We’ve all heard that urban legend about how municipal water departments experience massive system overloads during Super Bowl halftime. While the legends of poor employees scrambling to find shutoff valves are an exaggeration, there’s plenty of truth to the idea that more people are paying attention to something at certain times. This is why a Super Bowl commercial can cost $3 million for 30 seconds, while just about anyone can afford time at 4 a.m. on some random cable channel.

Television has confirmed that a larger audience is worth more. Now, it’s time for mobile apps to embrace that lesson. Say what you want about downloads or total usage, the number one aspect of an app’s usability we must measure is engagement.

This topic was top of mind with a lot of people at the recent MoDevUX, and the parallels between app deployment and mass media ad placement were eye opening.

The most arresting example came courtesy of a media company that — thanks to detailed app management — realized that for a full 30 minutes after they posted a notification to users via their app, that app’s usage increased twenty fold. That’s 20x, not 20%!

Knowing that apps baseline hourly usage, they’ve obviously set rates for in-app advertising. But now, thanks to the ability to really reveal the granular detail of app use, then can charge premium pricing for any promotions placed within that 30-minute window of dramatically increased user engagement.

Better MAM means a clearer picture of user engagement, and that’s a big win for anyone looking to get real ROI out of their app. How detailed is your picture of app user engagement?