Nancy Macintyre, co-founder and CEO of Fingerprint

With millions of apps available, the mobile market has become an extremely crowded space, making discovery for new apps a major problem. This issue may be even more challenging for child-oriented apps geared towards education or entertainment because they have to reach two audiences: the children who play the apps and the parents who oftentimes approve and download them.

One way to get around over-saturated app stores is by taking content to secondary means such as Fingerprint, which is a subscription service focused on distributing games, books and videos to kids through its mobile platform and gives brands an opportunity to reach new audiences outside the app-store environment.

“There comes a moment of truth during the trial period of a subscription product where a parent asks, ‘are you still playing with it?’, ‘do you like it?’ or ‘what are you learning?’” Fingerprint co-founder and CEO Nancy Macintyre told AListDaily. “If the child answers positively, the parent subscribes; and as long as we pass that monthly moment of truth, the customer stays a customer. As marketers, we need to distinguish our value proposition to the parent, but then keep the child happily engaged to earn a subscriber.”

Fingerprint has content-licensing partnerships with over 300 brands, including Lionsgate, Mattel, Sesame Street and DreamWorks Studios, offering curated content to children ages three-through-eight. By being shown on a subscription service, education and entertainment apps have a better chance of reaching young audiences and apps aren’t competing with thousands of other applications to get to the audience.

Macintyre said that by having a curated library, content becomes more easily discoverable by children, stating that its users download over 20 apps per month, play over 90 minutes each day and spend about 75 percent of that time playing apps and the rest watching videos.

“An educational app needs to be just as entertaining as any game or book,” said Macintyre. “The play needs to keep the child excited about playing it over and over again.”

Macintyre said that Fingerprint appeals to parents by emphasizing safety and privacy. That means children can’t access content their parents may deem inappropriate, and apps on the platform don’t have ads or in-app purchases. They promote that value to parents—in particular to moms—distinguishing between the player and the payer.

For parents, they also market with messaging that indicates Fingerprint saves time by finding content through a curated service instead of browsing an app store. Once Fingerprint determines that an app meets its standards—both from a learning and educational perspective—the service then focuses on merchandising the app so that kids discover it, and play it.

Fingerprint also helps brands evaluate their apps to ensure kids find them engaging. According to Macintyre, that means analyzing the play data to recommending changes to the user experience and amping up the fun factor.

Although Macintyre admits that most children discover new content on YouTube before looking for related apps, she remains hopeful that more mobile apps will find ways to build massive audiences, the way Rovio did with Angry Birds. In the meantime, as fewer families are discovering content through television, learning apps must rely heavily on social media to gain awareness.

“Facebook in particular is the most powerful marketing channel for learning apps,” said Macintyre. “The ability to carefully target the consumer and share a range of high-value video or carousel ad units that truly explain the product features works well. Word-of-mouth from parent-to-parent is super important.”

When it comes to subscription services, Macintyre affirms that content is still king. Parents and children are always on the lookout for brands that they trust. Almost all of the partnered brands have their apps available for free outside of the service, but Macintyre said that their odds for discovery increase when they’re shown alongside other content on a curated service because of what she describes as the “Netflix effect.”

“Proximity to well-known apps and premium brands tends to lift exposure for all titles,” said Macintyre.

The family decision to subscribe to a service ultimately comes down to the parents and their goals for their children’s education. Engaging apps that inspire a love of learning helps inform that decision, and parents tend to take their cues from their kids.