Image of Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content and Mobile Insights, Appsflyer

Make More Informed Decisions About Ad Network Partners–And Here’s An Index to Help

The AppsFlyer Performance Index is back with Edition VII, offering app marketers the most comprehensive report card on the performance of mobile media sources and ad network partners during the first half of 2018. The Index has new names, fresh data, and some surprises. Our host Peggy Anne Salz from MobileGroove catches up with Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content and Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer, to discuss how the Index was started, how it has evolved and the insights it offers. Shani also details the data and the significant shifts (and big opportunities) app marketers need to know to make business decisions and grow their app.

Transcript

Hello and welcome to Mobile Presence.  I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz, from Mobile Groove, where I plan, produce and promote content that allows my clients to reach performance goals and scale growth.  And growth is what it’s all about here at Mobile Presence – we talk to app marketers, we talk to mobile marketers, we look at all the ways that you can grow your app or your audience with the help of mobile.

And if you’ve been listening in a lot – and I hope that you have – then you know that we also deep dive into the business intelligence, into the data that you need to know to make data-informed decisions, because of course these days mobile marketing, app marketing, it’s all data driven, that is a given.

And my guest today, to tell us about some data that you need to make note of is Shani Rosenfelder, he is Head of Content and Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer.  Shani, great to have you.

Hey Peggy, thanks for having me on your show.

So, I’ve known you for a while because you’re Head of Content and Mobile Insights, insights mean data, so we’ve connected on a quite a few occasions and you’ve got some great reports over there at AppsFlyer.  You just keep on producing them almost on an assembly line but probably one of your best-known ones or at least the one that I see a lot of press coverage is The Index.  Tell me about The Index because, you know, it’s in its seventh edition so it has a history – why did you embark on this project in the first place?  What is it and what makes you do it over and over again?

Yes, so the AppFlyer Performance Index, we launched it way back in 2015.  I mean, I think in mobile years, way back 2015 is definitely, you know, years away so I sensed when I came into AppsFlyer which is almost four years ago that there was a massive, I would say, void in the market in this relatively new app install market.  I mean, marketers had I’d say little or no idea at all which media partners to run with.  And the problem was that this intense competition in the media landscape, I think it kind of like got a lot of partners on the media side to kind of like over-promise and even make false promises.

A lot of the networks and media companies out there kind of like started sounding the same so I think for marketers, it was really hard to understand, “Okay, who do I choose, which networks can actually deliver what I need?” and this was I think a problem for mobile app marketers and to me that was a void that had to be filled.

I think that you know, one of the reasons that it kind of like created this attention in the space is mainly because of the scale of the data that we have at AppsFlyer.  We are extremely sensitive about statistical validity and we do not show any data that is not statistically valid and I think as the largest player in the eco-system, we have the scale that enables us to kind of like show those numbers that are statistically valid.

Shani, just as a background – what is the scope of that data for our listeners who might not be aware of AppsFlyer, what are we looking at here?

The scale of data, we’re looking at – usually we do about six months of data every – we do it twice a year, the index, it’s billions of app installs, okay, billions and billions of app installs and thousands of apps, hundreds of media networks – I’m talking about the large ones, not every single media network.  We look at networks that have at least 50,000 non-organic installs attributed to them.  So I think again in terms of numbers it’s huge and this is especially important because we have all these slicers and our goal is kind of like to go as deep as we can into the data to make it as actionable as possible.

So, I think that for us as a company, I think it’s basically two things.  One is the scale of data but even more important is the fact that we are an attribution provider and because we are the leading attribution provider in the market, we have a position where we can say things and come up with reports that have a lot of value and people have the trust in the data.

So, I think a combination of those two kinds helped us make this what it is and we definitely understand the name AppsFlyer Performance Index carries weight but also responsibility and we definitely do not take that lightly and we work on the index for months at a time.  So, it is definitely our flagship project.

I mean, I’ve had to write about it a couple of times in different articles.  Now, what stood out for me was I think most of the press was about the fact that Facebook is losing a bit, Google is gaining a bit, that was one of the top line stories but what was new this time around for you in the way of insights?

