Mobile App Success Story: Google Santa Tracker

It’s Christmas! How can we tell? Because Google says so! It is the perfect time to pay attention to Santa Tracker, a tool for children (and adults who believe in the power of giving) to enjoy this holiday during the entire month of December. Of course, we will play with the app but we will approach it from a different angle because the best way to understand marketing techniques is to learn from masters, like Google.

Brilliant Idea

Well, you know Google! We can’t say more about the giant company. But let’s discover the idea behind Santa Tracker. It all started 13 years ago, when Google created a special page for sharing festive moments during Christmas. More and more features are added every year and with the evolution of mobile technology it was nearly impossible not to use small screens for spreading the winter joy. Kids can see when Santa starts his journey and before receiving their presents they will spend their time playing fun games and watching hilarious videos. Even though the Android app doesn’t provide all the facilities available on the website it is still a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

How Google Santa Tracker Did It

We will observe the most efficient methods used by Google to attract users with Santa Tracker.

App Store

On Christmas, everything is about lists and we will make one with the elements found on the app store page to check if Google followed its own guidelines:

  • App icon – green and red, the representative colors of this holiday and an image of Santa, as expected;
  • App title – Google Santa Tracker combines the brand with the most important feature of the app;
  • Video preview – very fun and engaging clip showing Santa’s activities before December;
  • App screenshots – the most representative images from the app;
  • App description – short and concise;

Yes, Santa would agree that Google was nice this year!


The real secret of Santa Tracker’s success is actually the countdown. Every time kids open the app they first check how many days or hours are left until the great takeoff, they enjoy some entertaining activities and they check again the timer before leaving the app. In the big day, when the tracker is unlocked children will constantly coming back to the app to see where is Santa and how many seconds he will remain in his current location. What’s the psychology behind these countdowns? Children are very eager to discover their presents under the tree and when they check Santa’s updates they feel like they are part of the event. That gives them a little control over the situation.


All the games created for Santa Tracker are specially designed for children’s small hands. Simple interface and useful tips make them appropriate even for the smallest users. Some of them are very informative, educating kids and helping them to learn geography. Others are just fun but this doesn’t mean that they don’t target other skills. Meanwhile, parents are free to finish their preparations for the Christmas party because they know that their children are entertained.


Nowadays it is almost impossible to convince users to pay attention to your work without a captivating video. And the experts from Google know that very well. For this reason, Santa Tracker shares humorous clips with Santa and his elves. Kids remain connected to the app while they follow those funny adventures. They can share them with their friends and the effects of this social behavior are amazing. Not to mention that this type of short videos appear also during Santa’s journey.


On December 24, the tracker is unlocked and all the kids from around the globe are able to follow their favorite character. When they press Track Santa they receive a lot of useful information. First of all where is Santa?  How many gifts he delivered? And what is the next destination? All the answers for these questions are revealed in the first part of the page. After that, real facts blend with charming creatives for attracting young minds and for surprising them with Santa’s adventures.


Now going back to development world you probably wonder how Google created this game. In that case you will be happy to know that the app is open – source and it is available on GitHub. You can check it in order to understand how Santa Tracker’s creators implemented Firebase features or how they managed to reduce the APK size. It will be interesting to discover how to use augmented reality and let’s not forget about analytics because without accurate reports it is very difficult to reach users’ expectations.

Available Everywhere

Whenever you offer an app, the key is to provide a smooth and continuous experience no matter the device used by your customers. With Santa Tracker the team from Google takes care of the entire audience because we all know that users are everywhere and their preferences differ according to their age and their lifestyle. This is a great opportunity to engage them when they pay attention to their favorite gadgets. And that is available especially during holidays when young people are allowed to spend more time inside apps.

Bonus Tip: Create a Tradition With Your App

If you created a seasonal app your main concern is how to engage users as much as possible. The solution is to help users when they want to make memories with your creation. Let’s explain a little this idea. Google launched this service 13 years ago and recently the game was adapted for mobile. The point is that each December, besides decorating houses and trees and purchasing presents for their love ones, people also download Santa Tracker for their kids. It became a family tradition to play games, learn about Christmas and to track Santa’s moves until the moment they receive their presents. Even though the app is used for a short period of time it manages to transform its users into loyal customers convincing them to come back every year.

Final Thoughts

We are sure that Santa brought you what you wanted. In case your wish was a successful mobile app, we hope we contributed a little by providing some useful ideas gathered from the study of an amazing app. Even if Santa Tracker targets small users, it offers undeniable benefits for app owners who want to apply the same strategies in order to obtain similar results. Happy Holidays!

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