Bridging the gap between web and mobile UA: Webinar follow-up answers

By John Koetsier February 17, 2021

Rethinking how you use web and mobile for marketing post-IDFA? Join the club. Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes, the new App Tracking Transparency pop-up, and the introduction of SKAdNetwork are impacting how mobile marketers are thinking about marketing in a privacy-safe world.

And thinking about how the customer journey might change.

That’s exactly the challenge Trubill’s VP of Growth, Digit’s former head of growth, Criteo’s director of global partnerships, and Singular’s own VP of solutions tackled at our last webinar: Bridging the gap between web and mobile user acquisition.

They answered a ton of questions in the webinar, including:

  • Why is everyone going cross-platform with their offerings and marketing?
  • How does the acquisition strategy differ across the web and app?
  • What are the benefits of starting the journey on the web vs. sending people straight to the App Store?
  • How do you measure the entire user journey across both mobile and web?
  • How will measuring cross-platform journeys change with Apple’s iOS 14 privacy changes?
  • And much more …

(Check the webinar, which is still available on-demand, for those answers.)

But we also got a number of questions from the audience that we couldn’t answer in time. Which is why, of course, we’re answering them here and now.

1. Is cross-device attribution possible in a post-IDFA world?

Absolutely, especially when the journey is all on first-party platforms like your mobile-optimized website. One option, for instance, is to start the journey on web and then move it to your app. If the business logic requires it and the flow makes sense to a customer, you can ask for a sign-in or account creation on the mobile web, which they then log into in your app. That’s just one option, of course.

2. What’s the role of advertising engagement in a post-IDFA world?

Advertising has always been a mix of performance and brand marketing. The reality is that all brand marketing is, to some extent, performance marketing, and all performance marketing is, to some extent, also brand marketing.

None of that changes.

On Android, nothing has changed, clearly. On iOS, there is still deterministic marketing measurement that Singular supports in SKAdNetwork, in addition to traditional IDFA-based attribution if you choose to go that route. There’s also aggregated ad network and platform data that Singular unifies for you and combines with your attribution results to give you a holistic view of your marketing results.

Ultimately, you still want attention. You want that attention to drive engagement. And you want that engagement to generate revenue. None of that changes, either.

You will likely lose some granularity on iOS, and that may happen to a lesser extent on Android as well if Google takes similar steps in Apple’s privacy-focused direction. But you will not lose the ability to learn the impact of your ads and you will not lose data that is valuable for optimization of future campaigns.

3. How can advertisers leverage first-party data for cross-platform advertising?

The most obvious way in the mobile world, at least on iOS, is IDFV. If people who use your apps have multiple apps installed, you can see that in your Identifier for Vendors data. You can now target them for notifications and ads for additional apps. Also, if you have personalized environments in both a web and app experience, you can message your customers in either, knowing what they do in the other.

The challenge for marketers is that you cannot share this private first-party information with third parties without explicit permission. And that means that if you want to leverage first-party data for marketing campaigns using technology such as look-alike audiences, you need to get tracking permission first.

But you can still learn things from people using your apps to help you attract more without sharing their data.

If you know what current users responded to in their customer journeys, you can replicate some of those conditions, ads, creative, and channels or networks in your search for more. That’s simply learning from your customers or users and applying those insights to future app users, and shares no personal data with any other app, website, or company.

4. How much more valuable is using Google’s Install Referrer method in attributing UA? Some have used Google’s install referrer attribution for web to mobile ads campaigns. It would be good to get perspective on the use of Install Referrer in mobile Android UA efforts … is this more relevant to web than to mobile? Google hasn’t yet made an Apple-like privacy change, but this install referrer may become more important.

Google’s install referrer is one of the two deterministic methods, alongside GAID, for measuring and attributing app installs on Android. It is relevant for measuring web-to-app and app-to-app ad campaigns driving clicks to the app store.

GAID is the Android equivalent for IDFA. The main benefits of using the Install Referrer over GAID are accuracy, superior fraud resilience, the ability to measure users with “Opt out of Ads Personalization” (the Android version of iOS’s limit ad tracking) enabled, plus support for web-to-app. The main benefits of using GAID are view-through attribution and of course measuring installs claimed by self-attributing networks (SANs).

