Direct to consumer, or DTC retail, is on the rise: According to a study from CommerceNext and Oracle, there are now more than 22,000 companies in the DTC retail category. By cutting out the middlemen, DTC brands can offer quality goods at affordable prices and reinvest in marketing. Traditional retail marketers are left wondering how to keep up, as DTC brands continue to out-market them.



With all of these apparent advantages, many DTC retail brands often still leave one major opportunity untapped: mobile marketing. The majority of DTC marketers focus on social media exclusively, rather than crafting a comprehensive mobile strategy. Some marketers are beginning to see that social media impressions don’t equate to ROI, hence why DTC brands are pulling as much as 30% of their ad spend away from Facebook.

To maximize ROAS, marketers should define more concrete KPIs, such as engagements, completed views, trials, sign-ups, app installs and more. Mobile is the most intimate channel for consumer engagement. Here are a few of the best growth tactics mobile marketers can use to maximize their DTC retail strategy.

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DTC retail tactic #1: Cost-per-action advertising

Cost-per-action or CPA advertising is a pricing model in which advertisers only pay if and when an ad leads to an action or sale. For DTC retail brands looking to uplevel their mobile strategy, CPA advertising can be particularly effective. For instance, DTC brands that leverage a subscription model could run a CPA campaign that invites users to sign up for a discounted first month. This is ideal for brands with a low-friction and affordable offering, such as Dollar Shave Club’s razor subscription. Meanwhile, DTC brands that have a strong content marketing strategy may run CPA campaigns geared at newsletter signups. For example, DTC luggage brand AWAY runs a branded travel magazine called HERE. A mobile CPA campaign could be an effective way to promote engagement with the brand’s content.

Like other forms of performance advertising, CPA campaigns transfer more liability to the publisher as advertiser payout is not guaranteed with each impression. As such, some publishers may be reluctant to host CPA ads. However, most major digital ad networks, including Tapjoy, now support CPA advertising. CPA advertising remains one of the most valuable growth tactics in the DTC arsenal.


DTC retail tactic #2: Rewarded video to install advertising

In keeping with their status as digital-natives, many DTC retailers have an app to facilitate consumer interactions. One company that has seen marked success with its branded apps is Warby Parker. It offers an augmented reality app for testing and purchasing glasses frames, and a mobile prescription check app. For DTC retail brands, the advantages of investing in a mobile app are numerous, including an in-flux of first-party data and an improved purchase journey. But after the app is launched, a mobile user acquisition strategy is imperative.

Mobile is the ideal environment for app user acquisition. Rewarded video is particularly effective in driving high-quality app installs because the secondary action is not incentivized. Consumers may elect to watch a video ad in exchange for a reward, then choose to download the app of their own volition. What’s more, opt-in rewarded video is the optimal ad experience among consumers, as they perceive it to be more relevant and engaging.

When devising a mobile strategy, DTC retail brands should partner with an advertising network that prices rewarded video on a cost-per-completed-view (CPCV) basis. Industry viewability standards dictate that just 50% of the video player must be in view for at least two seconds. If priced on a CPM basis, advertisers pay by impression — in essence, paying to show an ad that is never watched. A completed video view is infinitely more valuable.


DTC retail tactic #3: Cost-per-engagement advertising

In the CPE advertising model, advertisers only pay for completed engagements as defined by the campaign. These engagements can be intimate branded experiences, such as mini-games or branded quizzes. For example, the DTC vitamin brand Care/of quizzes new customers and provides personalized supplement recommendations — this brand would be an ideal candidate for a quiz-based campaign. Similarly, skincare brand Skinsei offers a holistic skin diagnostic and provides a personalized care regimen. These and other DTC retailers that include personalized quizzes in the purchase journey would get particular value from a CPE strategy.

Mobile mini-games are also a memorable and engaging option for DTC brands across the board. A brand does not need to have a cartoonish mascot or a humorous tone to create a successful mini-game. Any brand could benefit from a gamified product showcase. Perhaps consumers tap to pick their favorite colored product or catch falling items in a branded shopping cart. The potential of the mobile format is limitless — regardless of the CPE format you choose, this strategy will drive significantly more ROAS than impression-based advertising.

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On mobile, DTC brands can retain authenticity at scale

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the DTC approach among consumers, the majority of DTC retail brands struggle to achieve profitability at scale. Instead of turning to the traditional retail playbook, these companies should return to their performance marketing roots. Investing in outdated non-digital formats, like television, will only dilute the authenticity, originality, and intimacy consumers have grown to expect from DTC retail. Mobile advertising offers a much more compelling alternative. Armed with these three growth tactics, DTC retail brands can uplevel their mobile strategy and retain authenticity at scale.

For more digital marketing insights, including how DTC brands can drive maximum ROI from their mobile strategy, contact Tapjoy’s mobile advertising experts today.

Direct to consumer brands have taken the retail world by storm.

These young market disruptors have won the hearts of consumers by preaching straight-talk, authenticity, and perhaps most crucially, by offering quality goods at a lower price. Some successful DTC startups have already come of age, getting acquired by massive global retailers like Unilever and Walmart. Even entrenched brands like Nike have developed a DTC strategy to compete with the model’s upsurge in popularity.

So what’s driving the direct to consumer trend? These brands share a unique business model that enables them to fully leverage all the tools of the digital age.

Set up a test campaign today!


Direct to consumer brands that cracked the digital marketing code

DTC brands have infiltrated nearly every retail vertical in existence, including CPG, fashion, pet supplies, and more. Some frontrunners that we’ll talk about include:

They’re all known for taking a creative approach to digital marketing, telling unique stories that draw attention and engage consumers. Here are a few of the secret weapons that are helping these brands shake up the retail world.


1. Warby Parker

Secret weapon: A disruptive brand story (in 100 words)

Direct to Consumer Brands 1

Direct to consumer brand Warby Parker turned the eyeglasses industry upside down with its wide selection of affordable frames and home try-on options. How did the brand do it? It built a digital marketing empire around a disruptive story. Every new pair of glasses is accompanied by a polishing wipe emblazoned with the story of “Warby Parker in 100 Words.” This quirky no-nonsense narrative describes a young man who sought a simple solution to an age-old problem — the high price of prescription glasses.

