Applift Mobile user acquisition, activation, retention Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:19:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Applift 32 32 Scaling Brand-Safe Mobile Programmatic Campaigns Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:05:28 +0000 The post Scaling Brand-Safe Mobile Programmatic Campaigns appeared first on Applift.


One of the clearest benefits of programmatic buying is its ability to achieve scale; 80% of mobile display ads are now being traded programmatically. With programmatic scale comes less human oversight to manually minimize brand safety concerns. Ensuring scalable mobile brand safety requires a savvy choice of partners and a nuanced combination of tools.

Understanding Brand Safety

In the advertising ecosystem, brand safety is an umbrella term covering all the controls, tools, and practices that digital advertisers employ to protect brands from negative reputational impacts. By far the most common of these threats to consumer reputation is the placement of ads adjacent to illegal, unethical, scandalous, or otherwise inappropriate content that could result in negative media attention. 

Some of the most famous examples include: 

  • Hyper-partisan or extremist content (e.g. the “adpocalypse” of 2017 where brands such as L’Oreal and Verizon were featured next to neo-nazi YouTube videos) 
  • Age-inappropriate content (61% of parents whose young children watch YouTube claim to have seen mature content advertised to them)
  • Content that conflicts with brand values or ad messaging (e.g. Disney removing ads from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show following divisive comments about race)
  • Ads placed (unintentionally) next to competitors’ ads or in competitors’ apps that muddy the ad messaging.
  • Otherwise undesirable content with which to be associated (e.g. Ads by the British Heart Foundation and the Post Office being featured next to Instagram posts on suicide)

5 Facts That Prove Brand Safety’s Importance 

Brand safety is especially relevant right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a multitude of conspiracy theories and fake news which, according to IAB, is directly causing advertisers to reduce ad spend. 

  1. Users see brand unsafe ad placements as an intentional endorsement of the negative content.
  2. 87% of consumers feel that it is the brand’s responsibility to ensure their ads are appearing in brand-safe environments.
  3. 82% of marketers believe that appearing next to unsuitable content impacts brand reputation. 
  4. 1-in-4 brands and agencies have experienced negative press following suitability incidents.
  5. 80% of people in the US would stop or reduce using a brand after seeing it advertised near extreme content. 

That final statistic came from a survey by the highly reputable Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG). Their chief executive Mike Zaneis summarised why brand safety pays, “This survey drives home the real and measurable risk to a company’s bottom line from a preventable brand safety crisis […] While reputational harm can be hard to measure, consumers said that they plan to vote with their wallets if brands fail to take the necessary steps to protect their supply chain from risks.”

Programmatic In-App Brand Safety

There have been far fewer headline cases about mobile brand safety, but issues are becoming more frequent. This Global Insights Report from HarrisPolls and DoubleVerify found a staggering 194% annual rise in mobile brand-safety issues.

Programmatic in-app environments are, as a rule, more brand-safe than desktop environments. No advertising campaign can guarantee 100% brand safety even traditional billboards could be defaced yet the techniques and technology we explore below reduce risks to an absolute minimum. 

How to Stay Brand Safe on Programmatic

  • Avoid the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 11 “Sensitive Topics– These topics are: Adult & Explicit Sexual Content, Arms & Ammunition, Crime & Human Right Violations, Death Injury & Military Conflict, Online Piracy, Hate Speech & Acts of Aggression, Obscenity and Profanity, Drugs & Alcohol, Spam & Harmful Content, Terrorism, and Sensitive Social Issues.
  • Mobile Prebid Targeting and Automation – Leverage the myriad new programmatic tools built specifically for mobile in-app environments. With in-app prebid targeting or automation in programmatic environments, brand safety violations can be virtually eliminated.
  • Consider Private Marketplaces – Instead of open exchanges, programmatic PMPs grant access to premium brand safe inventory. Relying solely on these private marketplaces potentially restricts the ability to achieve scale but goes a long way to ensuring ads are only placed in reputable environments.
  • Constantly Redefine Risk – Programmatic brand safety requires risk thresholds to be regularly defined, customized, and revisited. The same should be done for your target keywords and excluded blocked words.
  • Invest in Quality – Programmatic media buying has no established measure of quality, that means brands must ensure quality by meaningfully applying their brand values and choosing their buying models carefully. Consider that different inventory and programmatic buying models offer different levels of knowledge and control over contextual environments.
  • Work with Reputable Partners – Minimize the risk of poor ad placement by only choosing reputable partners with quality inventory. Partners should also have: verifiable certifications and accreditations, multi-language capabilities, scalable tech solutions, a deep understanding of your brand, pre-bid targeting segments integrated within major DSPs, fraud-reporting and removal, and the ability to block impressions.

How Much is Too Much? 

Measures such as keyword blocking, safelisting, and blocklisting that are taken to protect companies from programmatic brand safety issues have, on occasion, been too effective. Alongside other verification tools, these reactive granular controls play an important role when PR disasters strike. However, they can restrict campaign scale.

When brand safety tools first became available, advertisers increased the inclusion of their own banned keywords, such as polarising political terms or terms associated with violence. The overuse of these broad, powerful tools became akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. 

As a result, advertisers shut the door to lucrative opportunities. Terms like “knife” intentionally prevent advertising on news articles about violent crime while inadvertently preventing ads from running on cooking apps or locations featuring metaphors such as “cut like a knife”. The very blogpost you’re reading about brand safety could be flagged as unsafe now that the terms have been mentioned.

It is far better to restrict these reactive measures to urgent instances. Focus on contextual targeting that proactively seeks out desirable app environments to begin with. Mobile advertisers’ toolkits now include advanced audience segmentation, real-time campaign monitoring, and even AI-based semantic analysis techniques. Rather than blanket bans, taking a more nuanced approach using custom brand safety segments takes into account brand-specific needs without unnecessary limiting ad placement opportunities.

When brand safety issues occur, they are detrimental to app developers, brands, and advertisers. While platforms have a responsibility to censor harmful content, the continued spread of pandemic and social misinformation on social media suggests it is a battle that the biggest platforms have little chance of winning soon. It is therefore incumbent upon programmatic marketers to minimize these risks to negligible levels by using their advancing software to only place ads in suitable apps and environments.

Do you want to take a closer look at how our team ensures brand-safe campaigns? Contact us by filling out the form below.

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Rewarded Ads Reward More Than Just App Users Tue, 10 Nov 2020 09:58:11 +0000 The post Rewarded Ads Reward More Than Just App Users appeared first on Applift.


Rewarded ads incentivize user interactions such as watching 10-30 second videos (rewarded video ads) or listening to short audio clips (rewarded audio ads). Unlike other ad formats, rewarded ads are opt-in, unskippable, and compensate users via in-app bonuses like extra lives, points, aesthetic changes, or content.

From publishers and developers to users and marketers, every player in the mobile ecosystem can reap the rewards of rewarded ads. Below, with a focus on mobile marketers, we will explain how these ads can be implemented for maximum effect.

Who Uses Rewarded Ads Most Effectively? 