Well, in terms of the insights, I think that you mentioned Google and Facebook, so actually this time around, the biggest takeaway by far was Google’s jump.  If you look at the pie, at the non-organic install pie, we can see that Google jumped 23% worldwide, okay, in terms of app installs.  This is remarkable, for a company…

It is, that’s huge.

For the company the size of Google, that is quite remarkable, it’s obvious that the move to UAC, which I know generates a little bit of criticism early on but the numbers don’t lie.  It is definitely paying off for Google and it seems marketers are happy with it and are increasing their budgets and running more campaigns.

The largest advancements for Google where in emerging markets, so Latin America, India, South East Asia, but also there was a higher share in the pie in North America and in Europe.  It’s important for me to say, again, that Google is still second to Facebook – Facebook is still the number one media source out there for mobile app marketers, you know, it has the top spots in all the universal indexes including the new category and group rankings.  It’s pretty amazing that we found that three out of four apps with a marketing budget are running campaigns on Facebook but all in all, definitely Google is definitely becoming more of a threat to Facebook’s domination.

Yes, go ahead?

No, I was going to say that dovetails also with what I’m hearing and what other guests here on Mobile Presence have been saying, they’re saying that UAC, okay, you do have to train the algorithm a little bit, it’s a trade-off but there is a pay-off, so that exactly mirrors what we’re hearing in the industry.  What else were you going to share as far as the findings that really surprised you?

Well, in terms of fraud, fraud in the industry, so, unfortunately, it’s only intensifying.  I was surprised by that somewhat because I think that fraud was a big issue started even as early as 2016 and I was maybe even hoping that we would see the industry cleaning up and marketers really pushing the media partners, their media partners to provide them with legitimate traffic but unfortunately that’s not the case and we’ve only noticed that fraud has intensified compared to the previous index.

So, this is especially true for non-gaming apps, okay, there is about 4 times higher rate of fraud in non-gaming than gaming.  Don’t get me wrong, fraud has by no means skipped gaming but it is definitely hitting non-gaming apps much harder.  I think this is mainly because gaming app marketers are considered very, very savvy, they understand the threat, they protect themselves versus other verticals that perhaps are not aware of the threat.

Within the non-gaming category, we saw that shopping was most affected by fraud.  I think it’s because of the high payout, their high CPIs for shopping and that definitely attracts fraudsters.  In gaming, we saw that casino and gambling apps were the most targeted by fraudsters for the same reason, again, because the CPIs payouts in that sub-genre are higher.

And probably also a lot, as you said, Shani, you know, it’s about the games developers, the games app marketers rather, they know data-driven marketing, they wrote the book on it so they are very savvy and it’s all the non-gaming apps that are coming in – maybe not that they’re not sophisticated but they’re just not maybe fully aware of the different types of fraud or how it can happen.  Is that something that – I mean, you said it was surprising but did you also note in your performance index some measures that marketers need to take or is it just purely the data and letting the marketers figure out how they’re going to apply it to their business?

No, I think the methodology that we present in all our studies, by the way, is usually very, very in-depth and this is no exception.  What we did with fraud is massive behind the scenes in terms of the methodology.  So, that is where, you know, people can read and understand.  What we did in terms of takeaways and what we do against fraud, that is another – a different scope.

Another show, isn’t it, perhaps?

Another show, another report, yes, for sure.

I would say we do that.  We do have to go to a break right now but when we get back, I want to hear more about the report, we didn’t get through all the insights yet and certainly not all the actionable insights that AppsFlyer providers, so listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back after the break.

And we are back.  Welcome back to Mobile Presence.  I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz with Mobile Groove and we have Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Content and Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer talking about your AppsFlyer Performance Index and we’ll tell our listeners later where they can download this as well.  We were talking about the major takeaway and sort of like the upper realm, the Google, the Facebook, the spend, and I’ve been hearing that as well but one of the reasons I really dive into your report and look forward to it, your Index, rather, is because you also show us what’s happening under the radar.  What’s new this time, Shani?

