App Publishers Must Avoid The Audience Circulation Trap

"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Evan Rutchik, general manager at Ogury US.

When app publishers advertise their platform on other apps to increase their own visitors, they’re often just trading app audiences and not growing their user bases.

The issue isn’t a lack of data available to marketers – it’s the opposite. There’s so much data out there that app marketers become overwhelmed and paralyzed, unsure how to use their insights and make the data actionable in a way that is transparent and fully consented from the beginning. Marketers get trapped in the closed loop of audience circulation when they fail to look beyond a single app’s demographics.

Getting data and audience clarity is not getting easier, either. Consumers are growing increasingly uncomfortable with brands buying and selling personal data, especially following the Cambridge Analytica reports and implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation. With this additional hurdle to securing high-quality, first-party analytics and audience insights, app publishers and marketers alike are growing nervous about the future of these ad dollars and the effectiveness of user-acquisition campaigns.

All hope, however, is not lost. 

You built it, they came. Now what?

Consumers spend approximately six hours a day on digital media. Half of that time occurs on mobile devices. This means there’s plenty of room for publishers to connect with new users. As such, marketers use cookies and in-app trackers to monitor consumer behavior across their own apps and websites. As useful as that may be, it doesn’t disclose what their customers are doing outside of their own channels.

Marketers who keep close tabs on their competitors are on the right track, but let’s be honest: Aside from cult followers, most consumers will likely have competing apps on their devices, such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, and will trade off from one to another, looking for a specific experience or content.

Savvy marketers understand this. The data they evaluate isn’t the amount of app downloads – they assess when their users leave and open the competing app. By looking at shared audiences and variables that impact churn, marketers can boost the performance of their campaigns and retain consumers.

Relevant and quality data vs. quantity of data

Marketers must take the time to understand what’s really important for their goals before collecting any and all data possible. While business goals and quarterly metrics are defined, marketers will need to think tactically. They can start by asking the questions they want consumers to answer and connect that to their strategies.

Brand marketers should also look at the quality of data. Despite the importance of surveys and social engagement data, it can all be quite misleading. Consumers like to project the better half of themselves online – it’s why photo filters are so popular, for example. The same applies to their personal data. Users “like” and engage with trending topics and report what they’d like to do on surveys rather than disclose what they actually do. By the time survey reports are generated, the data becomes dated.

For example, an automotive company may want to reach new car buyers, specifically millennials, via its recently launched app. A traditional marketing strategy might segment by demographics, such as millennials living in areas without robust transportation systems. This can be broken down further by social engagements and groups to discover what types of vehicles they like. But social “likes” and broad demographic info gleaned from Twitter or Facebook will not reveal whether this identified audience is actually planning to buy a car.

Instead, the car company should dig deeper and target users who actively visit sites such Autotrader.com or use apps like Carfax. First-party behavioral data could help ensure that their target audience are composed of not only automotive “fans,” but are also looking to step onto the lot.

Brands and marketers are well aware of the opportunities for expanding mobile platforms, yet few understand how to drive traffic and high-value actions that have lasting connections with their audiences. High-quality, first-party data that illustrates user behavior across the full mobile web app ecosystem allows app publishers to better expand their audiences, drive new traffic and increase ad revenue.

Follow Ogury (@weareogury) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. paul maraviglia

    Agree with the point about data often being misleading for brands marketers - how much digital spend is wasted by the auto sector targeting aspirational "fans'' of an upmarket auto brand on a contextually relevant publisher rather than actual in-market buyers

    Reply

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