Mobile gaming is the vertical most commonly associated with rewarded ads. They are a natural fit for the format because gamers will always be seeking in-game currency, items, lives, power-ups, and “skins”. Rewarded ads are understandably prevalent in other app categories too. A 2019 eMarketer report found that users have seen rewarded video ads across nearly all genres: gaming (65%) music (31%), social (30%), retail (22%), video (20%), and even news (14%). 

This is in large part due to the gamification of non-gaming apps. Take the unicorn-status DuoLingo app which boasts upwards of 30 million active monthly users. DuoLingo’s freemium model uses a ten-tier competitive league-system and rewarded ads that grant their non-paying language learners both credits and lives. 

(Left) Duolingo’s gamified league system; (center + right) how Duolingo rewards ad viewership using lives (hearts) and points (gems) Source: Screenshot by Author, Duolingo App, 2020  

Non-gamified apps are also able to successfully implement rewarded ad systems. All they need to do is decide upon an appropriate incentive for their users: 

  • Fitness apps can offer new workouts or performance insights
  • Media apps can offer otherwise exclusive content
  • Retail apps can offer discounts and deals. 

Where the only offerable rewards outweigh the value of the ad-viewership, developers simply need to offer points, currency, or tokens which can be saved up to purchase those rewards. Alternatively, advertisers can offer these more valuable rewards for more significant actions such as downloading a different app. But more on rewarded installs later.

The Benefits of Rewarded Mobile Ads

Rewarded ads have become one of the most prominent ad formats on mobile. They have been described as “win-win-win situations” due to their benefits for users, developers, and marketers:

  • Users only receive their rewards if the ads are viewed to completion – minimizing the chances of ad skipping and maximizing ad completion rate. This also results in increased brand awareness and recall. 
  • By incentivizing viewership and engagement, rewarded ads achieve low-cost traffic with especially high conversion rates and excellent ROAS.
  • After purchasing in-app content with their rewarded points, users often seek to purchase more with fiat currency. Advertisers using rewarded ads have reported achieving higher in-app purchase (IAP) revenue.
  • Audience targeting is naturally enhanced because users are more likely to choose to view ads that interest them.
  • Point accumulation systems increase user retention by incentivizing repeat usage while fostering a sense of progress. 
  • Increased user satisfaction due to the non-intrusive and voluntary nature of the ads. 
  • The reciprocal value-exchange experience means that users tend to look more favourably on the app and the advertiser. This can result in increased session length.
  • Their opt-in nature combats ad fatigue – unlike pop-ups which are frequently dismissed without a second thought, rewarded ads are able to hold users’ attention for sufficient time to get their message across.  

In short, their opt-in, unskippable nature enhances performance using a medium that most users want to see more of

Rewarded ads often work best when combined with other ad formats. Non-paying Duolingo users, for example, experience a range of skippable, unskippable, and optional rewarded ads during their standard learning experience. They also have the option to watch additional rewarded ads by seeking them out in the in-app store. It is easy to envisage how this carefully crafted combination maximizes engagement on their own app and increases their ad revenue while enticing users into premium memberships.

(Left) An example of a localized rewarded ad; (center + right) examples of how Duolingo encourages additional voluntary ad viewership. Source: Screenshot by Author, Duolingo App, 2020  . 

How to Prevent Users From Abusing the System

Over-emphasizing rewards runs the risk of users doing the minimum required action to receive them without truly engaging with the ads. Advertisers can counter this to ensure accurate engagement rates.

Rewarded Video and Audio Ads

After opting into a rewarded video or audio ad, users may mute their devices or change apps so that they reap unearned rewards. Technical measures can be taken to prevent this. Video ads and audio ads can be set to automatically pause if a user switches app or mutes audio. Setting up such measures for mandatory ads would likely result in user churn, but because rewarded ads are opt-in, the same does not hold true. 

While users can find work-arounds for the latter, such as turning down volume to minimal levels, most users simply will not bother. By limiting the ads to a short duration (15-45 seconds), advertisers will ensure that for the vast majority of users, the circumventive action is not worth the effort.

And while it can be assumed that not all users will fully concentrate on all rewarded videos, the same is true for any advertisement, video or otherwise.

Rewarded Installs

The problem is more pronounced for rewarded installs wherein users can install an app only to immediately uninstall it once their reward is received. For this reason, apps that rely heavily on incentivized traffic (especially gaming apps) have been found to have lower-than-average retention rates.

In the early days of app marketing, this was not so problematic because even low-value installs boosted app store rankings and sparked organic growth. Since 2018, however, having high abandonment rates or poor “stickiness” will actually result in an app being downgraded in the app store.

To perform well in app stores in 2020, apps require more than high install numbers, they require positive ratings, high retention rates, low crash rates, low uninstalls, and much more.

The solution for rewarded installs is two-fold: 

1. Shifting the action point further down the funnel

In a game of cat and mouse with app store algorithms, the incentive system can be modified to account for these other factors. Rewarding positive reviews and ratings falls into murky legal and ethical territory and is not recommended. However, by delaying the action point by which users receive rewards from immediately after install to after a period of app usage, app store algorithms will recognise this lowered abandonment rate. If the app being advertised is well targeted and of high quality, positive rankings and ratings should follow naturally after users “give it a try”.  

2. Enhancing measurement transparency 

Transparency is crucial in creating quality, accurate, incentivized campaigns. Cost-per-Action (CPA) campaigns allow advertisers to choose the metrics that matter. Rather than a Cost-per-Install (CPI) model which could run foul of misleading low-value installs, CPA can measure the actions that are reflective of truly valuable new app users (e.g. first in-app purchase, premium membership registration, multiple days of app usage). Using a CPA model therefore provides much more valuable, transparent results. Users only receive rewards for meaningful actions, and publishers only pay for meaningful results.

The rewards of rewarded ads are patent. Even rewarded installs, often deemed to be the most controversial iteration of rewarded ads, can be used to great success using CPA. With mobile advertising, mobile gaming, and the app industry as a whole showing resilience and growth in spite of the pandemic, now is the perfect time to implement rewards.

Reach out to us below to start reaping the rewards of rewarded ads.

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Organic App Installs: Unpacking the Enigma Tue, 27 Oct 2020 09:15:41 +0000 The post Organic App Installs: Unpacking the Enigma appeared first on Applift.


Organic app installs are all too often equated with free or un-attributed installs. The truth is that they are by no means un-attributable (and rarely completely free). 

Effective mobile marketing should aim to attribute each and every install. Below, we will explore the enigma of organic installs; their relationship with inorganic installs, and how to measure their correlation for heightened marketing performance.

The True Meaning of Organic Installs (and Why It Matters)

While organic app installs are those that arise without directly being attributed to a specific install source, that does not mean that organic installs are synonymous with “free’’  “un-attributable’’ installs. A better definition for organic installs is: installs that are not purchased nor tracked through traditional performance marketing software and techniques. 

In other words, these installs do not come from nowhere. All installs have an origin, and more often than not, their source will be related to a paid marketing campaign. In this sense, the traditional division of paid/inorganic versus free/organic would be more accurately reframed as performance marketing versus everything else.

