One thing we’ve noticed in the apps world is that terms change a lot.  What’s been called a spade in one era of internet marketing has been called a shovel in others, and even possibly a blade in yet another era.  And while most things don’t actually change, being up on the lingo is something that means you’re not spending valuable time trying to figure out what the heck someone is talking about and you can actually pay attention to what they mean.

So we thought we would put together a handy dandy glossary of terms and their meanings currently, and perhaps sprinkle in a few outdated, outmoded terms where applicable so that you too can keep up with the cool kids when they start chattering on at length about cohorts and funnels and publishers and resellers and affiliates and sponsors (oh, wait, they don’t call them sponsors any more!).  Feel free to let us know if we’re out of date or if there’s some new super term we’ve missed in this update  😉

Funnel – your funnel is the basis through which all your metrics are derived when you don’t have anything like revenue or LTV to go on.  Everything is dumped into the funnel and while there is a large amount at the top, there is a very small amount at the bottom.  Just like the money you’re spending versus the money you’re making.

Publishers – one of the names for you and at least a million others like you.  You’re publishing apps and trying to get people into your funnel so they’ll buy your app or buy something in your app or look at ads while they’re using your app.

Advertisers – big giant brands like Pepsi and Coke who buy ad space inside publishers’ apps, usually through a variety of networks

RTB – real time bidding.  This is where people who are publishers can offer up spots in their apps for advertisers to buy on the various exchanges, many using real time bidding so they can ‘bid it out’!

Campaign – this one has a few meanings, none better or worse, just different, in case you were wondering.  As an advertiser, you’re running a campaign.  As a publisher, you’re campaigning to get more users, through a variety of methods (hopefully) and you’re probably measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns via a funnel.

UX – user experience.  The holy grail of app development apparently, since everyone talks about the user experience even when they don’t have enough traffic from their campaigns to actually generate a heat map that shows real data.

Heat map – this is a spreadsheet crossed with a box of crayons.  Heat maps are all the rage since they can be used to show where users are clicking on your app, what demographics are buying things, which are not, and so on.  In the same way the Weather Channel displays temperature across the country, a good heat map leaves you shaking your head and glad you’re not in Minnesota in the winter time.

LTV – life time value.  In real terms the life time value of most users is crap, since the amount of uninstalls you have to suffer through to get a single whale is a huge amount and you’re left to shake your head and wonder why you ever got into this business to begin with…

Whale – a super user, power user, massively into your app kind of guy (or girl if you’re Pinterest oriented) who spends a lot of time or money in the app and is as elusive as the one that Ishmael was searching for most days when you look at your UA numbers.

UA – user acquisition – a general waste of time for most app developers to discuss since they forget that life is not a Kevin Costner movie and you do actually need some sort of marketing budget unless you are the one in a million who hits the lottery (and remember, you can’t win without a ticket!) and becomes a featured app on the AppStore or Google Play based on the merits of your app.

User engagement – this is what you need to do with the users you’ve acquired to keep them coming back and using your app repeatedly (making them whales if they do this enough) so that you can make some money via in-app purchase or from your ad network.

Charting – a strategic part of UA, involving good rankings in your category or overall on the app store rankings.  While there are many ways to game the system, they all involve a good bit of dough to implement so as with UA, charting is not something that most devs are going to be concerned with unfortunately.

Organic search – when a user finds your app on their own basically, via search and not through an ad or a viral campaign.

Virality – yep, it’s catching (you desperately hope)!  Whether it’s via a video ad that gets a million YouTube views or someone’s Facebook Likes, Pinterest re-pins, etc.  This is unpaid marketing that arises when your engaged users that you’ve previously acquired tell their friends about your app and how great it is and all that good stuff.

App discovery – refer to UA in most cases, since without a budget the chances of your app hitting it big through virality or being featured is slim but not impossible.

Cohorts – latest greatest new terminology for measuring the value of a user in depth and based on commonality between specific users in a set.   Formerly known as value of a member when determined in order to calculate the price paid to affiliates per signup.

Churn rate – alternate terminology for the drop off rate between the big number at the mouth of your funnel and the leftovers at the neck.  When determining your churn rate, you assign instances to actions and analyze the ratio between the various instances chronologically.

Platforms – ha! finally an easy one.  Sort of.  iOS is a platform.  Android is a platform.  Windows8 is a platform.  Facebook is a platform.  But wait, these are also distribution channels.

Channel – just like on TV, there are many channels and channel as a term can be applied to multiple situations.  Your distribution channels can be your platforms that you develop for, you manage a variety of campaigns on various channels (these could be ad networks, editiorial inserts, viral media, etc) and your channel partners could be something else entirely if you were a big enough company to have channel partners like Angry Birds does.

These are just a few of the myriad of terms that we thought of while waiting on some government bureaucrats to actually answer their phone.  Still on hold but signing off this post for now!