Fashionable frames and affordability aren’t Warby Parker’s only selling point, however. Its philanthropic mission sets it apart: The brand partners with groups worldwide to support their “buy a pair, give a pair” program, which distributes glasses to communities in need. So far they’ve given away more than 5 million pairs and talked up their efforts across every marketing channel, including email and social. On the company blog, Warby Parker customers can also catch up on the latest updates around the brand’s Pupil Project — an initiative which donates glasses to young students in need.

Last year, Warby Parker raised $75 million in Series E funding, bringing its total to nearly $300 million. The company is currently valued at $1.75 billion.


2. Dollar Shave Club

Secret weapon: Viral video engagement

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Direct to consumer brand Dollar Shave Club burst onto the DTC scene with a viral video that has garnered more than 26 million views since the brand’s launch. The video features the founder of Dollar Shave Club, Mike Dubin, explaining the company’s value proposition. The pitch is simple — for a dollar a month, they send high quality razors right to your door. And, according to Mike, their blades are “f****ing great.” In its first 48 hours, nearly 12,000 people signed up for the service. By the following year, that number rose to 330,000. In addition to its killer price-point, the brand’s charming smugness and irreverence immediately set it apart from industry incumbents, such as Gillete.

The tone of Dollar Shave Club’s video marketing has matured over the years, it still injects humor at every opportunity. This follow-up video, which promotes One Wipe Charlies, shows consumers that Dollar Shave means more than razors, but its off-the-wall comedy is here to stay.

Dollar Shave Club’s subscription-based price model and digital marketing efforts immediately marked it as a major player in men’s grooming. Apparently, CPG giant Unilever agrees — in 2016, it acquired the five-year-old startup for $1 billion.


3. Casper

Secret weapon: Social media presence

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Direct to consumer brand Casper broke the $29 billion mattress industry with the radical suggestion that one size really could fit all. The company, which specializes in memory foam mattresses, delivers comfort right to their customers’ doors in an impossibly small box. The online retailer has been so successful that a number of DTC competitors have sprung up in its wake, including Leesa and Tuft & Needle. However, Casper’s digital marketing strategy continues to set them apart from the pack.

Casper is particularly effective on social media, where the brand regularly engages consumers with sleep-related content and replies to mentions. For example, customers who ask Casper for help after oversleeping on their comfortable new mattress may receive a custom excuse note for their boss, explaining their tardiness. The brand also uses social channels as a platform for sharing charming sleep-related videos, such as this one which showcases sleepy turtles.

Although DTC competitors are making headway in the new digital mattress retail sector, Casper remains the clear frontrunner. The company recently secured $100 million in Series D funding, bringing its total valuation up to $1.1 billion.


4. Glossier

Why they are killing it: Cult content

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Direct to consumer brand Glossier began as a simple beauty blog called Into the Gloss, run by founder Emily Weiss. A thriving community sprung up around the blog, thanks to the value its content generated. When the beauty brand launched, it soon amassed a cult following. It now has a notable hype, with product waitlists occasionally exceeding 10,000 people. Throughout this startup’s three-year journey, content-based marketing has been the cornerstone of its digital strategy. In fact, in 2018 Glossier was named to the “Top 50 Best Content Marketing Brands” by NewsCred. The company has maintained its popular blog and added new video content to its expanding library, to take advantage of the surge in video streaming popularity. In the future, Glossie plans to personalize the buyer journey with content by leveraging its wealth of data.

Glossier’s devoted community remains critical to its success The company invited about 100 of its top customers to be a part of a Slack discussion around products, and they exchange over 1,100 messages a week. User-generated content (UGC) is also key to its marketing strategy.

This year Glossier entered the unicorn club among startups, securing $100 million in Series D funding. This round effectively tripled the company’s 2018 valuation, brining it up to $1.2 billion.


Understanding the direct to consumer brand business model

Examined holistically, all of these successful brands have a few things in common. Traditionally, retail has been run by distributors, but the advent of the internet unlocked myriad opportunities for direct consumer engagement. It’s always been possible for retailers to skip distribution channels by selling to consumers directly via catalog or mail-order, but in the digital age, the DTC approach yields a number of major benefits:


Are direct to consumer brands the future of retail?

In 2019, direct to consumer brands have already transformed retail and radically shifted consumer expectations. The model has come a long way from the mail-order catalogs of the 20th century, but the evolution of DTC is just beginning. In the future, they will undoubtedly adopt new digital marketing strategies and learn to leverage data even more effectively. A key shift on the horizon is the move from desktop to mobile. Already, consumers spend over three and a half hours per day on mobile devices, which surpasses the metrics for desktop. Because apps account for 90% of internet time on smartphones, the in-app environment is poised to become the next great marketing frontier for DTC brands.

For more digital marketing insights, including how DTC brands can drive maximum ROI from their mobile strategy, contact Tapjoy’s mobile advertising experts today.

Direct to consumer brands are shaking up the retail world by skipping traditional distribution channels and passing the cost savings along to their customers. For businesses, however, DTC has an additional perk: It allows marketers to build relationships with target audiences through sustained engagement with their brand. Direct to consumer marketing is fueled, in part, by a wealth of first-party data, which DTC brands collect at each stage of the customer journey. When this data is integrated into a mobile in-app advertising strategy, DTC brands unlock a marketing superpower.

Set up a test campaign today!


What is direct to consumer marketing?

Direct to consumer marketing differs from traditional retail in that manufacturers promote products and services directly to consumers. While this model existed well before 2019, its scope was often limited to directing customers to catalogs and mail-order products. Today, eCommerce technologies allow brands to manage their storefronts directly, interact with target audiences, and provide personalized services.

DTC marketing campaigns and their associated operations often require direct oversight from first-party sales and marketing teams. Despite this additional time and resource investment, DTC has significant benefits compared to traditional retail:


What are the defining consumer trends of DTC marketing in 2019?