That distinction matters because effectively marketing an app requires a precise understanding of how customers come to use it. Marketers need to understand which aspects of their marketing strategy are worthwhile and which should be adjusted. The valuation of campaign sources should take into account not only the directly attributed installs (i.e. affiliate links, in-app ads) but also the indirect installs that result from them (i.e. word-of-mouth recommendations following an affiliate promotion or in-app ad campaign). 

The Synergistic Benefits of Inorganic and Organic Installs

The difference between a run-of-the-mill and top-drawer mobile marketing campaign often lies in the marketers’ ability to understand the synergy of paid and organic installs. This understanding allows marketers to maximize performance potential by adjusting the elements of their strategy that are underperforming.

Using a median average, every 100 paid installs will result in 40 supplementary organic installs. Though when factoring in virality, that number can be 100s or even 1000s of times higher. Beyond these initial extra installs and a heightening of app awareness, paid user acquisition and organic user acquisition can create a long-term positive feedback loop. Below are a few examples of how that can work in practice.


  • Downloads in the App Store

A crucial component of App Store Optimization (ASO) is the number of downloads an app receives. As a result of achieving downloads from paid performance marketing campaigns, apps receive a higher ranking in app stores as the algorithm factors in their popularity. Having a higher ranking in the app store, in turn, vastly increases the number of organic installs.

  • Reviews and Ratings

In a similar case of an ASO feedback loop, paid campaigns will result in more app store reviews. This is especially true when users are encouraged or rewarded for doing so. Cost-per-Action (CPA) campaigns can even use reviews or ratings as their chosen performance metric. Just as in the previous example, having high numbers of positive reviews and ratings will shoot an app up the app store rankings and result in organic views. 

  • Virality

Viral installs are sometimes deemed to be a third, distinct category from organic and inorganic. In reality, they are usually tied to both. Say a macro influencer is paid to promote an app, the app will likely receive an immediate boost in what are usually deemed to be paid inorganic installs. If additional influencers share the campaign or should that viral campaign resurface in a second wind much later, it is less clear whether these should be considered as organic or inorganic. What is clear is that inorganic, organic and viral installs are intrinsically linked. 

It is evident in each of the examples provided above that the organic installs were not “free” as they still benefited from paid campaigns. In many cases, they can also be attributed with what many will consider a surprising degree of numerical accuracy. To do so, marketers need to grab their shovels and dig deep into data.

How to Measure the Effect of Paid Campaigns on Organic Installs

The K-Factor

Mobile marketers have a few techniques to measure this synergy with enough accuracy to be helpful for campaign channel optimization. The most well-known measurement is the K-factor. While the K-factor is often simplified as “the measure of digital virality” it also includes word of mouth and untracked referrals.

As a simple formula, it is:

K = i * c 

“i” being “invites sent per customer” and “c” being “percentage of conversions per invite”. 

Or as a more developed formula:

Y = F(X)

“Y” being organic installs, “X” being paid campaigns, and “F(X)” being some function of “X”

By multiplying invitations by conversions, the formula calculates campaign effects on users who download an app outside of direct advertising.

Enabling VTA

While not as comprehensive as measuring the K-factor, enabling View-Through Attribution (VTA) as well as Click-Through Attribution (CTA) helps marketers to build a more holistic picture of the efficacy of their ads. Users do not always immediately click an ad and yet those ads still lead them to search the app store for the app that was advertised to them. By studying performance data and providing realistic lookback windows, VTA allows many installs falsely labelled as “un-attributable” to be attributed with significant precision.

Basic Uplift Testing

Measuring organic uplift differs in technique and complexity across apps, categories, and operating systems. It involves a highly similar methodology to those used by contemporary TV marketers to measure non-addressable TV ads. That is to say, working out a baseline and then measuring corresponding spikes and trends.

As a formula, it can be understood as: 

Organic Uplift = (Total Installs – Organic Baseline – Measured Installs) / Measured Installs.

A comprehensive overview of attribution is necessary so that resources can be allocated to the channels achieving conversions. While they may not be as straight-forward to attribute as their inorganic counterparts, organic installs are a crucial puzzle piece and seem far less enigmatic once their true nature is understood.

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Reaping the Rewards of Automation for Mobile Marketing Growth Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:41:12 +0000 The post Reaping the Rewards of Automation for Mobile Marketing Growth appeared first on Applift.


While most mobile advertisers appreciate the value of automation, many have not yet realized the extent of its benefits. Mobile marketing automation facilitates the flexible scaling of mobile marketing campaigns allowing advertisers to easily modify their ad spend without restructuring their marketing team. 

Automation can enhance nearly every link in the mobile advertising chain, including creatives, bidding, budgeting, targeting, data and reporting. 

Where Does Automation Fit in the Mobile Marketing Landscape?

As mentioned above, the uses of mobile marketing automation are myriad. The most popular and effective include: 

  • The Refinement of Ad Creatives – As one of the primary tools for user acquisition, ad creatives should never be undervalued. Much like Facebook’s “Dynamic Creative Ads”, automation can streamline the rigorous experimentation and optimization required for their maximum impact.
  • Audience Testing – Segmentation and custom audiences remain as vital a component as ever in an effective ad strategy. The size of an audience is directly proportional to the effort required to test and manage them. For apps looking to scale, automated audience testing is essential. 
  • ROAS Reporting and Projection – While most analytics suites have built-in return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) estimations, automating this process creates actionable results that save time and prevent loss. Furthermore, as ROAS targets change, automated solutions circumvent the resource-heavy analysis work needed to reconfigure them.
  • Campaign Settings – Last but not least, the “meat” (or “bread and butter” for those looking for a more vegetarian-friendly idiom) of automation comes in the form of campaign setting experimentation. Automating bids, budgets, and campaign strategy is reliable, accurate, and extremely efficient. 

Automated mobile marketing has other distinct advantages including the personalization of engagements on a massive scale (such as using users’ first names); integrated data for cohesive multi-channel campaigns; proximity and geolocation based campaigns; and the ability to launch autonomous loyalty programs.

Different mobile advertisers apply varying levels of automation. The decision to integrate automation does not immediately need to be “all in”. However, considering the vast benefits it provides, advertisers should work towards a set-up where AI manages nearly all strategic, administrative, and recurring processes, thus providing marketers with the data and space to do what they do best: produce high quality, creative content.

While the AI and machine learning that powers automation has progressed in leaps and bounds, the tech (and its implications) is still evolving.

How to Effectively Integrate Mobile Marketing Automation

  • Map out all your marketing tasks then identify those that are most ripe for automation.

Top tip: It’s usually the ones your team finds mundane and/or repetitive.

  • Do your research before deciding on automation software (or create your own).

Top tip: Don’t choose a big brand just for the name recognition, mobile marketing automation should come from mobile specialists (not generalists).

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of each of the areas that you have automated. 

Top tip: Conduct periodic reviews on the impacts of automation on your KPIs, then adjust accordingly. 

