Benefits, risks and secrets of in-app advertising

Eva Ogorodova,
Senior User Acquisition Manager, Zorka.Mobi

Advertising in mobile applications or in-app advertising is a relatively new way to attract users. As a separate source of in-app traffic appeared in 2013, but then neither advertisers nor agencies attached any importance to it. The conditions on which the effectiveness of the source depends were not clear: how and where to place the advertisement, to whom it will be shown, will this bring the desired ROI? I will try to answer all these questions in the article.

1. How the in-app works

Only in 2015, technological solutions began to appear on the market, designed to correct the situation and make the process of purchasing in-app advertising easier and more understandable. With the development of technology and the accumulation of experience by media buyers, more and more sites appeared on the mobile advertising market that brought together publishers (publishers) and advertisers. The procurement process for them has also been simplified: there are clear interfaces and advanced options for setting up advertising campaigns.

The principle of operation of such sites is as follows: publishers provide their applications for advertising, while advertisers are given the opportunity to choose the right sources. The advertiser visits the site, selects specific targeting, sets up the categories of applications in which he wants to show ads, and launches the campaign. The main format for creatives is banner advertising. Video or text is less commonly used.

Targeting opportunities in in-app advertising are significantly inferior to tools on social networks, but also, in turn, sometimes provide completely unexpected targeting. So, for example, it is possible to even target rare models of smartphones or choose a user's location: home, work, other countries.

Phone Model Targeting in Avazu.

In the case of in-app advertising, user reach is a more important metric. Here, this indicator is on average higher than other traffic sources.

2. The advantages of in-app advertising over other sources

New users. Active growth of mobile traffic, the struggle for users and high competition lead to the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult for advertisers to find their audience. Conventional traffic sources (myTarget, Facebook, Google, etc.) sooner or later “wring out”. And here the question arises: where to look for new users?

In-app today is a trend, and if you understand it, you can get good results. The main task of the media buyer in working with this source will be to carefully filter the transitions. However, a large volume (including not of the highest quality) of traffic can confuse a beginner who is used to a limit of 100-500 rubles. to a campaign in myTarget.

Wide coverage and quality audience.A distinctive feature of most sites for the purchase of in-app traffic is that they provide the ability to target by categories of applications within which ads will be displayed.

Coverage in this case is practically unlimited, and the quality of the audience with high-quality tuning is very high, because we find users who already use applications of this kind. Often, managers will not be interested in gender or age if the system immediately determines that a person is using similar applications.

Scalability. A large amount and work with “wrung out” offers (in case the in-app is a new source for the advertiser). The in-app capabilities are now actively expanding, because market participants are paying more and more attention to this format.

3. Risks and weaknesses

High CPI rates. The table below shows the average minimum bids for different regions and platforms for in-app traffic.

The minimum bids in the in-app, $.

It is worth considering that these are the minimum rates - in other words, the guarantee of not quite high-quality traffic. These bets are enough to just launch campaigns and get at least something. But for a successful campaign with a quality audience, it is recommended to use bids at least 15-20% higher than the minimum.

In-app advertising is not for everyone.Unfortunately, in-app advertising cannot be called a universal source. Due to the lack of flexible settings for targeting campaigns and high CPI bids, advertisers may have difficulty working with the source. At some sites for the purchase of in-app traffic, the country is considered the minimum geo-targeting unit. This means that for local products, this type of advertising will be ineffective.

The option with advertising within applications is not suitable for those who for the first time decide to launch campaigns for their application (and, again, because of targeting). Advertising “run-in” is best done on traditional sources, where you can test approaches to different audiences with maximum accuracy and compare expectations and reality.

4. Conclusions and recommendations

  • If you understand that the audience from traditional sources is ending and thinning - you can safely try in-app advertising.
  • To attract a quality audience, for example, in Russia, start with the rates of $ 0.75 and $ 1.2 for Android and iOS, respectively.
  • When launching campaigns and during rotation, try to quickly respond to changes in statistics. Check the quality of new publishers, put the percentage of low-quality traffic in the bid and be ready for it in the first stages.
  • Be prepared for unusual CR indicators in the installation, especially if you have a strong expertise in social networks and contextual advertising. In the case of in-app traffic, the logic of purchasing and rotation is completely different. Ads are shown during the use of the application and most often they are simply closed by the user, despite the similarity of the source and application categories. Thus, in most cases, you will see a huge number of clicks, a small part of which as a result will be targeted. This is disadvantageous for those who use pay-per-click trackers, but even in this case, the campaign can be optimized: however, some of the target sites will have to be disabled.

Bonus - Opinion of advertisers

In preparing the material, we also found out what the experts on attracting users on the side of advertisers think about the in-app format.
Inna Bakunovich
Lead User Acquisition Manager, Wargaming Mobile

- Given the number of applications appearing in stores and devices on users daily, in-app traffic is an opportunity to get significant amounts of fixed CPI. This is a kind of insurance, if you compare it with SEM traffic and from social networks, where eCPI can pretty much “wobble” from time to time, since the purchase takes place via CPM / CPC. However, do not forget about fraud, which grows in proportion to the growth of this inventory.
Also, after conducting a series of tests that require a good budget, you can find well-performing publishers and try to redeem their traffic to zero through separate campaigns. The downside of such campaigns is that you won’t last long on several publishers, their audience is dwindling, and no one has canceled the competition.
Denis Nuzhdin
Mobile Marketing Manager, QUELLE (OTTO project)

- Connecting in-app traffic is a good way to increase the volume of installations when you have already reached the ceiling in Facebook, MyTarget and Google AdWords. The additional volume of installations helps to rise higher in the tops and search results of the store, which significantly reduces eCPI. If you play with the formats and targeting of mobile networks, you can get a solvent audience at a relatively low price. I advise you to carefully monitor the quality of traffic, since the fraud percentage in the in-app is several times higher than in traditional sources.
Stanislav Izmailov
Marketing Manager, BlaBlaCar Russia

- The main advantages of in-app networks I see in the additional capabilities of targeting and isolation from large, classic sources. Targeted traffic on Google and Facebook is not infinite, and for some companies it may not be suitable for the economy. The main disadvantage of the in-app for me is the need to constantly deal with the mobile fraud.
Sergey Konev
Mobile Marketing Manager, “Stoloto”

- If the task is to multiply the volume of installations and other key actions in the application, while the classic traffic sources have already exhausted their potential, then in-app traffic is the best way to try to solve it. Use this source is only after the formation of a clear idea of ​​the audience and effective approaches.
As a rule, the highest ROIs are shown by static creatives, but you should not refuse from dynamics tests as well. It’s worth connecting an antifraud system in advance, because one of the biggest disadvantages of in-app traffic is fraud.
This fact should warn against conducting the first tests immediately on a large number of sources and on large volumes of traffic. Better to start with one flagship, progressively increasing coverage.
Stanislav Bukreev
Head of Mobile, YouDo

For me, in-app networks are of great interest primarily for retargeting campaigns: as another channel where we can catch up with our users. Considering the low price (in comparison with other sources) and the high volume of traffic, in-app networks with proper configuration can beat the unit-economy. A significant drawback, in my opinion, is the generally lower quality of the installations (our experience) and the large volume of fraud.

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