The U.S. Presidential race is a gift that keeps on giving. In this case, app makers are benefiting, as candidate-oriented apps grew 60 percent on Google Play in the first quarter.
Tel Aviv-based IronSource reported that its Q1 data shows political apps have increased dramatically in the quarter leading up to the primaries and election.
“The app industry continues to be a fast-moving sector that evolves quickly and dynamically, making tracking tools like Fastest Growing Apps all the more important for developers looking to capitalize on shifting user interests to engage with their target audiences and drive growth,” said Omer Kaplan, chief marketing officer and cofounder of IronSource, in a statement. “This latest data reflects the increasing importance mobile and digital play in today’s election landscape, and illuminates opportunities for developers looking for new ways to target users and increase installs.”
Election-focused apps penetrated a variety of app categories in the Google Play Store, with such apps appearing in categories ranging from News and Entertainment (like popular Entertainment apps What Would Donald Say? and Hit the Politician) to Games, which included newly released apps like the funny title Trump Dump.
Of the 50 leading apps identified as being political, the majority were in the Games and Entertainment categories, with 40 percent in Games and 20 percent in Entertainment. Only 14 percent were in the News and Magazines category, indicating less interest in election coverage versus satirical candidate-specific apps.
Donald Trump apps dominated: 75 percent of the apps involved Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, 12 percent included Hillary Clinton, and 11 percent focused on Bernie Sanders — mirroring both the hype surrounding Trump and the tight race between the Democratic frontrunners. The influx of Trump-focused apps include Punch the Trump, which received over 280,000 downloads in March and April, and Donald Trump: Flappy Hair and Angry Trump, both of which play off the popular Angry Birds.
Only 2 percent of apps with a candidate’s name in the title included Ted Cruz. The current first runner-up in the Republican primary race has only 3 apps, perhaps echoing limited interest in the candidate and his campaign.
Capitalizing on the popularity and user interest in the current elections, other mobile publishers have begun to incorporate election-focused features into their strategy. Notable providers such as Fox News and The Washington Post launched independent apps specifically focused on the elections. Other apps, such as Comedy Central Play and news app Watchup, are piggybacking on the hype with an app store optimization strategy, incorporating relevant election terms and nominee names into their app store description to increase visibility and drive traffic.
More generally, the Gaming category continues to dominate, the fastest growing app category for the third quarter in a row. Shopping saw a steep drop in growth this quarter, as user attention shifts after December and January’s holiday shopping craze. Social has also been rising this quarter, likely boosted by the launch of the viral social app MSQRD and its acquisition by Facebook. Finally, Media & Video bumped to the No. 2 position in the fastest-growing category, likely due to the rise in popularity of music and video-editing apps such as musical.ly.