  • Keep user-experience in mind throughout

Top tip: Create opportunities for customer feedback at every major touchpoint.

Mobile Programmatic Automation

The ultimate form of automation in mobile marketing is programmatic media buying; a practice which over the last decade has moved from buzzword to essential practice thanks to the savings it produces in capital, time and energy.  

Particularly mundane, duplicative tasks (which were never great for staff morale) such as bulk-uploads, creative tagging, audience classifications, and report building can now be handled in a fraction of the time. This helps mobile marketers to do much more with much less thereby freeing up their time for innovation and other business priorities that benefit from a human touch.

Affiliate Automation 

In affiliate marketing, automation can be used for: optimizing conversion rate (CR); automating clicks to ensure ad spend does not exceed budget; restricting campaigns to specific times; and automatically checking links to ensure they are not wasting traffic on inactive offers. Any affiliate marketing strategy that seeks scale will need to work with multiple publishers and campaigns simultaneously. By automating the management of these partners, advertisers can streamline traffic management, campaign management, and data transfer. 

A patent example is the creation of multiple tracking links for ad partners – which can be an arduous process (especially when swapping in macros and adding distinct parameters for each). Many mobile measurement partners (MMPs) provide API access that facilitates the automatic generation of tracking links. These interfaces not only simplify link creation but append custom parameters with tracking links available on just one page. 

The Human Touch

With automation solving so many of mobile advertisers’ needs, advertisers may be left asking “What is left for us to do?” Yet artificial intelligence and machine learning have not reached the stage where humans are redundant. Mobile advertising automation is not simply a one-off “Set it and then forget it” process, it is a constant process of collaboration between human and machine.

Automation frees up the user acquisition team for strategic and imaginative planning. This includes the “big picture” thinking that precedes campaign launch; the creative design of ad copy and the multiple iterations of it that automation will optimize; the discovery of new marketing sources and territories for expansion; and the on-the-ground product-driven marketing decisions that require that precious human interaction. In other words, the fun stuff. Get in touch with us below to learn more.

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How to Create the Most Engaging Mobile Video Ads Around Wed, 14 Oct 2020 07:57:39 +0000 The post How to Create the Most Engaging Mobile Video Ads Around appeared first on Applift.


Mobile video ads, along with native ads, are dominating the mobile landscape in both click-through- and conversion rates. Yet they only compromise 14% of all mobile ad spending. Below, we will introduce the different formats available and explain how to create impactful video ads that will give you a fantastic return-on-ad-spend.

Why Mobile Video Ads Are a Worthwhile Venture

Video marketing works. Video is the second most-used content type for increasing audience engagement – mobile video ads see a 7.5 times higher CTR than display ads. 

In spite of these impressive stats, mobile video ads can still be seen as being in their relative infancy with much of their potential still to be unleashed. A 2020 study revealed that 88% of video marketers found that video gave them a positive ROI, compared to just 33% in 2015. With 85% of consumers claiming to want more video content and an increasing number of people watching video on mobile, it is unsurprising that video ads are predicted to be among the best performing ad formats for the foreseeable future.

Varieties of Mobile Video Ads

Mobile video ads come in many forms though only a couple of shapes and sizes. To fit well, they should be 320×480 or 480×320 sizes for smartphones and 768×1024 or 1024×768 for tablets. They also come in various formats, each with advantages and disadvantages.


  • Mobile Web Video Ads – A cost-effective approach for brands who want their ads seen in search results, homepages, and watch-pages.
An example of mobile web video ad.
An example of a mobile web video ad
  • In-App Video Ads – A highly effective practice that continues to build momentum in large part due to their extremely high play-rate and CTR.
An example of in-app video ad
An example of an in-app video ad
  • In-Game Video Ads – Much like in-app video ads, in-game video ads have a high CTR. They work especially well when gamified themselves or turned into rewarded video-ads using motivational in-game incentives or currency.
An example of in-game mobile video ad
An example of a mobile game rewarded video ad
An example of mobile vr video ad
An example of a mobile VR video ad

Tips for Creating Highly Engaging Mobile Video Ads

1)  Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Now more than ever, video marketers can create targeted, user-centric video ads designed to maximize conversions and ROI. With mobile video ads normally just 15 seconds long, their production costs are low – allowing brands to create multiple personalized ads for different demographics based on customer interests, values, and profiles.

Personalization is only going to grow more important in the digital marketing world. New techniques allow for unprecedented optimization of performance video ads that allow marketers to continually refine the technique for increasingly niche, segmented audiences. Furthermore, video ads can be used to retarget lapsed users based on their individual progress through your funnel.

2)  Engage Audiences Early

It may seem intuitive that shorter videos require every second to count, yet many video marketers fail to appreciate how early they need to capture their audiences’ attention. The first 3-4 seconds of a mobile video ad are by far the most vital.

When advertising an app, video ads should not only be compelling, attractive, and attention-grabbing but they should show that app in-action.

3)  Silent Viewability is Crucial

While sound is incredibly useful for capturing attention, creating emotion, and explaining features, the video ad must still work without it. There are countless reasons why people watch ads with no sound, but the fact remains that huge numbers of people choose to have videos on silent auto-play – only switching on sound for the most compelling videos they come across.

To counter silent viewing, it is crucial to use images and graphics to convey meaning, i.e. “show don’t tell”. Furthermore, while video ads should avoid relying on music and speech for meaning, closed captions can be added with relative ease on most major platforms. Remember, audio can still be a fantastic aid – don’t forego it, but plan for silent viewing at the design table, not in the post-shoot editing suite.

4)  Match Your Aesthetics

When designing a video ad, be sure to use the opportunity to promote your brand identity. It should go without saying that the ad should include your brand logo, but it should also match the colour schemes, fonts, and brand values you want to convey. In turn, by matching your ad aesthetics to your brand aesthetics, your ad will gain recognisability and credibility.

If you are marketing an app, then the aesthetics of the various app stores should also be taken into consideration. Video ads often take pride of place in app store pages and it is vital that yours is looking on point. Once again, forward planning is key to video ad success.

5)  Nail Your Creatives

Strive for creativity and use every second you have to make the maximum impact. Avoid dark backgrounds and night scenes as they obscure visibility for users on battery-saving settings. Always make your Call to Action (CTA) clear, prominent, and customizable to account for both new and returning customers.

Finally, remember that the days of horizontal mobile video ads are more-or-less behind us. Horizontal (landscape) video ads are counter-intuitive, disrupt the viewing experience, and have lower CTRs. While square video is more effective than horizontal, recent studies have shown vertical video to be by far the most cost-effective and engaging format across multiple platforms. Always shoot in vertical.


The right combination of targeted mobile video ads can lead to fantastic campaign results. When created to a high quality using the guidance provided above they form a crucial part of any mobile marketing campaign. Get in touch with us today to start with mobile video advertising.

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How Mobile Manufacturers and Carriers Facilitate App Economy Disruption Thu, 08 Oct 2020 13:25:32 +0000 The post How Mobile Manufacturers and Carriers Facilitate App Economy Disruption appeared first on Applift.


