The Chinese app economy has been exploding, but so far most of the country’s apps have needed help to market abroad, in part because of the huge differences between China and other large markets, like the U.S.
No Chinese domestic data providers have been able to bridge the divide adequately.
So Kochava, a U.S.-based mobile analytics company that helps mobile apps track the performance of their marketing efforts — including on big platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter — has signed a partnership to allow most of China’s big apps instant access to the U.S market.
Specifically, Kochava has partnered with China’s largest mobile data services company, TalkingData, which serves more than 80,0000 app customers (details are in the release). That includes 80 percent of the top 50 Chinese app developers, in terms of revenue, according to Kochava CEO Charles Manning. Now those apps can have instant access to Kochava’s services, with the blessing of TalkingData, Manning told VentureBeat in an interview.
Kochava versus AppsFlyer
This is not to say that Chinese apps haven’t had other avenues. On the contrary, one Kochava competitor, AppsFlyer, four years ago started serving Chinese app developers for their international ad measuring needs. That company has 16 staffers assigned to China, and has signed deals directly with individual Chinese app companies, including Qihoo 360, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. (Update: Another company, Adjust, entered China almost two years ago, and has seven employees in two offices).
So Kochava’s deal with TalkingData is likely to set up a fierce competition between Kochava and AppsFlyer in China. In fact, Kochava is hoping the deal will displace AppsFlyer from many of the TalkingData customers, where overlap exists.
Kochava’s Manning contends that Chinese apps wanting to do business in the U.S. have sometimes been slow to do so because it requires striking deals with independent foreign companies. AppsFlyer CEO Oren Kaniel disagrees with this claim, insisting that app publishers have had freedom of choice and have not felt constraints from TalkingData.
More money coming from China
Regardless, it’s true that these partnerships — whether through Kochava or AppsFlyer — are likely to bring much more money to the U.S. over the next year, for a couple of reasons.
First, TalkingData’s own ad measurement services have so far stopped at the Chinese border. That’s largely because China’s market is fiercely competitive and works differently from most other markets, Kochava’s Manning explains. TalkingData doesn’t have the U.S. relationships it needs with large companies like Google, Twitter, or Facebook that would allow it to get the best U.S. data on app performance. And it would difficult to do so. Facebook, the top dog for app marketing, hasn’t opened its measurement partner program to other players in quite some time, even to U.S.-based companies like Adobe.
Second, the trend of expansion by Chinese companies abroad continues. In February, for example, a consortium of Chinese companies, led by web and security company Qihoo 360 Technology, made a $1.2 billion offer for Opera Software, which owns a large mobile advertising platform called Opera Mediaworks. One driver of the deal was to gain access to a means of marketing products internationally. (The consortium also includes Beijing Kunlun Tech, a distributor of online and mobile games.)
For now, Kochava and AppsFlyer are two of only a handful of companies with full-fledged performance analytics, including attribution. Such services are necessary to help apps know whether Facebook, for example, was responsible for a new user installing an app, or whether the install came from an ad on some other U.S ad network. Tracking can be complicated, given that campaigns can include multiple networks.
Tune, another independent attribution company, has held off on heavy investment in China so far.