5 Tips for Finding Pockets of Performance Outside the Top Mobile Media Channels
Melissa started her mobile marketing career in 2012 after completing her MBA and working at a private equity firm focused on direct carrier billing for subscription ringtones, wallpapers, games, and other products. Melissa then ventured deeper into the mobile gaming industry at Electronic Arts, where she managed media strategy and acquisition for several world-class mobile gaming titles. Next, she transitioned beyond games into real estate, which brought her to her current role as the Marketing Director at realtor.com®, where she leads user acquisition efforts.
Learn more from her Mobile Hero profile.
Diversify, diversify, diversify! Just as you wouldn’t put all of your savings into just one stock, you shouldn’t for your paid media channels either. Whether you work at a small company with limited budgets or a big company with massive budgets, as mobile marketers, we often ask ourselves “what traffic sources should I consider testing outside Google, Facebook, Apple Search Ads”.
Although these platforms are important drivers of business, setting aside even 5% of the budget for testing new initiatives, new channels and ad formats, can be very fruitful. Plus, you’re less impacted from a portfolio basis when a channel goes down or performance fluctuates. And you never know when you might come across the next hit channel or media format. The key is to test new channels while diversifying your media mix. I can’t reiterate how important it is to double down on what works for your industry while also maintaining a pipeline of new testing opportunities.
For specific ideas of what channels to test out, check out resources that many MMPs provide on top traffic sources and networks, talk to other marketers in the industry about what’s working, or not. Below are my top 5 traffic sources to consider testing:
If you haven’t tested these for new user acquisition, definitely try them out. As the name suggests, these are apps that are preloaded onto a new phone (Android only) in direct partnerships with cell phone carriers. It’s a fast-growing ad format that enables advertisers to increase discoverability, reach their target audience, and take advantage of prime digital real estate. These ad formats tend to have higher conversion rates, especially since there is a level of trust that comes with apps preloaded onto a device from the factory. Plus you don’t pay until someone clicks to open the app.
Unlike other display channels where fraud can be a concern, there is less risk with preload campaigns due to the benefits of direct carrier relationships. It can also be highly scalable as new devices continue to enter the marketplace.
Immersive ad units
Static banners, animated GIFs and videos tend to be the norm. If you’re looking to take your creative to the next level, test immersive ad units, aka interactive or playables. Long believed to only work or make sense for gaming apps, this ad format can also be highly effective for non-gaming apps as they help cut through banner blindness. Immersive ads can effectively demonstrate product benefits, more so than most other ad formats.
For example, in our interactive ads, we give users the ability to play with various filters and tools while searching for a new home, demonstrate how to go on a home tour, and use augmented reality features while browsing big, beautiful photos of home, all within the ad. Just be mindful to show the actual functionality and feel of your app in your ads so there are no surprises after the user installs your app. Though creating interactive ads may not be as scalable as other ad formats and costs are higher, engagement rates tend to be 2-4x higher as well. Interactive ads are a great way to drive installs from truly interested consumers, or re-engage existing users by introducing fresh new features.
Audio and podcast ads
Audio ads provide a combination of the storytelling aspect you get with video but with the cost of display ads when buying remnant inventory. Remnant inventory is ad inventory that doesn’t get sold which often works well when targeting broadly. These short, non-skippable ad units are a unique and great way to reach millennial audiences within the media they are already consuming. We brought on this ad unit as a way to drive new audiences, particularly millennials, who are the largest segment of potential homebuyers today.
Although programmatic can be expensive, requires a lot of patience, and may not work for every app, it’s worth at least some testing to see if it can work for you. Programmatic advertising has grown significantly and is expected to grow to more than $80 billion by 2021 in the U.S. alone. What’s offered here is broader reach, more transparency and control, and the ability to reach audiences more effectively.
Key partnerships, direct deals & emerging networks
Finding key partners, affiliates and direct deals that cater to niche audiences may prove fruitful. Set aside budget to test new and emerging networks but have a clear goal in mind. Not all initiatives will drive bottom of the funnel metrics. Rather, some will be best suited for driving top or mid-funnel activities, like growing new audiences, increasing engagement, etc.
As new advertising opportunities emerge as a result of the next hit game, social media platform, or productivity tool, be sure to stay on top of trends and look into what makes the most sense to test early on. Just note that targeting or optimization engines may be in their infancy too; at one point, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and others were neophytes in their audience targeting capabilities but demonstrated strong potential nonetheless.
Once you have the budget set aside and a pipeline of initiatives to test, make sure to set clear, realistic goals. Build a pipeline of opportunities matched with a budget and scheduled launch dates. Not everything you test will work so be prepared to pull the plug on many of your tests. With even just a few wins though, you may discover new areas of opportunity to drive growth of your app.