Out of necessity, app marketers have become comfortable with copying and pasting total cost data from partner dashboards or reports into their own master marketing spreadsheet.
That’s a lot of annoying work.
Five years ago, Singular set out to solve this problem. Since then, we’ve mastered the art and science of data analytics. We provide app marketers with an automated, streamlined process to accurately and reliably collect spend data so they can optimize their marketing campaigns in the moment and boost ROI.
Now more than ever, having complete, accurate, timely marketing ad spend reporting is just as important, if not more so, than counting installs. Despite this and record programmatic adoption, there are still many out there who haven’t bought into a marketing analytics platform that provides this efficiency, for one or more reasons:
They’re only running on ad networks like Facebook, Google, or Twitter (which use their own attribution and billing despite third-party MMPs ruling on attribution).
They don’t think they run ad campaigns with enough partners in order to justify the cost of a solution to automatically collect their marketing cost data from all their partners.
Their current attribution provider offers a solution that may seem faster than making sense of cost data in a spreadsheet, but “cost ingestion” still requires manually uploading error-prone data.
Complete costs: the full picture
First, the basics. What can you do—or not do—with complete cost data on a daily basis?
For instance, how do you know where you’re pacing? Can you spend more today? What are your effective cost per install rates? What does the ROAS look like?
Now, if uploading an email report is on your to-do list for today, then you’re a few steps behind those managers nailing these questions right after their morning coffee.
That’s where an automated platform like Singular comes in. We automatically collect your marketing costs, saving you time, headaches, and the possibility of errors in your data.
How fast is “fast”?
Let’s walk through each scenario of working with a handful of media partners, to provide a clear view of just how fast and efficient we’re talking.
Scenario #1: the manual spreadsheet report
Here’s the reality of working with even just five media sources and doing manual reporting for each network in a spreadsheet.
Start my computer and auto-login to each partner dashboards (2 minutes)
Find my Excel spreadsheet and open it (1 minute)
Download reports from my reporting tool and paste them into Excel (5 minutes)
Copy and paste ad spend data (source-level only) from each partner dashboard (2 minutes)
Allow my Excel macros to update or copy and paste a formula down many rows of data to calculate ROI (1 minute)
Total time: 11 minutes
Scenario #2: the cost ingestion tool into your attribution provider
Start my computer and auto-login to each partner dashboard (2 minutes)
Download reports from each ad network (5 minutes)
Format each report as required (5 minutes)
Upload individual reports from each network (5 minutes)
Wait for my uploaded reports to get processed or troubleshoot any errors (15 minutes minimum)
Total time: 32 minutes
So the bottom (ROI) line…
Neither of these scenarios is helping you make fast decisions.
How Singular can help
What’s the easiest way to save time, bring in more revenue, improve ROI, and make better, faster marketing decisions? We recommend finding a provider who:
Has years of experience collecting cost exactly as the media sources display it within their systems
Can work with your existing attribution provider to pull in the results from your marketing campaigns
Can then connect this to your spend data and report your ROI whenever you need it
Singular has a tried-and-true process for automating the collection of ad spend that can save app marketers 15 hours+ a week on average, which is why we’ve become the de facto solution for teams scaling their growth. Go ahead, try us for free today.
Ad monetization is growing fast. But traditionally, user acquisition teams don’t see ad revenue and can’t account for it when calculating return on ad spend. That means they make sub-optimal user acquisitions decisions with inadequate information.
How do you fix the problem?
Align your user acquisition and admon teams.
Of course, that’s easy to say, but it leaves plenty of open questions. How do you calculate ad monetization revenue, for instance? How do you know which users are more valuable than others? And how do you merge in-app purchase revenue with ad revenue to obtain a blended real number for total revenue? What is your true ROAS?
We’ve have Singular’s Director of Customer Success, Liz Lauer-Lopez, and Ironsource’s VP of Growth, Yevgeny Peres on the call to work through three steps that will help you align ad monetization and user acquisition. The result: you’ll acquire more users that generate higher ROI and revenue.
Liz and Yevgeny will talk about:
Measuring user revenue behavior for IAPs and ads together
Attributing user revenue across all channels and combining it with cost data
Taking action based on data
Add it all up, and you’ll be able to predict true LTV with all revenue accounted for. And that will help you analyze and optimize your user acquisition marketing much more effectively.
Even if you can’t make it tomorrow, that will ensure that we’ll send you a full version of the webinar later, which you can watch at your leisure. And, if you’re seeing this days or weeks after the webinar occurred, you’ll still get a copy to consume.
How do you do data-driven creative optimization for digital advertising campaigns? Should you do data-driven creative optimization? Should you localize creative? And, should you always follow the data?
It’s not always obvious.
And, just to make it more confusing, top experts at leading mobile brands don’t always agree.
While there are commonalities between how leading mobile experts approach these questions, there’s also considerable diversity. That diversity is often tied to companies’ different strategy and tactics. It’s also a function of short versus long-term goals. It depends on how digital marketers do data-driven marketing in general.
And, this diversity suggests that there is not one true answer for your company and your brand either … but that you’re going to have to make an informed decision for yourself on how to proceed with data-driven creative optimization.
So while top mobile experts don’t always agree, what they say and how they disagree can help you formulate a customized data-driven creative strategy that works for your brand.
Here are the top 10 secrets we learned from marketing strategy experts at Supercell, Earnin, and Vungle at Singular’s big UNIFY mobile marketing conference.
