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App acquisition marketing. More than just Google and Facebook.

Global New Business Director and Mobile Marketing Expert, Richard Downey, comments on the future of app acquisition marketing

Mobile apps. Love them or hate them they play a key role in most of our lives. Whether planning your route home via Trainline, planning your next holiday via Skyscanner or planning your love life via Tinder, apps have been making our lives easier ever since the launch of the iPhone back in 2007.

Here at The Specialist Works we take apps very seriously. As well as having an in-house team of mobile app acquisition experts running acquisition and retargeting campaigns for some of the leading app brands in the UK and beyond. We also offer a market leading app store optimisation (ASO) process. ASO is the process of ensuring that your app is as discoverable within the app stores as it possibly can be and, once it has been discovered, that your app download page converts as many browsers into downloaders as possible.

At the heart of every app acquisition marketing plan you will almost always find the names of Facebook and Google. These are the two companies that have most successfully used their scale and reach to give app marketers unmatched and unmatchable opportunities to run campaigns with precision and effectiveness. For almost any app in any field, a well-managed and tracked campaign using the suite of Google and Facebook app install strategies will yield positive results.

But as the number of app publishers using these channels increases, so the cost of response starts to rise. What do app publishers do when the tactics that they have used so reliably for so long start to produce diminishing returns?

This is a challenge that we face at The Specialist Works regularly. As cost per installs rise, app publishers, especially in the games sector, are left with a choice. Do they accept that their acquisition efforts are slowing, and generating new installs and users will continue to increase in cost? Or do they decide to kick start their slowing user acquisition rate by closing their eyes, holding their nose and taking a leap into the scary world of offline advertising channels? 

Moving away from the comfort zone of mobile acquisition, with its accurate tracking and infinite opportunities for testing and optimisation, towards the world of offline, where attributing digital or mobile response back to an offline trigger has been a challenge for many years, is nerve-wracking. And, with the clear majority of advertising agencies not interested in trying to solve the challenge of offline to digital attribution, it’s understandable that the majority of app publishers are happy to stay in the world that they know.

But, those that do venture into the world of offline are starting to realise that things are changing.

Some agencies are approaching offline with a digital mindset. Rather than seeing the roles of offline (TV for example) and digital as entirely different and mutually contradictory worlds, they are looking to evaluate the direct effect that offline has on a digital/mobile product. And, thus are finding pockets of response that maybe can’t be found through Facebook, Google and the rest.

Keen TV watchers will have noticed more and more ads for apps appearing in the ad breaks. And not just for the giants of the mobile gaming world such as Mobile Strike or Candy Crush. Mobile first retailers such as Shpock, language educators such as Babbel and many travel companies have invested in TV in a big way. As the adoption of mobile apps is now mainstream, then using the most mainstream of all marketing channels, linear TV, seems like a logical progression.

But how can mobile app publishers be sure that their offline spend is working? How can they match and compare results back to the mobile/digital world they are used to?

The honest answer to that is that it is difficult to get a completely clear picture on the exact effect that TV is having on your app business. But there are a number of agencies, TSW included, that are working hard to give our clients the information that they need.

The agencies trying to bridge the gap between the online and offline world are leading the way in providing the confidence and expertise for their mobile-first clients. Making that decision – to branch out from the worlds that they know – a little bit easier to make than before.

We are not at the stage where we can report offline cost per installs with the same precision as we can online, but we are getting there! And as apps continue to ‘outgrow’ their mobile roots, so the shift to offline will continue.

Interesting times ahead!

For more information TSW's approach to mobile app user acquisition please contact Richard Downey on richarddowney@thespecialistworks.com or call Richard on 020 7539 6108.

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