“Why would Google want to provide an app streaming service?” I hear you ask. Since the announcement last week, we’ve been having the same thoughts.

And when you consider everything it impacts, it could be pretty damn exciting.

But first, here’s a recap about what’s happening.

What Is App Streaming?

Mobile is big and it’s getting bigger. No surprises there. But what is surprising is that on average we only conduct one search per day on mobile. The increase in search volume is a result of an increase in the number of devices used on a daily basis. The majority of a mobile user’s time is spent in applications (“apps” from here on in).

Google clearly recognises this and has started to provide app-based content in mobile search results using the Mobile App Indexing API. App Indexing allows you to add deep-linked content in your app to Google’s search index without the need to duplicate content on a traditional webpage.

Until this recent announcement, Google had a way of letting you discover app-based content. But if you didn’t already have the app installed, you had to make a stop via your favourite app store to get it.

This is where App Streaming comes in. Google plans to host apps on virtual machines which will let you access the apps content without having to install it.

When you consider what this means for a user, it’s pretty cool. Suddenly your information universe explodes and includes all sorts of extra resources you can pull on to go about your mobile tasks.

Your Application Strategy Needs To Change

Broadly speaking, every brand’s app strategy has been “let’s get as many of our users to install our apps as possible.” And why not – it’s the only option they had, after all.

Now, if a user can access an app’s content without installing it, it’s likely that the number of app installations will decrease.

Another surprising statistic, according to Forrester, is that the average UK mobile user has 24 apps installed but spends 80% of their in-app time on just five apps.

In actual fact, therefore, that ‘installed base’ metric is mere flattery – a brand should be more interested in number of times the app’s content has been engaged with. Now the ‘must be installed’ barrier has been removed, this will allow app content to reach and help more users.

In the App Streaming world, a brand’s strategy should be, broadly speaking, “let’s get as much of our app’s content indexed as possible”.

Marketers can benefit from this via audience building and remarketing. Connecting app behaviour with remarketing is already possible. For example, using Marketo’s (a marketing automation platform) Mobile SDK, you can trigger integrated, multi-channel marketing campaigns based on a user’s interaction with your app.

Tailoring A Customer’s Experience

When a user can search for content on your app that’s different from your website it is possible for us marketers to be more flexible.

We don’t have to have exactly the same experience on mobile web as we do on mobile app – we can use the two experiences to serve content with a very different intent.

For example, your mobile web content might be very ‘lean back’, with content positioned early in the decision process, whereas your mobile app content might be very ‘lean forward’, with a very transactional experience.

Domino’s Pizza is already doing this – the website provides depth (including content about the company’s promise, nutritional information, history and so on) and the app is almost exclusively transactional.

Could This Be A Ray Of Hope For Publishers?

Marketers might not be the only people getting excited about this.

The topic of Ad blockers is not new. Publishers are facing a difficult challenge in maintaining business models built around ad-based revenue.

As Ad-blockers do block in-app advertising, any move to promote the use of app-based content would be good news for publishers.

Of course, Google owns an advertising network which profits from connecting users with the adverts within a publisher’s content. By helping more mobile users discover app-based content, therefore, it also protects its ad-revenue based ecosystem.

Do You Have An App?

Do you have a mobile app? How does this announcement change your plans? Let us know @rocketmill