Performance campaigns

Thanks to the direct to consumer business model, DTC brands have a wealth of first-party data at their disposal. This data is incredibly effective at building detailed customer profiles and driving performance marketing campaigns. This allows brands to target specific audiences with relevant high-value offers, including:

These offers are then delivered to audiences through an in-app programmatic environment, optimized in real-time based on audience insights, and finally utilized by the customer.


Social engagement

Social media marketing is often praised as a driver of DTC purchases, but that’s not entirely accurate. According to various market research studies, 67% of users have not made purchases via social media. Instead, the value of social media lies in its consumer engagement elements that cultivate brand affinity.

In 2019, this can even take the form of “social justice” marketing. According to recent data from Accenture, 62% of consumers want brands “to take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues”. One prominent example occurred when Heidi Zack, CEO of the DTC lingerie brand ThirdLove, wrote an open letter to Victoria’s Secret condemning comments from CMO Ed Razek. This letter was published in the New York Times and shared across ThirdLove’s social channels, eliciting a resoundingly positive response from customers.


Personalized experiences

To paraphrase Google Canada head of marketing Fab Dolan, the most successful DTC brands are those that understand the interplay between experiences and transactions. Customers are loyal to the brands that make them feel something, which makes experiential engagement strategies ideal for DTC markets. This can take many forms depending on your audience, but some examples include:

Each of these experiences can be delivered with impact through mobile environments, including in-app advertisements and custom branded apps. Rewarded advertisements have proven especially effective at engaging customers while offering the highest return on advertising spend (ROAS).


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What mobile strategies are effective for direct to consumer markets?

As smartphones become the primary digital contact point for most consumers, digital-focused DTC brands are using mobile to facilitate customer engagement. Some brands even go so far as to create their own apps. Warby Parker’s augmented reality app is a prime example: It allows consumers to visualize and purchase custom glasses frames. To fully maximize the benefits of mobile apps, however, brands will need to run user acquisition campaigns that attract new customers. Thankfully, mobile is an ideal UA environment thanks to the prevalence of in-app advertising options. Even for DTC brands that have not entered the app market, mobile is the single most valuable marketing channel. In the US, consumers spend nearly three hours each day on their mobile devices. On mobile, users are attentive and primed for brand engagement. Here are a few promising mobile strategies DTC marketers can employ.


Cost-per-action advertising

Cost-per-action (CPA) advertising is a model where advertisers only pay if and when an ad leads to a specific action, usually a sale. For example, DTC brands might run a CPA campaign in which signing up for a subscription is the core KPI. Such a campaign could then be tied with performance marketing initiatives such as offering a discounted first month.

CPA advertising is an ideal growth tactic for brands with affordable, low-friction offerings and strong content marketing strategies. However, CPA ads do pose some risk to app publishers who are not guaranteed payouts for each impression. Because of this, CPA advertising works best in conjunction with a rewarded model.


Cost-per-completed-view advertising

Cost-per-completed-view (CPCV) advertising is a model where advertisers for completed video views. Rewarded video, which incentivizes the video view but not the secondary click-through, is particularly effective. Rewarded video was rated the optimal ad experience by consumers because these opt-in placements create a low-friction value exchange.


Cost-per-engagement advertising

Cost-per-engagement (CPE) advertising is a model where advertisers pay for user engagement as defined by the ad campaign. For DTC markets, CPE campaigns are best geared towards playable ads such as mini-games or branded quizzes. Any brand could make use of gamified product showcases that help move users along the buyer’s journey with a higher ROAS than impression-based advertising.

For more detailed information on DTC mobile marketing tactics, take a look at our full guide “DTC Retail – The Top 3 Growth Tactics for Mobile Marketers”.


What are some examples of successful direct to consumer digital marketing campaigns?

They’re all known for taking a creative approach to digital marketing, telling unique stories that draw attention and engage consumers. Here are a few of the secret weapons that are helping these brands shake up the retail world.


1. Warby Parker

Warby Parker disrupted the eyeglasses industry thanks to its affordable frames, home try-on options, and DTC business model. But Warby Parker also promotes itself as a brand that seeks to help others by lowering prescription prices and supporting philanthropic causes. The company has partnered with international groups to create a “buy a pair, give a pair” program that distributes glasses to needy communities while a Pupil Project initiative donates glasses to students. These traits have endeared Warby Parker to loyal customers, and given the brand high engagement on social media platforms.

Perhaps most importantly, Warby Parker places a strong emphasis on mobile-first services. It’s primary Warby Parker app lets users see what frames look like thanks to built-in AR technology. A secondary Prescription Check app lets customers update prescriptions with mobile vision assessment features. Warby Parker is even integrated with Apple Pay for easy payment and sends package updates via SMS text. Between these features and a fully mobile-optimized website, Warby Parker is well equipped to serve customers directly from their smartphones.

For more details, read our article The Warby Parker Marketing Strategy Decoded.


2. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club’s first attempt to promote high-quality razors for a low price made a great impression, thanks to a viral video where founder Mike Dubin joked that his blades were “f***ing great.” Since the brand’s launch, this video has garnered 26 million views and established the brand as a DTC leader in the men’s grooming subscription industry. While Dollar Shave Club’s video marketing has since matured, it continues to use humorous experiences as a selling point by injecting charm and comedy into each piece of video content. In 2016, Unilever acquired the five-year-old startup for $1 billion.


3. Casper

Casper is a DTC brand that managed to break into the $29 billion mattress industry with an innovative product, unbelievably small packaging, and a highly engaging social media campaign. The brand frequently uses sleep-related content to engage with customers on social media, even replying to comments with personalized notes that apologize to employers for sleeping in. Casper also uses social channels to share memorable sleep-related video ads, including the following:

@Casper I was late today. Send help

— Hugo Filipe (@MrHugoFilipe) August 24, 2016


4. Glossier

While it first began life as a beauty blog, Glossier expanded into a full-fledged DTC company by making community experiences part of its brand. Named one of 2018’s Top 50 Best Content Marketing Brands, Glossier’s blog posts and videos encourage thousands of users to actively engage with the company. The brand makes user-generated content a key part of its marketing strategy and has held live Slack discussions with 100 top customers. Glossier’s runaway success ultimately brought it to the unicorn club in 2019 thanks to a $1.2 billion valuation.

