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Ello Anyone? Why Brands Should Forget About Being Early ‘Appdopters’

It’s not a big deal to be the first brand on the latest app, writes Arc CD Chad Ingram

Apps on apps on apps

I’m what they call an early “appdopter.” I downloaded Peach. Heard of it? I read there were eight things I needed to know, and how it was going to replace all of my social media apps—I had to have it. Then just a few days ago, it was declared dead. R.I.P. Peach.

I remember spending weeks searching for a special invitation to join Ello, deemed the “anti-Facebook.” I finally got that elusive invite, and logged on only once. Remember Path? My friends from high school decided to join, so I gave it a shot. Snooze. I later found out Path sold the naming rights to Korean messaging service Daum Kakao. I’ve even color-coded my apps because apparently I have that much time on my hands.

Chad Ingram - Apps

What does this say about my personality? Do I need that many friends in different social circles to validate my worth? I’m not even a millennial (according to some reports). Without getting too existential, I blame it on marketing—in a good way. Being a creative in marketing and advertising forces you to stay current with pop culture and technology, allowing you to share that level of insight with your clients. Nielsen data shows the average user interacts with around 27 apps per month, and that is certainly on the rise. I can’t believe I’m admitting I have 159 apps on my phone.

The best mobile apps are those that enhance your way of life. Uber and Lyft revolutionized mobility. Instagram made everyone a professional food photographer. Instacart delivered groceries when you didn’t feel like walking to your corner bodega. What do all of these apps have in common? They weren’t first-to-market, yet somehow reached mass appeal and adoption. Remember MyTaxi, Hipstamatic and Peapod? Being first doesn’t always mean being the most used.

Apps within apps and spinoff apps?

With accelerator networks all the rage in the tech world, it’s hard to tell how consumers actually benefit. When Swarm split from Foursquare, I cried many nights, and still haven’t quite gotten over it. In 2011 Starbucks was one of the first companies to test mobile payments through a secondary app, targeted toward their most loyal consumers. They later merged that functionality into their primary app for good reason: Business Insider recently reported nearly 21% of Starbucks transactions are made via mobile payments. (Starbucks’ loyalty program has over 10 million active members.)

WatchESPN launched as a stand-alone app for streaming live sports and became so successful that they are now merging users toward a single streaming platform. UberEats is testing in major markets, and the jury’s still out (Chad’s jury) on complementary apps to Instagram: Boomerang and Layout. The list goes on and on, making it harder to predict which apps will have true staying power.

What’s the message for our clients and the work we put on the table? Don’t be an early appdopter. Humans will dictate which apps survive and which ones vanish. All too often as creatives, we jump to shiny objects as the next big thing. It’s not a big idea to be the first brand to use Snapchat Lenses (which recently limited its Lens Store to paying marketers only). You’ll know you have a powerful idea when you’re compelled to share it because of the simplicity, envy and emotion it evokes. And when your mom likes it on Facebook—jackpot.

But keep downloading those apps because one of them might change your life.


Chad Ingram is a creative director at Arc Worldwide, part of The Leo Burnett Group.

The views expressed by the author are his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Leo Burnett Group.