1. Testing matters (a lot) for data-driven creative
It’s probably not a shock to most people that testing matters when you’re trying to do creative optimization.
“Test everything,” says Earnin’s Director of User Acquisition Vanessa Chang. “Not just your in-house creative but your buttons, your copy, everything that can help impact your creative.”
Why do people test? It’s simple, says Supercell’s Emily Tierney:
“The best creative yields the best performance metrics.”
This is especially important when you scale data-driven marketing. (It’s also harder … which is why Singular’s Creative Analytics tool comes in handy for high-volume digital marketers.)
“When you scale and have a ton of volume, it gets more important to iterate quickly and you need to evaluate your results quickly as well,” Chang says. “What Singular has really allowed us to do is it answered questions we weren’t able to answer without the platform.”
2. Creative exhaustion is over-rated (sometimes)
Creative exhaustion is almost an item of faith for modern digital marketers. But sometimes it’s over-rated, as Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv discovered in a data-driven creative exhaustion study he recently published.
For Supercell, there are higher priorities than optimizing for creative exhaustion or even individual ad performance.
“Optimizing for brand [is] very important for us,” Tierney says. “It’s more important to elevate our company so that people recognize Supercell as a global brand, so that when we create new IP, people immediately associate that it will be high-quality games with high-quality animations.”
As a result, Supercell invested nine months in building one piece of creative … a 60-second long cinematic that is essentially a fully animated world-class 3D movie.
The result, “No Time To Explain,” brought in the lion’s share of new users for Brawl Stars with very low CPI, Tierney says. It had both long view time on both Facebook and Google and active engagement, and is still being used for user acquisition more than six months after launch.
Consumer behavior, clearly, does not always require new creative assets and new creative strategies.
3. And yet … creative exhaustion exists
On the other hand, marketers know that for many brands and campaigns, creative exhaustion is a very real thing. Digital marketing assets don’t last forever. Advertising ages.
“Ad fatigue is real,” says Vungle’s Global Head of Creative Labs Gavin McNicholl.”Our clients want to do testing … it’s expected in the space now.”
That’s something that Earnin sees as well, particularly when scaling spend. And it forces EarnIn to scale creative production as well.
“The more we were spending money, especially in the same channels, the more we needed to keep up the rotation and keep feeding the channels to find new winners,” Chang says. “We needed more message types, more actors.”
Even Supercell, which Tierney calls “lucky” for having some evergreen creative that she can run for a long time, sees decay.
“They do decay over time,” she said about her creative. “It’s not like we can run it for six years.”
The goal, according to Vungle is to keep looking for new evergreen creative while running iterations. The company’s algorithm, therefore, allocates a certain percentage of impressions for new units to try to find that new evergreen material.
4. Data-driven creative: Localization is not ALWAYS required
Localization is religion to marketers burned by stories of brands releasing culturally inappropriate messaging or products in different cultures. Often that even extends to different ad creatives and marketing campaigns by audience segment.
Supercell pays attention to culture, but it doesn’t focus on building geo-focused campaigns or creative.
Instead, Supercell goes for the universal in its creative process:
“We really believe in one true global creative,” says Tierney. “When we launch any new games, we really try to generate creative that resonates with all our communities and all regions, and it’s quite challenging. As you know, western creative sometimes doesn’t translate well to the east. Our games are games that people will play forever, and our creative is creative that people will remember forever.”
That may not work for every brand or every app. Advertising in general should focus on being relevant to its audience.
But Supercell is clearly doing something right … on a global scale.
5. BUT … localization is OFTEN required
As GM and its creative agencies found out when naming a car “Nova,” or “no go” in Spanish, not every name works in every culture. Similarly, not every image works for every culture.
When Vungle was working to localize Sherlock Holmes, the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch and the American actor Robert Downey Jr made perfect sense, although it’s possible they could have found one star to cover both countries.
But Japan … Japan was another story.
Suffice it to say: the creative process was entirely different.
Now that’s localization with an added dose of gender-switching.
But you can go farther and do hyper-localization based on seasonal events, Vungle’s McNichol added.
“Chinese New Year is a very significant revenue period for us, so we’ve looked to scale out specific kinds of end cards that incorporate cultural elements,” he said. “So for Chinese New Year you have the red envelope — obviously, the connotations around that [are that] good things are coming your way. It was no surprise that clickthrough rates went through the roof there.”
6. Data-driven creative: Shockingly, data is incredibly important
It shouldn’t be surprising: data matters.
That’s not just the case on upper funnel. Lower funnel is probably even more important.
“When you scale and have a ton of volume, it gets more important to iterate quickly and you need to evaluate your results quickly as well,” says Earnin’s Chang. “What Singular has really allowed us to do is it answered questions we weren’t able to answer without the platform.”
By leveraging community as well as in-house creatives, Earnin was able to build 5X more creative concepts. Now, 50% of their ad impressions originate from community-sourced ads. And that’s resulted in a 25% funnel step improvement. Data drives actionable insights which can be fed into future creative thinking and marketing efforts.
Ultimately, Vungle looks at three kinds of data, says McNichol: performance, contextual, and user data:
Performance data includes installs, conversions, and retention. Contextual data includes geographical location, time, and placement. User behavior is engagement, duration, and interaction points, as measured by heat mapping and lab testing.
Also important: target audience and some understanding of the customer journey.