There are similarities in the mechanics between Install Referrer and SKAdNetwork in that they are both attribution decisions controlled by the mobile operating system based on the click to the App Store/Google Play itself. However, Install Referrer doesn’t introduce similar limitations on granularity and user-level data in regards to measurement, and doesn’t include similar privacy and data sharing restrictions such as ATT, or App Tracking Transparency.

We can only speculate what an Apple-like privacy change would mean for Google. Leveraging the install referrer mechanism and deprecating GAID (at least partially) is definitely an option, but it’s hard to predict if this would be the only change and if it would include additional ATT-like features.

5. Does the panel think a shift away from mobile app installs towards web sign-ups for ad spend will happen?

We didn’t get a chance to explicitly ask the panel this question, but their answers during the webinar made it clear: when it works for your business and your customers, web offers a lot. On the web, you can offer exactly the experience you want, with all the richness of a web page: video, audio, text, images, forms, and more.

That said, mobile apps still have a huge amount of utility and power that the web can’t compete with. Pairing the two where it makes sense to ensure you understand the impact of your ad spend is a good option.

6. Do creative strategies change between platforms? For example, do you use the same creatives on web campaigns that you would on mobile?

For the first part of the question: absolutely. You would not use the same creative that you might use on TikTok in Apple Search Ads, for instance. You would even change on the same platform, using different creative for Instagram in-feed ads versus Instagram Story ads.

In terms of web versus mobile, the question is more about the context of that web or mobile ad. Are you giving people visual-type ads in a visual context, and playable in a gaming context? Are you providing something that at the same time fits the context and is also innovative enough to demand attention? That, I think is a more important question than whether you can use the same creative on the web versus mobile.

One other note: web ads are more likely to take the form of landing pages with specific flows. They’re multi-component objects, not just a single playable creative or a single banner ad that might make more sense in an app environment.

7. Because you mentioned showing app reviews on the website, maybe you could settle an internal debate at our company. Is it more or less credible to show both good and bad reviews? As opposed to only showing 4 and 5 star reviews … would that look suspicious?

There are a couple of different answers here.

First off, currently the App Store particularly and Google Play to an extent are not punishing fake reviews as much as legitimate mobile publishers might like. (This is why scammy apps with high subscription revenue still tend to make it back into the App Store.) What you can look at with a human eye and almost instantly confirm are fake, the platforms aren’t yet punishing.

This is not an argument to buy fake reviews!

The platforms will catch up; they are working on it; bad actors will receive bad consequences.

In terms of reviews on the App Store or Google Play that a human is looking at, a mix of reviews looks much more credible to at least marginally clueful people, which is likely a majority of your potential users or customers. For your website, I would show the star rating if it is 4 stars or above (but much more happily if it’s 4.5 stars or higher), but I would only show reviews that accompany a four or five star rating.

8. For the same creatives I have seen mobile Web CTRs (click-through rate) at least 50% lower than in-app. Is this simply because of low viewability on mWeb which will then require a pre-bid filter?

That is certainly a big part of the story. Apps are designed to fill a screen; websites are designed to overflow it. User intent and context is another part: in an app you are focused on a task or activity; on the web we tend to be a little more general, and our sites reflect that.

However, there’s an important difference to keep in mind.

Those mobile web views are probably costing you a fraction of the in-app views. Taking that into account — and understanding that you may need to adjust your creative for the different contexts — you might come up with a CPC (cost per click) that is very advantageous on the web.

9. Are there any benefits to splitting up campaigns by device type?

Absolutely, depending on your vertical. Hypercasual games might be going for a very wide demographic, but your retail or ride-sharing app might require a specific type of customer with a specific level of income. (Or, your adsets could just be different based on the customer you’re targeting.)

People with the latest iPhone or Google Pixel, for instance, might have more in common with each other than people who both have iPhones, but one is a 12 Pro Max and the other is an iPhone 6.

Need more? Have another question?

We are always happy to help. If you are a Singular client, please ask your account manager. If you’re not, give us a chance to show you why becoming one might be a great idea.

Grab a Singular demo slot, and we’ll be able to tailor the conversation to your exact needs and your specific questions.

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