For more details on how DTC brands managed their digital marketing campaigns, read our full article “4 Direct to Consumer Brands Using Digital Marketing To Shake Up The Retail World.”


Direct to consumer marketing driving the future of retail ads

Direct to consumer markets have transformed digital marketing, creating multiple avenues for customers to engage with brands. Mobile technologies are a major driver of this development thanks to shared viral content, personalized experiences, and the social engagement potential of the platform. As more brands embrace the power of direct to consumer marketing, we are starting to see a new future for retail where consumer values define significant portions of the brand experience.

For more insights into how DTC brands can enhance their mobile strategies, contact Tapjoy’s mobile advertising experts today.

Warby Parker aimed to address a simple problem: Glasses are too expensive. They boldly shined a light on incumbents, claiming that the eyewear industry is monopolized by a single company that keeps prices high for its own gain. Like many direct to consumer (DTC) brands, they told consumers that they shouldn’t have to make trade-offs where quality, convenience, and affordability are concerned. Warby Parker’s marketing strategy would go on to disrupt a $140 billion industry.

Beyond its narrative, Warby Parker’s value proposition is what really hooked consumers’ attention. In fact, Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker attributes the brand’s success to its “highly delineated offering.” He notes the company’s Home Try-on program, which was the first of its kind in any category, unlocked the eCommerce channel fully for them. This model also made it possible to sell quality frames for just $95 — a much smaller price than those offered by traditional retailers.

Without a doubt, Warby Parker’s Robin Hood–esque mission makes for a good story. But what else is behind the Warby Parker marketing strategy? Let’s take a closer look.



Powerful press

At the outset, Warby Parker spent money solely on its initial inventory, its website, and a PR firm. That last piece may seem counter-intuitive, but it laid the foundation for the word-of-mouth buzz that would propel them through their first year. The company successfully launched with features in Vogue and GQ magazine. As a result of this press traction, Warby Parker hit its first-year sales target in three weeks and generated a waitlist of 20,000 customers.

Co-founder Dave Gilboa acknowledges that good press doesn’t always generate this level of impact. However, Warby Parker’s differentiated offering and socially conscious mission propelled it into the spotlight. In Gilboa’s words, “what [we] were doing was unique — that is what got editors excited and got readers excited.”

Today, Warby Parker relies more on word-of-mouth then press. They still find new small ways to keep consumers talking, including their recent April Fool’s Day spoof, Warby Barker. The prank website features a full line of doggie eyewear, including a “dog-ocle,” a monocle for your dog.

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A social mission

Since its inception, Warby Parker has remained committed to its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. The brand works with a handful of global partners to ensure that with every consumer purchase, a pair of glasses are distributed to people in need. Today, they’ve donated over 5 million pairs to vision-impaired people in over 50 countries. Later, in 2015, Warby Parker created the Pupils Project. According to the CDC, vision disability is the most prevalent disabling condition among school children in the US. The company seeks to alleviate this problem by working with organizations and government agencies to provide free prescription glasses to children in need.

While these initiatives lie outside of the sphere of traditional marketing, Warby Parker often promotes them through marketing channels. For example, on the company blog, consumers can review the progress of the Pupil’s project. Similarly, the brand leverages social media channels to keep its philanthropy top-of-mind. Warby Parker recently tweeted an image of an article from the New York times which notes that vision impairment health crisis only costs $1.50 per person to correct. In the tweet, the brand then explains how its Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program is combatting this health crisis by donating millions of glasses to people in need.


Consumer-centric dialogue

For many direct to consumer brands, the key to success is maintaining a consumer-centric dialogue. This means that brands must always be ready and willing to engage in conversation with consumers, whether through content, social media, or other channels.

Warby Parker created an incredibly powerful dialogue with its “Wearing Warby” series. This series, which features Warby Parker customers, consists of video interviews paired with blog posts. These interviews are hardly celebrity testimonials. Instead, the company chose to highlight individuals with unique and inspiring stories. As a result, consumers may feel that they, or their aspirations, are represented.

The best DTC brands foster a dialogue that flows both ways, and Warby Parker has cracked the code to user-generated content (UGC). Its Home Try-on packaging includes a clever call-to-action, which invites consumers to share pictures of their new glasses across social media. Warby Parker itself will also weigh in on social media to help consumers make a selection if they use the #warbyhometryon hashtag. This tactic led to the creation of more than 56,000 user-generated videos. What’s more, Warby Parker found that those who shared content were 50% more likely to actually make a purchase.

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Vision for a mobile future

In reviewing the Warby Parker marketing strategy, it’s clear that this brand believes that the future is mobile. In fact, Warby Parker has two cutting-edge apps in addition to its website, which is expertly optimized for mobile eCommerce.

The Warby Parker app is the most compelling piece of the brand’s mobile strategy — it allows users to virtually try on frames using AR (augmented reality). The app has over 55,000 five-star reviews, and it even won a Webby award. It includes an Apply Pay integration and text updates regarding package delivery. The brand’s Prescription Check app also removes a major purchasing roadblock — it enables consumers to update their prescriptions using mobile vision assessment technology.

DTC brands like Warby Parker are building mobile-first for a reason — the next generation of consumers relies on their mobile devices for purchasing 70% of the time. A strong mobile presence lays the foundation for an impactful mobile marketing strategy. Direct to consumer brands already leverage social media heavily, but opportunities in the broader mobile ecosystem remain largely untapped. On mobile, DTC brands can create personalized experiences, such as mini-games, quizzes, and more. These brands are also ideal candidates for mobile rewarded video, which is the optimum advertising experience amongst consumers.


Putting the Warby Parker marketing strategy into action

Direct to consumer brands have carved territory for themselves in the retail market, and they’re not ceding ground any time soon. Warby Parker is leading the pack, chipping away at the eyewear monopoly with its simple story and compelling marketing. The brand made a name for itself using PR, UGC, and mobile. If your brand has a great story, you can do the same.

