Here’s What you Missed at Mobile Apps Unlocked #MAU17


The Leadbolt crew headed to Las Vegas this month for’s MAU 2017 event, where over 1000 leaders from top mobile brands gathered for two days of learning and networking. The conference line- up included experts from all areas of the mobile app industry. We were particularly interested to hear from several User Acquisition and Mobile Growth app marketers, as they shared the challenges they face, and how they achieve their apps’ unique KPIs.

While the content that was presented during MAU is largely protected by the presenters, we summarized our key takeaways and the main themes from the User Acquisition Sessions:


Search, Social, and In-app Ads – Mobile Search is a primary vehicle for app discovery. A well-rounded UA strategy includes Search ads (Google Search, Apple Search Ads in the app stores), Social Media ads (albeit Facebook is becoming expensive for app installs), and support from in-app ad networks/platforms. There’s room for multiple partners because each partner tends to specialize in a particular offering.

App Retention and App Stickiness – It’s cheaper to RETAIN a customer than to acquire a new one.  And your best customers are ones you already have. All app marketers are looking to give users a reason to come back to the app before they delete it.  Apps must have useful features that add value (e.g., make an in-store visit easier, provide more product information), and/or develop app usage habits early.  App habits can include establishing a time of day that is best for checking apps daily, collecting points regularly, earning a badge, offering daily information or tips, etc. The earlier you establish a habit of opening the app, the better – in fact, get you message out in the first few days of download.

Re-Targeting (in-app and online) – Consider what your customers do inside your app.  Also consider what they do when they’re NOT in your app.  For example, consider a shopper who wants to buy a handbag.  The shopper may go to a shopping app to look at the bag.  This shopper then gets distracted, goes online. Later when they’re scrolling through a feed, it could be a great time to see an ad for what they looked at (handbag) earlier in the day.

Omni-channel strategy – Nearly all of the presenters used the term “omni-channel” at least once.  This term relates to a type of retail that integrates the various methods of shopping available to consumers (e.g., online, via mobile app, in-store, or by phone).  The focus is on a seamless and coordinated customer experience and brand continuity, no matter where the user is within their journey, and no matter which device type or media channel is being used.  It’s kind of like “cross-channel”, but better.

Apps typically represent one of many touchpoints offered by a brand (e.g., online, mobile, in-store, email, direct, etc.) with which a user can interact or engage with the brand throughout the customer’s journey.  Rather than viewing a mobile app strategy in a silo, consider your mobile app as part of a holistic approach.  Your digital / outdoor/ in-store efforts impact your mobile, and vice versa.

Lifecycle Engagement – A great app will establish good and consistent communication with their customers early, from the very first app welcome message to regular check-ins, all the way through an in-store experience, or offline real-world interaction with the brand.  If brands understand and engage with audiences 1-on-1 at the beginning – with personalized, contextual, valuable and timely – messaging, they earn loyalty.

Testing and Reviewing Messaging – Every presenter emphasized the importance of testing creatives extensively. Fanatical A/B testing of messaging, creatives, colors, and segmentation is vital. Optimizing mobile ad campaigns based on various creative, messaging and audience targeting parameters is a critical element for ensuring your campaigns are running at peak performance.

Proven Tip: Engagement increases when EMOJIS are used on push notifications.

Value is the new metric (not Installs) – Performance Measurement is evolving:

CPC – (Cost per Click) measures basic cost of traffic

CPI – (Cost per Install) doesn’t provide insight on value

ROA / ROI – (Return on Actions / Return on Investment) measures revenue, but only “short term” revenue

LTV – (Lifetime Value) measures cumulative value for each customer

It’s time to focus on Lifetime Value of a customer and build an LTV model – it’s not easy for app marketers to do, but it is worth it.

 Multiple Post-install Events – Drive app discovery by the right people (for most apps, the “right” people are those who do post-install actions.) Look for in-app events/actions such as purchases, complete levels, registers, add to cart, to signal and identify high-value customers.  Your mobile ad network and mobile attribution partner should be able to track multiple if not unlimited post-install in-app events.

Fighting Mobile Ad Fraud – Marketers shared a few tips for ensuring your traffic is legit:

  • Be discerning – Consider your partners’ reputations before driving traffic.
  • Pay attention to abnormal data – Compare what your agreement says with what you received. Note any difference in conversion rates, time between clicks or deviations from normal activity – these discrepancies flag identify fraud.
  • Partner up – Attribution providers are monitoring fraud closely – (e.g., TUNE, Kochava, Apsalar, Adjust, AppsFlyer), and every partner should be diligent about preventing, detecting and reporting fraud.
  • If you’re running non-transparent traffic, have a dedicated internal person look at the numbers more closely. Even the companies who watch for it are using formulas, so someone closer to it will see the nuances.

2017 Ad Spending Trends – Compared to 2016, many mobile app marketer have increased budget or shifted toward mobile.  In a recent poll (Q1 2017), a significant portion of marketers reported they are not spending on print, radio, or out of home.  They are spending less (but still spending) on Television. TV budgets have been cut in half due to lack of performance:  Lack of Effectiveness, lack of attribution, and CPM/pricing  for TV are the cause.

App Annie shared a Portrait of Today’s App User:

  • $62 billion – revenue spent by consumers in app stores
  • $139 Billion – mobile app store consumer spend in 2021 (more than double 2016)
  • 85% of time is spent in apps mobile browsers

People are not only spending time in apps, they are managing their lives in apps.

  • On average, between 1/3 and 1/2 of the apps on users’ phones were used each month.
  • Apps are a daily habit. When you think about your day, you probably check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, stream Netflix, play a game, check your bank, check into your flight, play a game in between meetings or during lunch, or while waiting in line – you’ll use on average 10 apps a day!
  • You’ll use 10-30 apps/a month, all with different tempos, from daily to monthly.

Where people spend the most of their time:

  1. Utilities and Tools – cameras, calculators
  2. Social
  3. Games

Ready to try Leadbolt?

MarketingHere’s What you Missed at Mobile Apps Unlocked #MAU17