By Paul Wright, Managing Director UK, FR, ME & Turkey at AppsFlyer
The Middle East's gravitation towards mobile marketing — especially over the last year — has been truly impressive. The region has always boasted above average rates of smartphone penetration, and the pandemic has pivoted customer engagements even further towards being primarily digitally driven. In response, marketeers have rapidly adapted their strategies, causing mobile ad spending to soar as app usage scales off the charts. And now, just as Middle East marketeers achieve comfort levels with mobile marketing, the landscape is set to once again change dramatically.
Driving this change are stricter consumer privacy protection laws and recent changes to major ad platforms, most notably, the introduction of Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework, scheduled for early spring. This will require iPhone users to opt-in to data sharing, and as a result is expected to all but diminish IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) collection. While Apple has developed its own solution for privacy-first deterministic attribution, SKAdNetwork, there’s no doubt that marketeers will still face challenges when it comes to measuring and analysing campaign performance and ROI.
The good news is that there are proactive steps that all marketeers can take to prepare for the future and lay the groundwork for continued success in mobile advertising without compromising user-privacy.
Emerging measurement solutions: predictive analytics and incrementality
At the top of the list for all marketeers should be measurement. In particular, that they have solutions in place to overcome the challenges, and maximize the opportunities, that upcoming privacy changes will bring.
For example, one of the biggest challenges advertisers will face with SKAdNetwork is the timer mechanism, whereby measurement will be limited to specific activity occurring in the first 24-72 hours. How can advertisers make critical campaign decisions based on such limited data? The answer lies in predictive technologies that will enable marketers to leverage early signals of engagement within the first 24-72 hours, and as such, predict long-term campaign performance. This game-changing development is set to be a powerful tool in any marketers’ arsenal.
Another development is around incrementality-based solutions. Whereas traditional models “match” an ad click of impression with a conversion, incrementality-based solutions use test and control groups to isolate many affected variables, and help marketeers optimize the incremental lift from remarketing campaigns. As a result, marketers will be able to understand the real impact of their investments by uncovering which conversions are a result of marketing efforts, and which would have happened organically.
While new measurement tools are critical for mobile advertisers, they are not enough alone to guarantee success. A broader strategy will be needed to educate consumers on the benefits of data sharing—whether it’s for Apple’s new framework, or any other system that may emerge in response to data privacy laws. All mobile players have a vested interest in undertaking this critical educational effort.
In order to do this, there are three steps the industry can take. The first, is to work to improve data literacy. While marketeers understand the difference between personalized and anonymized data, most consumers do not and this will impact what they’re willing to share with brands. By being fully transparent to advertisers and end-users about which data is being shared and for what purposes, mobile app developers can help build confidence in the system.
Second, it’s important to clearly communicate the value exchange. It’s important to make consumers aware of how data sharing benefits all mobile participants, including the user, by allowing advertisers to deliver more relevant ads, as well as by making the entire ecosystem safer and more efficient.
Third, prioritize the user experience. Data-driven insights often get funneled back into a better user experience. App developers can leverage tools such as deep linking to seamlessly connecting emails, social media posts, referral programs and their website into the web-to-app journey.
Navigating these changes will not be easy for marketers. Mobile measurement is a complex puzzle, and this will only intensify with challenges around data and privacy. But by working together, all players in the mobile ecosystem stand to benefit.
The industry of the future will be more focused on customers’ needs, more transparent about data policies, and better able to give marketers the tools that are mission critical to attribution success. For the key players — brands, app developers and publishers (and everyone in between) — it is an opportunity for a true triple-win.
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