As in-app marketing popularity grows, metrics need to change direction

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Kevin Ford

June 18th, 2019

As the fastest-growing form of marketing on the internet, in-app advertising is a dynamic way for brands to get in front of consumers.

Brands have been quick to recognize the benefits, too, and are investing more on in-app marketing.

According to a survey from PubMatic and Forrester, advertisers are spending almost half of their budgets on mobile marketing, splitting the 45 percent spend evenly between in-app and web.

Those numbers are likely to shift more in favor of in-app as advertisers recognize how much more effective in-app marketing is at reaching a brand’s target audience.

Statistics show that in-app advertising performs better than traditional online marketing, specifically because smartphone users spend the majority of their time in mobile apps, reserving only 11 percent of online activity for mobile Web activity.

With users spending more time in mobile apps, those consumers are easier to engage, which has helped boost in-app spending.

To keep numbers escalating, however, finding a successful way to measure the success of in-app marketing that targets users where they are spending the most time online is key.

Viewability surpasses CTRs

When it comes to in-app advertising, click-through rates and other traditional key performance indicators are not the ideal measurement of a successful campaign, which is part of what is preventing in-app advertising from consuming the spend being directed toward desktop marketing.

Marketers are still calculating the efficacy of in-app campaigns using CTRs, which is an ineffective measure, experts say.

A platform’s performance can’t successfully be measured by cookies and other desktop-specific KPIs because of the way in which consumers interact with apps, suggesting that advertisers need to focus on other methods of measurement.

In order to get a clear picture of the success of an in-app marketing campaign, advertisers should change their metrics to focus on audience verification and viewability, which are different than CTRs, and more effective at measuring fraud, which remains a concern for brands, especially as they begin to shift their advertising dollars.

“A lot of systems and metrics are still tied to the desktop environment,” Paulina Klimenko, senior vice-president of business development and general manager of mobile at PubMatic, said in an interview with the online marketing magazine The Drum. “They’re still thinking cookies. They’re still thinking cost-per-click… We’re suggesting that buyers and advertisers need to adjust to the new realities of the app environment and rethink how they measure, adjust their reporting systems and move away from that cookie mentality.”

In-app advertising encourages metrics that go beyond measuring interaction with a campaign, which only adds to its appeal.

In-app offers big benefits

Ultimately, in-app advertising is successful because it effectively engages consumers and better targets them by reaching them where they are spending the most time.

But in-app is a fertile ground for fraud, and brands recognize that.

For brands, fraud remains a critical problem. More than half of brands, 52 percent, see fraud as a concern, while just 36 percent of their agencies see it the same way.

To contain fraud, metrics that help determine audience engagement better than CTRs are important pieces of the puzzle.

Talking CTRs away from the conversation

While it would seem that agencies aren’t paying as much attention to fraud as brands, agencies do recognize fraud as a continuing concern. They are just addressing those concerns in a different way.

For agencies, there is already an understanding that in-app advertising could potentially create increased opportunities for fraud. Because of that, agencies are more concerned with viewability, which is one way to help keep fraud in check.

In that regard, agencies are ahead of brands, because they are beginning to shift the focus away from click-through rates, which can yield fraudulent results, to viewability and audience verification, both of which are less vulnerable to fraud.

Most likely, as brands begin to shift away from CTRs to other, less vulnerable, metrics, they will feel more secure with in-app advertising, and spending will consume desktop, a mirror image of how smartphones have overtaken the same market.

Kevin Ford


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