American Marketer


Migrating app marketing campaigns from online to mobile

November 1, 2013

Christian Henschel is cofounder/CEO of adeven



By Christian Henschel

Still in its youth in terms of technology, mobile is a rapidly growing industry with its own standards on governance and its own brand of issues such as data privacy and transparency.

Using a similar mentality when building a marketing strategy for online as opposed to mobile or vice versa is like trying to compare apples and oranges.

While there remain some basic parallels, it is an altogether different playing field and rules differ.

Not cookie cutter

The various obstacles and issues that often blindside many online marketers who migrate to the mobile industry tend to cause some panic when things do not appear to be as smooth as they should.

Approaching a new technology with now-obsolete notions of how things work can get a marketer off to a rough start and when dealing with applications, developers must have an impactful launch plan in place.

Every strategy and idea needs to be reviewed and implemented in strict relation to advances in the field and be based on industry-specific methods.

When switching or migrating from online to mobile advertising, we must remember not to make the same mistakes made when so many marketers rushed to apply print marketing principles to online.

Campaign measurement in the online world is relatively easier. Plenty of free software is available even for the most amateur of marketers.

When the online user clicks on a banner, cookies are enabled and are used to track the user’s behavior. It is a smooth and easy tracking process to give insights into how your campaign is doing.

While tracking app downloads and in-app user behavior is far more complex, it gives the developer and marketer the information they cannot do without to optimize their campaign, cut costs, boost ROI and create awareness and popularity.

Optimizing mobile

Gone are the days when the focus was about going mobile. The real focus today on how to optimize your mobile campaigns.

In a nutshell, cutting costs, raising revenue, pushing the app out there and getting not just downloads but user retention is key.

Mobile is a completely different communication channel and is much more focused on users, their experience and a personal engagement with an app than online.

Marketing needs to be customized to meet the qualities of this different channel.

When I talk about mobile I mean the mobile Web and apps. It more clear now than ever before that apps and app development are here to stay. They deliver a comparatively superior user experience and in most cases, can be used offline.

Unfortunately, issues of global mobile coverage and bandwidth seem to be taking much longer to resolve. In more ways than one, connectivity has not caught up with the growth of the app ecosystem.

With apps, marketers have the option of push messages, dedicated icons on a personal mobile phone and of broad audience very fast.

Device targeting for advertising is great and what we are seeing is many more social mobile marketing options such as Facebook mobile app install ads, with Twitter and Instagram also looking at their own advertising options.

There is an unprecedented potential for business opportunities with app development.

However, fresh challenges have arisen from the industry not being mature enough. The technology is not fully developed, standards are still being hotly debated and compulsory privacy policies are in the process of being implemented globally.

Another game, another set of rules

In the mobile world, there is in-app advertising, QR codes, newsletters, tweets, and Facebook options, including a multitude of different advertising sources with different technology.

With multichannel marketing, it is even harder to work out where users come from or what type of value they bring to the sales pipeline. The app simply cannot communicate this to you on its own. This is because there are no cookies – unlike online – that can be used throughout the whole conversion chain.

App stores are like big black data holes and the only way around this is to match the click on the marketing source – for example, an in-app advert – to the actual install on a device.

Post-install analytics can offer give information on how much each user spends, when they spend, what they actually do within the app and, most importantly, how long it takes the user to do it, or in other words, time to event.

It is only when the technology is able to give this holistic user perspective that a marketer begins to say with certainty which source offers the best results.

This is how a developer can start to gain a true understanding of the how the conversion chain actually works.

New analytics and tracking features that tell mobile marketers which search terms were used by consumers to find and install their app is now available.

Unfortunately, due to the industry is still being relatively underdeveloped, there are often home-brew dinosaur versions of the SDKs – tracking technology in the app – being used.

This means that developers are putting bunches of zeros and ones into their app without really knowing exactly what it measures or how it affects their app’s functionality.

SDKs should be privacy compliant and have no bearing on how the app works at all. It is highly recommended that developers and marketers seek out those analytics providers who offer the most sophisticated, open-source and privacy compliant app they can find. It pays off without a question.

Apple’s iOS7 update has pushed app publishers, advertisers, tracking providers and users to use the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) as a preferred tracking option, eliminating the Mac address and pasteboard options such as ODIN and O-UDID’s completely.

This is without a doubt, a big step in the right direction for building consumer trust and raising the bar for those creating these technologies.

So why are the big bucks not being spent?

Countless reports show that marketers are migrating to mobile and have big budgets to make the cut. Still, the lack of transparency with reporting, such as how do they know they are getting what they paid for, remains a valid concern.

The questions raised are crucial to optimizing marketing campaigns for mobile: How can analytics help me? What am I measuring? How can I measure it? And how can I make sense of all this data?

Analytics and stats that show marketing’s direct link with sales and valuable users are now available for mobile marketers.

It not a luxury or an experiment. Without app tracking and in-app analytics, developers are simply walking around in the dark.

The IAB PwC UK Digital Ad Spend 2012 study showed that mobile accounts for over half of last year’s growth in digital advertising spend.

From my many conversations with mobile marketers I have seen a great effort to understand how these technologies work and to getting up to speed on how analytics and data can help and where it stands.

This trend should be further encouraged, since it is only when they begin to have a grip on app data that they can begin to make informed decisions based actual figures.

Senior-level executives want accountability when it comes to marketing spend and rightly so. However, while they know mobile has the potential, there seems to be a general lack of trust that often slows the pace of financing when it most needs to be flowing.

DATA FROM OUR recent research indicate that the number of App Store apps in 2013 will almost double by the end of the year. Competition for visibility is fierce and mobile brand market share is being snatched up fast.

Know the playing field well, working with smart budgets that focus on ROI and place user value and retention at the top.

For every penny spent on development, keep one, if not more, for marketing.

A great app can sink fast without a great big push from the right kind of marketing. Demand transparency, accountability and privacy: they are always worth it.

Christian Henschel is cofounder/CEO of adeven, Berlin, Germany. Reach him at