Yes, so, that’s a good question.  As I’ve said, you know, previously, as we get more and more data as we’ve enjoyed tremendous growth at AppsFlyer and the good part about that for my end is there’s a lot more data to work with which means we can go deeper and deeper into the data without losing statistical validity and this is super important for marketers because the number one feedback that I’ve received from the Index in the past is that yes, it was definitely super-valuable but gaming and non-gaming, in the past we divided it kind of between gaming and non-gaming – we’re still kind of like too general, even though we had platform breakdown and we had regional breakdowns, this was a big – the number one feedback.

So, this time around, we had enough data to show breakdown by vertical, okay?  Vertical and category, so this is definitely – this makes it super-actionable for marketers because you know you are a casual gamer, you have a mid-core game, you have a casino app, you have a shopping app, you’re running campaigns or you’re thinking about running campaigns in Eastern Europe or in the US or in APAC or in South East Asia or even Australia – all that data is available and that is very definitely very actionable.

Another thing that we kind of like thought about this time around and happy that it came through is we thought about what we call the growth index because we see that the space is consolidating, there are bigger players now, there’s fraud and we kind of like see more or less the same players time and time again, you know, the rankings change but we see kind of like the same, I guess, two dozen players that dominate the rankings.  It’s really important for us to showcase other players in the market, okay, kind of like to foster a, you know, diverse eco-system that enables marketers to have many options to work with.

So that’s how we came up with what we call the Growth Index.  So, the Growth Index is basically looking at ad networks that did not meet the threshold that was required for the regular Index, okay, but we still have recognized them as good performers, as legitimate players, we’ve vetted every single one of them, some of them to be completely honest I’ve never heard of… So these networks actually made it into the Index and it was really important for us to surface kind of like new opportunities for marketers to at the very least test and explore.

I don’t want you to go through all of them but that is the point, they’re sort of like under the radar, they’re not yet in the full Performance Index but they are the ones to watch and some of them have also regional advantages.  You can’t forget that as well, not everybody wants to go across the whole globe, there are some that are very strong in certain regions or certain sectors.  Can’t go through all of them but maybe you could highlight a few, Shani.

Yes, I mean, the names, they vary by I guess – we’ve seen dozens of new names out there.  I think that you know, we’ve seen actually in Western Europe probably, we did not find a lot of new players but in all other regions, definitely between 10 and 15 of those.  I know of several companies that have actually reached out to us and said that this has definitely helped them a lot with getting new leads and I think this is important.  I think that this helps to build our space and kind of like, like I said, diversify the industry.

So what does an app marketer do with this?  I geek out a little bit because I love data and this is your job, you make data, you make reports and indexes but an app marketer listening in saying “Okay, this is great, I have to take a look at this, I want to look at the ones under the radar as well as the usual suspects” but what is the best way to apply The Performance Index?

I think there are two ways that you can use this.  First of all, the fact that we know talked about I guess the behind scenes of the Index, this is really important because it, first of all, gives the reader, the marketer the trust in the data, okay, and that’s really important.  Once that is established, then you know it’s about really going through the rankings, like I said, we have vertical breakdowns and category breakdowns and just looking at the list, okay, and understanding who are you working with, which media partners, is the performance that you’re seeing with that specific media partner, if you’re using that media partner, does it mirror the performance that you’re seeing across the industry in your vertical, in your geo, and if not perhaps maybe you can reach out to the network and try to understand, you know, either it’s underperforming, overperforming and kind of like see, you know, how things can change.

Another option is of course if you are not running with new networks, you’re looking for new networks, so we’re talking about discovery, right?  UA and it’s extremely tough these days, getting users, marketers are really looking for as many channels as they can, we’re hearing a lot more about influencer marketing – it’s just another way of saying “Okay, I’m a marketer and I need to find users” and the more networks you have to work with, the more media partners you have to work with, the more you can basically grow.

Lastly, if you are thinking about running, taking your app to a new region, then it is a fantastic place to look at and here’s the networks I need to use to get started, at least for testing and exploring.

