than the download increases we saw for game features on the iOS 11 App Store, the Play Store still provides a substantial boost.

Apps and games featured in Hero Banners increased by about 100 percent, or double the week prior. This download boost was less than what we saw on the iOS 11 App Store, where apps featured in Hero Banners received median increases of 236 percent and 111 percent on the Games and Apps tabs, respectively. Apps in the New + Updated Apps feature did not experience as much download growth, with only a 10 percent median week-over-week increase.

Large Games Publishers Dominate Prominent Features

As users appear to be much more likely to browse the Play Store for games than for non-game apps, it's not surprising that Google decides to feature more games. In addition to the Home page, which lists games and non-games, the Play Store includes a Games page which exclusively features games. This emphasis on games is exemplified by the most regularly featured publishers.

Chart showing the most featured publishers on Google Play

We examined the publishers that are benefiting the most from featuring and found that almost all of the most frequently featured publishers are large game developers. Electronic Arts led the way with 48 Hero Banner features and 49 features in New + Updated during our two year analysis period. It's worth noting that Electronic Arts was also the top featured publisher in our iOS 11 featuring analysis. Additionally, all of the top 15 publishers had at least six million U.S. app downloads during this period.

While publishers such as Electronic Arts and King are also among the top iOS 11 featured publishers, nine of the top 15 Google Play featured publishers are outside the top 15 in the iOS 11 ranking. Publishers including Bandai Namco, Jam City, Kabam, Kongregate, and Supercell are among the top 15 featured publishers for Google Play, but not for iOS 11.

Chart showing the percentage of publishers featured publishers on Google Play by downloads

Furthermore, we found that 78 percent of publishers receiving Hero Banner features are large, having at least one million U.S. downloads during the two year study period. In contrast, the iOS 11 App Store tends to feature more small apps. Only 61 percent of publishers featured in iOS 11 Hero Banners had more than 100K U.S. downloads during the six month study period. This suggests that Google is reserving these prominent features for apps from established and successful publishers. Now that Google is no longer running Hero Banners on a daily basis, it is even more difficult for small publishers to receive the most high-profile feature Google has to offer.

About the Data in This Report

This report includes Google Play featuring data collected by Sensor Tower between April 2016 to March 2018. We analyzed the most recent year of New + Updated features. To increase the sample, we captured the full two years of Hero Banner features.

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Jonathan Briskman

Written by: Jonathan Briskman, Senior Mobile Insights Analyst

Date: May 2018