The What, Where and How of Apps

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Breaking all manner of sales records, Apps have fast become a channel that businesses can no longer ignore. With the launch of the latest iOS updates, the introduction of ATT and Google Play now including desktop search placements,  the App Space is currently facing a major shake up which will change the industry for good. With that in mind, we wanted to take a look at what App marketing currently looks like, where we think it’s going and how businesses should prepare. 

What is App Marketing?

It is no surprise that Google and Apple are the major players in the space, offering a wide range of possibilities to acquire customers through your app. And businesses will only be able to capitalise on this if they understand the different levers of each platform. As it stands, Google App Campaigns can provide you with extensive reach, automation and creative engagement, while Apple Search Ads offers higher conversion rates driven by an intent-based pool of users actively in-market looking to download an app.

Where are Apps Going?

With businesses realising that not having an app puts them at a disadvantage, over the coming year we’ll likely see an influx in app development directly followed by further investment in the space which will ultimately drive competition and ad prices. Combining this with Google’s focus on automation, the power of control will rely on creatives, meaning we’d expect to see a lot more resources allocated to this department with the best interactive ads yet to be created. 

The Importance of Creatives and Tracking 

When thinking about powerful levers to succeed with app campaigns both creative and tracking are top of mind. That’s why it’s important we look at common mistakes across the industry and ways to overcome them. With the topic of privacy trending across the industry we can’t deny the complexity it brings to marketers as we question how this will impact our tracking and visibility on performance. Following the release of ATT, the best thing brands can do is be transparent and continue to optimise ATT prompts to encourage users to opt-in. In terms of reporting, brands need to work closely with all the parties involved, from MMPs to platforms like Google and Facebook. First-party data is only going to become more important and brands should leverage mechanisms already in place like user logins which can help track conversions without IDFAs. 

The New Frontier of Performance Marketing: Apps

Read Time: 3 Minutes 48 Seconds

When Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPhone in 2007, few would have predicted just how ubiquitous a device it would eventually become, breaking all manner of sales records with well over two billion sold since launch. Just over a year later in 2008, Apple’s App store was released, and apps themselves have seen a similarly meteoric rise as they became part and parcel of our digital lives. 

2020 was something of a landmark year for the market – as the pandemic set in, there was a surge in usage as digital habits shifted dramatically. Total downloads hit 218 billion over the year, up 7% year on year, with some verticals in particular experiencing huge growth. Gaming was one such example, but this was also seen across a wide range of categories such as Education, Fitness and Health as users sought to look after their physical and mental well being.

2020 Trends

There were two key trends that set last year apart; a marked increase in engagement, and consumer willingness to transact within apps. The average mobile user spent around 4 hours a day on their mobile in 2020 (up from 3 and a half hours in 2019), with 88% of that time being within apps specifically. Meanwhile, total consumer app spending reached $143 billion, rising by an incredible 20% year on year. This sets the scene of a market that is only set to grow over the coming years.

There is however a bump on the horizon that app owners will have to navigate – Apple’s imminent full rollout of the iOS14 update across their devices. Apple have long positioned themselves as champions of user privacy in the tech world, and included within the latest version of their operation system is a fundamental switch in the way the sharing of user data is managed – opt in, rather opt out, will become the norm. Soon, all apps will be required to serve a notification that asks users to allow them to be tracked across other websites and apps,  or opt out. Predictions on the opt out rates are high, with some estimating it could be as high as 80%.

This has significant implications on app marketing – with the likely loss of a significant amount of user level data weakening platforms that make use of highly granular audience targeting. There will also be a reduction in tracking capabilities, with downstream events beyond the install (such as sign ups, in app purchases and purchases) becoming less reliably tracked.

The Performance Model

So where does this leave advertisers and agencies looking to map out their future app strategy, but faced with increasing uncertainty when it comes to tracking? A performance model is one logical route that advertisers can take to help them navigate this new landscape. By working under such a model, app owners can minimise their own risk, whilst ensuring that they pay out commission based on the value that they assign to installs, subscriptions or revenue.

Another important consideration that advertisers will need to take is their choice of channel mix. 

Apple’s own Search Ads platform (ASA) remains relatively unchanged amidst the upheaval, making it an increasingly attractive channel for advertisers to shift budget towards. ASAs allow for the placement of ads directly within Apple’s App Store, and unlike other channels that often make use of audience targeting options reliant on highly specific user data, ASAs are primarily contextual and intent-based – the ability to generate high value installs is driven primarily through the targeting of highly relevant search terms via keywords. These keyword targeting capabilities, in tandem with a pool of users whose presence on the App Store indicates they are actively in-market, means conversion rates for installs can often be close to 50%. 