What is it that you’re actually hearing from the app marketers because I follow what you do over there at AppsFlyer, you have these very helpful tutorials for app marketers trying to sort of teach them the basics.  Is there anything you’re hearing from this saying “Hey, this is great, I did find new networks” or “Now I do know what the growth is I can expect, I have a really reliable benchmark that allows me to I’m hitting my targets, underperforming, overperforming” – what does the audience say about this, what have you heard?

Yes, I mean, I’ve been hearing again really great feedback.  I think this time around, especially like I said more than ever because of the vertical breakdown, so that was super-important for marketers, so this time around definitely the fact that we have that granularity of results was a big factor.  Also on a more macro level, we’re just seeing again over time only more and more traffic, more and more interest, more and more press coverage and this is an indication of course that there’s an interest in the market and most importantly that it is useful for marketers.

So, I’m just wondering, you’re at Number 7, how do you top this?  Do you think about what are we going to do for Number 8?  You don’t have to give it away, Shani, but I was just curious – where do you go from here?

Yes, it’s a good question.  To be honest, we’ve been like improving all the time so in the past we had just very, I guess, pro-region and all of APAC and all of Europe and then we had more detail and we were able to break off into different regions and now we have the Growth Index and we have category breakdowns, as retention started to suffer, apps were looking for ways to help them with bringing users back to their app, many more apps started using re-targeting, that kind of brought about the Re-targeting Index.  And then we had the ROI Index as more and more marketers were measuring cost and revenue.

So, yes it is hard but I have quite a few ideas in terms of the next Index and ultimately I don’t know yet because again it depends on the scale of the data and that we’ll only know when we pull the data in a couple of months.

Okay, well obviously, you know, we’ll have you back again to talk about that report but we do have to go to a break and when we come back we’ll talk about some other numbers you have because I’m just hearing so much about it in the industry – we’re going to talk about uninstalls which is something that marketers also have to know about and have data about because the whole idea is when do you see the signs of an uninstall, what can you do to bring someone back, all of this and more is what AppsFlyer has as well.  So, don’t go away, we’ll be back after the break.

And we’re back.  Welcome back to Mobile Presence.  I’m your host, Peggy Anne Salz with Mobile Groove and we have today Shani Rosenfelder, he is Head of Content and Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer.  And Shani, before the break, we were talking about the AppsFlyer Performance Index, we’ll be giving our listeners also the url later where they can check that out for themselves.  But the other report that I’m hearing still a lot about, it came out in this year, it’s not ancient, but a few months back but it seems to be growing in popularity is the Uninstalls – Understanding Uninstalls, App Uninstalls.  Maybe you can tell me a little bit about the report and some of the findings.

Yes, so Uninstalls is definitely a huge pain point in the space.  We’ve been offering our clients uninstall tracking for a couple of years now and it is definitely a problem, marketers are looking for ways to kind of like overcome that, so that’s what the report was about, we wanted to just help marketers and we were pretty much getting requests, can you please write about uninstalls, get some data on uninstalls and that’s what we did.

I mean, it’s also, to your point, it’s also all those conferences, reports and presentations that what is it, 90% uninstall an app after, what, an hour or something?  I’m sure you have your own data on that but it’s frightening.  What did you have?

Yes, so if you look at findings, I mean, I can say that – the truth hurts, uninstall is a big problem.  Our data has shown that almost 30% of users uninstall an app within 30 days of an install and this is especially – the higher rates, we see in developing countries, so much higher uninstall rates in developing countries versus the developed countries.  I mean, having said that, there’s still not such a gap between like, let’s say, the country that had the highest uninstall rate which was like Vietnam versus the US.  So, every single country suffers from it, some suffer more, some suffer less, but for sure every single market has this problem.

I think the main reason for this has to do with advert size and storage on a device – in developing countries, the average smartphone obviously has less storage and that kind of like forces users to uninstall apps.  So this basically – users have less of a choice kind of like whether they can keep an app on their device or not.

Others, again, if they have enough storage on their phones, they can download their apps and they just forget about them and that, we see in the retention rates and very high churn rates but this is specifically talking about uninstalls.

