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App Install Marketers Adapt to New Challenges — Survey Results

Posted Jul 8, 2021

With so many apps competing for audiences’ attention, mobile publishers have had to stay on top of the latest technologies and strategies to earn those downloads. Over the past few years, app install marketing has become a priority for mobile publishers and their budgets. User acquisition evolves every year and 2020 was certainly no exception. Apple’s privacy changes caused a stir in the mobile world and have required adaptability from UA marketers. To better understand how they have adapted, AdColony reached out to mobile publishers to get their thoughts on the current landscape of app install marketing.

The AdColony App Install Marketing Survey was distributed globally and garnered responses from 200+ app developers. The survey asked respondents 30 questions regarding their strategies and results for user acquisition. Topics include SKAdNetwork, budget allocation, most effective methods, and UA campaign plans for 2021. 

Highlights from the Study

  • Apple’s privacy changes cause a shift toward Android and more focus on CPI. — Marketers were asked where their UA campaigns are shifting toward in 2021. 54% of respondents said they were shifting campaigns toward Android, a more than 20% jump from last year’s survey. The uncertainty of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency and the need for experimentation on the new framework has led publishers to move toward marketing more on Android devices. That doesn’t mean that iOS is being left behind. 40% of respondents said they were shifting toward iOS, which is a significant 25% jump from 2020.  Almost half of respondents also said they were more focused on CPI. With the new SKAdnetwork, iOS campaigns will have little data regarding post-install events. It’s likely that UA marketers spend more time and budget on CPI goals because it doesn’t require this kind of data.

  • UA marketers do not plan on relying exclusively on SKAdNetwork for their campaigns despite low expectancy of iOS inventory with IDFAs. — Respondents were asked what percentage of iOS inventory they think will have device-IDs (IDFAs) included due to user opt-in. The majority of respondents (71%) believe it will be less than 50%. There’s also a significant share (21%) that are very optimistic and believe it will be more than 75%. Additionally, most UA marketers (64%) are moderately or very concerned about low opt-in rates. Despite these low expectations, UA marketers will not be solely relying on SKAdNetwork. Almost half of respondents will use less than a quarter of their budget on SKAdNetwork campaigns. Additionally, 66% of UA marketers said they plan to still continue to work with ad networks who do not support SKAdNetwork. 
  • Most publishers plan to adopt SKAdNetwork or have already joined. — This survey was administered during Q2 2021 and at the time of the survey only 37% had already adopted SKAdNetwork. However, another 48% are expected to join soon leaving only 15% who do not plan to use SKAdNetwork.
  • Video continues to get the biggest budget. — According to app install marketers, video accounts for 42% of all campaign spend (on average). Display ads get the second highest average budget at 23%. The percentages for these types of campaigns remained flat since last year’s survey. Additionally, a majority of publishers (75%) spent their budgets using ad networks through self-serve or managed accounts.
  • Full-screen video is still the most effective. — Video ads in general are still considered the most effective app install methods by marketers. Playable ads have gone up since last year by 5% with 29% of respondents saying the channel is very or extremely effective.

  • CPM gains ground among pricing models. — As mentioned earlier, ad networks are billing based on CPM (cost per thousand impressions) now due to Apple’s requirement to receive users’ opt-in for app tracking. This explains CPM’s share increase of 8% since last year’s survey making it the second most used pricing model. Additionally, CPA grew by 10% this year. CPI is still on top with 54% of respondents saying they use that model.

About the Study
The AdColony App Install Marketing Survey was distributed globally and garnered responses from 200+ app developers. The survey asked respondents 30 questions regarding their strategies and results for user acquisition. Topics include SKAdNetwork, budget allocation, most effective methods, and UA campaign plans for 2021.

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