For more digital marketing insights, including how DTC brands can drive maximum ROI from their mobile strategy, contact Tapjoy’s mobile advertising experts today.

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Mobile devices are more than the entertainment platform of choice for millions of people around the world: They’re highly effective marketing channels as well. That makes mobile attribution an essential practice in 2019. Attribution helps marketers understand the impact of every advertising campaign while determining precisely where ad spend should be directed.

So how can marketers effectively leverage the power of mobile attribution platforms? Here are some best practices all mobile marketers should should adopt:



Opt for multi-touch mobile attribution

When preparing to implement mobile attribution solution, advertisers and publishers need to agree on an attribution model that will fuel actionable analysis and clearly illustrate resulting revenue. There are two common model types — single-touch and multi-touch — and both have their uses for different types of campaigns. In most cases, mobile marketers should opt for multi-touch whenever possible. This is especially relevant for campaigns that involve multiple placements across different ad networks.

Where single-touch models attribute conversions with a single click, multi-touch tracks multiple engagements across the conversion funnel. This allows attribution solutions to gain a complete picture of the user journey and assign a revenue percentage to each event. While multi-touch attribution analysis (MTA) is more complex than single-touch, its insights are far more valuable to marketers. Multi-touch models generate a 30% ROI increase on average.

Depending on your campaign’s conversion event, there are three multi-touch attribution models to choose from:


Define key performance indicators

Mobile attribution lets marketers analyze massive volumes of user data to understand how customers interact and engage with advertising campaigns. That being said, the bulk of campaign data will be not be relevant when assessing its performance. That’s why it’s important to define key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you can easily eliminate extraneous data.

Choose one or more KPIs that measure the success of conversion events and highlight the effectiveness of ad campaigns. This will help you obtain the best insights from attribution data and more effectively optimize campaigns to achieve your goals.

Here are a few examples of common attribution KPIs:


Define your attribution window

The core philosophy behind multi-touch attribution is that no single interaction determines whether a user will engage with your brand. And that’s true! But it doesn’t mean that all interactions are relevant — if a user watched a video ad six months ago and installed an app today, that install cannot be attributed to that video view with any degree of confidence.

To address this issue, marketers and publishers must define an attribution window. This timeframe determines which pre-conversion events should be included in the final attribution tally. In short, all events that occur within this window are non-organic traffic while outside events are considered organic traffic.

Any attribution window will vary depending on the campaign, publishers, and attribution solution, but there are a few common standards:


Adopt an attribution data privacy policy

Considering how easily user data can be accessed by an attribution platform, it’s crucial to ensure that personal information is protected. With the rise of legislation like Europe’s GDPR, mobile companies are increasingly likely to face stiff regulatory penalties for failing to protect consumer data. The good is news that brands that embrace data security will be better equipped to thrive in this changing market — and attract valuable customers.

The Mobile Marketing Association recently published a guide detailing suggestions for marketers securing their attribution models. The following techniques and best practices are highly recommended:

  1. Work with publishers who offer a “clean room” approach. In this model, marketing and publisher data are merged before extracting multi-touch attribution points for analysis.
  2. Use attribution providers who use data tagging systems approved by major platforms.
  3. Implement secure ad servers with unrestricted IDs.
  4. Create new models that aggregate findings from disparate sources and provide a high-level media impact summary.

While these are great first steps, don’t forget to consider the big picture as well. Mobile marketers should implement official data privacy plans that establish precisely how data is gathered, stored, and distributed within the organization. Ultimately, these steps will help you secure data and help marketers be more efficient in how information is accessed and used.

Mobile attribution solutions require comprehensive datasets to maximize their impact. That’s why partners like Tapjoy are essential: As an advertising network, we are committed to timely and accurate reporting. We also uphold stringent anti-fraud measures — ensuring your attributed conversions are always accurate.

For more information on how Tapjoy can help you navigate the world of mobile advertising, contact one of our talented growth consultants today!

Hyper casual games are an exceedingly popular genre, attracting players from around the world.

Yet from a development perspective, hyper casual isn’t just an app category: It’s also a design process. Making hyper casual games requires studios to design highly-engaging experiences using only the bare minimum of mechanics and art elements. Hyper casual design pipelines need to be highly efficient as a result, allowing developers to create entire games — from concept to launch — within the shortest possible timeframe.

In other words, successful hyper casual studios don’t just make games — they design pipelines that will maximize their efficiency. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the resources that help developers do just that:



Choosing a game engine

Given the fast pace of hyper casual development cycles, studios don’t have time to create custom engines for each release. Thankfully, there are many third-party engines available that developers can license for a reasonable price. This helps studios save on development time while leveraging existing support channels for their chosen game engine.

While there are many engines to choose from, some lend themselves to hyper casual design more effectively than others. Here are some examples:

Making Hyper Casual Games Unity


Unity is one of the most popular mobile game development platforms — hyper casual or otherwise. It offers extensive cross-platform support, lets you import assets from Maya or Blender, and can be used to produce 2D or 3D games. Unity offers large volumes of supporting documentation, and powers major releases such as Pokemon Go and Angry Birds 2.

Making Hyper Casual Games BuildBox


Few engines are as robust as Unity, but Buildbox doesn’t need to be: Each supported feature is well-suited for hyper casual development. With Buildbox, games can be crafted without a single line code by assigning in-game roles to imported art assets. Completed titles can be exported to Android, iOS, and Windows PC formats to be distributed in their respective storefronts.

Making Hyper Casual Games GameMaker

GameMaker Studio 2

GameMaker products have supported indie and AAA development for years, and GameMaker Studio 2 is no exception. It features a drag-and-drop interface that simplifies level design and entity creation while enabling advanced features using an easy-to-grasp programming language. In 2019, GameMaker supports mobile, console, and even web-based productions, and is a cost-effective choice for many studios.

Making Hyper Casual Games Cocos2D-x


Cocos2D-x is a 2D open-source engine made freely available to development studios. Not only does it stand out in terms of its extensive supporting documentation, but also for supporting exceedingly small apps: Even 1.5 MB games are supported!

