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How mobile apps find people to use them tends to be kind of a dark secret. Though nearly everybody advertises, some app makers are a bit shy about the notion of “buying users,” particularly given that much shadiness has occurred in that industry around cross-selling apps. Analytics company Onavo says it will now shine a light on what app makers are actually doing – for paying customers, that is.

Onavo’s new Acquisition Insights will provide its customers with ways to see whether new downloads of any app were driven by organic or paid discovery by dipping into data from about 12 different ad networks.

Customers can also monitor their own campaigns and see how they compare to the competition. For that privilege, Onavo will charge annual subscriptions costing about $60,000.

For us voyeurs and reporters, the announcement gives an opportunity to look into how effective a couple of sample ad campaigns were.

For instance, some Zynga campaigns for Running With Friends Free on InMobi, Flurry and MdotM are correlated with a couple of download spikes, according to Onavo data:

OnavoZynga

And Onavo monitoring shows that Google’s pick for advertising Google+ recently was Millennial Media:

OnavoGoogle

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says the Internet giant has too many mobile apps, and the total number should come down. With the company offering several dozen apps currently (and just today acquiring a new one), Mayer, in remarks made at a Goldman Sachs conference in San Francisco, said she’d like to trim that number to about 12 to 15.

“Ultimately, you don’t want to trouble users by making them download too many apps,” she said. “But many apps are single-use.”

The hope, she said, is that each Yahoo user will have on their smartphones “the two to four apps that matter most to them.”

One mobile opportunity she also sees is around Yahoo Groups. As communications within groups of people move to the phone and other mobile devices, Mayer said, there are “all kinds of possibilities” for Yahoo.

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