Marketers continue to navigate a turbulent marketing landscape with budgets dropping 20% in 2023 due to economic challenges and privacy restrictions.
AppsFlyer released the 16th edition of its Performance Index, ranking the top media sources in mobile advertising across 11 regions and 22 app categories. The latest version of the Index, which was introduced in 2015, found the economic downturn had a significant impact on the mobile app media space throughout 2023 as nearly all top media sources saw declines and app install ad spend budgets reduced by 20% in the third quarter of 2023 when compared to Q3 in 2022.
“As the world continues to bounce back following bouts of economic uncertainty, marketers and media owners cannot afford to make the wrong decisions — especially when it comes to media source budget allocation,” said Paul Wright, General Manager Western Europe and MENAT at AppsFlyer.
“Only four of the top 20 media source players saw budget increases this year, costs of media continue to fluctuate and channels like CTV are leading ecosystem players to quickly adapt and think outside of the box to reach consumers. For marketers, selecting the best media partners is particularly important on iOS because of its high-quality audience. However, privacy-driven fragmentation in measurement has only created more uncertainty, increasing the need for accurate performance rankings for the platform.”
Apple Search Ads and Meta Lead the Way Across iOS Gaming and Non-gaming
The best way to properly depict the state of the iOS media market is by looking at a single source of truth (SSOT). AppsFlyer’s first-ever SSOT iOS index combines SKAdNetwork and traditional attribution and accurately deduplicates between the two data sources.
Apple Search Ads (ASA) is the #1 media source for iOS gaming apps and non-gaming categories, coming in at #1 in almost all the rankings across every region and every category with high quality and unmatched scale, particularly in non-gaming. The dominance of ASA in non-gaming is even more pronounced than it is in gaming, coming in at #1 in all the rankings across every category and every region except for Latin America with unmatched scale and high quality.
Although still far from its dominant iOS position before iOS 14.5, Meta ads continue to adapt in the post iOS 14.5 era, coming in at #2 in the power and volume rankings (power rankings combine quality and quantity metrics while volume only covers quantity). The social network’s performance is mostly fueled by non-gaming apps on SKAdNetwork, Apple’s privacy-centric attribution interface, where it drives the highest number of installs, well above the competition.
Google Ads came in at #3 in the rankings thanks to its scale among non-gaming apps. It should be noted that for Google, iOS is secondary compared to Android, especially when compared to its web business.
For non-gaming, Meta ads ranked 2nd in the global power ranking, driven by its performance in Life & Culture where it ranked 2nd, while Google reached 5th place (3rd in the volume ranking) thanks to a #2 power ranking in finance. Snapchat and Moloco ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively thanks to top-notch quality.
Meta Surpasses Google Atop Shopping Ranking for Remarketing Rankings
The Android remarketing ranking finds Google, Meta, and TikTok For Business to some extent, dominating market share. Google Ads, which is the #1 player across most remarketing rankings, came in 2nd to Meta Ads in the most important category — shopping. Meta ads was able to close the gap with Google in the global power ranking because of its success in shopping, where it surpassed Google to come out on top.
TikTok For Business came in 3rd in the global power ranking, driven by its significant scale, particularly for shopping apps. Liftoff ranked 4th thanks to great quality, while remarketing specialists Adikteev and Remerge followed with a #5 and #6 ranking, respectively. The former’s success was largely driven by Life & Culture apps, where it ranked 3rd thanks to great quality, while the latter came in as the top player in casino games where it clinched the #1 power ranking.