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What to consider when running app UA and app retargeting

June 28, 2021
Margot Miller
Brand Content Manager
Clément Favier
Global Chief Operations Officer

With the arrival of iOS 14, everyone in the industry is searching for new opportunities in performance marketing. Adikteev is no different, and we’re rolling out an extensive suite of predictive analytics tools to cover the entire user lifecycle from user acquisition (UA) to cross-promotion. But for all our new services, one thing you won’t see us running is UA campaigns. Here’s why.

Very different domains

The worlds of UA and retargeting may seem tangentially related, but the rules are quite different for both. UA is about acquisition. It’s in the title: finding users who are interested in your app. App retargeting is concerned with retention: ensuring that users keep coming back to your app and don’t churn.

In order to run a successful app retargeting campaign, partners must be familiar with deep links, specific attribution (retargeting windows, inactivity windows) and many more details that aren’t necessarily a requirement for UA.

Strategy is also of key importance for app retargeting. Before starting, it’s essential to define campaign goals and which audience to target via an app analysis. For UA, the most important aspect is finding the right sources for acquisition and optimizing along the way. Fewer preliminary analyses and strategic briefings are required for UA, although they’re critical for retargeting success.

User Acquisition vs Retargeting
User Acquisition vs App Retargeting

As only attributed data is required to be shared for UA, it can usually be started in just a few days. App retargeting requires more planning and preparation. Publishers must open their organic data to their app retargeting partner and wait for a few weeks until it populates.

Finally, app retargeting is about identifying individual user value and bidding appropriately for their impressions. In light of the changes to iOS, UA is actually about context. It requires identifying contextual factors such as app publisher or device model to determine which types of users will be most relevant to your app, and spending as little as possible to acquire them.

Because the two domains are so different, expertise in one area doesn’t equate expertise in the other. Running UA campaigns as a app retargeting expert is a bit like calling a plumber when you need an electrician.

As experts in app retargeting, we know the ins and outs of user re-engagement and feel confident in our ability to serve our clients custom strategies and algorithms. We understand the importance of UA, but we’ve spent years building up our expertise in app retargeting. Pivoting to UA campaigns at this point would do our customers a disservice as we would no longer be focusing 100% on retargeting, and instead stretching our resources into unknown territory. Our time is better spent searching for creative solutions within the realm of retention.

Risk of data being used for app retargeting and UA

Retargeting partners running UA campaigns with device IDs cannot transparently guarantee that they are not using the data collected for other partners’ acquisition campaigns. As mentioned before, UA typically requires that you share only attributed data. This means your UA partner only sees the users they actually brought to your app.

But in the case of running app retargeting, you open your organic data stream or share your user list with your retargeting partner. Thus your partner will have access to the details of who your best users are, how to monetize them, which actions they perform, etc. This data carries an enormous value, and you must have full trust in your partner that they will prevent it from being leaked.

As long as the partner only runs app retargeting or only UA, you are safe. Why? because your partner is working with you as a closed ecosystem. Your user data is only being deployed to re-engage users within your app. But when a partner starts running UA and retargeting, there is always a risk that data from your users can be used to improve your competitors’ campaigns. There is also no way to independently verify if your retargeting partner is using your data to optimize for your competitors; you just have to take their word for it.

Stick with the experts

When it comes to the security of your user data, the best choice is to work with experts in each domain. Having a retargeting partner running your UA campaigns or vice versa opens the door to too many uncertainties and conflicts of interest.

However, at Adikteev we never stop innovating. We’re exploring a number of opportunities to help publishers continue to thrive in this post-IDFA reality. Our predictive analytics tools will help app publishers optimize their UA, but we won't operate the campaigns. We want to leverage our expertise in data handling and predictive technology to improve performance marketing outcomes without entering into a domain that may create conflicts of interest or transparency questions. Be on the lookout for a number of predictive innovations coming from Adikteev in the coming months!

CTA app retargeting partner
Margot Miller
Brand Content Manager
Clément Favier
Global Chief Operations Officer

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