7. But being purely data-driven could be the wrong approach
It’s not controversial to be data driven, and to be evaluating results for your data-driven creative. It would be controversial, on the other hand, if a digital marketer said that they’re not data driven.
Supercell has an interesting nuance on this.
“This is a philosophy we use a lot in Supercell: to become a data-informed marketing team instead of data-driven,” says Tierney. “It actually means optimizing for the brand, for the IP, for the company.”
That’s worth unpacking.
Supercell cares about data and performance of their ads and campaigns, but not the overall brand matters more than any given ad. And it matters more than individual campaign performance..
That’s why the first second of every Supercell video is alway the Supercell logo. Supercell knows that the first five seconds of every video is the most important, and that they’re sacrificing 20% of that attention-grabbing time.
But they’re betting that positive long-term association with the Supercell brand outweighs individual ad performance. That’s data-informed — and you could argue data-driven on the macro level.
8. Your mobile ads CAN work on TV
You have to build creative assets uniquely for each platform or medium, right? Such as social media ads versus search ads, and mobile ads versus traditional TV ads?
Well … not necessarily, according to data-driven marketing experts. At least in the case of repurposing mobile ads to traditional and streaming TV platforms.
“As we scaled in streaming TV and linear TV, a lot of people were telling us that we should use very branded versions of creatives that were more for TV,” Earnin’s Chang says. “And I would challenge that because I think we have seen a lot of success in using our community-generated ads across many different platforms. It’s not necessarily about the format or the placement, I think it’s really about assessing how you want your message to go in all your different channels.”
That means that you actually can use a “low-quality” portrait creative on TV, she added. You just have to be aware of delivering that in a way that makes sense to the audience.
That’s a role reversal, Vungle’s McNichol says.
When Vungle first started building ads for mobile, they’d get a lot of executive asking them to run TV ads on mobile ad networks … something that doesn’t really work. (Especially back then.)
“What’s very interesting is the idea of the visual language of mobile and web finding its way onto TV,” says McNichol.
9. Your customers can make your ads
We’re not in the dawn of user-generated content any more. But there still aren’t many CMOs who are jumping up and down agitating for their customers to make their ads.
It make a ton of sense, however, if you don’t have enough time to produce a wide enough variety of creative. Just maybe, your community can help.
“We focus a lot of our efforts on using creative generated by our community,” says Chang. “This is really at the core of what we believe is one of our biggest differentiators as a financial tech brand … we have a real community supporting us.”
10. UA and creative need to be In Sync
User acquisition and the creative team need to be completely in sync … and co-location helps.
“We’re very aligned with our creative team,” says Chang. “First, we sit next to them so that makes it easy to share insights. And second, we actually have a weekly creative performance review where we share insights.”
Easy access to the same numbers doesn’t hurt either.
All creative producers at Earnin are well versed in the company’s dashboards — and Singular data — so they can check whenever they want on what’s performing well, what has high click-through rate, conversion rate, and so on.
11. Data-driven creative: Make playables MORE interactive
Playables are the highest-performing creative on the Vungle Ad Network, McNichol said. But by analyzing three million views of one particular playable ad, they learned how to make them better.
One hint: add more interactive elements.
“Always give the user something to interact with,” McNichol says. “They’re engaged … they want to get involved.”
Interaction heat maps show that users are tapping and swiping all over playable ads, including in places where there are no interaction points. Providing more interactive elements is important for engagement: when users are starting to engage, they stay in the experience.
And once they’re engaged, there’s a lot less “X’ing out” of the playable.
12. RPG game? Put characters in the ad
Many games, including RPG games, are character-driven. While it might seem important to demonstrate game-play in your video ads, Vungle has found that focusing on characters is critical.
People connect with characters, and connection drives engagement.
The result for for one Korean client’s mobile RPG game, King’s Raid, was 5X return on ad spend by day seven.
13. Playables aren’t just for gaming brands
Playables are just for games, right?
The short answer is no.
“We actually started introducing playable to some of our brand clients, including TikTok,” McNichol says. “We actually produced this playable unit where you kind of gamify it.”
Essentially, Vungle made a tapping game: as a cool video plays, you tap on it to make social-media-style love hearts pop up. That unlocks an even cuter video, and repetition unlocks an even cuter yet video. All of which represents what people actually do on Tiktok in a pretty authentic way, and yet is fun and playable for a complete Tiktok newbie.
“It became our highest-performing creative for Tiktok,” McNichol says. “So you can definitely gamify: take elements of the brand and have fun with it.”
And, if you’d like to see how to do data-driven creative on Singular’s platform, schedule a demo. We’d love to show you how top mobile marketers are beating the competition with a little help from our data and insights.
There’s a set of campaign properties that are incredibly important for growth decisions that you don’t have easy access to. We’re not talking about clicks, impressions, or installs. It’s not CTR, ROAS, or ROI either, although all of these are important metrics.
Instead, we’re talking about bids and bid strategies.
Bids and budgets are critical. How much you’re willing to spend has huge implications for how often your ads get seen, how much scale you can drive, and how much ROI you can generate. But to date there have been almost no tools to help marketers optimize their bid strategies. Or, even see how bid parameters impact campaign performance.
Now that’s changing.
Campaign properties: metadata
Think of campaign properties as metadata: data about your campaigns. What made a campaign successful? What made it fail? More to the point, what specifically changed about your campaign at the moment in which it went from failing to succeeding, or vice versa?
