By Samer Saad, Regional Manager – Middle East at AppsFlyer
Marketers have realized that mobile apps are becoming an increasingly important channel with which to reach consumers. Their acknowledgment of this reality can be seen in the share of their budgets that goes towards mobile channels. Last year, companies worldwide spent a staggering $223 billion on mobile advertising, and this figure is expected to exceed $339 billion by 2023.
This trend shows a dramatic transformation in how brands engage with customers, and it has been driven by the rise of the app economy. Unfortunately, while consumer activity on mobile channels escalated during COVID-19 lockdowns, many marketing budgets did not follow suit. So, marketing professionals have had to up their game and do more with less.
Justifying every nugget of expenditure has become the norm. ROI has become a key metric to distinguish successful campaigns from duds. But to be in the position to make an ROI-based argument to business stakeholders, marketers need to have access to the right data. To explain the dos and don’ts of this new measure-everything paradigm, let’s consider some measurement myths.
1. There is no need to measure
This first and most obvious fallacy is a vestige of the legacy years of billboards and print advertising. In these models, proof of ROI was unnecessary because it was so hard to come by. But with the rise of digital technologies came the ability to follow campaigns from conception to return (or lack thereof).
In the digital era, not only can you measure; you can measure a lot. Even among those marketers who know attribution is possible in the digital age, we often see only very basic measurement, for example just focusing on where installs have come from. This is despite the fact that the capabilities are out there to monitor and quantify a range of activities across various channels and centralize (rather than silo) the results so that all functions of the organization can benefit.
2. Measurement is for mobile-first organizations
It’s easy to assume that investing in technology that helps you measure and analyze mobile marketing campaigns is primarily adopted by enterprises that use their mobile app as their primary channel.
However, any company that promotes a mobile app, regardless of priority, will benefit from accurate ROI data. Without it, how would decision-makers know whether to increase investment or redirect it? And although installs may be coming from one source, what about revenue or loyal users? By measuring, companies may open the door to engagement levels they previously thought to be out of reach.
3. Only paid campaigns are measurable
This assumption is another throwback to the days of billboards and print advertising. In some quarters, measurement is still held to be a means to understand the impact of specific campaigns only — number of listeners or viewers reached for radio or TV, number of leads for events, and so on. But modern, holistic marketing plans require measurement of so much more. Commercial entities can have real-time information on how their brand is doing organically.
When uniting campaign data with the more organic engagement data, firms can get a rich view of what is working and what is not. This is actionable information that can enhance the strategy behind future investments, activities, and campaigns.
4. Everyone measures the same way
Having decided that it is important to measure, it becomes even more important to measure optimally. While this may seem obvious, many marketers make assumptions about methodology that leave them open to being outmaneuvered by competitors.
For example, how do you determine what constitutes an app install? Is it just a download? A one-time “open”? An “open” within a certain time frame from the download? Utilization? Time-sensitive utilization? And do reinstalls count or not? Such considerations can mean the difference between accurate and inaccurate views of how well an app — and hence, a brand — is doing.
5. Measurement is no longer possible because of iOS 14
This is a specific misunderstanding that has emanated from the concerns of marketers. When Apple launched the new version of its mobile OS in September 2020, it announced that its App-Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework would require apps to convince users to grant access to their device’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA).
While this is a welcome move in the right direction for consumer privacy, there’s no doubt that Apple’s changes will impact how marketers measure their campaigns. But that doesn’t mean measurement is no longer possible.
Apple has developed its own solution for privacy-first deterministic attribution, SKAdNetwork, and while it carries some limitations, it’s still a huge advantage.
In addition, there are a number of innovative tools such as predictive analytics and incrementality-based solutions that will help marketers better understand the performance of their campaigns, without compromising user privacy.
Finally, alternative marketing strategies such as web-to-app and ones that rely on owned channels, can improve the overall user experience, and don’t rely on IDFA for attribution purposes.
In a mobile-first world, measurement-first marketing is vital for proving ROI and laying the groundwork for success. And in dealing with digital natives, marketers must evolve their measurement approaches to encompass more nebulous concepts. The benefits of proper measurement are clear: proof of ROI, data-driven corporate cultures, and a deeper understanding of what drives customers to engage.