Making Hyper Casual Games SpriteKit


SpriteKit is a 2D-focused game development framework with one particularly unique perk — it’s designed by Apple and fully supports the iOS platform. That makes it easy to leverage Apple’s first-party tools and resources while producing games for the App Store. SpriteKit projects can also be integrated with GameplayKit for additional functionality.

While this is far from an exhaustive list, it proves that game engines are plentiful and offer many resources that would benefit hyper casual publishers. Yet a game engine is only the first step — now you have to design!


Making the right design choices for hyper casual

When designing hyper casual games, it’s essential to keep your audience in mind. Most players are looking for a brief yet engaging gameplay experience that will pass the time between other activities, such as riding the bus or taking a work break. As such, hyper-casual mechanics don’t have to be especially complex or nuanced. It should be possible to fully complete a single play session in under a minute — but the experience should excite them enough to play again!

In practical terms, developers should keep the following 6 design choices in mind:

It should go without saying, but replicating trends does not mean developers should just copy a game outright. Plagiarism will be taken offline by app storefronts, and it remains one of the quickest ways to harm your studio and brand. That being said, finding your spin for existing game mechanics is an easy way to develop your hyper casual portfolio.


Hyper casual resources

The aforementioned tools should provide a start, but developers might want some advanced resources or a better understanding of hyper casual best practices. The following items can help expand your work in this emerging field:


Art Assets

Hyper casual games might be minimally-designed, but there still do require engaging art assets for players to engage with. For first-time developers, creating these assets can be a real challenge — which is where asset storefronts come in. These services offer a wide range of prebuilt in-game assets, such as textures, character models, or levels.

While the unmodified assets can take the appearance of finished products, that is not what asset stores are intended for. Licensed assets can be used to add additional content or models to new projects that developers have limited time for, or they can be modified with editing software to develop new creative elements. In short, prebuilt assets are time-savers that help you focus on new game mechanics instead of visual environments.


Educational resources

While hyper casual represents a relatively new market, there are still educational resources such as books and courses that offer practical developer advice:

Of course, perhaps the best way game developers can learn about hyper casual games is to build one themselves. By choosing the right game engine, following common design principles, and leveraging key resources as outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way towards making a successful and engaging title.

For more information on monetizing your hyper casual app or advertising it on other platforms, contact the mobile experts at Tapjoy today!

Programmatic mediation increases revenue for mobile developers, creates brand opportunities for marketers, and surpasses the limitations of the waterfall mediation model. Naturally, mobile studios have begun embracing programmatic solutions and leveraging their various capabilities. To assist, we’ve assembled a programmatic mediation glossary that covers the most common terminology developers and marketers will see during their transitions.



Ad Operations (Ad Ops)

Ad operations are the systems and processes which allow for the sale and delivery of digital advertisements. They allow digital publishers to deliver ad campaigns and earn revenue in a process called “fulfilling an order of sale.” In practical terms, ad operations allow companies who earn revenue from digital advertising to “sell, input, serve, target and report on the performance of online ads.”

Ad operations can also refer to a specific department within a digital publisher, ad network, or technology provider that manages advertising workflows. In these cases, such a department would largely be responsible for ad-based revenue generation.


Bid Depth

Within the context of in-app header bidding, bid depth is the number of eligible demand sources participating in an auction.

In most cases, high auction bid depths will see a corresponding increase in the value of winning bids due to increased competition. For that reason, publishers view high bid depth as positive, while demand sources view it as negative.


Bid Types

When a demand source submits a bid it can be one of two types: A hard bid or soft bid.


Hard Bid

Hard bids are real-time auction offers made by a demand source. The highest value hard bid wins the auction and the demand source pays its value in full.


Soft Bid

Soft bids are auction offers made by non-programmatic demand sources. The value of these bids is based on average historical or predicted CPM. If a soft bid wins an auction, but the actual CPM is lower than predicted, the demand source will pay the reduced value.

Soft bids occur when some or all demand sources within an auction cannot participate in real-time, making it impossible to offer hard bids. Programmatic mediation solutions make this allowance so demand sources who work with advertisers on a CPI basis can still participate.

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A DSP (demand-side platform) is a system where advertisers can buy digital inventory listed by publishers. They allow advertisers to manage campaigns across ad networks simultaneously, as opposed to one at a time. DSPs can also help marketers manage vertical and lateral targeting while optimizing their campaigns based on various KPIs.



KPIs (key performance indicators) are the metrics advertisers use to measure the success of a given ad campaign. KPIs can vary depending on what a given ad initiative aims to achieve.



CPA (cost-per-action or cost-per-acquisition) is a measurement of total advertising spend against total attributed conversions. In programmatic mediation, it is a method of measuring campaign performance in terms of interactions that lead users towards the desired conversion event.

Some publishers use CPA advertising models where marketers only pay revenue for actions that lead to a conversion, such as an app click or opening a recently installed app. This model is beneficial to advertisers because it transfers much of the responsibility for campaign performance to publishers.



CPI (cost-per-install) is a measurement of total advertising spend against total attributed app installs. In programmatic mediation, it is a method of measuring campaign performance in terms of app installations.

CPI can be measured by country, platform, ad network, or app category as such individual results can vary wildly. Most publishers use CPI advertising models where marketers pay revenue for each completed installation. This is because app installations are one of the most common conversion events marketers use to determine whether a campaign was successful.



CPM (cost-per-mille) is a measurement of total advertising spend against every thousand attributed impressions. This format is one of the most common methods used to price web ads in traditional online advertising. CPM is often presented as an effective or expected CPM (or eCPM) that helps forecast revenue.

While mobile ad campaigns are arguably better served by metrics like CPI and CPA, CPM still has a place in the mobile advertising world because it effectively measures brand-building initiatives. CPA advertising models can also track user demographics and present a baseline for engagement rates.



