The American holiday retail season is an explosive one, for in-store purchases as well as in-app (over 75% of all Americans used mobile devices for holiday shopping in 2016).
Adjust sees major lifts in metrics (including spending) around the holidays, and this makes sense: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are spreading throughout the world. China has Singles Days on 11/11 and 12/12, and we see lifts during both the week before and after Christmas, and consistently throughout December, as many people are on vacation from work or school and have more time to spend on their mobile devices.
But there’s a downside to online shopping: mobile apps specifically have an 81% cart abandonment rate, with more than $4 trillion worth of merchandise left in shopping carts every year. With the return of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, today we’re looking at how to make the most of this time of the year from the top of the funnel.
Make a list and check it twice
One of the biggest challenges for mobile advertisers isn’t identifying a quality user, but figuring out where they came from and when. It’s common to make assumptions about where to best spend your advertising dollars, but sometimes these choices aren’t data-driven at all. Or they’re made with the wrong data. During the holidays, these decisions can make or break your company.
- During the holiday season, one of the biggest things you should be thinking about is friction. Your ads should always be engaging and your app store presence should be well-optimized, but at this time of the year, you should be thinking about how to get folks in your app as easily as possible. Removing any mandatory sign-ups is a great start, and making sure that you’re using deep links and deferred deep links wherever possible makes it that much easier for the user to complete a purchase.
- For gaming, we see big lifts on the day of Christmas. This year we’re looking forward to one of the biggest iPhone releases, and we expect to see a lot of new devices out there. What happens when Santa Claus or Hanukkah Harry brings a new device? We typically see users logging into their socials for the first time, and loading their favorite apps. These users, if they see a great ad for your game, are ripe for suggestions about new apps – they’re even more likely to click on your ad. These users will be some of your most engaged users, with high LTVs and a greater likelihood of making in-app purchases and staying longer overall as well.
- Mobile ad fraud is very common during the holiday season. There’s a lot more ad supply out there and eyes on ads at the this time of the year. When we talk about fraud, folks often think of fake devices. We think of a basement with a bunch of bots running, but that’s not the biggest issue. The biggest problem we see around this time of the year is click spamming. That’s when you end up paying for organic users. You give money to an ad network for a user who probably didn’t engage with your ad. They went and downloaded your app on a self-guided journey. You can read more about click spamming here.
You’ll want to find out who’s naughty or nice
Adjust’s Fraud Prevention Suite doesn’t work like other mobile fraud solutions. We’re specialized in identifying and stopping click spamming behaviors – because we have so much data to work with, we’re able to see a lot of trends that give away how these fraudsters work. We do fraud prevention, not fraud detection – so we’re stopping the money from coming out of your budget, rather than you having to go back after the fact to your networks and reconcile with your numbers with them.
One pattern you should be wary of this winter: your paid users should not spend the same amounts (or have the same LTV or retention rates) as your organic users. If you’re running with a channel at scale and you’re starting to see this – it’s probably too good to be true. With traffic patterns, if you see floods of clicks coming in at abnormal times, or clicks flooding in during a time you didn’t spec out with your advertising partner, that’s usually an indicator of fraud as well. Pay close attention to your conversion rates (click to install): when you see rates around .2 or .5%, this can be a big indicator of fraud as well.
Diversify your ad spend in December: don’t stick with one channel just because you’re comfortable with them. At scale, you need to spread out. Bring in more channels now, so that if you have a couple channels who seem fraudulent or seem to be bringing in low-quality traffic, it won’t derail your whole holiday strategy.
The holidays are also a great time to experiment with new media types as well. If you’ve never worked with something like native advertising or sponsored content, the holidays are a great time to try them out. Often your advertising partners do these types of media as well, so if you have a good relationship with them it’s easy to get started and broaden your horizons.
Send season’s greetings to the jolliest users
Adjust’s Audience Builder allows you to segment your existing users and use this as a retargeting tool to reach specific groups with personalized messages. You can build segments based on user activity (so if they’ve completed a lower funnel step but not gotten where you want them to, and so on). You can also segment by country, device type, their operating system, and more.
You can also use the Audience Builder to create suppression lists, and give your advertising partner a list of device IDs that you do not want to target. Especially at this time of year, you don’t want to spend money on users you already know.
Another cool thing you can do with the Audience Builder is work with partners like Google or Facebook to build lookalike audiences; you can download a list of the users you think are your most ideal based on things like events they’ve completed or whichever of your KPIs define a quality user for you. You can export these lists to a partner and then, with their own data, they can find users who are very similar. You might not be buying quite at scale, but the quality of your users will be much higher.
Creating segments with Audience Builder around the holidays is a better alternative to working with a retargeting partner because typically these campaigns can take around 7-14 days to ramp up–with a retargeting partner, they have to build up to scale so they can detect patterns in user behavior for you. With Audience Builder, you can get those campaigns running from Day 1. That’s what you need during the holiday crush. You don’t have two weeks to ramp up; you need to start running right away. And if you need switch partners during the campaign, Audience Builder allows you to do that, too.
Best practices before the reindeer arrive:
- Look at your metrics and trends from last year; these should be a great benchmark for your campaigns this year. You can also identify areas for improvement.
- Look at your organic traffic versus your paid traffic; know that they probably won’t look exactly the same in terms of quality.
- Measure your LTV across all channels; this is a big KPI, especially if you’re in e-commerce.
- Maintain an open dialogue with the partners you’re working with. If you’re not seeing the quality you need, don’t be afraid to speak up and get real with them. The more feedback they have, the more opportunities they’ll have to get things right for you.