You might have upped your bid. Decreased it.
Maybe you changed your bid type from CPM to CPI, or perhaps CPE.
Whatever you did had a material impact on your Google Ads campaign, or your Facebook ads, just like changing creative or switching offers. The problem is, a week or a month from now, how will you remember what you did? And how will you know what impact you made? Will you be able to check back, see changes you made, look at their impact, and be able to design informed future strategies from those learnings?
It’s probably just not a standard part of your workflow.
Mostly because you don’t have anywhere to save, record, or see that data. And yet, it’s some of the most vital data you have on what is making you successful (along with creative optimization and not wasting money on fraud). Unless, of course, you kept a record yourself, perhaps in Excel or some other document, every time you made a change.
Which is — let’s be honest — not the most reliable method.
You forget, you miss a change, you lose the document, you enter the wrong date or wrong bids. Or you get the junior member of the team to do it, and he takes off for Cancun. There’s dozens of challenges to manually storing the data.
Not least of them: now it’s not associated and queryable in relation to all of your other data.
Problem solved: Singular now surfaces this data
The good news is that Singular now records campaign property changes. And, like everything else in Singular, campaign properties are queryable, analyzable in reference to other marketing data and campaign data, and always available.
I spent some time with Singular product manager Evyatar Ram to learn more, and to see how mobile marketers can build bid data and bid strategies into their user acquisition workflow.
Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation:
Why bid data is critically important for marketers
John Koetsier: Let’s take it from the top. What exactly are campaign properties?
Ram: Campaign properties are a new set of dimensions that we have started pulling into Singular. They include bids, bid types, bid strategies, campaign statuses, and others.
John Koetsier: Is this just an addition of new dimensions?
Ram: Yes and no.
While this feature does include adding new dimensions to the Singular dataset, this is actually a new category of data. This data represents a snapshot of your campaign analytics in a given point in time as opposed to pulling data which is stored historically.
To illustrate the difference between this data and regular data, with campaign properties there is no concept of historical data out there that Singular can access. We have to check the current state on a regular basis and then store it. In order to implement this our development team had to build new tools to pull in campaign properties data, a new pipeline to process the new data, and a new process to enrich the regular campaign statistics with campaign properties data.
John Koetsier: Why do marketers and user acquisition managers need this?
Ram: Campaign properties data is essential for user acquisition teams to be able to evaluate campaigns, see key parameters of their bid strategies, and make smart decisions for future changes.
One of the main levers UA teams have is to set and optimize bids. We know that many customers don’t have a good method today to log all the bid changes they make. They mostly rely on Excel sheets to manually document changes. Now, having this data in Singular makes it easier for them to have visibility into their activities. It also helps them have a single source of truth for all their user acquisition data.
To give a more specific example, pulling campaign properties data into Singular’s analytics can help user acquisition managers determine what impact changing the bid in a campaign had on the number of impressions or installs they got. Or, what their ROI was.
John Koetsier: So what’s the impact of having this new campaign properties data?
Ram: At a really high level, user acquisition is an operation where you make a lot of decisions every day and every week. Essentially, they go into a black box, and then you measure the impact of those decisions. Today you measure the impact of those changes in aggregate: you made 300 decisions, and you see the overall result in number of installs, ROI, CTR, engagement, and so on.
But you’re not looking at it decision by decision. And you’re not even looking at groups of decisions, like all your bid changes.
Now, with campaign properties in Singular, you can compare all the bidding decisions you made over a year in a specific geo, and see the results.
You sometimes hear from mobile marketers that user acquisition is more art than science, but really it shouldn’t be. This is yet another step to help UA teams be more scientific.
This also helps people not over-optimize, which can be an occupational hazard for high-scale, high-speed marketers. You’re dealing with literally dozens of campaigns on multiple platforms, and you don’t remember that you just changed your bid two days ago — or yesterday — so you change it again. There’s a definite danger in making too frequent updates to campaigns.
And, if you’re doing anything around automation, building an auto-bidding solution … you need this data to enable it.
John Koetsier: So how did user acquisition managers do this in the past?
Ram: We talked to a lot of customers about this and there wasn’t any one particular workflow for this.
There was a real mix: some used Excel spreadsheets, as I mentioned. Others used calendar reminders every time they would create a campaign … just a note in their calendars. One company actually built a small web app to track bid changes. Eventually they stopped using it because it was too manual, and it ran into issues of granularity. For example, the data included bid and country, but skipped publisher. So that tapered off.
Some did not track it at all.
And, bear in mind … even if you do track it somewhere, it’s not connected to all the rest of your marketing analytics data. So if you wanted to look at the impact of your bid changes, you had to remember to go get that data, you had to pull the data, and then you had to actually combine it with your campaign analytics in some way.
So some customers were trying to track bid changes … but the bottom line is that no-one really had a good solution.
John Koetsier: What networks are supported?
Ram: At launch we will support Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Apple Search Ads, and AdColony.
Others are in the works.
John Koetsier: What granularity of bids are you supporting? And what about the parameters … what are the standardized campaign properties you’re using?
Ram: We generally try to pull the bid data at the required granularity. For example, in AdColony we are pulling publisher level bids while for UAC campaigns we pull campaign level bids.
In addition to Bid Type and Bid Strategy dimensions, there are also dimensions called Standardized Bid Type and Standardized Bid Strategy.
