Last week, Sensor Tower attended MAU in Las Vegas, a three-day conference focused on mobile app acquisition and retention for mobile marketers. Not only did we get to meet with our colleagues in the mobile industry face-to-face for the first time in two years, but we learned a lot during the sessions. Here are some of the biggest trends and insights we heard discussed by industry leaders during the conference.
Although it’s been nearly a year since Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency (ATT) in iOS 14.5, the mobile app industry is still reeling from its massive impacts on user acquisition and advertising. As a reminder, ATT allows consumers to choose whether or not they want to be tracked by third-party apps. When users ask apps not to track, it inhibits the app from collecting the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) used for cross-app tracking and customized advertising.
Brian Flynn of AppsFlyer made a great point during his presentation Faster than the Speed of Change that marketers were never after user-level data. Marketers have and will always be looking for the best ways to understand their audiences and optimize campaigns effectively. We’re moving from a place where apps had complete visibility into user data into a place where marketers will be blind to 85 percent of most data. This shift in privacy centricity will push apps to focus on the quality of their product and offload privacy to third party vendors.
Ramsey Kale of Airship made a similar point during the State of Mobile Growth panel saying brands don’t collect data to be creepy, but rather to make sure users have a better experience. With these changes in privacy, brands will have to be smarter about how they collect data and in the end it’s about the trust they build through relationships with their customers and users. Arthur Querou of Vibe.co added on to Ramsey’s point saying that in a market that is going to give less data signals, it’s up to the company to develop custom metrics for attribution that give specific signals to their solution. In other words, this is an opportunity to use the best available data, like Sensor Tower, to achieve an advantage over competitors who have been similarly impacted by IDFA's deprecation.
With all of the changes made by Apple, most companies are looking for additional channels to add to their media mix to help sustain growth. Based on the sessions we attended at MAU, it’s clear there are two emerging channels that are gaining interest from mobile marketers: TikTok and Connected TV (CTV).
In the CTV Is UA’s Next Big Thing session, Arthur Querou of Vibe.co also shared that the wave of cord-cutters is rapidly growing. Nearly 54 percent of U.S. households own at least one CTV. Furthermore, as marketers look for new channels to diversify their media spend, CTV ad spend rose about 60 percent in 2021 and is expected to reach $19.1 billion in 2022. Reggie Singh of Adjust joined the conversation to highlight a case study where one of their customers was able to acquire about 60,000 users from advertising on Hulu, Tubi TV, Disney, and Viacom in a single month.
John Gargiulo of Ready Set discussed TikTok in detail during his presentation The TikTok-ification of Everything. He mentioned how TikTok has become the fastest social media app to reach 1 billion users. TikTok has close to 3.7 billion all-time downloads, per Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates. (This figure excludes Android downloads in China or anywhere else Google Play isn’t available.) In fact, TikTok’s traffic in 2021 surpassed that of Google. We’ll dive into John’s perspective on using TikTok for acquisition in the next section.
With the emergence of CTV and TikTok as popular channels, mobile marketers need to change the way they think about developing content to engage users. User acquisition teams across the conference discussed how UA is changing to meet the ever-changing expectations of audiences.
Sabrina Chan of Rec Room spoke about the changes to their UA strategy in light of the ATT events. The most glaring hole in their strategy was that retargeting has become obsolete. Secondly, their inability to access user level data for intent and behavior makes getting their ads in front of the right people much more challenging. Rec Room put a lot of effort into reducing the negative impact of change, especially with TikTok. She mentioned that it’s a more level playing field without user level data and the most important lever for companies to use will be creatives moving forward. This makes it imperative for advertisers to know their customers and what they want to put the right content in front of them. On the same panel, Ivy Wu of Pangle mentioned 50 to 80 percent of ads on their platform are videos. It’s important in the age of TikTok to make your ads look native to the platform for users to engage.
As part of his presentation, Gargiulo also shared best practices for creating TikTok ads that resonate with users. His biggest piece of advice: Authenticity is Everything. We’re moving from the “You” focused era of ads (“You’re going to love..”, “You should try out..”) to the “I” era of ads (“I was suffering from..”, “I started using..”) because real people’s experiences are able to persuade in a genuine and emotional way. When consumers are able to relate to someone’s authentic story, the solutions they suggest become more attainable. And the numbers show users love authentic content. User-generated content drives 6.9 times more news feed engagement than brand-generated posts on TikTok. On the paid side, ads based on user-generated content received 4 times higher click-through rates and a 50 percent drop in cost-per-click compared to average ads.
The mobile space is changing rapidly. MAU was a great experience to learn the mobile industry’s perspective on the trends that have transpired over the last few years. It was a great opportunity to get in front of the industry to meet everyone face-to-face. Thanks to everyone that came by our booth to say hi!