Organic acquisition on the App Store is also a channel that advertisers should refocus their efforts on. In a post iOS14 world, App Store Optimisation (ASO) will also become increasingly important as a safe and reliable source of users and installs.

The close alignment and integration of paid and organic efforts across ASA and ASO will be crucial to setting up a successful long term strategy. At NMPi, our approach is to consider the channels as two sides of the same coin. A strong paid campaign can have a direct impact on boosting organic rankings, therefore close monitoring of both channels is important to fully measure success of your marketing efforts. A joined up reporting approach, comparing organic and paid performance down to the keyword level, can help provide a holistic view to ensure ad spend is being allocated as efficiently as possible.

For more information on how NMPi by Incubeta can help your brand excel within a performance model get in touch today, or explore the rest of our New Frontier of Performance Marketing series.

The New Frontier of Performance Marketing: Paid Social

Read Time: 3 Minutes 46 Seconds

It goes without saying that Facebook is faced with a myriad of issues heading into 2021: the as yet unknown full impact of the iOS14 tracking changes; ongoing rumbles over the future of Section 230 in the US, the haemorrhaging of WhatsApp users over privacy updates, and the accusations of abuse of monopoly powers in their acquisition of Instagram & WhatsApp, to name a few. That being said, when was the last time that Facebook’s future wasn’t threatened by seemingly insurmountable obstacles? 

Ultimately, Facebook’s user numbers and ad revenue continues to grow substantially YoY – even during a worldwide pandemic. The fundamental reason for this is simple, it offers value for your time as a consumer, and your advertising budget as an advertiser. And we see Facebook continuing to be an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy. 

The State of Social 

For social marketers, there were some silver linings to the torrid news cycle over 2020. Social platforms in general saw a huge surge in both time spent per user, and overall user volumes. Globally by the end of 2020, over 4.2 billion users were active on social media platforms, with 53 million in the UK alone. This will continue into 2021, with permanent new societal & purchasing habits formed amongst all demographics. 

Social is no longer just a space for discussion and the sharing of personal content, it’s now an established channel for remarketing, prospective customer acquisition, and engaging existing customers to support retention. Despite this, it is still undeniably a form of push marketing, meaning it naturally occupies and operates in the earlier stages of the path to purchase. 

As a consequence of its position, Paid Social is likely to see lower conversion rates than other digital marketing channels. Moreover, as many sales with a Paid Social touchpoint will get attributed to channels sitting in the conversion focused part of the funnel, Social will often offer a lower immediate and less consistent ROAS. The imminent arrival of the iOS14 update, and the subsequent changes to tracking will only serve to amplify these issues. 

Performance Model 

So, we are left with a channel that has enormous potential in both performance and scale, but one that is rife with uncertainties around the future of tracking, reporting & optimisation. With ongoing macro shocks and platform changes, operating at maximum efficiency and reacting quickly to changes is more important now than ever before. The solution? Operating on a performance based model.

The key benefit of operating on such a model is that the risk is taken away from advertisers. Additionally, because the advertisers will only pay on successful transactions, our goals are directly aligned with theirs, namely drive as many conversions as possible. 

So how do we deliver certainty in such uncertain times within a notoriously volatile channel? Ultimately, our approach is centered around a considered audience strategy, integrated creative approach and feed-based strategies which combine to create a truly cross-channel approach.

Audiences within Facebook require a dual approach. A granular approach to segmenting first-party data is key, identifying your highest performing previous customers, or seasonally relevant users (such as previous new season purchasers), and then feeding them into lookalike creation to ensure you’re targeting the strongest possible new users. However, granularity for granularity’s sake should be avoided when directly targeting audiences, as this only impairs Facebook’s optimisation if they’re not being hit with tailored creative and/or copy. 

As mentioned here, ensuring your creatives are aligned with your audience strategy is key. Identifying an audience of likely new season purchasers is pointless if you’re then going to hit them with discount focused creative. Ensuring a seamless relationship between your creative & delivery teams is essential, with learnings & strategy passing bilaterally and across your media channels.

Maximising on feed based campaigns offers a huge scale of tailored creative and granular audiences across both dynamic prospecting and retargeting. These can be taken to the next level by combining targeting insights from Facebook’s data with your own first-party data, via custom labels indicating margin, stock, previous performance and more.

All of this helps create a truly cross-channel & performance driven approach that ensures consistently strong results alongside an optimal customer experience. 

