Marketing constantly changes. It’s not just the channels and partners that change your strategy, but also how technology changes, making previously impractical tasks easy and essential.
Mobile Marketing’s Past
In the last generation of mobile marketing, the process looked like this: Drive user acquisition through media buying and pay-for-performance partnerships. Check reporting to make sure you’re achieving an acceptable cost per install, and ramp up the good partners while deactivating the bad partners. This was an OK approach, but it had a couple of serious issues:
1. The value of an install massively varies based on the post-install user engagement.
2. Fraud, especially click spamming, ruins your capability to easily evaluate installs based on the immediate engagement/revenue.
3. Judging partners based on overall partner performance isn’t enough. Both great and mediocre partners tend to have a mix of excellent quality sources and really bad sources hiding behind the quality ones.
Reporting has improved, and now it’s realistic for marketers to evaluate their channels on a more granular level. Breaking down data used to require marketers to spend hours of manual spreadsheet work pulling pivot tables, but it can now be done in seconds utilizing the power of cloud technology to make all of that data instantly accessible.
Marketers optimize based on data that is practical to work with. They can’t spend countless hours pulling reports if it only leads to a 0.01% improvement in revenue. Fortunately, technology has massively improved to allow marketers to quickly make all of the 0.01% optimizations that, when combined, deliver a massive return to their overall performance and quality.
Here is how you can be a better mobile marketer without burning yourself out.
Post-Engagement Events Matter Far More Than Installs
If you want to promote your app, you’ll want to work with one of the major mobile measurement partners (MMPs) because they provide essential analytics and attribution for apps. The most well-known MMPs are AppsFlyer, Kochava, Adjust and Branch.
One major part of their offering is the ability to receive attribution both for the initial install (which records when the app is first opened) and a multitude of engagement events, including registration, in-app purchase and users re-opening the app days later.
The data recorded by these MMPs can then be sent to your media-buying and partner-management platforms via postbacks, allowing you to evaluate the initial and ongoing performance of each partner and source. However, don’t take the data completely at face value, as fraud can take advantage of these systems.
Use This Metric To Uncover Fraud
One of the most diabolical types of fraud is called click spamming. It’s so bad because click spamming allows your shadier partners to deliver legitimately high-quality installs with amazing engagement. How? Mobile fraudsters realized that if they fire off their tracking on every user that is exposed to their ad without the user engaging with it, they could cover a massive set of users with their tracking at a very low cost. By covering everyone, they would track many of the users that really wanted to try an advertiser’s app and were internally motivated to use the product without any outside advertising needed. If you were just looking at your performance by partner, you would think that these fraudsters were delivering you amazing installs when, in fact, they were stealing the great installs that would have come naturally.
To catch this type of fraud, evaluate your performance by comparing the time from the click to the time the matching conversion was delivered (this metric is often known as MTTI or CTIT). Click spamming relies on the fact that if they cover enough people by firing off their tracking link, and MMPs’ default tracking typically lasts for seven days, they will steal plenty of your organic installs. When checking click-to-install timing, their scheme becomes obvious — real advertising has most installs coming in within the first hour of seeing the ad, but with click spamming, most installs come in more than 24 hours after first seeing advertising.
Optimization Is More Effective By Placement, Not Just By Partner
In the past, going deeper than the partner level was time-consuming and impractical. When your partners are evaluated on just their top-line level, you’re just seeing their average-level quality, but you want to receive only their best-quality sources. The first step is to make sure all of your partners and channels pass their placements inside of your tracking links. When you view performance on the placement level, you can quickly see which sources deliver great results, which ones deliver suspicious performance and which ones deliver no performance at all.
One of the major issues with mobile marketing is that even good-quality partners often let higher-volume, low-quality apps/placements continue to operate in their platforms. These partners help ensure consistent delivery for each campaign, and as long as the overall quality was good enough, no one complained about them. If you’re just evaluating the partner you will be happy enough, but that misses the fact that your success would be massively improved by catching and removing these problematic placements.
A Wave Of Change For Mobile Marketing
With the last generation, it was possible for fraudsters to hide behind respected partners and coast on the reputation of those partners. Modern technology frees up your time while providing a more effective way to catch these bad sources so they can no longer hide in the shadows.
The sooner marketers switch to the next wave of technologies, the quicker rampant mobile fraud will be stamped out once and for all.