Blog The biggest user acquisition challenges for mobile marketers in 2017

The biggest user acquisition challenges for mobile marketers in 2017

If you build it, will they come?

That’s the question many mobile marketers are asking themselves in 2017, as app stores continue to expand under the weight of new releases (a full five million apps are expected to be released in stores by 2020).

It’s not that user acquisition has ever been simple, but increasing competition combined with a climate of rapidly changing technology means that it’s a real struggle for marketers to a see positive return on ad spend. At this year’s Mobile Spree in San Francisco we spoke with leaders in mobile marketing about the greatest challenges they face right now regarding user acquisition. What do they see are the largest hurdles keeping them from acquiring a steady stream of new, high quality users? How can a mobile measurement company and attribution provider like Adjust help startups climb the app charts?

Today we’re breaking down those topics and showing you what other marketers had on their plates in 2017.

Challenge #1: FRAUD

Chris Akhavan

The largest challenge we faced with UA in 2017 is the emergence of fraud as a real concern. That’s something we always want to stay ahead of the market on; making sure that we’re well protected on that front is a top concern for us.

Alex Potichnyj

Transparency is a big topic for us. That’s where the fraud tool plays a big part for us, because there isn’t a lot of transparency out there right now. You’re seeing some of the bigger networks even take transparency away from marketers. So being able to identify what’s coming in without knowing the true source of the traffic has been a big challenge and I think will be even a bigger challenge in the future

Erik Krogh-Jespersen

The biggest growth challenge is that we’ve scaled as high as we can on really quality networks, and now we need to work into networks that are a little more questionable. That’s where the Fraud Protection Suite becomes really valuable to us- we need to evaluate these things quickly and turn them off if there’s something wrong. We need to make those decisions fast so we can save money.

Mobile ad fraud is a rapidly expanding issue, and with every passing year fraudsters develop new ways to drive billions of fake engagements. In an ecosystem where both publishers and advertisers are incentivized to accept fraud, keeping track of all the ways in which fraud can harm your data set and your budget is a full-time challenge.

Adjust takes fraud seriously. As the first attribution provider to launch a real-time Fraud Prevention Suite, in 2017 Adjust unveiled the Coalition Against Ad Fraud (or CAAF), a global alliance of key players in mobile marketing, including attribution vendors and ad networks committed to actively engaging with and fighting against mobile ad fraud.

Challenge #2: AD SPEND

Kevin Young

We’re in a scaling period right now. From the top level, we’ve seen success at a certain scale, and we’re trying to replicate that at a larger scale without any degradation in the quality of users or increase in the cost of users overtime. Moreso, we’re busy getting our heads wrapped around the cost and user-side ecosystem of mobile. We want to get super granular with how we’re using cost and how we’re looking at ROAS (return on ad spend) and what kind of insight we can get from that.

Across the mobile ecosystem, marketers have long been frustrated with the lack of transparency surrounding ad spend (or cost) data. For too long, the status quo has been to receive aggregated data from your networks in the form of an average that hides any and all of the details about what’s really going on inside your campaigns. Solutions with an eye towards transparency have been rough at best, relying on non-scalable techniques such as  manually scraping dashboards.

We’ve been meeting with leaders from every vertical in the app store at our Think Tanks to talk about how this affects their bottom line and how we can unite to change the industry from the inside out. In October of 2017 we were proud to announce the fruits of our labor: Adjust’s brand new ad spend API. With the support of advertisers and networks combined, we’re able to offer you unprecedented granularity at any level you need, whether you want to understand what you’re spending on users in a specific geographic region or how your users on the latest iPhone compare to your Android users.

Challenge #3: GLOBAL GROWTH

Seth Bindernagel

In 2017 for Strava, growth from company to company is a challenging thing. Each team needs to figure out what are their own specific challenges that they need to overcome. And then there are industry-wide challenges. So the growth challenge for Strava as a company is how do we take our message and our product worldwide, and how do we present our global appeal? Adjust has a huge role in that because they help us track attribution when we expand into new markets. So that’s a big challenge for us

Erica Ma

For us, one of the most exciting challenges is we’re growing our game portfolio, we’re growing internationally, we’re localizing more than we ever have and finding the right marketing suite, the right tech stack, the right channels that can handle that complexity is something that is ever-changing for us and really exciting.

Scaling up globally involves many moving parts. The ability to plug into any network and access your inventory around the world is something Adjust believes you shouldn’t have to worry about. In 2017, we took it a few steps further: we expanded our offering to include integrations with both Tencent and LINE in Asia, and in May we introduced native measurement across China.

For companies breaking into new and emerging markets, Adjust makes it possible to compare apples to apples - whether you’re tracking cohorts from across the world or monitoring engagements on Chinese Androids versus Canadian iPhones. No matter which markets you expand into, Adjust is built to help you figure out which campaigns are the most successful and what to put your budget towards at the end of the day.


Ilya Shereshevsky

In general, we’re just trying to make organic growth work more effectively for us, because it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to drive affordable paid acquisition at scale. As a result, you need to understand different ways of driving users into your app that don’t involve you paying for impressions across ad networks.

Ilya’s right - affordable paid acquisition at a competitive scale can be difficult to come by. Optimizing your organic traffic and making your organic users work harder for you is one way to build a base of loyal, high-value customers. Adjust makes it easy to track your organic traffic and compare the quality of organic users to those who came via paid channels. Furthermore, it’s not only possible to track your Google organic search results so you can understand which keywords are driving the highest-value conversions - you can also track your rankings with Adjust’s Apptrace to understand the outcome of your paid campaigns and virality.

Challenge #5: SEGMENTATION

Serge Vartanov

What ultimately matters for AutoGravity isn’t just that our users are engaged, but also that our users are people who are ready to buy a car. That’s a difficult thing to tell - when exactly someone is ready to buy and finance a car. But with Adjust we’re able to see how much time it takes from the user installing our platform to the user actually applying for and being approved for financing. So we’re bridging a gap that has been challenging car companies and banks for many years.

It’s no longer enough to come up with one great campaign for all of your users. Marketers now know that different users engage in different ways. Making sure you’re sending those messages to the right users (or segments) is a powerful way to focus your budget on the audiences that matter most. This technology has long been kept out of the hands of advertisers; this year Adjust launched the Audience Builder, a way to give everyone the power to target the right users at the right time.

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