Flurry Launches Return Rate Metric, Finally Offers REAL Retention Analytics

Flurry logo.

Flurry finally caught up with the rest of mobile development this week when they introduced “Return Rate.” This new-to-Flurry metric (but built-in-basic with most other mobile analytics providers) now matches the common definition for user retention – you only measure people on the actual days they come back.

Return Rate doesn’t completely replace Flurry’s previous misleading and potentially dangerous report of “Rolling Retention.” But at least it’s now more prominently featured on the platform – and it’s the metric developers should use instead.

Flurry is rolling the “Return Rate” metric out to developers as a beta just in time for the second-annual Flurry Source14 conference later this month.

What’s the difference between “Return Rate” and “Rolling Retention”?

Rolling Retention counts a user as retained on every day prior to their last visit – even if they didn’t actually visit your app on any of the days between. Imagine a user who visits your app once – then forgets about it for weeks before trying it again. He/she will be counted as a daily active user (DAU) every day between visits – which makes it an inaccurate measure of engagement. In short – your DAU numbers look overly inflated and you can’t see real user behaviors.

What does this look like for your app? The diagram below is an example of 5 users tracked over 10 days. Compare how Flurry’s rolling retention vs. return rate metrics would report DAU.

Table describing how Flurry's retention works.

Why is Rolling Retention dangerous?

Developers that use rolling retention can’t accurately compare daily usage over two time periods (aka user cohorts). The older time period will inevitably have a higher rate, because more time has passed for the users to return. Imagine pushing out an app redesign, and comparing retention rates from the current and previous versions. In a rolling retention report, it would look like daily retention has declined with the new design, when it actually hasn’t changed or could potentially be higher.

I previously told app developers to avoid Flurry because of its rolling retention data gap. But offering “Return Rate” reaffirms Flurry’s free analytics solution is still a viable cost-savings option for start-ups building their data programs. Plus, the improved UI looks great.

Here’s a video from Flurry about their new retention metric:

Andrew Pearlman is the head of user acquisition and analytics for Sourcebits. Check out his recent SlideShare on refining mobile app analytics.

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Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.