These can be thought of as preconfigured custom dimensions that standardize bid types into CPA, CPC, and so on, and bid strategies into Manual bid, Auto bid, etc.
John Koetsier: What about customers who use the Singular API … will campaign properties data be available in the API?
Ram: Yes, and it’s in the API documentation as well.
John Koetsier: What kind of lift or overall benefit do you see this data having for mobile marketers and marketing teams in general?
Ram: I think ultimately the benefit is that you make better decisions. You can be a better user acquisition operator. You can get more scale and better ROI, or you can maximize scale at your target ROI.
It’s hard to see what kind of lift we’ll see at this point. We’ll likely have better data on that in time.
But another way to think about it this: How efficient are user acquisition organizations now?
Are they 95% efficient, as in 95% of their decisions are the best that could be made? I think it’s pretty clear that most teams are pretty far away from that level. Well, our goal is to provide tools that get them as close to optimal as possible, such that 100% of their decisions are better. Every time they create a campaign and every hour they spend in campaign management: we want them to have the data to be smarter.
There’s a lot of room to grow here.
It’s important to note that this is something UA managers and their teams will have to learn how to use. Because there haven’t been good ways to do this in the past, it’s been inefficient. It’s new, and it’ll take some time to become standard practice.
John Koetsier: Thank you for your time.
Next steps: using campaign properties
Interested in learning how you can get access to bid data and start to incorporate that into your user acquisition strategies?
The best way to to request a Singular demo. We’ll have a product expert walk through what Singular does, how it works, and how you can grow faster than your competition with marketing intelligence.
We’re pleased to announce that Singular has won the 2019 Technology Innovation Award for marketing analytics in North America from Frost & Sullivan.
Past recipients of Frost & Sullivan awards include Google, Verizon, Cisco, and IBM. Frost & Sullivan is a global research consultancy. 98% of the Fortune 1000 are clients, and the company creates original research for dozens of industries and sectors.
That research included investigating five key technology attributes including Industry Impact, Product Impact, Scalability, Visionary Innovation, and Application Diversity.
Frost & Sullivan’s study also examined five future business value criteria: Financial Performance, Customer Acquisition, Technology Licensing, Brand Loyalty, and Human Capital.
“Against the backdrop of extensive primary and secondary research across the entire value chain, Frost & Sullivan is quite pleased to recognize Singular as the Technology Innovation Leader in the marketing analytics industry,” David Frigstad, Chairman of Frost & Sullivan, wrote in a letter of congratulations.
“Achieving excellence in technology innovation is never an easy task, and it is made even more difficult considering today’s competitive intensity, customer volatility, and economic uncertainty—not to mention the difficulty of innovating in an environment of escalating challenges to intellectual property,” Frigstad wrote. “In this context, your selection as recipient of this Award signifies an even greater accomplishment.”
It’s important to note that this was an independent study. Singular did not pay for it to be produced; we did not request that this report be created, and we did not apply for a technology innovation award.
And all of which, of course, makes winning that much sweeter.
Global brands have lauded Singular’s marketing intelligence platform as one of the strongest and most irreplaceable tools in their arsenal that has helped them obtain a clearer picture of their marketing effectiveness and maximize their return on investment.
– Frost & Sullivan report
More than anything else, Singular is focused on the success of our customers — the best marketers in the world. That makes this external validation of our recent progress particularly gratifying.
[Singular] has been an integral partner to some of the most innovative companies worldwide that have achieved phenomenal success with their marketing efforts.
“We’re very excited to get this award from Frost & Sullivan,” says Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv. “It confirms that the most important thing we’ve been working on over the last year — our customers’ growth and success — is actually happening.”
Can accounting for ad monetization revenue in your user acquisition ROI analysis help your app business grow smarter and faster? According to Singular Product Manager Lisi Gardiner … yes, it can!
It’s not shocking to most in mobile that ad monetization is growing fast. In fact, App Annie says that 60% more apps will build ad monetization into their overall mobile revenue strategies this year. So it’s clear that in-app advertising is a major — and growing — contributor to mobile publishers’ revenue.
For hyper-casual gaming publishers, it could get to 100% of their revenue.
The ad monetization challenge
But there’s a challenge.
When you only drive revenue via in-app purchases, your income is pretty easy to calculate. And so is your ROI on app install ads, because purchases can be connected to users. And, thanks to Singular and other companies like us, users can be connected to where you acquired them from.
But ad revenue is different.
It’s harder to connect granular ad view or ad click information, such as the publisher, line item and payout, to individual users, and consequently to calculate cohorts. It’s harder to total up receipts from mediation platforms, ad networks, and monetization partners. And it’s much harder to connect those revenues with user acquisition costs to make smart, informed decisions about future marketing investments.
I spent some time with Singular’s Product Manager for Ad Monetization, Lisi Gardiner, to learn more.
How savvy marketers are figuring it out
Koetsier: Let’s start at the beginning … what percentage of revenue do apps get from advertising?
Gardiner: Easy question, harder answer. Ultimately, it really depends on the vertical and the individual app developer. For each, it’s really about finding the right balance of in-app purchase revenue and ad revenue.
Many app developers will constantly play around with that balance, trying to ensure they don’t show so many ads that it would cause the users to churn.
Hyper-casual games often have between 50-100% of their revenue from ads, and media apps (news apps, lifestyle apps, etc.) might have more ad-focused monetization as well. Other kinds of apps have much lower levels if any at all.
