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How To Survive The App-Ocalypse

by Andra Caliu about a month ago in apps
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CMO and Founder of Bango. Fighting to build a strong connection between marketing dollars spent and revenue generated by businesses.

Digital advertising is broken. Apple is rolling back on IDFAs, and Google is moving forward with cookie deprecation. All of this is occurring amid mounting privacy concerns and legal regulations. Add it all together, and we seem to have reached a true app-ocalypse, with the four mighty horsemen of new regulations preventing app developers from targeting new, paying users in the same way they've been doing for years.

Without the means to target ads and generate leads, advertisers risk falling short on their KPIs, whether they include ROAS, CTR or conversions. Marketing was always a tough job — but now it’s an uphill battle.

App developers understand the necessity of targeted ads but are simply finding themselves with less first-party data to inform their targeting. Research from Epsilon shows that 70% of marketers across industries believed digital advertising was going to suffer in terms of personalizing and proving market effectiveness due to the phaseout of third-party cookies and mobile advertising identifiers.

It's hardly surprising that new solutions are emerging in the attempt to confront the enormous challenges facing digital advertising. But do any of them actually work? Two increasingly prominent methods include email-based universal IDs and contextual targeting. But not only do these options raise privacy concerns themselves, but they can also prove unreliable when it comes to retrieving the data you need. A final option — purchase behavior targeting — may prove one of the best solutions to these mounting obstacles.

Universal IDs: Neither Private Nor Targeted

Universal IDs are often touted as privacy-friendly, as they only require users to give consent via email address. These addresses are then transmitted to algorithms that convert the information into hashed addresses with unique IDs.

In the end, logging into apps or websites using the universal ID linked to your address means some degree of users' identifier(s) can be shared with a range of organizations. This doesn’t allow for much privacy.

This strategy is not especially targeted either, as it doesn't account for the fact that one person may use a few different emails or that a single email may be shared by a few different people. Scenarios such as this can render the universal ID redundant and present difficulties in platforms such as online streaming services where several family members may use a single login.

Contextual Targeting: Somewhat Private, But Limited Targeting Capabilities

Another option is contextual targeting, in which marketers gather data on users to build first-party audiences for advertisers. This approach is preferred by news publishers and entertainment platforms such as NBCUniversal or News UK, which monetize their audience data across various publications, including The Times, The Sun, Talk Sport and Times Radio.

This method provides some privacy. News and streaming apps typically need customers to sign up and provide personal info. User preferences are then anonymized and delivered to marketers as audiences. However, this data isn't always the most useful, as this form of targeting can be too contextual.

There’s a great deal of focus on preferences around news and other forms of media, which will only provide insights if you’re marketing within those industries. Because this strategy won't be able to address the entire range of apps that users might benefit from, developers will still be in need of more necessary information to promote their platforms.

Purchase Behavior Targeting: Privacy-Friendly And Targeted

If techniques like the pair above don’t work, then what does? App marketers still need to get through the app-ocalypse, which means targeting ads at the right people. This applies regardless of whatever strategy or combination of strategies is needed to run campaigns in a way that is both effective and privacy-conscious.

Here's where purchase behavior targeting takes the spotlight as one of the best approaches when it comes to ticking all these boxes. This strategy allows app marketers to direct campaigns toward the users most likely to convert, basing their calculations on what users have bought before. This is enabled by using transactional information delivered to your business as a customized audience.

This empowers app marketers to reach new users with relevant, targeted campaigns. But where can you find such information to make this work?

Some advertisers opt for targeting data generated from mobile commerce platforms. In their ability to analyze large quantities of real transaction data, this route can allow businesses to target ads at users who have already made purchases of similar products and services.

Targeting audiences in this way may best situate advertisers to hit their KPIs and capture the highest possible ROAS. Users can also benefit from targeted ads promoting the apps that matter to them, which they’re sure to prefer over a barrage of repetitive, annoying promotions for content they don’t buy.

What’s more, it's easier to make this targeting method work. You can use purchase datasets as basic targeting attributes for your TikTok and Facebook ads. This information, in combination with purchase data from streaming apps, MMO games and online retailers, can create a rich data pool well-tailored to your campaign.

Building truly insightful audiences still requires app marketers to analyze first-party data. But adding purchase behavior information from external sources means you’ll be much more accurate with your targeting, rather than defaulting to drop-down lists in ad platforms to reach new audiences.

There’s also a noticeable consumer privacy benefit. This method only requires purchasing information for targeted campaigns rather than acquiring other private information. There’s no need for info about people’s personal characteristics or preferences which could enable stereotyping of users based on assumptions about identity.

Looking Ahead

In the end, marketers may need to continue innovating in methods to keep people engaged and make ads relevant once again. The app-ocalypse might claim a few victims, but rethinking your advertising using the principles of purchase behavior targeting might better enable you to survive it.

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Andra Caliu

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