Singular ROI Index 2020: Google, Facebook, Apple Search Ads, TikTok … and the power of focus

By John Koetsier March 1, 2020

We’re releasing the 2020 version of the Singular ROI Index today, and it’s exciting to see what’s changing in the world of mobile user acquisition.

Brief ROI Index highlights:

  • TikTok hit the list for the very first time
  • Google and Facebook: of course
  • Apple Search Ads took one more step—a giant leap—as a must-have ad partner
  • Many “small” ad networks proved their worth

Mobile changes fast, and 2019 was no exception. TikTok came from nowhere in the world of mobile user acquisition at the start of last year to be a significant global player. Apple Search Ads ranked on every single iOS leaderboard. Amazon still hasn’t touched the world of mobile user acquisition. And the power of “small” is cumulatively massive.

Get the Singular ROI Index for 2020 here

TikTok, you say?

The biggest news has to be TikTok.

As we highlighted recently, TikTok has grown at lightning speed. Adding over 600 million users in a single calendar year—and then building the foundation for monetization with tools for advertisers—resulted in a massive 75X growth in ad spend on the platform from May to November.

TikTok - Singular ROI Index

That’s why TikTok grew from not even making an appearance on last year’s ROI Index and not even being on our radar until August to making two leaderboards in this year’s report. That’s going from zero to one of the top 15 media sources for advertisers on the planet … in just five months of activity.

And TikTok hasn’t even really hit full stride yet.

Ad load is low. Marketer tools are rudimentary. And the userbase is still growing fast. If TikTok can continue its momentum it will be a massive force to reckon with in the mobile advertising space.

Google and Facebook: naturally

Facebook and Google just kept being Facebook and Google over the past 12 months.

In other words, they continued to be massive global platforms that rank on almost every single leaderboard for both Android and iOS, and continued to provide both scale and quality virtually everywhere on the planet.

And, shockingly, there’s room to improve.

WhatsApp, which has seen almost unprecedented growth for an already-huge platform with a mind-blowing 759.4 million downloads in 2019, is barely even monetized yet. As Facebook continues building its WhatsApp business, the possibilities get even bigger.

Likewise, Google just keeps getting better, ranking in almost every category and providing, like Facebook, one of the very few truly global scale media sources. And Google continues to get better at finding just the right creative and the right message to give to the right person at the right time.

Apple Search Ads: getting massive

Apple launched a small ad platform in 2016. Today Apple Search Ads’ motto is “Top of search. Top of mind,” and the once-small division is not wrong.

Apple Search Ads made the leaderboard in every single category, vertical, and region in Singular’s ROI Index for 2020, cementing its position as a must-have for serious app marketers along with Google and Facebook.

It’s simple: every single iOS install has to happen at the App Store. And when people search for a new app, it’s a perfect storm of opportunity: they’re in the right place, they’re showing high intent, they see an ad right at the top of their screen, and they can act on it with a single tap.

That’s hard to beat … and high conversion rates are the result.

ROI Index: the power of focus remains

It’s hard to call companies niche when they employ hundreds of people, have raised tens of millions of dollars, and—in at least one case—have sold for not far from $1 billion. But in comparison with Apple, Google, and Facebook?

Let’s put it this way: they’re not big.

But they compete with the best in the world.

I’m talking about companies like Aarki. AdAction. AppLike. AppLovin. IronSource. Liftoff. Moloco. Nend. Tapjoy. Vungle. Fyber. Digital Turbine. Chartboost. In the age of Goliath—big tech—there are still Davids who know their niche, build unique technology, achieve competitive advantage, and hold their own.

Each of these appears on Singular’s leaderboards for ad networks that provide outstanding return on investment and/or retention in mobile user acquisition, and they’ve beat out over 500 other media sources to do so.

That’s impressive, and it’s worth the Singular ROI Index badge of honor.

Get the Singular ROI Index for 2020 here

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