ROAS (return on advertising spend) is the metric that informs advertisers how much revenue their ad impressions are generating. ROAS is measured by recording the cost associated with acquiring users through an ad network or campaign and subtracting it from total revenue. A high ROAS suggests that an advertising strategy is successful, while a low ROAS implies that tactics need improvement.

This calculation is distinct from ROI (return on investment) in that ROAS focuses on returns from specific advertising initiatives, while ROI deals with entire campaigns.

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Header Bidding

In mobile ecosystems, “in-app header bidding” is the practice of running auctions for ad impressions between demand sources. These auctions are conducted automatically and in real-time by programmatic mediation solutions. The value of each bid fluctuates based on any market segments to which the intended user belongs — this lets demand sources assign higher-value bids to target audiences.

Header bidding is an evolution of and improvement to the waterfall model, in which demand sources are prioritized based on historical performance and expected yield.


First-Price Auction Bidding Model

In a first-price auction bidding model, final buyers will pay the exact amount of their winning bid. This maximizes seller revenue and encourages buyers to bid close to what impressions are worth to them. First-price auction bids are common among programmatic mediation solutions.


Second-Price Auction Bidding Model

In a second-price auction model, final buyers will pay $0.01 above the second-highest bid. This limits maximum seller revenue but encourages buyers to bid high amounts to maximize the odds of winning. Second-price auctions have become rare as programmatic mediation opportunities continue to grow.

For more information on how Tapjoy can help you navigate the world of mobile advertising, contact one of our talented growth consultants today!

At Tapjoy, we’re dedicated to exploring monetization best practices that help freemium app developers maximize revenue while providing the best possible experience for their users. In this guide, we take an in-depth look at one of the most tried-and-true methods of freemium monetization: The offerwall. We’ll explore the key reasons why offerwall monetization is so compelling, including how it can help developers maximize the revenue potential of their apps and drive deeper user engagement.

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What is an offerwall?

An offerwall is quite literally a “wall” of offers that are presented inside an app, allowing users to scroll through and select their choice of rewarded ads or offers to complete in exchange for virtual currency or other in-app rewards. It has remained a mainstay of app monetization since the early days of freemium because the value exchange model works so well for both advertisers and users, and is a natural complement to an app’s existing gameplay.

In this guide, we’ll explore three key benefits of offerwalls. Let’s get started!

Top 3 Benefits of the Offerwall:

  1. Unlock higher revenue potential
  2. Drive lift in in-app purchases
  3. Empower user choice and boost engagement


1. Unlock higher revenue potential

One of the most valuable and obvious publisher benefits of an offerwall is the ability to unlock higher eCPMs and boost overall revenue.

While offerwalls are higher friction than rewarded video, the value is clear: a Tapjoy study revealed that publishers who monetized through offerwall and rewarded video combined posted an average quarterly ARPDUV (average revenue per daily unique viewer) that was consistently more than 2x greater than those who monetized through rewarded video alone.

Dual channels of monetization, therefore, unlock a “sweet spot”, allowing publishers to realize the highest possible value of every user: rewarded video offers low-friction and high volume, but lower value to both player and publisher; offerwall, on the other hand, is higher friction but geared at users who are willing to provide deeper engagement for a greater reward.



2. Drive lift in IAP

One of the age-old fears of ad monetization is whether it will cannibalize an app’s IAP (in-app purchase) economy. This fear is perhaps greater for publishers considering an offerwall integration since the payout is inherently higher. Care must be taken to strike a balance between executing exchange rates that entice the user, without de-valuing the app’s economy.

However, when exchange rates are optimized, the offerwall can in fact act as a great tool to encourage IAP. The idea is that rewarded ads give users “a taste” of the value they can unlock through IAP, making them more likely to purchase them in the future.

To investigate this theory, Tapjoy measured the average spend per user – both seven days before and seven days after a user’s first offerwall engagement – for 8 different high-DAU iOS and Android apps during Aug-Sept, 2017. Across all apps studied, user spend increased after they engaged with the offerwall. The average weighted increase was 172%, with the individual increases per-app ranging from 39% to 268%.


3. Empower user choice and boost engagement

Another key benefit of the offerwall is that it is a 100% user-initiated, opt-in ad format. Unlike interstitial video, which is usually served automatically to the user during transition points in the game, the offerwall is only activated if the user chooses to do so.

Offerwalls also empower users to pick and choose the ads that appeal to them most, while scaling their reward accordingly to the value of the offer. For example, watching a video may be worth 100 coins, while filling out a survey is worth 500.

Providing users with a way to unlock higher value rewards encourages deeper engagement within the app, which in turn increases the odds that a user will stick around. Smule found this to be true for users of their hit app Magic Piano. Players who completed an offer through the Tapjoy offerwall were 14% more likely to become long-term users, in comparison to the control group. For more information on Smule’s experience, take a look at page 14 of our offerwall guide.


Getting started with Tapjoy

Tapjoy is the industry’s leading offerwall expert for a reason: We make it easy for publishers to set up, customize and optimize their offerwall, all from a centralized dashboard. The UI is clean, user-friendly, and can be tailored to match the look and feel of your app.

Part of the Tapjoy Maximum Impact Platform™, developers are empowered to make the most of every user through advanced segmentation and predictive LTV analytics. These capabilities allow publishers to more intelligently monetize their users through advanced features, such as custom exchange rates, targeted permanent currency sales, and contextual in-app messaging.

For more information, take a look at Tapjoy’s mobile monetization strategies.

Things move fast in the mobile world. Since the release of the original iPhone, almost every industry has been up-ended by mobile innovation, and gaming is no exception. Developers have embraced the design affordances of modern smartphones to create engaging experiences loved by millions that starkly contrast what video games used to be. There might be no better example of this than the explosive popularity of hyper casual games.

These entertainment experiences have irrevocably changed how the gaming industry thinks about engagement, retention, UA, monetization and more. They’ve set new standards for rewarded advertising practices, welcomed new audiences to the world of gaming, and contributed to the industry’s all-time high of $43 billion in revenue for 2018, an 18% jump from the year prior.

So why should developers be thinking about this new genre and its role in the mobile gaming ecosystem at large? Well, let’s start with the basics.


