Mobile App Terminology


What is retargeting?

Retargeting refers to a type of digital advertising in which people that have already visited a website or a mobile app are shown another ad to bring them back. In the context of mobile apps, retargeting ads are shown to users that have already installed the app — but may not be actively using it — in order to re-engage the user. 

As highlighted in our re-engagement FAQ article:

Re-engagement is the result of successful retargeting. A retargeting campaign is one that targets existing users of a product, aiming to get them interested in the product again.

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How does retargeting work?

There are three primary ways to run a retargeting campaign: pixel-based, list-based, and identifier-based. Each of these types of retargeting can be effective at bringing users back and re-engaging them with your app.

Pixel-based retargeting

Pixel-based is the most common type of retargeting on the web as it can be used to target visitors at almost any website, even if they haven’t provided their email or contact information. When a user visits a website or app, a pixel is fired that drops a third-party cookie onto their browser. This cookie can then be used by retargeting ad platforms to serve ads that are designed to re-engage the user. 

The advantage of using pixel-based retargeting is that the majority of users can be captured by the cookie and thus shown more ads. The disadvantage is that the advertiser can only show ads to these users for a certain period of time, typically 180 days.

List-based retargeting

List-based retargeting refers to users that have provided their email or contact information in your database, which is then uploaded to a retargeting ad platform. After uploading the list of email addresses to the ad platform, they will then identify the users and serve them retargeting ads.

The advantage of list-based retargeting is that it allows you to customize the exact criteria for your audience as you’re the one uploading the list. Another advantage is that you own this contact information so it can be uploaded to various social networks or ad platforms for retargeting purposes.

The main disadvantage of list-based retargeting is that if the user provided a different email address to the social network or ad platform they won’t be able to match and serve ads to the user.

Identifier-based retargeting

In the mobile marketing world, retargeting former app users has typically been done by device identifiers such as the IDFA on iOS and the GAID or AAID on Android. Since app publishers have had access to the IDFA or GAID, they can give that to adtech companies to show retargeting ads in other apps.

Since App Tracking Transparency, however, it’s much harder to get access to the IDFA on iOS, rendering identifier-based retargeting almost impossible on iOS. 

Traditional retargeting is still an option on Android, and there are some attempts to create ATT-compatible retargeting mechanisms on iOS. Google’s coming Privacy Sandbox for Android will offer a built-in methodology for retargeting called FLEDGE.

How does Singular track retargeting results?

As a leader in marketing analytics and mobile attribution, Singular supports analytics for both retargeting and re-engagement campaigns. The difference between retargeting and re-engagement in Singular is highlighted below:

In Singular, “retargeting” denotes a type of campaign that targets existing users of the app. Therefore, Retargeting is a dimension (breakdown) you can add to your report to have it broken down by whether each campaign was configured as a retargeting campaign or not. In contrast, Re-engagements is a metric that shows the number of re-engaged users (per app, campaign, source, etc.) in the given date range.

Regardless of which method is used, retargeting is one of the most cost-effective ways to bring users back to your app and thus lower your overall acquisition costs. 

In short, by combining retargeting campaigns with a marketing analytics platform like Singular, allows you to expose accurate and timely insights at a granular level. With this data, you’re able to optimize your ad spend and improve the overall ROI of your marketing efforts.

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