What works for getting more quality mobile app downloads – from some rather well backed experts.

Not from my own findings (even though the results for Justaxi – Manchester taxi fare comparison app are nicely similar) these are findings from AppsFlyer. But what the heck should they know…. well…  they just raised $7.1M A round funding from Pitango Venture Capital and Magma Venture Partners whilst in the last 2.5 years, AppsFlyer’s NativeTrack™ technology has rapidly become the industry standard for mobile attribution at scale. AppsFlyer is now measuring billions of mobile actions monthly and global top tier app publishers are using our technology.

Their SDK’s are now installed on more than 800 million mobile devices, measuring more than $500M in mobile ad spend annually. 

So they know their onions and what makes onions grow… and they work with A LOT of partners to help mobile apps get downloaded. 

So here are the results and a couple of comments from my own app marketing and mobile marketing experience. We have just signed up at Manchester’s taxi fare comparison app JusTaxi – to measure our downloads so I can tell you in more detail next month. 

1.   Social is the Q1 winner in mobile app marketing

Social app marketing, which includes app marketing on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, users inviting their friends and app discovery based on social elements, was the top app marketing channel when considering all three criteria – user quality, conversion rates and volume.

In previous quarters, Social delivered high quality users; however, the volume and reach were limited. Facebook Mobile App Install Ads launched late last year definitely helped the Social channel become the winner in Q1 2013.

In fact, Facebook Mobile App Install Ad unit was by far the most effective social driver of high quality users at large volumes.

Mobile app categories best-suited to Social: App marketing campaigns for games, travel, social apps and geo-targeted apps performed particularly well using mobile social marketing channels.

AppsFlyer Insight: We believe that the social channel will continue to grow very fast as initial campaigns delivered high quality users. We expect social campaign costs to increase as more advertisers seek to leverage social channels like Facebook.

Dan Sodergren Justaxi Insight: We concur with this finding and add that Twitter is kicking ass as well for numbers. 

2.   With mobile apps, Search leads in quality

Search delivers the highest quality of users for mobile apps. But where mobile search fails is in delivering quantity or a high conversion rate.

It’s not surprising that a channel which delivers the highest quality of users would deliver fewer users. What is surprising, given the success of Search on the web, is the fact that mobile search isn’t as dominant. This is further proof that users aren’t immediately adopting their web habits to the 3rd screen.

(NOTE: Search refers to queries in mobile search engines and does not include direct queries in the App Store or Google Play).

Mobile app categories best-suited to mobile Search: App marketing campaigns for E-commerce, utilities, travel, food and content segments all performed well via paid mobile search.

Dan Sodergren Justaxi Insight: People who searching for something i.e. in Google Mobile – are already in the interested camp for downloading – they spend the most about of time in our app and are the most likely to become instant conversions to action. 

3.   Ad Networks deliver volume

If you’re looking for volume, you can reach out to the 100+ mobile ad networks out there. Though it seems that ad networks deliver on average lower quality users with lower conversion rates, the variation is very high (i.e. some campaigns performed very well while others didn’t) . Many ad networks can optimize campaigns based on conversions (installation or even on a post install in-app event), so first app marketers need to implement proper conversion tracking and then they need to be patient until the network learns the data and is able to improve campaign results. In addition, we noticed that some manual optimization always helps in determining which campaign/creative/publisher-id/day part/geo works best.

Mobile app categories best-suited to Ad Networks: App marketing campaigns for mass market apps and games performed well via mobile Ad Networks.

AppsFlyer Insight: We believe that Ad Networks will continue to improve performance over time as they improve their targeting and retargeting capabilities. We also identify a growing trend of CPA (Cost per In-App Action) offering that will definitely increase Ad Networks volume.

Dan Sodergren Justaxi Insight: We are about to embark on both remarketing and real time bidding on mobile networks for JusTaxi – at present the cost per click and downloads look encouraging however the actual value of the costumers seems low i.e. they download, they look, but they don’t use the app and the churn rate is very high. 

4.   Is Incentivized traffic effective?

Though Incentivized traffic delivers the best conversion rates, as one would expect, the average user quality is the lowest. We also found that the user quality variation in this channel is the highest, meaning that it works very well for some apps and not for others. Certain games performed well using his channel.

The key to a successful mobile app marketing campaign, especially with incentivized traffic, is understanding campaign ROI. For app marketers who measure all campaign expenditures and their direct return, incentivized traffic can be cost-effective.

Mobile app categories best-suited for buying Incentivized traffic: Mobile app marketing campaigns for games and apps with a high K factor (additional organic users generated indirectly from the campaign) performed well with incentivized traffic.

AppsFlyer Insight: We predict that incentivized networks will move deeper into the conversion funnel to validate ROI for advertisers and enable CPA (Cost Per In-App Action) campaigns by offering advertisers a price per specific action within the application. This method offers a riskless marketing method for advertisers and a great business model for the networks that can actually deliver.

Dan Sodergren Justaxi Insight: Again we see the same thing for our promo codes incentivised actions – however we have not done a cost per in app action campaign to date – maybe we can start in Facebook as long it is integrated into our apps – so this would be very interesting to see how it would work in 2014. 

In Summary: After a messy 2012, which was confusing for mobile app advertisers, 2013 will be the demand side year, with better reach, targeting, conversion and measurement. We believe that the measurement of all campaign variables is the key to increasing mobile marketing budgets because accurate measurement enables uncovering the actual value of mobile advertising.

Data source:

AppsFlyer is a mobile apps marketing measurement platform that allows app developers, brands and agencies to measure and optimize their entire mobile customer acquisition funnel from one real-time dashboard.

AppsFlyer compiled aggregated Q1 2013 data into this report in an effort to help educate mobile marketers on mobile app discovery channels and help them master the complexities of this market.

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