In the findings, what we found also is if we look at verticals, we saw that the entertainment apps have a serious issue with uninstalls.  I think it’s about entertainment apps usually we’re looking at music, streaming apps, video streaming or music streaming and for that kind of like you need to have super-powerful infrastructure to make everything run smoothly and if it doesn’t, users are going to stop using that app.  In general, I think that the main problem – it’s not a problem, it’s a good thing for users but it’s a problem for marketers and apps is that the bar is just so high and the users have such high expectations that if the app does not deliver super-quickly, it just won’t be used and it will be uninstalled.

I mean, from a market perspective, there’s a lot – it’s mostly about the product but from a marketing perspective, there’s still a lot that marketers can do to help that, to kind of like mitigate the uninstall rate, so I think one of the main things that we still see quite a few apps that are not implementing this is deep linking – so deep linking is basically a way to ensure that you’re onboarding experience is optimal, okay.  If it’s not optimal, users will uninstall – you risk uninstall.  So deep linking is something that helps marketers bring users from the promotion all the way into the app and when the onboarding is seamless, then you’ve got a really good chance of continuing keeping that user happy.

So that’s top number one takeaway, some advice for marketers.  Looking just ahead to 2019 because we’ll be wrapping up the year, what’s your number one takeaway for marketers, maybe a piece of advice, a trend they need to watch, something that you find exciting personally or at AppsFlyer?

Yes, I think a couple of things that I would mention.  First, I think in terms of it’s exciting but also a challenge is this whole let’s say automation, AI, that’s coming and already is – I know of a few apps that are already automating their campaigns like never before.  I think that this is new world that has begun, an increased adoption of big data and to be blunt, if you could stick to the old road methods as UA professionals or mobile marketers, you may find yourself out of a job.  I mean, you need to become a data monster.  This has to drive your decisions, you can’t wait for an analyst or a developer to give you the numbers so I really think that marketers going forward, they need to start learning SQL, learning Python, learning Product Management.

I mean, you don’t have to be a developer or a data scientist but you need to have some level of understanding so that then you can communicate with the team and understand each other and kind of like relay your thoughts and learnings.  That’s one big thing that I think is coming.

Another is I would say measuring holistic LTV, so we know especially for games, we’re talking about understanding the full user LTV coming from in-app purchases and especially in-app advertising, we’ve all seen the rise and success of hyper-casual games, these are games that are almost entirely dependent on ad revenue for monetization.  And apps that understand the value of advertising and how that kind of like is combined with in-app purchases is going to help marketers understand how much they can invest in acquiring these users.

So, that’s for gaming.  For I guess non-gaming, shopping, other e-commerce apps, I think continuing from recent years, we’re going to see more and more talk about I think connecting the dots, so from a mobile perspective, in the past anything that – at least that on our end whose source we did not know was considered organic, so a lot of that comes from the web whether desktop or mobile web, so now the apps and the web connect seamlessly with each other and this definitely sheds light on the user journey and understanding how users ended up installing your app because a lot of them are coming from web.

So I think those are the – I would say – the main trends that I see.

The big three, Shani.

Yep.

Absolutely.  We’ll have to have you back perhaps to talk about a few of these because obviously, you know, you know what you’re talking about, I know I’ve read an LTV report from AppsFlyer as well, so there are tons that we can discuss in 2019 to see if you were on the mark.  In the meantime, where can listeners keep up with you, how can they stay in touch with you, perhaps, personally, maybe on a blog or AppsFlyer overall?

Well, firstly, they can just send me an email, simple, it’s shani@appsflyer.com and if you want to get the Index, they can just enter appsflyer.com as a url and all our data reports are published in our library which is basically simple, appsflyer.com/library.  And that’s it.

That’s it, okay, so it’s appsflyer.com/library, that’ll be in our show notes as well, listeners.  And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week or find out more about how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, then you can email me, peggy@mobilegroove.com, Mobile Groove is also where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services. 

And that, my friends, is a wrap of yet another episode of Mobile Presence.  You can check out this and all earlier episodes of our show by going to webmasterradio.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence.  So until next time remember, every minute is mobile, so make every minute count.  We’ll see you soon.

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