This article is part of an ongoing series helping Mobile UA Marketers get the most out of Apple Search Ads, Facebook, and Google AdWords. Register for our upcoming webinar for an in-depth look at targeting high value users at scale or contact us for a free consultation.
We’ve all been there. It’s 8 PM on a Friday and you’re still stuck at the office grasping for ways to add scale to your app install campaign without blowing up your ROI. If it feels like efficiently acquiring high value users at scale is getting harder, it’s not just you.
The app industry is maturing rapidly and as it does, competition for the right users is accelerating. To understand how to adjust your acquisition and retention strategy to accomodate a quickly evolving industry, it's important to consider what factors are driving the change.
App revenue is accelerating
Since 2015, app revenue has doubled and is up 10X since 2011. As the industry matures, the focus has evolved from novelty to innovation and finally to ROI. You can bet that as consumers continue to become more accustomed to in-app purchases, paid apps, and so on the focus on ROI will continue to crystalize.
People are spending more time in apps
Not only are users spending more of their overall digital-time-spent on mobile (126 minutes per day according to Forrester), a greater share of that time is spent in apps. Last year, an estimated 78% of user time spent was in an app - up from 50% the year before. More time spent means more opportunities for advertisers and more competition for app marketers.
Budgets are increasing to get a piece of the pie
In a recent survey, 70% of marketers said they were planning on increasing mobile marketing budgets in 2017 and 45% were launching new brands to drive loyalty and revenue. As you can imagine, that signals more aggressive bidding and higher competition for high value users.
Marketers and metrics are focusing on ROI
CPI used to be the primary metric that mobile user acquisition marketers focused on. But as the focus shifts to ROI, in-app events and revenue have become a priority. The problem is that many large org models have yet to catch up to this shift. Siloes between acquisition and retention/engagement are creating inefficiencies that could be addressed with a holistic targeting and retention strategy.
Impact on app marketers
As a result of the rising budgets and growing opportunity, app marketers are facing a lot of pressure to achieve ambitious growth and revenue goals. That challenge is compounded by three completely avoidable factors:
The failure to target a complete audience from the beginning of a campaign might be the most underrated factor in an inefficient app install campaign.
Consider how many times throughout the life of your average campaign that you reach a saturation point, costs begin to climb, and you find yourself scrambling at 8PM on a Friday night to get things back on track by tweaking your targeting parameters.
The problem is that once your back is against the wall, finding incremental scale with the same quality of users is difficult to do. Once this happens, every dollar spent before you find a solution was not allocated as efficiently as it should be. Over the course of an aggressive install campaign, the opportunity cost can be significant.
Reliance on 1st party tools
The recent success of Apple Search Ads is a great example of why many app marketers believe that the technology made available by Facebook, Apple and Google AdWords is enough to meet their goals. Afterall, new capabilities such as Facebook Lookalike targeting, and the recent updates to Google AdWords give app marketers a feeling that they have enough on their plate just keeping up with the major platforms.
That approach may have worked in the past, but the acceleration of competition and ad dollars is putting a wrench in things. When marketers within a category use the same tools and approach, they end up competing vigorously for the same limited set of users.
The ubiquitous adoption of the same tools and methods that worked yesteryear just don’t cut it the way they once did in terms of acquiring high value users at scale.
Adoption of “black box” solutions
Once app marketers recognize the limitations of relying exclusively on 1st party tools, many take a smart step forward in evaluating 3rd party solutions that can deliver results.
Where some app marketers falter, however, is that the pressure to “just get results” might lead them to less-than-transparent solutions. On the plus side, they hit short term targets, but it’s often at the cost of longer term learnings and efficiencies that would be gained if they had more visibility into what and why the targeting worked.
How to acquire high value users at scale
Winning in this increasingly competitive environment requires the right strategy and tools. Many app marketers are using intent-based signals and a conquest marketing approach to out compete rivals in the same category. We recommend going beyond a focus on intent-based signals and complementing your existing targeting with an affinity-based approach.
In doing so, you protect your existing target audience with your traditional targeting while reaching net new segments of relevant users with much lower competition. At a high level, here are the elements of a holistic approach to scale your acquisition campaigns:
Outcompete rivals with conquest targeting
Target competitor brand keywords and interests
Bid up brand key terms of your own to protect your audience
Reach obvious prospects with intent-based signals
These are category-level trends that make up the bulk of your keyword groups
Target Facebook interests at the category level
Scale using non-obvious keywords and interests using affinity-based targeting
Use tools like Appnique to map signals of affinity to keywords and interests to scale your targeting. (note: consider risk of device ID vs. publicly available data when considering tool)
Launch campaign with a more complete view of audience to reduce opportunity cost
Appnique offers transparent, affinity-based technology to identify Facebook interests and keywords for Apple Search Ads and Google AdWords so you can target your complete audience. Schedule a demo today.