Koetsier: I’m guessing that figuring out the right number of ads is not the only challenge …
Gardiner: Absolutely not. Another key challenge is figuring out the right network fit. Many ad networks focus on gaming apps and gaming consumers, while others cater to other verticals, and you’ve got to find the ones that access consumers — potential users — who fit your app.
Koetsier: So how do most app publishers account for incremental ad ROI? How do they even know how much they’re making from each new user in their apps?
Gardiner: It really depends how sophisticated they want to get and how many resources they have. App developers that have a big percentage of ad revenue have some sort of way to combine the data, but ad networks don’t typically provide transparency on a user-level of how much ad revenue they make, although that is starting to change.
So publishers look at other measurements: sessions, geos, clicks.
But the most important thing to take into account is the business model of how you are getting paid.
If you’re getting paid on a rev-share basis, you’re getting paid for the user to not only view an ad, but click on an ad or complete an install. As an app publisher you ideally want to be selling your traffic on a CPM model, because then it doesn’t matter whether the ad actually works and an app gets installed: you get paid.
And, of course, the more eyeballs you have in your app, the more you’ll get paid.
Koetsier: What about those semi-mythical creatures, ad whales?
Gardiner: Some publishers just want to maximize those eyeballs — any eyeballs. But the other perspective we see is app developers who really only care about ad whales … the 20% of their users who view and/or engage with a lot of ads. And they come up with different flows to maximize ad whales.
Koetsier: What kinds of flows?
Gardiner: As an app developer, I have different places in the game where I can place ads. Like Candy Crush, which I play… if you’re out of lives, you can watch an ad and get a new life. But they’ve also added a different flow. If you’ve lost the game, you can add five more moves by watching a video ad.
So app publishers are testing different placements and formats for the ads.
And, of course, different perspectives: focusing on all users versus focusing on ad whales.
Koetsier: That’s quite a difference.
Gardiner: It is. When I talk to people in the industry, no-one is completely sure they’re doing it the right way. Everyone is asking: what is the best method? They want to know what everyone else is doing, and they want to know what maximizes revenue.
They also want to know: what is the best way to measure ad revenue? Should I measure it via eCPM, or track individual ad whale activity?
Koetsier: How do app publishers typically combine ad revenue with any IAP revenue or other revenue they might have, in order to understand overall ROI?
Gardiner: They’re either doing it manually, or they have a BI team that’s helping them combine it.
Since you’re trying to combine the data on device IDs, that’s a lot of data to be ingesting. Especially for hyper-casual games with small BI teams … that could be really costly in terms of time and money.
Koetsier: I assume you have a better way? Give me a high-level overview of the Singular’s ad monetization solution.
Gardiner: On the highest level, we pull in your user-level in-app purchase revenue and your ad monetization revenue, and then connect it with your cost data so you have a complete view of ROI and ROAS.
Singular gives you four different methods for calculating ad revenue:
First, the in-house Singular solution
For customers using our attribution, we have a plug and play solution that calculates the average revenue per session and automatically connects it with your user acquisition cost. The result is accurate, cohort-level insights into your ROI which you couldn’t get before because you were missing the ad revenue stream. We’re also able to account for more sophisticated setups that use multiple ad revenue events and more complex calculations.
And we work with MoPub MoPub offers impression-level revenue data. We receive Mopub events that report revenue data, then cohort it for every device and combine it with ad spend across all of your acquisition sources.
Finally, we work with Soomla
We pull ad revenue data from Soomla and then apply/combine it to your cost data, or any other upper-funnel metric, for comprehensive ROI analytics.
Koetsier: How is this different from competing ad monetization solutions on the market?
Gardiner: First off, Singular is the strongest in pulling and calculating ad spend for every media source you’re working with. That’s in our DNA. We guarantee complete coverage and are not limited to Google and Facebook. That means that ad spend is accounted for in every type of report, at every granularity. You can see the ROI for any aspect of your marketing, whether it’s a channel, campaign or creative. There’s a lot of proven tech around this, which now also applies to our Ad Monetization solutions.
Second, we are integrated with all of the platforms that report user-level and device-level ad revenue. This means that regardless of which vendor you’re working with, we make the best effort to account for every portion of your data.
Third, we are the only MMP that has done the extra work to build comprehensive Ad Monetization Analytics that monetization teams can leverage to grow ad revenue. We want everyone to use Singular and have a single source of truth, and that should not be limited to the UA team. Our Ad Monetization reports can replace your manual reports or reporting vendors, and again uses our tech for pulling data from every type of format with automatic error detection and scalability.
Lastly, we’re flexible. If you want to use a custom ad revenue event, that’s supported. If you’re working with multiple vendors across your app portfolio, we will connect to all of them.
Koetsier: So, let’s say I’m an app publisher. What can I expect if I implement this?
Gardiner: As soon as you implement our SDK and connect your publishers to Singular, ad revenue will be available in every single report we have.
First off, we’re giving you complete visibility into your total ROI, which you never had before. Channels and campaigns that you thought had a specific ROI could look completely different once you factor ad revenue into the ROI calculation. Now you can make better decisions about the actual performance of campaigns and channels.
Plus, we’re going to save you a lot of time. If you’re doing this manually and optimizing just one network every day, we’re easily saving you a couple of hours a day.
Koetsier: And what does that change about how I do my job?