App publishers looking to scale-up use a combination of channels to boost their brand awareness and user acquisition (UA). Mobile manufacturers and carriers provide an all too overlooked channel that has the potential for supersonic growth. Technological advancements have transformed these once-problematic channels into dynamic opportunities that reach users in high-intent moments with little-to-no risk of fraud. 

The Roles of Mobile Manufacturers and Carriers in the App Economy

Mobile manufacturers and carriers take two actions with major impacts on the app economy: 

  1. Deciding which apps are installed on their devices
  2. Establishing and running their own app stores

Through those actions, the global app economy is being disrupted in a manner that provides app marketers with new, highly lucrative opportunities.

Pre-installed apps are (now) a huge opportunity

Prior to the development and proliferation of app stores, the earliest phones had all of their apps pre-installed. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) made all of the decisions as to which apps would be included on a phone. 

This pre-load system was problematic for two reasons. Firstly, it heavily restricted users’ freedom-of-choice thereby harming user-experience and the long-term revenue opportunities of both OEMs and publishers. Secondly, these pre-installed apps counted as an install even when the user never once opened the app – making their true popularity hard to measure.

The channel has since sufficiently evolved to support the sophisticated targeting and performance-based optimization of other user-acquisition channels. Today, pre-loads are in-vogue once more as the industry wakes up to their UA potential. 

Thanks to this new technology, the issues with pre-loads are now thoroughly solved. Manufacturers are able to use data-driven approaches to place specific apps on the devices of those who would deem them valuable. Furthermore, post-install tracking eliminates the fear of purchasing inactive users who don’t interact with apps; only the users who actually interact with pre-installed apps count as conversions.

Running self-owned app stores is a win-win opportunity

It is becoming difficult for apps to stand-out in the increasingly crowded leading app stores. App publishers, fed up with fighting to get noticed, are also fighting back against practices they believe are unfair. In response to these changes, most OEMs are adapting to the saturated app economy by directly distributing apps to their customers via their own app stores. Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo have joined forces to create an app store alliance that rivals that of the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

As well as a multitude of benefits for the OEMs themselves, promoting apps on these “alternative app stores” has distinct advantages for app marketers. Compared to Google and Apple’s stores, which each contain over two million apps, these alternatives provide excellent opportunities for discovery via higher rankings, keyword dominance, and ‘featured’ promotions. 

While marketing an app across multiple stores requires the navigation of different requirements, regulations, and research, doing so provides cost-effective routes to new audiences in different geographies.

Achieving Scale Requires a Multi-Pronged Approach 

Whether the goal is branding, retargeting, or straight user-acquisition, mobile marketing campaigns should take a holistic approach including both paid and unpaid techniques. Organic approaches such as App Store Optimization (ASO) should be combined with PPC campaigns using social and search ads. 

To attain significant results, mobile marketers need to step outside of “the walled gardens”. When it comes to user-acquisition, the benefits of combining both non-programmatic and programmatic UA techniques are considerable. To achieve true scale, adopt a carefully planned combination of all the techniques mentioned above, then embark on a process of constant optimization.

The Benefits of Acquiring Users Directly with Manufacturers and Carriers 

Successfully securing deals and partnerships with manufacturers and carriers requires a lot of work without professional assistance. However, the benefits they provide can be monumental:

  • By reaching new demographics and accessing new geographies, partnerships can help apps achieve global scale 
  • Much higher user-acquisition with significantly lower cost-per-install (CPI)
  • A CPI model that brings only high-quality users who interact with your app
  • Directly reaching customers at a time of maximum impact (the vast majority of users install apps within the first 48 hours after purchasing a device)
  • Customers who are brand-loyal to the OEM will view the ads as more trustworthy
  • 100% fraud-free user-acquisition because customers are connected to OEMs via device ID (or via contract for carriers)

It is safe to say that the targeting, transparency, and scale that these opportunities offer is unparalleled. Moreover, they break through the noise of traditional techniques and it is this relative ‘freshness’ that marks them as the opportunity of the moment.

Contact us below to acquire users via leading mobile phone manufacturers and carriers.

The post How Mobile Manufacturers and Carriers Facilitate App Economy Disruption appeared first on Applift.

Competing with Giants: A Guide to Marketing News Apps Mon, 28 Sep 2020 10:38:39 +0000 The post Competing with Giants: A Guide to Marketing News Apps appeared first on Applift.


News app marketing marks one of the more recent steps that news publishers must take to compete within an industry in a constant state of digitization and evolution. Developing and marketing a news app is essential for outlets looking to thrive in a landscape increasingly dominated by the most prolific and powerful brands around.

A recent Pew study suggests that 6 out of 10 US citizens prefer to read news on their mobile devices. The trend is growing throughout all demographics and age groups. Just as print media needed to reinvent itself for the digital era, the unstoppable rise of mobile content consumption is forcing news publishers to adapt again.

man sitting on bench reading newspaper

To break through the noise while gaining sufficient clicks and engagement to compete against the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, publishers not only need to develop news apps that appeal but they need to know how to market them proficiently. In this article we will explore the importance of a mobile presence, present a guide for a winning news app marketing strategy, and explore some of the contemporary anti-trust battles shaping the future of the sector.

The Importance of Launching a News App

From the longstanding bastions of high-brow journalism like the BBC and New York Times to widely read tabloid press like The Daily Mail, every major news outlet now has its own app. No matter the quality of the journalism, news publishers face similar problems: plummeting physical sales and increasingly stiff competition from technology giants with unprecedented reach and resources.

Google, Facebook, and to an extent Apple are not only expanding their own news services but are hurting the ad revenue of major news websites by enticing readers to digest articles on their own platforms. Even Twitter categorizes now itself as a news site. Two-thirds of Americans report getting their news directly from social media platforms. With journalism acting as one of the foundational pillars of democracy, that is a statistic with widespread consequences which go beyond the bottom-line of media outlets.

Furthermore, in our increasingly unpredictable world, having news at our fingertips is more valuable (and valued) than ever. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted how much people rely on their phones during seismic world events. Studies on app usage during the pandemic reveal just how important these apps can be for consumers and publishers alike.  

US Coronavirus COVID-19 cases
The NYTimes App’s Live Coverage of COVID-19

Running a news app is therefore highly beneficial for any publisher that does not wish to be reliant on the tech giants. They give back crucial control to the publisher while cutting out the middleman. The other advantages of running a news app include:

        Having a self-owned channel with full control and a direct relationship that is critical for audience development

        Increasing and diversifying revenue channels

        Protecting against the monopolisation of readership

        Circumventing ad blockers that hurt web-based banner-ad revenue

        Creating new functionality such as “Save for Later” or “Read Offline” features

        The ability to integrate extra engagement-building features that work well on mobile (such as The Guardian’s crossword section)

How Successful are News Apps?

The NYTimes App has over 10,000,000 downloads. It was the first-ever app to attain one million digital-only subscribers and it has since increased its subscribers to approximately 5 million. By betting on mobile, the organisation turned around its falling revenues.