What are hyper casual games?

Hyper casual games are typically action-oriented titles that have been designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. They use minimal interfaces and simple gameplay loops to get players into the fun as quickly as possible. Every part of their design, right down to their nearly non-existent startup time, has been designed to ensure players can enjoy them anytime, anywhere. Because they’re so accessible and fit so easily into small pockets of time, hyper casual games enjoy massive levels of engagement that often exceed more complex titles that can require greater time and attention from players.


How do hyper casual games make money?

Most titles are monetized using rewarded in-app advertising placements. Players earn mechanical bonuses like extra lives or additional points in exchange for watching short videos or engaging with playable ads. While in-app purchases are available in some capacity, the primary monetization strategy for hyper casual developers is to launch a title, acquire users, and obtain ad revenue before players move one. Thankfully, the genre’s minimalist aesthetic allows studios to release titles much faster than normal. More sophisticated publishers will leverage naturally occurring network effects and cross-promote users across their portfolio, building a critical mass that can then be monetized more effectively.


Who plays hyper casual games?

A better question might be: Who doesn’t play hyper casual games? Compared to other mobile gaming categories, hyper casual has an incredibly broad appeal. Publishers have found that players from different countries and unique global markets will enjoy the same games, even if they don’t speak the same language. This is largely because their minimal and intuitive designs often make localization unnecessary — anyone from any background can download a hyper casual game and understand its core mechanics without needing a detailed tutorial. This also means their first-session drop off is much lower, leading to higher overall retention numbers.

This also means that hyper casual games perform above average when it comes to user acquisition. As the prevalence of smartphones increases around the world — particularly in developing nations — the international appeal of hyper casual games has soared alongside it. In 2018 alone, hyper casual growth surged by 485% to represent 510 million active players.

Better still, the latest research suggests hyper casual games have managed to increase the number of mobile gaming players without cannibalizing other app categories.

Want to learn more about who’s playing mobile games in 2019? Check out our Modern Mobile Gamer Personas eBook to learn how mobile games are helping advertisers reach any audience at scale.


What are the challenges of making hyper casual games?

Of course, hyper casual game production and marketing are not without their challenges. hyper casual markets have quickly become one of the most competitive when it comes to visibility. A handful of top publishers produce multiple games each year thanks to partnerships with satellite studios and are able to dominate the app store charts by cross-promoting users from one title to another. With so many apps in the marketplace, it’s often difficult for independent developers to stand out.

Competition and global market growth is also raising acquisition costs, however slightly. According to data from Tenjin, the average hyper casual CPI in December of 2018 was $0.15 for Android and $0.36 iOS devices. As of last June, those figures have increased by 6% and 29% respectively ($0.18 and $0.47). On the whole, this might limit the window of time that publishers can produce and marketing hyper casual games at effective margins.

Despite these challenges, many opportunities still remain for developers operating in the hyper casual market. Hyper casual markets will continue to help grow the mobile gaming landscape, and at the end of the day, that’s an excellent opportunity for our entire industry. For more information on marketing or monetizing your hyper casual game, get in touch with the mobile experts at Tapjoy!


With its roots in the web advertising practice of “Header Bidding,” programmatic mediation — sometimes called “in-app header bidding” — gives multiple demand sources the opportunity to compete for premium ad inventory, ensuring more revenue for devs and greater opportunities for advertisers. By building on the success of previous models, developers can use this approach to ensure ad impressions are sold at the best possible price in order to positively impact their bottom line.


What is programmatic mediation?

Programmatic mediation is a mobile ad monetization practice in which multiple demand sources like ad networks and DSPs participate in real-time auctions for ad impressions in mobile games and apps.

When an ad is needed, the app delivers whatever information is available about the user to multiple demand sources and requests a bid. The demand sources then consult their own data sets, determine what an appropriate bid should be based on the orders they have to fill, and return a bid to the app.

Based on the values returned, the app then selects the most profitable offer and the impression goes to that source. Bids are calculated in real-time across multiple demand sources, allowing publishers to fill ad requests with the most profitable ads in seconds.


How does programmatic mediation differ from waterfall monetization?

Prior to programmatic mediation, many mobile developers relied on ad waterfalls to fill ad requests by arranging ad networks in order of expected yield. Using waterfall monetization, any network assigned to a premium space at the top of a waterfall would have the most frequent opportunities to fill ad inventory, while networks that didn’t historically offer high eCPMs would be limited to down-waterfall opportunities that premium networks opted not to fill.

Waterfalls still see widespread use today, but they can be inefficient, are time-consuming to maintain, and lack transparency when determining which networks are placed in premium positions.


What are the benefits of programmatic mediation for mobile developers and publishers?

The benefits of programmatic mediation for mobile developers are plentiful:


Tapjoy’s programmatic mediation services

In our 10+ years as a mobile ad network, Tapjoy has connected mobile publishers with the highest-paying advertisers from across the globe. We’ve taken pride in filling ad inventory with relevant creative at top industry rates for developers. With our recent acquisition of Tapdaq, we’re now also able to offer a powerful programmatic mediation solution informed by our years of experience. Whatever audience you’re pursuing, our goal is to ensure money is never left on the table.

Tapdaq’s hybrid mediation solution lets publishers choose whether to manually assign direct network deals or reach demand partners automatically using programmatic methods. These services are compatible with all of Tapjoy’s high-performing ad formats, including interstitials and rewarded video. Tapdaq also includes ad analytics, providing developers with actionable monetization insights.

Programmatic mediation is just the latest tactic adopted by mobile monetization platforms — and hybrid solutions suggest its evolution is still ongoing. For more advice on how to most effectively implement the process in your apps, contact the monetization experts at Tapjoy today.

With its roots in the web advertising practice of “Header Bidding,” programmatic mediation — sometimes called “in-app header bidding” — gives multiple demand sources the opportunity to compete for premium ad inventory, ensuring more revenue for devs and greater opportunities for advertisers. By building on the success of previous models, developers can use this approach to ensure ad impressions are sold at the best possible price in order to positively impact their bottom line.