Ad Monetization Reporting & True ROI Made Easy

Since launching Singular 4 years ago, we’ve worked tirelessly to become the de-facto Marketing Data Platform for the top mobile brands around the world. Our clients use Singular to unify their core marketing data sets into a single source of truth. And we take pride in helping them sort through the complexities of the ecosystem and uncover insights to help grow their business.

Singular is dedicated to helping marketers uncover ROI across their entire customer journey. A lot of marketers have a single source of revenue, in the form of in-app purchases, but many others have an additional source of revenue called “Ad Revenue” (similar to how a little company named Facebook makes their money 😉). As a result, ROI shouldn’t solely factor “App Revenue”, but must also “Ad Revenue”.

At Singular’s first annual growth marketing summit, UNIFY, our CEO Gadi Elishav announced the launch of our Ad Monetization Reporting. This product addition is in direct alignment with our vision is to help marketers uncover their business’ unique customer journey and understand every touch point within that journey.

Singular’s Ad Monetization Reporting collects, aggregates and standardizes your ad revenue data from all of your monetization partners into a single reporting view. We’ve taken the same approach and technology that Singular is known for with our new Ad Monetization Reporting. For customers who also use Singular attribution – we will soon provide deeper insights into granular ROI, accounting for both Ad Revenue and In-App Purchases, commonly referred to in the industry as True ROI. We’ve already integrated the most popular monetization partners, and are consistently adding new partners.

 

This is a game-changer for User Acquisition and Monetization teams alike:

  • User Acquisition teams can finally account for Ad Revenue in their ROI formula.
  • With the ability to see the true ROI figures – User Acquisition Managers will be able to make better decisions about the actual performance of their campaigns and channels and scale their marketing efforts efficiently and more intelligently. Channels and campaigns that you thought had a specific ROI could look completely different once we factor Ad Revenue into the ROI calculation.
  • A centralized snapshot of all your Ad Revenue enables better insights and scaling app ad revenue down to the placement level.
  • Streamline work with finance, and have a true end-to-end view of your marketing profit and loss.

Are you interested in next-level Ad Monetization Reporting and analyzing more accurate ROIs? Let’s connect! Reach out to your Customer Success Manager today or contact us.

The different faces of mobile ad fraud

Digital ad fraud is estimated to have cost US marketers $6.5 billion in 2017 (Marketing Week 2017). Fraud prevention is not only a nice to have but a necessity nowadays.

Ad fraud is when an individual or group attempts to defraud advertisers, publishers or supply partners, by exploiting advertising technology with the objective of stealing from advertising budgets. It is particularly challenging for marketers to deal with because it comes in variable forms and it has the capacity to evolve and bypass the latest prevention methods.

Today, there are two forms of fraud in particular that app marketers are grappling with: Fake Users and Attribution Manipulation.

Fake Users

Fraudsters use bots, malware and install farms to emulate clicks, installs, and in-app events, causing advertisers to pay for an activity that is not completed by a real user.

Fake User fraud is most commonly perpetrated via:

Install farms, which consist of humans who are paid to manually install and engage with apps across a large number of devices.

Mobile device emulators that simulate a large number of unique device IDs used in fake installs.

Data centers that host scripts to generate fake installs and other types of events at massive scale.

Proxy servers that are used to reset IP addresses and spoof device-level information (like location, to emulate installs in other countries)

Attribution Manipulation

Fraudsters steal credit for installs by sending fraudulent clicks, which results in attribution systems recording sent clicks as the last engagement prior to the first time an app is opened, thus assigning credit to the fraudulent source and removing credit from an app’s organic or paid sources.

Attribution manipulation is a particularly harmful form of fraud because it not only costs marketers their spend, but it also corrupts performance data, causing marketers to make misguided acquisition decisions.

For example, the damage inflicted by a fraudulent source poaching organic users is twofold: an event reduces the number of organic users in a marketer’s analytics, as well as the perceived impact of organic user traffic on revenue growth. This can cause organizations to shift marketing away from efforts that target organic acquisition such as ASO or content marketing. Additionally, this can make a marketer invest more money in the fraudulent source, thereby diverting spend away from high-performing channels that drive legitimate traffic.

Attribution Manipulation is most commonly perpetrated via:

Click Injection

When fraudsters create apps that are legitimately downloaded by a user but, unbeknownst to the user, monitor the user’s device for installs and insert fake clicks before an app is first opened.

Click Spamming

This occurs when fraudsters send large numbers of fraudulent click reports with real device IDs in an attempt to poach organic users by delivering the last engagement prior to an install. Because attribution windows are typically limited to finite time periods, fraudsters often re-send fraudulent click reports in order to maintain their clicks as the last engagements within the attribution window.

While click injection is focused on sending clicks at the moment immediately before an app is first opened, click spamming is focused on sending clicks that contain a unique device ID in the hope that an ID matches that of an organic user who subsequently downloads the app. Compared to click spamming, click injection is a more sophisticated form of fraud that is easier for fraudsters to control and to hide. Because click injection receives signals that an app has been installed directly from a user’s device, click injection attacks are more targeted and therefore deliver better results for fraudsters.