Economist, App, Iphone, Phone, Smartphone, Mobile, News

After careful refinement, other news apps like The Economist and Guardian have also seen great success. As have niche magazines and local outlets with much smaller budgets. Since early March, Content and Media apps have performed admirably – with a 40% increase in DAUs. If you share a lot of content and you want to get noticed, you have a lot to gain from building your own news app.

News App Marketing 101

Any news app should ensure that it is easily navigable, organizing content by category, supplying diverse content, and interacting with user comments to enhance engagement and reader-relationships.

App Store Optimization and Localization

App Store Optimization (ASO) should never be viewed as a one-time event. When it comes to user-acquisition, having a strong ranking on app stores is essential. News apps should continually refine their copy while providing thorough answers to any questions or criticism. 

Keyword optimization has been proven to benefit smaller news apps in particular, and failing to optimize keywords will result in missed downloads.  

silver iphone 6 on table

ASO’s younger sibling “App Store Localization” is equally vital. It goes beyond merely translating pages and metadata, it requires the study of all regions where the app is marketed. Localization is arguably even more valuable for news apps than other apps because news apps are expected to be on top of breaking trends across the world. The internationalization of keywords is therefore of utmost importance. 

Use the Model Best Suited to Your Content and Readers

In our mobile-first world, any successful news app must adapt to user behaviour. This not only includes the style and format of the published content, but the monetization model and user acquisition strategy.

While some news apps survive purely on voluntary funding or freemium subscriptions (with metered paywalls), the vast majority rely at least partially on in-app advertising. While readers have become over-accustomed to pay-per-click web-based banner ads, news apps use more lucrative native ads (usually differentiated in news apps with a “sponsored” label) and video ads. 

Beyond the monetization of their app, news app marketers need a laser-focus on increasing its visibility while securing high LTV users. That means it is especially important for news app developers to be able to define their KPIs when launching their own user-acquisition advertising campaigns. Once more, in-app advertising campaigns prove to be incredibly useful. Cost-per-action (CPA) campaigns should always be the option-of-choice for news apps seeking to achieve scale.

Build native apps not hybrid apps

While it requires extra effort and investment, having native apps for web, iOS, and Android will provide better performance for non-text content, more responsive customised interfaces, better security, access to all native APIs and operating system-specific functions. Native news apps are also less likely to have content stolen and distributed on unofficial channels.

Capitalize on App’s UX Personalization Potential

Apps offer a far greater ability to personalize content for readers. This could be user-led (favorited topics, journalists, etc.) or algorithmic. 

Furthermore, it is especially useful for news apps to grant their readers meaningful control over push notifications. Give readers the ability to select notifications on topics that are important to them. Then use these push notifications to localize, build reader profiles, and enhance user retention. 

Other News App Marketing Tips

silver iphone 6 on brown wooden table

While the news app landscape is less saturated than on web, achieving meaningful success is no simple task. Any news app marketing strategy should also include:

  • Optimization for search engines – Once more, target the keywords that will drive downloads with the desired audience.
  • Social media functionality – While relationships between social media and news are changing, social media will continue to play a crucial role for the foreseeable future. Encourage and incentivize the sharing of content and make it easy to do so.
  • Diversification of ads – News apps are not just news. Some potential customers will not fully realize the additional features and advantages of downloading a news app unless they are shown them. Highlight all of your apps best features with a rotating series of ads. 
  • Paid social promotion – After monitoring the articles that perform well (such as hot-takes on popular topics and exclusive stories), pay to promote the best of them to targeted audiences.
  • Advertising in print Follow the examples of The Times and Wall Street Journal by making a big deal out of the app in relevant print/web publications. This will allow you to convert an audience already proven to be appreciative of your content. 
  • Video ads – A promotional video highlighting the best features of your app can not only be included on your app store page but also promoted on social media, Vimeo, and YouTube. 
  • Consideration of aggregation sites – Being featured on news app aggregation sites like Google News can be a great way to increase brand awareness and reputability. However, it is not a decision that should be rushed into because it can draw audiences away from the news app itself. Aggregation sites have become key battlegrounds in the anti-trust battles raging in the digital news landscape.
News Aggregator
An Example of a Mobile News Aggregator

Anti-Trust Battles

The shift to mobile news is not happening in a vacuum. From France to Australia, governmental watch-dogs are locked in anti-trust battles with “The Big Three” (Facebook, Google, Apple) as their control over digital media spreads. Currently, “The Big Three” need news to thrive and news sites need “The Big Three” to survive. As the power balance continues to shift, this asymmetric interdependence may come to a halt to the detriment of traditional news websites whose readers are opting to consume their content on larger platforms.

The future is yet to be written, yet it is vital that news app publishers follow these developments carefully and prepare their strategies accordingly. While these “battles” are only just heating-up, publishers can pre-empt a potential loss of traffic by focusing their marketing strategies on users directly reading and engaging with their app.

This provides all the more reason to regain control through the use of an engaging, well-designed and well-marketed news app. The sooner that news apps begin performance-based user-acquisition campaigns, the better their chances of success.

The post Competing with Giants: A Guide to Marketing News Apps appeared first on Applift.

A Deep Dive into E-Commerce App Retargeting in an Evolving Data Landscape Sat, 12 Sep 2020 13:57:43 +0000 The post A Deep Dive into E-Commerce App Retargeting in an Evolving Data Landscape appeared first on Applift.


It should not be surprising that recent reports identify e-commerce apps as the largest users of retargeting campaigns. These shopping and retail apps are the perfect fit for direct response retargeting. Following on from our Ultimate Guide to Marketing and M-Commerce, we wanted to dive deeper into the changing opportunities of e-commerce app retargeting.

After a refresher on the advantages of retargeting, we will provide a few advanced tips for running Facebook-led campaigns as well as more scalable campaigns outside of the “walled gardens”. Finally, with iOS14 due for release in a matter of days, we will examine how Apple’s latest operating system will, for better and worse, affect the practice. 

Why Retarget?

Typically, 21% of users stop using an app after installation. The average mobile user has over 100 apps on their phone – a fact that makes competition fierce for their time, money, and attention. Unlike traditional CPI focused campaigns, retargeting focuses on the (re)engagement of high-value users. And when run well, the practice is highly effective – apps that run retargeting campaigns have a 130% higher rate of paying users.

While the practice of retargeting has multi-platform benefits, its advantages are at their most pronounced on mobile where retargeting ads have been shown to be 13 times more effective than on desktop. The majority (71%) of m-commerce sales are in-app where users are able to browse and convert at much higher rates than on mobile web. Retargeting encourages direct action, which for e-commerce apps translates to increased purchases and revenue.

E-Commerce App Retargeting on Facebook and Google

The tech giants that dominate the advertising world, Facebook and Google, facilitate effective retargeting (or “remarketing”) opportunities (Facebook’s Retargeting Guide / Google’s Remarketing Guide). Facebook has acquired a particularly dominant place in the world of e-commerce. If you opt to retarget using Facebook, take advantage of their self-optimizing “dynamic creative ads” as well as running “sequential engagement campaigns” during video promotions. 

