When It Comes to Messaging Apps, These Two Metrics Matter the Most

Messaging apps are becoming increasingly entrenched in millions of people’s lives around the world, creating business opportunities for app publishers and advertisers alike. In recent months, two of the biggest names in the messaging world, Facebook and Snapchat, introduced new features — business communications and media content distribution — that weave monetization into user engagement. But in order to better understand messaging apps’ potential to monetize, we’d first have to measure their user engagement. In this post, 7Park Data’s Lead Internet Analyst Byrne Hobart explains his unique choice of key metrics in measuring the health of messaging apps: sessions per user and weekly active users (WAUs).

Sessions per user

When it comes to Facebook Messenger, Kik, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and other chat apps, sessions per user — and not time spent (minutes) in app– matter the most. One of the reasons is because these apps are optimized for shorter, more frequent sessions. More frequent sessions, in turn, indicate increase in messages exchanged between users. In other words, sessions per user is the main input in determining the viral coefficient of an app. When you use it more, your friends get more messages, so your friends use it more, too. And, since messages drive monetization in messaging apps, sessions per user becomes a key metric. Let’s explore a bit further.

Increasingly, monetization in messaging apps revolves around users’ one-on-one personal interactions, where efficiency trumps entertainment. As chat apps push business communications (payments, customer service, etc.), brands are able to engage with users at the most opportune times without obstructing their overall app experience. App publishers, at the same time, earn ad money and keep in-app interactions ‘organic’ for their users. The frequency of sessions is gaining momentum over the time spent staring at the screen.

Weekly Active Users (WAUs)

Weekly active users may seem like an unusual choice, considering that the majority of app publishers and analysts focus on monthly active users (MAUs) in their reports. But, often referred to as a ‘vanity metric’, MAUs includes casual users who may check in only once a month. At the other extreme, daily active users (DAUs) may ignore frequent, albeit not daily, users.

And even though messaging apps don’t have consistent intra-week usage patterns, no effective messaging app gets used less than once per week. So with WAUs, which tracks user behavior at the most appropriate time interval, we’ve found a metric that reflects messaging apps’ intended usage expectations.

The key takeaway: For an accurate assessment of messaging apps’ user engagement and potential to monetize, avoid using ‘vanity metrics’ and instead look at sessions per user and weekly active users.

Interested in other metrics and their use cases? Stay tuned for more insights and tips in our upcoming posts. Subscribe to 7Park Data’s blog.

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