Gardiner: You can optimize your campaigns much more frequently … and you have way better insight into how to do it.
Koetsier: So, bottom line: how does it make me better at growing my app?
Gardiner: We provide a full picture of all your revenue … before you didn’t have a complete view of your revenue.
That means you make better-informed marketing decisions. That means you have what it takes to hit your goals. And, that means you know which media sources provide the most valuable users.
For example, some ad networks might be more expensive, and you might be tempted to cut them, but having ad monetization data from them could indicate that they provide more valuable users, who engage with the ads in your app … so they actually have high ROAS and you should be increasing spend with that network.
At the end of the day: you know more and you’re smarter. So you grow faster.
We sat down with DraftKings Senior Director of Growth Marketing, Jayne Pimentel, to discuss how her team leveraged Singular to unify their siloed marketing data and uncover deep insights for superior optimizations.
My name is Jayne Pimentel and I’m the Senior Director of Growth Marketing at DraftKings. DraftKings is a sports media technology company. Most people know us for daily fantasy sports. We’ve recently entered the sportsbook category, which has been around outside the US for centuries.
When I joined DraftKings, we had one product. We now have three. We brought everything in-house. We got rid of our ad agencies. To scale and to grow a business like that requires a lot of infrastructure. A lot of disciplines that aren’t really core competencies to DraftKings but things that we need to invest in third parties to allow my team to stay agile.
I remember being a consultant when I joined DraftKings and my first call actually was a Singular call. And then before that when I was at Cognant, even at Machine Zone, over half our clients used Singular. So I was familiar with all of these great brand names that were out there, people like Lyft that we were working with, that also leverage Singular.
Establishing a single source of truth for marketing performance
Singular has helped us become fluent between different kind of siloed teams. The fragmentation of data is something that is achievable to overcome but requires a lot of ingestion of data as well as leveraging something like Singular if you can’t adjust that data yourself.
So if you don’t want to pay for a ton of servers to ingest impression-level data, click data, I mean that’s also just one piece. Then you also have user data within our apps. Then you also have revenue data and how we monetize. And the fragmentation even on the monetization of a user, how much they’re valued, needs to be also tied to how much we’re willing to pay for that user. And so that true lifecycle value of that user is something that requires data coming from email, S3 buckets, garbage Excel files, whatever it is. But you have to be able to have some sort of system to make sense of all that and to ingest it and unify it.
Democratizing creative reporting & optimization
And it’s also been helpful with our creative team. We actually use the creative tool within Singular often because our creative team, they’re visual people, they’re talent and they like to see the performance but in a more visual way. And also having the creative and the image that is actually associated with the performance, it’s been really helpful to start conversations to help with testing agendas and to make everyone accountable across teams now that we have a baseline around the data we’re bringing in.
We sat down with Rachel Chanco, Director of Digital Marketing & Mobile Growth at Personal Capital, to discuss how they’re connecting cross-platform user journeys.
I’m Rachel Chanco. I’m with Personal Capital. I lead all of the Digital Marketing and Mobile Growth initiatives.
Personal Capital is a digital wealth management company. How we differentiate ourselves from other FinTech advisors in the space is that we are a hybrid model. We leverage toolset technology but we connect you with a personal advisor that can actually really help you plan things out.
The user journey is pretty unique. A lot of times people will come from the desktop and then download the app. A lot of times people come from the app and then convert on a desktop.
One of the things I really love about working with Singular is not only am I able to understand data from the mobile side but because of the custom integrations we can do with Singular, I am able to understand a user journey from mobile app install to a conversion that may occur on desktop.
So rather than just sticking to standard mobile measurement events, I’m able to leverage the platform to connect if an event is actually happening on desktop, even though the user came from mobile. I can say that this user was actually valuable even though on a standard analysis they would not appear to be valuable.
So we talk a lot about cross-platform being a real problem within the industry and Singular is helping me solve for that.
We sat down with LinkedIn‘s Senior Manager of Digital Marketing and Strategy, Jake Bailey, to discuss how they were able to align internal marketing teams with a single source of truth for marketing performance.
My name is Jake Bailey and I’m the Senior Manager of Digital Marketing and Strategy at LinkedIn. So we actually have had a great relationship with Singular. And we have been really happy with the integration so far.
What’s really fun about my job is that I sit on what is essentially an internal digital marketing agency and so we get to see everything from our recruiting services and job services to our sales, learning, marketing services, as well as our member growth and app acquisition initiatives all in one place.
What is difficult about that, is each team has its own KPIs, it’s own targeting, its own data. But having one centralized place where at least the front end data can live has really increased our efficiency.
A single source of truth for marketing performance
Singular has been very smart in finding a niche in the advertising industry where we as a company, we at LinkedIn, don’t want to maintain APIs with every single app network out there, because it’s going to be way too hard. There is Google, there is Facebook, there are all these third party networks. And if we can pay a company like Singular to own those APIs and own those integrations we’re very happy to just pull that data from Singular back into our own systems to then build whatever robust capabilities we want on the backend.
Singular provides this great front end data across app attribution, as well as all of our other web data, and then we can pull it into one unified place and marry it with all our conversion data, downstream data, LTV data and we can have one Singular, you know attribution platform in place.
And being able to sit on a team that can see everything is really great from a growth perspective. But then having all the data in one place also really helps align us when we have our weekly meetings with executives, or when we have our quarterly business reviews with the top people at the company, having one centralized data source is really important.
