Acquisition & Engagement

App Marketing Conversations: KitKat App Indexing

Becky Doles

Welcome to our newest installment of App Marketing Conversations. This week our CEO, Ian Sefferman (@iseff), discusses the new App Indexing feature in Android KitKat. He is joined by Ryan Morel (@ryanmorel) of Gamehouse (@ghpartners) and Robi Ganguly (@rganguly) of Apptentive (@apptentive).


Ian: Hello and welcome to another installment of App Marketing Conversations. As always I’m here with Robi Ganguly of Apptentive, and Ryan at Gamehouse, and I’m Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ .

One of the most sort of least talked about features of KitKat, of Andriod KitKat, was this new Google app indexing feature, and I think Google app indexing is a feature that deserves a lot of talk. So I’ll give a quick overview of what it is, and we can talk about what its potential ramifications are.

App indexing is essentially…the first thing you have to know is that in KitKat the Search is the new home screen, right? It is essentially built in, baked-in, more or less unchangeable, etc. So Web Search becomes the new home screen, except for Web Search isn’t just Web Search anymore.

Now they have this new thing where you can tell it what content you actually have within an app, and if your search result comes up with a web page for an app that’s already installed, you can instead of opening the web page, you can open the app directly to that piece of content. So it’s essentially figuring out how to do deep linking within an app by doing it instead, by indexing the web and then telling it what it actually has in this app.

So, that’s really, really interesting for a variety of reasons. I think it shows the convergence of mobile and web that converts to the app because it’s in the web’s ecosystem. I think it shows organic engagement, organic discovery, all of this stuff on mobile, and I think in a better way.

Let’s talk about that first piece because I think that’s a place where it’s really interesting both to me and to you. How do you think about…how should they be marketing or be thinking about re- engagement from sort of a search perspective? Have you guys given that any thought?

Robi: Well, we haven’t really given that specific aspect thought, but it’s the idea that anyway that you can let people know about things they can do with your app that maybe they don’t have top-of-mind. Most of us have only a few apps on our home screen, and then we have all these other apps deeper, and they’re not probably top-of-mind all the time.

If you imagine yourself being an app that’s on the third or fourth screen, and you help people find recipes, somebody’s looking for a recipe on their phone, and you optimize your content to make sure that your app can show up in those results, I think that’s what you’re doing to communicate, again, to the consumer here’s where we are, right here. It’s a quick and easy answer. “Oh yeah, I installed that three months ago. I forgot about it.”

Ian: Yeah. What do you think about it?

Ryanl : I don’t know. I think it’s really interesting one of the questions…so, one, I think it’s really interesting we’re seeing the conflation of the mobile web and screen to the mobile experience and leading and the mobile app experience is winning, right? So people are spending more time in making their mobile web experience better and more accessible.

I think that’s very interesting, especially if the mobile web is going to be the next big thing, right? So, that’s interesting, and, two, I mean I start to question what are Google’s real motivations here beyond a utility perspective?

Are they seeing a massive increase in mobile usage without a corresponding massive increase in mobile web search and CBC prices because ultimately you can see this becoming a who’s going to pay to be the highest result on…

Ian: Mm-hmm.

Robi: Yeah, absolutely right.

Ryan : It’s true. If people get to 150 apps…I mean look, the recipe you want is a great example, right? If you’re into recipes, you have five recipe apps.

Robi: Which one?

Ryan : Which one comes out totally first, right? In reality, all a recipe apps have the same recipes, the same titles. It’s like, my example, we’re going to fry a turkey this year.

Ian: Turducken?

Ryan: No, fried turducken would be a…

Ryan : It’s also just called a heart attack.

Ryan : You type in fried turkey recipe and you get five individual things that all look exactly the same. How is Google going to decide who gets to go first? Will there likely be sponsored listing?

Ian: Yeah, really, really interesting. The other piece of this puzzle that I think is an interesting sort of anecdote is it, again, seems to show me that Google is doing more innovation than Apple is doing, especially when it comes to search and discovery in the creation of apps. Do you agree with that statement, or disagree?

Robi: Oh, absolutely, and I think there are two reasons. I think one is Google is in the business of being in front of people’s time and attention and monetizing the connection via search primary discovery mechanism. So, all their incentives, financially, are aligned with going faster here, and this is clearly a search play, right? Information play. But I think the second thing is that Apple continues to disappoint externally from the web surfaces perspective. Like things that they build on web surfaces front tend to be weak, and they tend to lag.

Ian: Yeah. What do you think about that, and what do you think about just in general sort of…do you think that if Google is doing better at search and discovery and innovating, that long-term that’s the right strategy for them to win?

Ryan : I think it’s a strategy, and it also depends on what winning means, right? So if winning is market share, than sure. Because I think he said it best, all right, so Google’s monetization is search and advertising. I mean, I think we consistently hear about from an app developer and app marketer perspective “Hey, let’s monetize this better.”

I’m not sure that Google cares about that, right? I am pretty sure they care about driving up search revenue, and mobile is a great way to do that. From Apple’s perspective, I mean they’re not that good at stuff, at this sort of stuff, but they still build the best consumer electronic screens, and that’s what they care about. I think winning for each of them is something different.

Ian: All right, well I’ll be sure to put some links about Google app indexing into this blog post. Be sure to check out the other videos and subscribe to our channel, like this video, and thanks for watching.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.

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