Sequential Video Ads – Source: Buffer

E-Commerce App Retargeting Outside of Facebook and Google

While Facebook and Google can both offer great locations and tools for retargeting, there are plenty of opportunities for marketers to reach users outside this ecosystem. To retarget on scale, it is essential to step outside of the “walled gardens”.

When implemented with expert assistance, the following techniques can supercharge e-commerce app retargeting campaigns leading to the en-masse conversion of high-value customers.

Product Diversification and Continuity

There is a limit to the quantity of a particular product that a person can repeatedly buy. Diversifying the products offered via retargeted ads is a great way to maximize revenue and brand familiarity. This can be done via cross-selling and up-selling (based on product choices) as well as cross-selling (based on customer attributes).

Sometimes, however, the best approach is to continue with what is working. “Level x” is the term given to the threshold by which revenue-per-user can be maximized while advertising the same product. The effectiveness of same-product ads varies from product-to-product but is especially useful during the first 24 hours.

Restrained Ad Frequency (Ad Capping)

Heavy ad frequency is not always something to celebrate. Somewhat counterintuitively when it comes to retargeting, often “less is more”. When would-be buyers see ads too often, it can have a negative impact on their emotions as a product ‘chases’ them across the web. Just as with push notifications, if users see ads too often, they report finding them “annoying”, “intrusive” or worse yet “creepy”. Equally, just as with push notifications, when implemented at an optimal frequency, they can have remarkable results.

Audience Targeting and Segmentation

Just as traditional customers visited shops for many reasons, mobile customers visit ecommerce apps with a variety of intentions. Identifying and appealing to these varied intentions is essential to better engage and re-engage customers. The key to improved audience targeting lies in the alignment of shoppers’ intentions and e-commerce apps’ customised advertising audiences. In other words, effective behavioural segmentation.

Audience size also plays an important role in retargeting campaigns. The bigger the audience size, the better, as it allows for campaigns to scale more effectively and for more granular segmentation capabilities. On the other hand, a smaller audience size doesn’t facilitate scale in performance, nor can advertisers break down their audiences into smaller segments (as the audience size is already quite small to begin with).

Post-Install Conversion Tracking

Post-install conversion tracking is another essential technique with results that speak for themselves. The advantage of post-install conversion tracking is that it grants advertisers the ability to identify the ‘tipping points’ between low- and high-value customers. Once the customers with the highest potential LTV have been identified, advertisers can focus their retargeting campaigns on tailored ads that will push those potential customers over the line. All while only spending their budget on the most valuable customers around.

For more on post-install conversion tracking, read our dedicated blog post

CPA Campaigns

Unlike traditional cost-per-mille or cost-per-install campaigns, the KPIs of retargeting campaigns can and should be more specific. Adopting a cost-per-action (CPA) model grants unprecedented control to measure and optimize a campaign based on the post-install events that matter. For e-commerce apps, this could be first purchase or customer registration – which as we are about to explain, is soon to become an increasingly desirable goal.

For more on cost-per-action campaigns, read our dedicated blog post

Retargeting After the iOS14 Update

At this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple promoted an array of announcements, products, and updates to great fanfare. For advertisers, the most impactful of these updates was Apple’s new app tracking transparency framework and its implications for IDFA.

IDFA has not been completely killed off, yet. Though most experts agree that Apple is laying the foundations for its elimination. Next year, IDFA will become “opt-in before point of use”. This has significant ramifications for retargeting on iOS.

Advertisers will no longer be able to leverage IDFA to retarget ads to lapsed users. Until now, apps could read IDFAs to discover low-engagement users and send their IDFAs to an ad network so that retargeted ads could be shown to that audience segment. The most common and useful example of this is when customers fail to finalize a purchase; retargeted ads could be used to warn them of their abandoned carts with the hope of re-engaging and converting them. After Apple’s changes come into force, this will no longer be possible for unregistered customers.

Though all is not lost for e-commerce app retargeting on iOS as two saving graces prevent its demise.

Firstly, e-commerce apps usually require registration. iOS14 still allows for tracking based on the contact information provided during the registration process. As long as it is performed within the parameters of Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention, retargeting specific customers will therefore still be possible based upon CRMs. In this sense, e-commerce apps’ registration process gives them a lifeline from the most adverse impacts of Apple’s new rules.


Secondly, the agility and adaptability of the industry should not be underestimated. Alongside the new challenges of iOS14, new opportunities arise. Instead of relying on user-level targeting, in-app retargeting can evolve into contextual targeting. When basing retargeting on contextual audiences, app categorization becomes increasingly important. E-commerce apps (and others) should take note of these changes and ensure improved targeting via a high-level of specificity in their AppStore categories.

When evaluating Apple’s new changes, Verve Group’s Chief Product Officer Ionut Ciobotaru concluded that, “Instead of an ‘apocalypse’, it is actually a very important milestone. Privacy, advertising, and consumer choice finally meet to sustain a more efficient ecosystem.”


Mobile commerce shows no signs of slowing down. It is set to grow by 68% from 2020 – 2022 as increasing numbers of consumers opt to shop on their phones. While industry practices may be shifting, e-commerce apps remain as lucrative as ever.

Want to learn more about running retargeting campaigns for your e-commerce app? Download our case study below to find out how we helped a leading e-commerce brand achieve 2000%+ ROAS with retargeting campaigns.

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The Ultimate Guide to Marketing E-Commerce Apps Mon, 07 Sep 2020 14:07:12 +0000 The post The Ultimate Guide to Marketing E-Commerce Apps appeared first on Applift.


M-Commerce (mobile e-commerce) is predicted to scale at a 25.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019-2024. If those predictions are correct, m-commerce would hit $488 billion in four years and account for 44% of all e-commerce. In the US, 42% of sales are already made through smartphones and 59% of adults prefer shopping on mobile. The driving force behind the growth of m-commerce is e-commerce apps – they account for 71% of mobile sales.

Source: Business Insider Intelligence

For retailers of all kinds, there are clearly huge advantages of building an e-commerce app now rather than relying on website sales alone. Below, we share our top tips for organically acquiring users, provide a guide for paid marketing, and explore the importance of UA and retargeting with a performance-based model.

Our Top Tips for a Successful E-Commerce App

1) Optimize the App Store Listing of your E-Commerce App

Amongst increased competition of e-commerce apps on Android and iOS, app store optimization and localization is essential for achieving high-rankings and getting noticed. Any worthwhile attempt at ASO will include analysis of keyword trends, conversion trends, and search volume. Creative elements should be of excellent quality and constantly updated for best results. 

2) Ask for Reviews for your E-Commerce App

As well as receiving positive reviews for your e-commerce app itself, displaying past customers’ reviews for your products builds the trust required to convert first-time customers. The strategic placement of these reviews should not be undervalued; positive reviews can be used to improve the efficacy of paid ads, landing pages, and more. If you do not have many customer reviews yet, ask for them.

