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Mobile marketing 2023: In-app advertising strategies for brands and agencies



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January 17, 2023 | 7 min read

In this article we speak to mobile marketing expert Steve Massaro about how in-app advertising works and why brands and agencies should use this ever-growing channel to create holistic and effective marketing strategies

In this article we speak to mobile marketing expert Steve Massaro about how in-app advertising works and why brands and agencies should use this ever-growing channel to create holistic and effective marketing strategies.

When it comes to digital marketing, the main channels that most marketers’ think of will often be the classics – such as email marketing, paid search ads and social media. For any brand or business, these are all good options. Email marketing helps you to leverage existing customers, paid search advertising identifies customers based on their immediate search intent, and social media advertising enables ads to target (and retarget) individuals at all stages of the sales funnel – provided that they meet your targeting criteria.

However, as smartphone usage continues to grow and consumers purchase more frequently on mobile, a new and increasingly sophisticated world of mobile marketing has emerged. The demand for mobile-centric marketing campaigns has led to many new opportunities, but they aren’t always fully utilized – or entirely understood. One rapidly growing channel is in-app advertising, where ads for your product or service are displayed within the apps that your potential and existing customers use on their smartphones.

As a channel, in-app advertising doesn’t just add variety to your marketing mix, but it’s proven to drive results too. One study reports that those who engage with in-app ads will go on to view 4.2 times as many products on your website when compared to those who visit your website organically. This is great news for brands because the increased touchpoints means a higher likelihood of paid conversions. Not only that, but the ability to target or retarget specific buying personas with tailored messaging makes it a very precise channel to work with – much like Facebook advertising, only not yet as widely adopted.

To better understand the opportunities and challenges of in-app advertising, we spoke to Steve Massaro, director of channel alliances at Remerge. Having originally started out as an account executive, Steve has spent much of the last nine years working across a variety of verticals and has provided agencies with the support and strategic guidance to educate them in the fields of mobile, social, measurement and analytics. For any brands or agencies looking to add in-app advertising to their marketing strategy, here are the key insights that Steve had to share:

Why do you think some brands and agencies are missing out on in-app advertising?

There’s quite a few reasons, but the main one I think is the lack of understanding around the opportunities that mobile and retargeting presents. I feel that most digital marketers on both the brand and agency side are more accustomed to running top-of-funnel activation, where general awareness, branding campaigns and the cost of impressions take precedence. Shifting that focus to customer acquisition and then even lower down the funnel to sales-driven retargeting campaigns is a completely different muscle that more directly addresses key business objectives such as paid conversions. The potential that retargeting offers is exactly what makes in-app advertising such a valuable channel.

I also think there are some common misconceptions around the cost effectiveness of retargeting. It varies from brand to brand, so take it with a grain of salt, but I feel that many marketers over-invest into top-of-funnel campaigns such as awareness and branding, with the assumption that they’ll reach more potential customers who will convert later without further engagement. However, if you’re not retargeting your existing or already-engaged customers, then you won’t drive as many lower-funnel actions like purchases – which are ultimately the key to your sales revenue and return on ad spend.

Beyond that, the complex nuances and growing importance of privacy-compliant retargeting campaigns for mobile may have deterred some marketers from properly exploring it. I feel that recent industry changes in regards to privacy have thrown so much at marketers that if you don’t live and breathe in-app advertising, doing it safely and effectively can be very intimidating. That said, retargeting (and mobile advertising in general) remains a highly viable and valuable opportunity, so it makes sense to collaborate with an experienced partner in the field if you’re planning to experiment with it further.

What key things should brands and agencies consider before trying out in-app retargeting on mobile?

There are plenty of best practices. If you’re an app-based business and want to promote your app across ad placements within other applications, it’s essential to have your tech stack in order. Having the right technical set up is important because you’ll need to share your event data with both your mobile marketing partner, and a mobile measurement partner (MMP). Measurement partners are essential for any app activations because they ensure that ad performance is being measured and attributed to the marketing partner who is running the ads for you. These insights help you to make the right strategic decisions for your brand when it comes to marketing strategy, partner selection, and budget optimizations.

In terms of strategy, I’d recommend making sure you have a full-funnel approach for your in-app retargeting campaigns. Potential buyers can fall off the funnel in many places and how you re-engage with them should depend on where that is. Maybe a potential customer doesn’t register an account on your website. Perhaps they abandon their cart in your app or they no longer engage with your brand after making an initial one-time purchase. Testing and iterating campaigns to address all these stages is the key to successfully guiding customers through your sales funnel and encouraging them to continue making purchases.

Another important tip is to make sure you have solid creatives. Don’t just repurpose creatives for other channels like web and social, but make sure your visuals are designed and optimized for in-app placements to ensure best results. It’s always good to refresh creatives too so they don’t become stagnant. I’d recommend running both evergreen campaigns and more strategic campaigns at the same time. This approach should inform your creative strategy. Evergreen brand campaigns can serve as your general awareness for top-of-funnel prospects and your lower-funnel campaigns can provide more tailored, conversion-oriented messaging.

How can brands and agencies get started with in-app mobile advertising?

The first step is to consult with a trusted partner in the industry. They will provide you with access to the actual infrastructure on which in-app advertising is built. They will also be able to guide you in terms of strategy, privacy regulation and of course the technical set up, which is even more important if you’re an app-first business or if you’ve developed an app to complement your traditional brick and mortar stores. Above all else, a good mobile marketing partner is one who helps to educate the brands and agencies they work with on how best to navigate the world of mobile.

At Remerge, we’ve responded to this need by setting up our very own Agency Activators program to provide agencies with the tools and knowledge required to become experts on in-app advertising. It’s designed to help agencies maximize the value they can offer their clients within the mobile advertising space. We’re always open to new participants of the program – and we’re excited to have been joined by many of our leading agency partners, such as M&C Saatchi Performance, Winclap, Headlight, WITHIN, Phiture, Lemmonet, and Publicis’ Spark Foundry.

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