App Marketing

What’s the problem with aggregated ad spend data?

Marne Litfin
Product Content Strategist

Adjust recently announced the arrival of our ad spend API - a fully automated way to deliver cost data at the device level or at any level you want.

After years of frustration with the opacity and secrecy surrounding cost data, we set our sights on reforming the entire mobile marketing industry from the inside out - and we’ve done it!

But why was this so high on our wish list? Mobile advertisers have been able to receive ad spend for years - typically as aggregated data. What’s the problem with that?

What is aggregated data? 

When cost data is added together into one entire fee, rather than based on individual device value, it is aggregated data. Say you’re an advertiser and you run a campaign with Network A. Network A drives 100 installs and says you now owe them €200. You might assume from those numbers that you spent €2 per user. This average you just created is a form of aggregated data.

What’s the problem?

Until recently, this type of notification from Network A might’ve been the only ad spend data you’d receive. Before the release of our ad spend API, if you received cost data at all, it arrived via flawed methods. You might have also received partially aggregated data with vastly different levels of granularity, all depending on which network your ad spend data was coming from. So every network has its own rules regarding transparency around ad spend data. This matters, but why?

Aggregated ad spend data is like a mask. It can hide almost anything behind it. Let’s go back to the example with Network A. Remember, Network A generated 100 installs and now you owe them €200. You did the math and it came out to €2 a user. But there’s nothing to check that math against and your average is keeping key pieces of information out of sight.

For example, one of those users might have cost you €5 to acquire, for example if they came from a more expensive region. One of your users might have cost you just a few cents. When you rely on aggregated data, you don’t have a lot of insight into who or what you’re spending your marketing budget on.

The problem goes on. What if the user who cost you that €5 never makes a purchase in your app? What if your users with the lowest cost per install (CPI) price are responsible for all of the revenue you see in a given week? What if you’ve bought 1,000 installs or 10,000, but there’s only one whale or one very small group of users driving all of your revenue? You get the picture; there are a lot of what-ifs involved with aggregated data. You can’t know what’s up. And not knowing causes you to make uninformed decisions about what to put your money towards.

Ad spend at any level you want

When Adjust talks about the kind of cost data we want to offer, we’re talking about tracking and calculating the per-device, non-aggregated cost that’s paid at the time of acquisition.

So what would the opposite scenario look like? When you can get ad spend at any level of granularity you want, you can receive it at multiple levels. Device level ad spend might be helpful for you, given your KPIs and performance goals.

However, there are other levels that might appeal to you too - for example, if you wanted to see how your campaigns performed among users on the newest iPhone, this is something you wouldn't be able to do with aggregated data but would be able to do with our new ad spend API.

Here's an example at the device level: let’s say you run a campaign with Network B. Network B drives 10 installs. Network B says that you owe them €100. That’s an average of €10 per install. With Adjust’s ad spend API, however, you can see what’s actually happening.

For example, you’d be able to see that there were 5 installs on Android at a price of €5 per install and 5 on iOS at a price of €15 per install. You could direct Network B to only target Android users, if you’re looking to optimize for CPI. In the same example, you might notice that your iOS users spend ten times what Android users spend in their first week, so despite the high cost of acquisition, if you were to optimize for lifetime value LTV, you could direct the Network to only target iOS users.

If you’re an advertiser, you make decisions about your marketing budget based on the data you receive in real time. Those decisions need to be based on data that gives you a real picture of what’s going on with your campaigns.

Non-aggregated ad spend data at whatever level you need it is essential for forecasting your future marketing spend and improving your ROI. Receiving non-aggregated ad spend directly via API along with all of the other metadata you already receive from Adjust just makes sense.

Want to learn more about Adjust's ad spend API? Contact your Account Manager for more information.

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