CEO Insights is a new column by Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv focusing on some of the most challenging issues in scientific marketing.
Most sophisticated growth organizations we’re working with are placing an enormous importance on creatives. These companies usually have in-house design teams dedicated for making creatives, plus processes and metrics around the production and launch process.
All of it is designed to ensure optimized results.
These companies understand the power of creative optimization, and distribute shared responsibility for amazing creative throughout the organization. Designers have been educated about performance metrics, and they’re savvy enough to combine their art with science in the form of cold, hard metrics.
These top brands also have periodic meetings (bi-weekly or more) where the design team sits down with the marketing team. Together they carefully examine the performance of various assets, and find a balance between introducing new winning concepts, sustaining proven concepts, and eliminating bad ones.
More advanced marketers also apply particular conventions to how assets are managed and tagged, so that tens of thousands of creative variations can be grouped by a handful of key concepts, which helps identify key trends.
All of these workflows and analysis capabilities are available out of the box for our customers through Singular’s creative optimization suite, and it gives our customers an enormous edge. Click here if you want to learn more about that, or email me if you’d like to see a demo.
So: what is the right process?
One area that was of interest to me was the pace at which companies swap out creative assets.
When asking various companies, I got a range of answers from: “we don’t have bandwidth for that at all” to “we have a constant refresh rate.” Some companies update on a fixed period of time (every two weeks or a month), while others update their creative “whenever design creates a new one.”
Obviously, not all creative costs the same to produce, and some creative is super expensive to produce in time and money like playables and videos. Other assets, however, can be produced quickly and efficiently, and when infused with time-specific context (such as a big concert, or a particular live event in a game) they can produce great results.
A common theme I’ve heard is the following way to run analysis on your creatives:
Weekly or bi-weekly
Creative asset performance from all channels (Singular does that out of the box: check out our API)
Campaign targeting option data, particularly around the major self-attributing networks, to identify targeting methodology (value optimization, bid optimization, etc. …)
Channel, country, region, plus any other breakdowns that makes sense to you
Four weeks of data
Period A: first 2 weeks of data
Period B: second 2 weeks of data
Two simple data outputs
Check the trend of currently running creatives to detect big drops that might suggest these creatives should be cycled.
The drops could be in clicks, installs, eCPM, or any other metrics that make sense
For customers using Singular’s attribution, we enable ROI granularity all the way down to the creative level, so you can check for a drop in your main KPI (which is often what the ad engines optimize against)
Isolate the creatives that did not exist in Period A, but existed in Period B, and identify how they are trending. Learn from new concepts that are succeeding well, and some that are failing to ramp up.
Creative fatigue and time
As I look at all this data, the questions I keep asking myself are:
When is the right time to swap creatives?
Do companies know those times?
Can they even figure them out?
The answers to those questions, as I found out, are very complex. After dozens of talks with top tier marketers I got literally dozens of answers, and none of them was the silver bullet I was hoping for.
(Mostly likely, there isn’t any one single silver bullet. The techniques that work for one app are different than those that work for another brand.)
The one common thread in all these conversations was the favorite topic of creative fatigue detection. The formal definition of creative fatigue is that consumers/users/customers do not even see your ad anymore. They’ve become so used to it, that it is now just part of the default background for them.
Traditionally, the first thing people think about fatigue is that CTRs drop over time, because people have seen your ad again and again, and those who wanted to click have done that already.
But when I started researching some data, that naive assumption quickly surfaced as being incorrect.
When dealing with optimizing algorithms like Facebook’s and others, they will track the number of exposures each user had seen (frequency) and will cap that at a certain point, because their algorithm understands that it’ll be a waste of an impression, and also lead to a bad user experience.
So FB simply chooses another ad to show.
You can quickly see this phenomenon in the chart below.
In the first chart, CTR does not drop appreciably throughout the campaign. A campaign manager who looks only at this probably thinks that all is well with her ads.
But there is actually a significant problem.
What’s actually happening behind the scenes is that Facebook knows that it has exhausted your chosen audience, and the number of people it is showing the ad to has dropped precipitously:
It’s important to say ads will not always behave that way. That’s why when analyzing fatigue you need to not only know what assets you’re using, but also what ad channels you’re running on, what bidding methodology is being used, and what their algorithms do.
(For example: due to saturation, the algorithm could also start increasing the CPM bid to generate more impressions, which will decrease your ROAS).
In general, even if these algorithms are smart enough to avoid audience fatigue, it is still the responsibility of the marketer to identify it and remedy the situation. You can find new audiences, add new creatives, and so on.
But there can be more going on
Sometimes when you’re looking for creative fatigue you’ll see data that doesn’t make sense at first. For instance, you might have a click-through rate chart like this one, which shows creative gaining strength over time:
All looks well at first glance. But … if you check impressions, there’s clearly something else going on. The number of impressions is skyrocketing:
Something very different is going on here.
Hint: this behavior can be related to changes in bids and budgets … another key thing to think about when testing for creative fatigue. Changing the bid (even if it’s a CPI/CPA bid) will directly impact the amount of money you’re willing to spend on a certain impression, therefore creating more impressions that were not accessible before at your previous bid.
In short: creative fatigue is one of those concepts that seems easy to understand and easy to diagnose … but actually isn’t. To find out if creative fatigue is actually happening, you need to dig deeper into the data than most can or will.