Thankfully there are indicators to detect such scenarios. Since click injection generates a click after installation is complete, it tends to result in a short click-to-install time. Click spamming, on the other hand, results in abnormally long click install time, due to clicks lingering in the attribution system until a device with a matching ID organically installs the app. TTI analysis is one of the leading mechanisms to fight attribution manipulation and fraud in general.

Other forms of Attribution Manipulation also exist, including:

Network Click Fraud

Networks that report a click when only an impression occurred.

Fingerprinting Fraud

A technique that targets organic users for fraudsters to send clicks with no advertising IDs, causing attribution systems to fall back on fingerprinting — which relies on identifiers like IP address, device model, and OS version — to perform attribution. If an organic user on the same network installs the app, and other identifiers match up, the fraudulent source steals credit for the install from the organic source.

More info

Want to get the full scoop on mobile ad fraud prevention, including a list of the most secure ad networks for app marketers, and the most effective fraud prevention methods?

Check out the Singular Fraud Index; the first of its kind to utilize mobile fraud data collected from multiple attribution providers and fraud prevention tools.

Why Marketing ROI Is The Most Important Yet Least Understood Metric in UA

It is perhaps the most dysfunctional metric in digital marketing.

Marketing return on investment, or marketing ROI, is frequently talked about, but frequently misstated, misunderstood, or just plain inaccurate.

Simply put, marketing ROI is a way of measuring the return on investment from the amount a company spends on marketing. It can be used to assess the return of a company’s overall marketing mix, or a specific marketing program.

The calculation for marketing ROI might seem relatively straightforward: Revenue divided by Marketing Cost. Yet arriving at fast, granular and reliable ROI data is by no means a straightforward process.

ROI calculation is particularly challenging for marketers who seek detailed levels of reporting to inform their optimizations. For instance, marketers may want to see the ROI of a specific campaign, publisher, keyword, geography or user — and the more granular a marketer wants to get, the more difficult it is to calculate ROI.

But before we delve the into the challenges of calculating ROI, let’s dive into why marketers consider ROI to be such an important metric.

Critical to Securing Marketing Budget

Marketing is a significant expense and leaders want to know exactly what they’re getting for it. In a recent study commissioned by Google, marketers identified ROI as the most valuable metric for securing additional budget for their marketing programs and media campaigns.

The study, which surveyed 150 marketing decision-makers at U.S. companies, found that consistently achieving ROI goals allowed marketers to prove the value of their initiatives to the greater organization and ultimately gain resources from executives to expand their efforts.

Deciding Where to Spend

Marketers often calculate ROI at the channel or campaign level to determine which efforts have a higher return and therefore deserve additional investment. When experimenting with a new ad network or marketing channel, a crucial first step for marketers is setting up analytics such that marketing teams can measure ROI and determine if the network or channel is driving performance.

Smarter Optimizations

In the process of determining the effectiveness of an ad network or channel, marketers optimize ongoing campaigns on the fly to maximize performance. Effective optimizations require digging deeper into spend and performance data to achieve more granular levels of reporting.

For instance, ad networks consist of numerous websites and apps, known individually as “publishers”, where marketers’ ads run. By monitoring the ROI of specific publishers within an ad network, marketers can determine which publishers drive the best performance. In turn, marketers are able to increase spending on high-performing publishers and shut off or “blacklist” under-performing publishers in order to increase the overall ROI of an ad network.

Marketers might also seek to inform their optimizations with ROI analysis at the Campaign, Creative, Keyword, Geographic or User level — or any combination of these dimensions. For instance, a marketer may want to see how one creative performs in a specific geography in a campaign which targets a specific demographic of users.

ROI Drives Integrated Marketing Analytics

This kind of precision analysis requires a particularly advanced set of analytics tools to collect, clean and combine data streamed from multiple sources, not to mention powerful database technologies to process flexible queries on large volumes of data.

The ROI metric in particular requires combining data from multiple sources — namely cost, revenue and event data. The most accurate and granular cost data comes from direct marketing channel integrations, which often require constant maintenance. Meanwhile, revenue and event data is typically extracted from tracking links, before it is combined with cost data to produce ROI and other “full-funnel” metrics like Cost per Event.

By focusing on ROI, marketing teams can galvanize their teams around building marketing analytics systems that leverage a host of well-integrated tools to deliver intuitive and flexible reporting. Google’s study showed that marketers with measurement stacks that rely on five or more marketing analytics tools are 39% more likely to see improvements in the overall performance of their marketing programs. They are also able to realize reduced marketing expenses and improved marketing efficiency than their less sophisticated counterparts in other organizations.