These strategies were all used to good effect on a recent campaign with Nobody’s Child where we drove a 450% YoY ROAS increase for Paid Social activity, with over 35% of revenue coming from new customer focused campaigns. Explore the case study here: Switching to Performance with Nobody’s Child.

For more information on how NMPi by Incubeta can help your brand excel within a performance model get in touch today, or explore the rest of our New Frontier of Performance Marketing series.

The New Frontier of Performance Marketing: Automation

Read Time: 4 Minutes 44 Seconds

Aside from the well-documented budget based benefits of performance marketing, one of the more attractive attributes of working on a performance model is the continual push to drive incremental revenue and efficiency from all areas of possibility. Analysts and account managers are continually searching for additional opportunities to maximise performance – aligning their targets with your business goals. And Automation can play a crucial role in this.

The Value

First and foremost, automation enables the ‘freeing up’ of valuable time – time which can then be used to focus on in-depth account strategy and the analysis of campaign performance. By automating the more trivial daily tasks such as reporting, you have the ability to dig deeper, adding more scope and granularity to their clients’ campaign.   

Aside from this, automation can also play an important role in influencing campaign media buying decisions by incorporating client-provided and external data into the system. There are a vast range of internal and external factors that can contribute to campaign volatility and fluctuation, and for a campaign to drive performance it’s important to create processes that help identify these factors – identifying, flagging and taking action to account for their impact. 

With the help of automation, external and internal data can be combined to help predict, account for, and rapidly react to micro-level changes – a method which helps save time and use technology to drive efficiency with smarter data informed decisions. 

Automation In Action: External Data

If we take a look at an industry like Sports betting  for instance, it is a highly competitive market where CPCs can easily exceed $100. In instances like this, maximising efficiency is crucial for hitting ROAS goals and avoiding large volumes of wasted spend. 

When we look at bet intent, we see that it peaks in the hours before each game then falls sharply once the game begins. For the industries major players, budgets can be large enough to maintain aggressive bidding and hold top positions throughout the day. However, for many, this isn’t possible and they have to plan the right moments to fight for the top spots in the high intent peaks. 

The challenge here comes from the large number of matches taking place each week at varying times throughout the day and week. Looking at the US where there are 4 main sports; within these 4 sports there are over 5,000 professional games taking place each season. Trying to manually adjust bidding and budgets down to a team specific keyword level to account for all of these games would overwhelm even the most organised of PPC teams. 

Situations like this is where automation really comes into its own. For instance, you can create a system that could automatically adjust media buying – not just on game times, but on other external factors such as recent form, game location, and the significance of a matchup. APIs can be used to collate sports schedules and countdown the hours to each team’s games, then overlaid with APIs that can pull and calculate recent form, rival games and stadium location. 

Other examples of external data used for automation is the incorporation of weather data and seasonality into bidding and forecasting which cause many retail brands to see peaks and troughs in their customer behaviour. As spring comes around and weather begins to brighten, many begin looking forward to the summer and a well needed wardrobe update. With retail clients, we often see demand for summer wear and swimsuits spike through the hottest days of spring as people begin to ditch their winter coats and plan lighter alternatives. By pulling weather data from APIs and analysing the patterns in buying behaviour we can identify trends. Through the use of scripts we can create variables and automate bid changes and multipliers to alter bidding and account for changes in expected demand. 

Automation In Action: Internal Data

Recognising pricing as a major influence in purchasing decisions, price competitiveness can be an essential part of account performance for advertisers and – when measured using an automated strategy – can reap substantial benefits. Scraping data from Google Marketplace allows advertisers to determine how competitive their products are in comparison to others competing for the same ad space. From here they can adjust their bidding strategy to put additional budget towards products that are price competitive and likely to produce strong conversion weights. 

Another use of internal data can be carried out using Google Analytics scheduled reports. Here brands can look at sitewide product level or other Ads accounts potentially managed elsewhere. The flexibility of the performance model often supports international expansion into new territories when your internal team doesn’t have the budgets or capacity. In this case, the domestic territory is often managed in-house with brands seeking an agency to manage ROW. 

You can match and support activities outside of your campaigns by tracking product performance of other accounts – identifying certain areas which are either under or overperforming. If certain products or categories within these accounts are underperforming, campaigns can be adjusted to scale aggressiveness.

For more information on how NMPi by Incubeta can help your brand excel within a performance model get in touch today, or explore the rest of our New Frontier of Performance Marketing series.

