MOBILE MARKETING IS EVOLVING
DON'T GET LEFT BEHIND
PAUL H. MÜLLER
UA has come a long way. Not only in terms of the sheer amount of money being invested in the strategy, but also in the level of sophistication that goes into every step of the process — from bidding to ASO to creative design.
Our industry is no stranger to challenges, and UA managers have had to overcome everything from changes to user privacy requirements and the evolution of ad fraud, to the presence of big-spending brands in spaces previously thought exclusive to performance marketers.
Based on current market patterns and the approaches we’re seeing from some of our biggest clients, UA managers are once again being faced with change at the start of the new decade. More specifically, automation of mobile advertising will change the game entirely, and new strategies around claiming the top of the app store charts will become the norm. In this column, I’d like to take a look at both of these emerging strategies, how they work, and what they could mean for our clients.
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CHANGING UP THE (HYPERCASUAL) GAME
The discovery of apps through app store charts has always been a major source of organic installs for app publishers.
Put simply, you get more users the higher you rank. This has been true since the first day of the Apple App Store and still drives up to 80% of installs for app developers. In the past year we’ve seen a new marketing strategy emerge, spearheaded by major players in the hypercasual gaming vertical, that has led to their apps ruling the top end of the app charts in every targeted region. We’re calling this approach the snowball effect.
Hypercasual games make their revenue by showing ads to their users. Showing full screen interstitials to players every few steps of the game can yield LTVs of more than $1 per user, even though the vast majority of players have extremely short lifespans. Now consider that a hypercasual developer can create and release a new title extremely quickly (multiple games a week in some cases), and that their goal is to show users an ad or two before they inevitably churn.
We’re calling this approach the snowball effect.
This strategy is known as cross-promotion — the act of advertising your next app in your current one. While not an entirely new strategy, it works beautifully for these types of games because it means when the next title launches, there’s already a huge base of users ready to be funneled into it. Plus, since you own the inventory, you won’t be paying to promote the new title to them.
So instead of thinking about a new user for one game, the goal becomes to migrate this user through many games for as long as possible. As the snowball grows, the number of users migrating from app to app increases, meaning the developer is free to increase bids on the paid advertising that they run.
All in all, this means there’s more competition for inventory and users’ attention. For many developers, charting in the app store may not be an option anymore. But worry not — Adjust is releasing new tools to help marketers in a world where organic exposure is limited.
DONT WAIT; AUTOMATE
In the late 1960s, Instinet was born. It was the first electronic alternative to trading stocks on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Although it and other similar offerings did not really take off until the 1980s, the inception of computer-assisted trading, instead of humans fighting out bidding wars on their own, had a fundamental and irreversible effect on the concept of business as a whole. Those who harnessed computers to make their trading strategies inevitably beat out those who did not.
Mobile marketing is undergoing somewhat of a similar evolution, with more and more major advertisers enhancing their marketing operations through automation. While we like to think of mobile as one of the most sophisticated and technical of disciplines, the truth is an awful lot of it is still extremely manual — from setting up campaigns one by one on multiple network dashboards to manipulating hefty audience lists in Excel, an awful lot of mobile marketing involves grunt work.
Automation is positioned to be the great equalizer of mobile marketing, and it is coming at an important and pivotal time. For some time, performance marketers have lamented the “invasion” of their inventory by brand advertisers, who have no concerns for LTV or ROAS, and buy solely to have their fast food or fashion brand be ever-present in front of consumers’ eyes. It is an inevitability of the success and growth of mobile marketing, and if Forbes’ estimate that 75% of digital ad spend in 2020 will be on mobile are to be believed, the competition will only grow more intense.
The battle is gradually shifting
from out-spending to out-thinking
Automation helps performance marketers in two ways. First, it massively increases the amount of campaigns one person can manage, allowing smaller teams to compete with larger marketing departments.
But more importantly, it shifts the battle from “putting out as much advertising as possible” to “putting out the smartest marketing” — and this is where mobile marketers can win big. Unlike web and traditional marketing, for years we’ve been carefully constructing campaigns designed to optimize on performance and behavior KPIs, and now automation will allow us to do that at scale. Not only that, but automation frees up UA managers to do what they were meant to do all along — strategize. The battle is gradually shifting from out-spending to out-thinking your competition.
GETTING MARKETING RIGHT IN 2020
So with that in mind, here are some quick tips for gearing up for the next chapter in mobile marketing.
Make sure your tracking setup is correct and leveraging the full potential of your measurement partner. Tracking installs and sessions alone isn’t enough. Ensure your relevant conversion events track at the correct time and with the correct revenue they generate. If you have Ad Revenue, make sure it is collected as well and used to calculate your ROAS.
FIGHT FRAUD EFFICIENTLY
Fraud is as bad as ever and becoming ever more sophisticated. Use fraud prevention to block fraud before you pay for it and make sure your SDK is up to date. Common sense is your best weapon — if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudsters, once their golden goose app turns fraud prevention on, go looking for the next big spender they can rip off. Don’t be their next target.
If you don’t have one, create a retargeting strategy and leverage audience segmentation with a product like Adjust Audience Builder. Without engaging your existing user base and bringing them back into your app you will be left fighting for new users in a very competitive market.
Understand when and where users churn in your app and try to target them with contextual campaigns and incentives. This battle can’t be won alone — your product and marketing teams need to collaborate to make sure every cause of churn is smoothed out, and the journey back into your app for lapsed users is as smooth and cohesive as possible.
Ask your MMP what its strategy for automation is. You need to understand the tools that are available today and what the future roadmap for these products looks like. What are your competitors doing at the moment, and which tools will you need to compete in 2020?
Automation will fundamentally change how you can run your user acquisition.
The tools that will become available during the next 12 months will do far more than offer you simple efficiency gains. And as always, stay calm and keep tracking.