The Challenges of Calculating ROI

Google’s study showed that marketers are not confident in their ability to reliably measure ROI. While a majority felt capable of accurately measuring the performance of efforts like email campaigns as well as traffic to their site or app, only 13 percent of marketers were confident in their ability to measure marketing ROI and only 14 percent were very confident that they understood the contribution of marketing programs to business revenue.

The number one reason marketers gave for why they have such a hard time exposing ROI is a lack of integration between their marketing analytics tools.

In the study, only 26 percent of marketers believed that their marketing analytics tools were well integrated, while one-third of marketers believed their tools don’t work together efficiently at all.

Download The Singular ROI Index to see the world’s first ranking of ad networks by app ROI.

4 Ways to Drive Mobile App ROI Growth in 2017

58% of all connected consumer time takes place in mobile apps, according to digital research firm comScore. That’s just one reason why so many businesses are investing in their own apps. But while the app industry as a whole shows great growth, most individual apps struggle to drive app ROI growth and fail to retain more than a small fraction of their users.

How small? Singular recently analyzed the iOS and Android apps of hundreds of enterprise-sized clients, and found that apps can lose 95% of their daily users (DAUs) in the first three months after an install. That’s right. 19 out of 20 users may well drift away in just the first 90 days.

No one understands these disturbing statistics more than app marketers. According to a 2016 global survey of mobile app marketers conducted by Singular and our partner, Thomvest Ventures, app business leaders are working hard to address this issue in 2017. The data show that 78% of mobile marketers care more now about “user quality” than a year ago. User quality refers to how much and how long users engage and make purchases within an app. User quality, then, is central to revenue growth.

Whether focused on in-app purchases (IAPs), real-world purchases, or a content subscription revenue model, mobile app marketers are increasingly taking a data-driven approach to growing mobile app revenue, carefully analyzing their businesses and users based on app ROI, and then putting insights into action. Our survey showed that app marketing leaders will rely on four key data-driven strategies to help improve app revenue and user quality in 2017:

1. Improving App Installer Quality

Not every mobile app download from an app store is worth the same amount to your app business. You need the right set of installers to drive strong app ROI, revenue and engagement and maximize the success of your monetization strategy.

App install campaigns traditionally focused on driving the maximum possible number of app downloads. Mobile monetization played a secondary role to the KPIs of most marketers.

But in 2017, smart app marketers want to attract more of the right app downloads and installs with their ad strategy. More than 80% of Android and iOS marketers surveyed said they will factor retention rates into their campaign optimization strategies, and 54% will use uninstall rates to enrich their models.

They’re also focusing their resources on fewer, higher quality app media vendors than they have in the past. While mobile app marketers can choose from more than 1,000 ad networks, publishers and programmatic media partners, our data show that the top ten media companies have increased their share of category spend by 40% over the past year. The losers? Hundreds of small, niche media networks that historically drove inexpensive but low-quality users for smartphone apps to the app stores. Their conversion rates may have been high, but their value to the business wasn’t.

2. Fighting Mobile App Install Fraud

As spending on mobile app marketing has grown, so too has the amount of app install fraud in the ecosystem. Many sources say that fraud is costing app marketers more than $1Billion a year worldwide. Install fraud comprises the lion’s share of app fraud. Fake installs are relatively easy to perpetrate using simulated apps and hijacked mobile devices.

78% of marketers say that they are concerned about fraud, but only 39% believe that their companies have done enough to mitigate the risks. Marketers are now demanding that vendors take an active role in preventing fraud, and are using measurement to identify suspicious or fraudulent installs on an ongoing basis. Such demands are now a key part of a smart app monetization strategy.

3. Engaging in Post-Install App Advertising

Historically, app promotion stopped at the moment of an install. App developers were rewarded for high install counts, not long-term usage. But things have changed. 84% of marketers – whether of free apps or premium apps — now say that their performance is primarily measured based on revenue, not install counts.

That’s driving many efforts to help get users to become regular, revenue-generating users. In our survey, almost 90% of app marketers said they have started or are about to start fielding, post-install advertising campaigns to existing users in 2017. Such campaigns will focus on things like engaging new users, getting cart abandoners to return and buy, and getting existing customers to make incremental purchases. Across our footprint, we’ve seen the percentage of marketing efforts focused on post-install initiatives rise more than 1,000% in the past year.

4. Implementing Mobile Marketing Automation

Many app developers are looking to in-app communications like CRM and push notification messages to bring people back their apps. Marketing automation companies, the companies that make developing and delivering push notification and other messages easier and more personal, are growing rapidly, and VC investment in the sector is spiking. More than a third of marketers we surveyed have already implemented marketing automation platforms that they can use in 2017. Another 23% say they will in the next 12 months.

By understanding users – and leveraging that understanding in proactive, data-driven marketing programs, app developers hope to change the dynamics of an industry that has long struggled to hold onto its smartphone app users. For 2017, it’s all about marrying insight with action. Are you onboard?

Download The Singular ROI Index to see the world’s first ranking of ad networks by app ROI.