The New Frontier of Performance Marketing: Amazon

Read Time: 2 Minutes 34 Seconds

It’s far from surprising that over the last 12 months the growth of Amazon has outstripped all other competition. Profits have surged as users flock to the Amazon marketplace for the familiarity and security that it provides. In a year when the pandemic struck down all varieties of companies around the globe, the behemoth that is Amazon prospered. Net profits soared by 84% YoY, with sales hitting $368 Billion – a truly eye watering amount of money.

This growth is a key topic of interest for performance marketers. Amazon’s sponsored advertising platform has also been growing rapidly over the past few years, with more sellers taking to advertising to drive their Amazon performance. With such a focus on user experience, Amazon has created a positive feedback loop environment, where the more sales you drive, the greater number of product reviews you are likely to receive, leading to a better organic rank, higher CTR’s and more sales. Leaving those unable to gather reviews floundering at the wayside. 

With more that two thirds of clicks coming from the first page of search results, and one third coming from the first two rows of products alone , it has never been more important to rank at the top of the page. Advertising is the most effective strategy to do this, and hence start your positive product feedback loop. But what is the best way to run these Sponsored Amazon campaigns? With Amazon taking a whopping 10-15% of product sales, how can you make advertising profitable? 

A Performance Model?

Since Amazon is such a performance focused platform, marketing’s performance model fits in better here than most other channels. With such tight margins and additional costs compared to other channels, the performance method could be considered crucial to success on the Amazon marketplace. With seller fees calculated per product sale, performance marketing fits naturally into the overall Amazon strategy for any product. 

Before launching any campaigns through Amazon it’s important to consider the following:

  • Decide what products you can advertise
  • Decide which products allow a profitable margin for advertising
  • Determine a minimum ROI for advertising spend for each product 
  • Use your ROI target to inform your budget spend

Considering these points ensures that, when launched, any campaign will be efficient and return the investment. Additionally, approach Amazon advertising with a product first approach, utilising a one product per campaign structure to maximise visibility and control over the product campaigns. A product first mindset is key to success on Amazon, users are there to buy and explore your brand – not to browse.

At NMPi by Incubeta our performance model enhances the way that advertising is run on Amazon – ensuring maximum efficiency and incrementality from our expert run campaigns. With our granular campaign structures, we are able to allocate budget by product – ensuring each product campaign is optimised to its ROI target. This strategy allows our clients to be confident that each product sale will be accompanied with money in the pocket. Our approach has worked wonders with our existing Amazon clients, driving efficiency, profitability and growth through Amazon – in a fiercely competitive market. 

Introducing The New Frontier of Performance Marketing

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There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that we’re on a rollercoaster ride of uncertainty worldwide, and as the industry shifts daily to support emerging trends we, as marketers, need to be ahead of the game. Consistently preparing for all eventualities, maximising opportunities and being both proactive and reactive to sudden market changes. 

It’s times like these that we’ve seen the performance model come into its own. With unexpected trends and social restrictions, advertisers have craved a flexible strategy that can both support short notice changes in governmental regulations, and guarantee ROI. And what’s more appealing than a risk-free approach that drives results without upfront costs?

The Opportunity of Performance

The market is saturated with uncertainty and as the pressure to cut budgets increases, advertisers shouldn’t be pulling back their marketing spend and online investments. It’s more important now than ever before to have an effective online marketing strategy. Brands need to have a strong online presence and working under a guaranteed ROI pure performance model – where the agency covers the media spend and tech fees whilst working on short term contracts – is the sweet spot advertisers should be reaching for.

The performance marketing industry has come a long way, and as the marketing landscape shifts, we should be recognising the true value of the performance model and all that it can offer. 

The performance model has changed over the years offering great results for our clients across PPC, Programmatic, CSS, Paid Social, Amazon and Apple Search Ads – all available on a cost-per-acquisition basis.

Flexible performance marketing has never been easier, agencies can work to specific KPIs operating under different CPAs for different products based on differing margins, different campaign types and territories. Increasing online presence in a way that is commercially viable for everyone.

A new frontier of performance marketing.

Cross-Channel Optimisation

At  NMPi by Incubeta we deep-dive into the details,  creating bespoke performance strategies for our clients led by expertise and innovation. This month we’re thrilled to introduce our first performance series ‘The New Frontier of Performance Marketing’. For the next four weeks we’ll be shining a spotlight on each of our newest additions to the performance offerings, and how you can advertise within these channels on a risk-free model.

For more information on our services visit Performance Paid Media, or to discuss your online marketing requirements get in touch today and request your free audit.