3) Deploy Tactical Push-Notifications

We should not need to say this in 2020, but we will anyway: the overzealous usage of push notifications kills apps! Push notifications can still be used effectively without frustrating users to the point of uninstallation. They have a higher rate of opening than nearly any other marketing channel; for e-commerce apps, a limited number of personalized push notifications (such as cart abandonment warnings or wish-list item sales) can result in fantastic sales figures with minimal effort from the retailer.

4) Make the Most of Seasonality

App store pages are easy to alter. Beyond localizing them for different regions, they can be transformed based on seasons, festivals, events and more. Just as traditional shopfronts would be transformed for the Christmas period with sales and decorations, so should app store pages (albeit with digital tinsel). Changes like this help to foster app usage as a habit while increasing engagement and retention rates.

User Acquisition and Retargeting

While techniques such as App Indexing and Social Media Conversions can be great for driving users from web/mobile-web to app, one of the best ways to achieve a full-funnel strategy for an e-commerce app is via performance marketing campaigns. Using a performance-based model such as Cost-per-Action (CPA) goes above and beyond standard impression and install campaigns and ensures that brands only ever pay for results.

These CPA campaigns allow retailers to choose their own KPIs (first order, registration, etc.) so that strategies can be tailored to brand needs. As well as granting greater control over the types of users acquired, CPA is ideal for retargeting campaigns.

Unlike on web, in-app retargeting operates via the following data sources:

  • Mobile device IDs
  • First-party data
  • In-app inventory from ad networks

After selecting the most appropriate data points, it is important that these campaigns are run prudently. That involves accurately identifying the crucial post-install events, ensuring up-to-date audience segmentation, and maintaining the right amount of product diversification, cross-selling and upselling.

Retargeting campaigns are particularly effective for e-commerce apps whose most common challenge is abandoned carts. Through the use of flash sales or ‘abandoned cart warnings’, brands can re-engage high-value users on the brink of conversion. Retargeting encourages direct action, which for m-commerce translates to increased purchases and revenue.

As of Q1 2020, shopping apps had a 50-72% adoption rate and a 25-60% increase in retargeting conversions (depending on region). Studies reveal that retargeting leads to a sizable uplift in the share of paying users (Italy +43%; France +70%; USA +90%). Conversion rates of reengaged shoppers are four times higher in-app than on web.

Additional Paid Marketing Strategies to Supercharge E-Commerce Apps

Traditional pay-per-click models (PPC) with search and display ads allows digital retailers to target users via their browser search results as well as through ad space on other apps. These campaigns allow for the targeting of ideal demographics, locations, times, and operating systems. These mass campaigns can have huge reach that results in crucial installs.

Advertising on other app’s inventory grants numerous opportunities to show-off the best of your product with a direct link to your app store page. The usage of pre-roll videos can lead to 27 times more clicks than standard banner ads.

Source: Promodo

Any app launch should be running an integrated social media campaign that encourages the sharing of the app. Paying for promotion on social media and messenger services is an efficient way to get your app noticed while reaching a vast yet identifier-targeted audience. Just as with push notifications, ads on messenger services should be deployed tactically and not on such a scale that they become off-putting.

Similarly, affiliate and influencer marketing provide further paid opportunities that not only increase brand awareness but brand reputability too. Again, these promotions can be highly tailored to your audience; there are partners and influencers with niche audiences in every sector imaginable. If your shopping app sells gaming gear, find Twitch streamers to recommend your gear to their audience – all while circumventing ad blockers.


What does this mean for retailers running e-commerce apps? It means that retargeting is an unmissable opportunity to acquire always sought-after high-LTV users. Get in touch with us today to start promoting your e-commerce app. 

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How to Scale User Acquisition via Programmatic Media Buying Thu, 03 Sep 2020 14:38:48 +0000 The post How to Scale User Acquisition via Programmatic Media Buying appeared first on Applift.


Many of our regular readers will have already read our Beginner’s Guide to Programmatic Advertising. This piece expands on that accessible introduction with a renewed focus on programmatic media buying’s potential for user-acquisition. 


Switching from an ad network to programmatic is not often a simple process. App teams often lack the knowledge, resources, and data required for a smooth transition. Understanding why apps endeavour to persist in spite of these challenges, it’s important to understand their growth needs and the limitations of the alternatives.

Growing apps have an insatiable appetite for users. In the climate of overly saturated low-impact ads on self-attributing networks (SANs), unsatisfactory reporting from ad networks, and rampant attribution fraud, it is unsurprising that UA-focused marketers seek to satisfy this appetite with additional reliable user-acquisition channels.

This urgent demand for growth is driving a shift towards programmatic as an increasingly important acquisition channel. This is especially true for highly competitive, well-funded and on-demand apps.

Programmatic user acquisition’s advantages all lie in the data it uses. Because programmatic advertisers have complete control over their data, it never needs to be passed onto third-party networks. Furthermore, rather than basing Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) optimization on bulk-bought data, programmatic buying is always based on current bid data. This real-time bid data is not only more accurate and efficient than historical performance data, but it ensures that advertisers only pay for results.

For many marketers, this results-driven approach is the antidote for elevated cost per mille (CPMs) on Facebook and Google. However, while programmatic is generally far less labour-intensive than traditional manual insertion orders, scaling with programmatic remains a demanding process.

How to Scale User Acquisition with Programmatic

Leaving aside retargeting (a process that requires a distinct strategy), scaling programmatic user acquisition requires two essential elements:

A Substantial Amount of Behavioural Data

Programmatic media buying is at its most effective when advertisers appreciate the value of the users they are targeting. For these advertisers, the larger their DAU-bases the better. With a massive behavioural data bank, they not only have greater reach but are able to target more potentially valuable customers via their advertiser IDs.

Real-time behavioural data enables cost-effective programmatic buying because it allows advertisers to target high-value users more cheaply than if they were targeting using broad LTV averages and demographic data. Identifying the users that have historically monetized and then targeting them in apps with low average advertiser LTVs is a highly effective way to achieve low CPMs. This is programmatic’s UA equivalent of “buy low, sell high”.

Effective Bid Logic and Pricing Systems

The second essential facet of programmatic user acquisition scaling is effective bid logic. To effectively price bids, the aforementioned data must be analysed then utilized to produce price targets.

Programmatic media is always purchased via a cost-per-mille (CPM) model. Through a process often described as “learning”, the estimated value of users’ monetization potential is converted into a CPM bid. Performing this process requires the continued observance of conversion rates in order to determine which CPMs lead to CPI bids.

While much of this process is, by its nature, automated, the effort required to stay on top of it should not be underestimated. Running effective bid logic and pricing models involves rigorous data aggregation and conversion to user-level bidders. For this reason, it is highly recommended that advertisers seek the assistance of expert analysts and programmatic specialists.


Scaling programmatic media buying as a channel for user acquisition is a high-effort, high-reward strategy. For more on programmatic advertising, don’t forget to check out our beginner’s guide. For assistance in running your own programmatic campaign, get in touch with us below.

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