This is a guest blog post by Naama Manova Twito from user engagement company Woobi.
If you’re an app developer whose marketing strategy is based solely on running cost-per-install campaigns, there’s a good chance you’ll get left in the dust. The industry is evolving, as we saw when Fiksu recently retired its cost-per-install index and leading industry analysts officially said goodbye to cost-per-install campaigns.
Advertisers want more than just downloads — they want users. And not just any users; they want engaged users who will spend money and stay. But not only are they battling their way through a saturated market and fierce competition among apps, paying their way to the top just isn’t enough anymore.
App developers seeking active users with high potential life-time value are massively shying away from cost-per-install campaigns and shifting toward CPA (cost per action) or CPE (engagement), thus opening a whole new world of metrics for advertisers, who can now enforce app usage as part of their marketing campaign, and pay only for users who made that next-level engagement.
This means a future for app developers and ad networks that entails more segmentation, higher precision and data-based targeting, and cherry-picking ideal users. We’ll also see more ad network accountability over not only the install, but meaningful app usage as per each advertiser’s performance objectives. And that all starts with establishing the right key performance indicators for your app.
Key performance indicators are parameters of engagement within your app that you consider to be most important measures of success. They can be used as a way to define a minimum requirement for billable installs, or as indicators that would help predict user quality from media sources after a relatively short time within a campaign.
You shouldn’t define reaching level 100 or six-month user retention as your campaign key performance indicator, but you can definitely pinpoint users watching the tutorial or completing a level as a minimum requirement. If your app is good, and the right audience was targeted, the chances are you’ll be acquiring a lot more loyal, high-quality, easier-to-monetize users than you would if you were focusing on just installs.
5 tips for cost per action campaigns
Following these tactics will help you drive cost–efficient, quality app user acquisition, and increased return on investment.
1. Set up clear campaign key performance indicators
First step for any campaign is to set its clear objectives. What do you wish to achieve? App usage? User re-engagement? User retention?
Your key performance indicators, or KPIs, should be a measure of success for your objectives. Clear KPIs combined with real-time monitoring and optimization tools will enable you to measure and dictate desired results at any given moment in your campaign’s lifecycle.
Working with advanced platforms such as TUNE’s Attribution Analytics actually gives you leverage to further optimize. When we run cost per action/cost per engagement campaigns, we are able to track and monitor all campaign KPIs and optimize the campaign accordingly to achieve significantly improved results within the same budget.
We can also monitor actions well beyond the campaign: let’s say a campaign KPI was for users to reach level two of a gaming app. With Attribution Analytics, you can analyze how this KPI indicates other actions, such as reaching a higher level, making in-app purchases, obtaining premium items, uninstallations and so on.
Analyzing this information internally or with your advertising partner, you’ll be able to optimize your traffic sources and campaign mechanisms, and truly cherry pick the best users for your app.
2. Plan ahead
Now that your awesome app is ready for launch – before you hit the “go” button, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Launching a new app often entails considerable marketing budgets. To maximize the return for every dollar spent, you have to synchronize seasonality with your campaign objectives and KPIs.
The question of “when is it the best time to launch an app marketing campaign?” is affected by more than just getting your app ready for launch. A study released by Fetch demonstrates how different periods during the year, the month, certain days of the week, and even specific hours of the day are better than others for releasing a new mobile app. “High season” release also has cost implications you need to take into consideration. So when you are planning your app marketing campaign, bear in mind that much like in any other field, timing is everything.
3. Targeting, targeting, targeting
One of the most amazing tools enabled by several innovative in-game ad serving technologies is meticulous targeting. Recently developed tools allow you to not only implement targeting capabilities as geography and demographics, but also target based on deeper analysis and user profiling to include device, OS, user preferences, interests, consumption habits, game traits, and more. Implementing such tools will ensure your app promotion reaches the relevant audience, where the potential lifetime value is maximal.
4. Avoid foul play
Fraud has been an issue since the inception of online marketing. As an advertiser, you wish to ensure your ad campaign is displayed in a suitable context to complement your brand, viewed by real people (rather than bots), and served to the most relevant audiences. Here are a few things you need to remember to implement:
- Engage with ad serving platforms that have developed dedicated fraud detection/prevention mechanisms for each platform (web/social/mobile).
- Don’t settle for vague quality promises — insist on real-time location checks, analysis of user profile, and history to ensure quality engagements.
- Have direct integrations with game publishers, which strongly supports quality ad engagements.
- Minimize bots. Cost-per-action and cost-per-engagement is more difficult to forge, as bots find it harder to actually complete tasks within the app.
5. It’s the user’s choice to engage
Not all users are alike, not even among a group of users who fit the exact profile of your target audience. Different users play different games for different reasons, their in-game behavior differs, even during their game play session. This is also reflected by the fact that they do not all wish to engage with your ad at the same moment, if at all. If you are looking for app advocates, which I suspect you are, choose an advertising partner that knows how to manage the brand perception you seek for your app.
As we all know, ads don’t work stand alone, but ad experiences do. You want the engagement with your ad to be part of a positive experience, increasing the user’s willingness to install, open, and try it out according to your pre-set key performance indicators. The ability to identify if and when each user would be in his optimal mindset to engage with your ad content is extremely valuable and is bound to reel in higher quality users, with increased lifetime value potential. The same rule applies when you go about monetizing your app.
Acquire. Engage. Retain.
Although still a common practice when it comes to app-marketing, cost per install as a benchmark seems to be declining, with user acquisition advertisers leading the way to higher quality campaign requirements that give them true value for money. If you too are leaning toward engagement-based promotion campaigns, make sure you set clear, attainable KPIs, choose an ad partner that understands the field and will support your KPI needs, and a tracking partner that will analyze your users’ lifecycle, from acquisition through app-usage behavior.
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Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.