At the beginning of each year we all read articles with predictions on pretty much any subject - mobile is no exception. Famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
As a guy who has been a part of an app marketing agency for the last 5 years, I constantly apply this principle to app marketing by analyzing patterns and predicting what will work tomorrow.
To be able to predict what app marketing techniques will work in 2015, we need to take a look at what techniques worked in 2014. We’re talking about a vast, mobile apps marketplace and it’s impossible for an app marketing channel to pop up from just anywhere. It needs time to mature and be adopted if it demonstrated its efficiency, or to be thrown away if it did not. So - what mobile user acquisition channels worked last year?
Facebook Mobile App Install Ads
Launched by Facebook back in October 2012, over the course of 2 years Facebook Mobile App Install Ads grew from “jumping on the mobile ad networks bandwagon solution from Facebook” to the best mobile user acquisition tool of today. Will it continue to be the most effective app marketing tool in 2015?
I believe so and there are several reasons why that will be the case. As time goes by Facebook gathers more and more information about its users to provide app marketers more efficient user acquisition tools. Yes - we’ve heard about the “youth leaving Facebook” trend, which was covered in a number of articles and there are reasons for this trend. Even though Facebook is trying to appeal to a wide range of different user profiles, it’s impossible to please everybody.
On the positive side, what do several millions mean for a billion plus social network? Facebook is being very active with acquiring companies (some with a very large price tag) to diversify its services lineup, expand its mobile ads platform and reach new users. The only warning trend that I can see for Facebook ads is that this year the social media giant may face the same issue that web display began to suffer from many years ago - people will get sick and tired of Facebook Ads.
A recent Fiksu study gives us an interesting insight on Facebook Mobile App Install Ads: “Essentially, Fiksu found that mobile app ads on Facebook don’t get as many people to respond (comparing with ads on Facebook Mobile Ad Network), but those that do are more valuable to app developers over time (e.g. these people shop more on these mobile apps, or buy more virtual goods in these mobile games, etc).”
App marketers should take advantage of this insight and take it into consideration during their app marketing campaign planning.
YouTube Video Ads
Do you know that Google has a publicly available solution to drive mobile app installs via YouTube videos? If you don’t - don’t worry, you are not alone. If we look at how Facebook or Twitter promotes their solution to drive mobile app installs, it’s obvious that these companies see this solution as a major profit generator in mobile space. Though Google doesn’t think about its solution this way, not yet anyway.
Given the overall dynamic of the mobile app marketing space, I think in 2015 Google’s YouTube Video ads will take off and become a viable alternative to Facebook and Twitter app install driving solutions. Due to the lack of awareness of this solution, not many app owners have tried it in 2014 but they will in 2015. App developers publish apps for iOS first then for Google Play because the Apple’s iOS App Store brings more profit - Google definitely wants to reverse this trend.
There are several reasons to believe that Twitter Ads will continue to grow and become an even more effective app marketing channel.
- Indian ZipDial startup acquisition: This is a big step in expanding its user base and overcoming Twitter’s growth struggle. Given how fast mobile has grown in India, it is fair to predict that Twitter ads reach will increase in 2015.
- More targeting options including Mobile Carrier setting and New Devices: In 2014 Twitter added several important targeting options for its app install driving platform. With the Mobile Carrier setting, app owners can launch ad campaigns for specific mobile carrier smartphone users in specific areas where reception signals are strong. With New Devices app marketers have the option to launch an app install driving campaign, reaching out to people who have bought their smartphone within 1-5 months. A quick example would be launching an app’s ad campaign, optimized for iPhone 6+, 2-3 months after Apple began to ship it.
- Industry buy-in: After Q1, 2015 we should expect white paper publications from companies like AdParlor about Twitter Ads efficiency and KPI’s app marketers will be able to use as reference points to estate their own mobile app installs driving campaign expenses.
According to app marketer feedback and the recent VentureBeat research, there are 5 leaders in the mobile ad network space in terms of its user acquisition efficiency (apart from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). These leaders include NativeX, Fiksu, Chartboost, Flurry and AdColony. Given the level of funding required to build a mobile ad network and the time that is required for a new platform to be adopted, I don’t expect any surprising debuts in the ad networks field.
App Store Optimization
As the ASO technique continues to grow, the number of mobile app installs acquired by the App Store/Google Play search continues to grow. Third party tools like SensorTower, MobileDevHQ and others evolve and provide more efficient solutions to perform a mobile app keywords optimization.
On the other hand, Apple does improve the App Store search, though not as fast as mobile app marketers would like. Recently Apple introduced Trending Searches, Related Searches and a new section on the App Store called Discovery, which actually brought an extensive list of sub-categories to make the app store navigation easier.