It’s no mystery why consumers love direct to consumer (DTC) brands. They offer convenience, quality, and in most cases, an authentic, no-BS brand narrative. But even with all this momentum, customer acquisition costs are rising. As such, DTC marketers have begun to diversify their ad strategies by exploring emerging channels. As we move into 2020, mobile in-app should be at the top of that list. In this post, we’ll show you the best place to start.

Mobile in-app is a massive untapped opportunity. The Tapjoy network now includes over 900 MM active users worldwide — and our latest surveys indicate that 70% of these users are actively looking for new DTC brands. Over the last decade, we’ve honed our growth marketing expertise and explored new tactics to pinpoint DTC consumers. The best way to quickly assess the value of mobile in-app is with a test. Throughout the process, our team will lend their expertise to help you to maximize every dollar of ad spend.

Ready to get your first mobile in-app campaign going? Follow this three-step process to get started:

  1. Gear up for launch with your mobile strategist
  2. Optimize traffic for quality & scale
  3. Measure & maximize results

Let’s dive in.


Step #1: Gear up for launch with your mobile strategist

Getting set up with Tapjoy is easy, low-cost, and risk-free. From day one, we assign a dedicated mobile strategist to your account. To start, we’ll review your KPIs, including your growth targets and optimal cost-per-sale. The rewarded model, and more specifically, our business model aligns with performance pricing. That means you pay only for completed actions — not impressions or clicks.

It takes just 24 hours to get up and running in our system. Your mobile strategist will be at your side throughout the entire launch process: We’ll help you implement a tracking pixel and identify core apps that align with your target audience. In select cases, such as when age restrictions prevent RON network targeting, we can also help you curate a whitelist of compliant publishers. We always execute optimizations quickly and strategically to minimize wasted ad spend.

Because rewarded ads incentivize immediate engagement, we typically see results within an incredibly short time frame. Rather than waiting weeks to understand the quality of traffic, we can begin to optimize after just a single day. From the get-go, you can test creative formats, experiment with different messaging, or adjust the bid level to maximize performance. Along the way, your mobile strategist will be at your side to provide tailored recommendations and feedback.

First In-App Test 1


Step #2: Optimize traffic for quality & scale

At the start of your first mobile in-app campaign, it’s always advisable to cast a wide net. From there, it’s easy to zero-in on the apps that deliver the best results. Keep in mind that testing is an exploratory process. Because mobile games fall outside the mainstream channels, like social media, you may find that restrictive targeting prevents you from uncovering hidden niches. For example, IPSY, a DTC beauty brand, recently found that by removing female-only targeting from their campaign, they drastically increased conversions.

We always advise optimizing at the app level, rather than filtering by demographic. Our team works hard to ensure that ads only appear in front of people who are a good match for your product or offer. Then, we carefully measure the results and take those learnings to filter low-quality traffic sources out of the mix. We’ll help you refine and optimize quickly, so you can assess whether in-app is viable for your brand based on real market data.

Typically, after a month or so, we identify apps that drive particularly strong results. Once we achieve quality, we can shift gears to maximize volume. We can scale conversions in a variety of ways, such as by increasing the bid or swapping creative. Your mobile strategist will always monitor campaign performance and provide strategic recommendations along the way.


Step #3: Measure & maximize results

To truly understand the value of mobile in-app, you’ll have to take a good look at the data. As mentioned, it’s possible to see results quickly — after just 24 hours — and that’s the ideal moment for initial optimizations. Once your mobile strategist implements these optimizations, it’s time to review the original KPIs you set. Are you hitting your growth goals? Is your average cost-per-sale within your target range? What’s the LTV of these new users? Because you only paid for completed actions, rather than impressions, ROAS ought to be evident from the offset. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to assess the value of your test quickly

To take your campaign to the next level, you can share data on customer quality with your mobile strategist. They can use this information to blacklist sources of poor-quality traffic and double down where performance is strong. Here are a few other tactics to explore at this stage:

First In-App Test 2


Ready to get started?

To execute a successful mobile in-app campaign, look no further than your mobile strategist. They will partner with you and provide valuable, expert insights throughout the entire campaign process. They’ll ensure that you get a complete data set from which to assess performance while minimizing wasted ad spend.

Our team makes testing easy, risk-free, and hassle-free. You’ll see results over an incredibly short period, allowing you to pivot and optimize quickly. We’ll partner closely with you, share our insights and best practices, and help you manage the entire process — so you can focus on your growing your brand. Reach out to our team today to get started!

Set up a test campaign today!

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing strategies have been big business in recent years. From startups to brand dynasties like Gillette and P&G, circumventing traditional retail helps keep overhead costs down while appealing to new generations of tech-forward shoppers. 

As competition heats up, DTC marketers are quickly learning that effective growth strategies need to extend beyond the Facebook/Google duopoly to get results. Mobile in-app advertising is one of the few channels mature enough to offer the outcome-oriented pricing options needed to demonstrate ROI, in addition to a variety of other benefits exclusive to the medium. 

The result is a reliable and effective addition that many DTC marketers have already added to their overall strategy, so let’s take a closer look at what makes in-app ads so appealing.

Risk-Free Performance Pricing

The success of in-app ads has always been rooted in results, and that allows for an incomparably low-risk vetting process for those just getting started. With a little time spent on initial optimizations (our managed services team can help!) you can leverage the data-rich mobile landscape to zero in on a campaign’s ideal audience and clearly tie your spend back to meaningful returns. While legacy channels require marketers to risk big upfront investments on campaigns that aren’t guaranteed to deliver results, in-app ads mitigate these risks with a variety of performance-based pricing options, including:

Under models like these, you only pay for the results you’re after. Better still, in the case of cost-per-action campaigns, these outcomes can be just about anything. For example, a CPA ad campaign might define success as:

This strategy enables marketers to tie campaigns directly to acquisition, growth and revenue KPIs, such as their target cost-per-subscriber or sale (CPS). No matter the approach, the greatest strength of performance pricing is that it can be easily tied to measurable business outcomes. This clarity makes it easier than ever to justify your budget choices while putting more responsibility on the ad network to deliver results.


Value-Exchange Advertising Models

With the declining consumer attitudes towards interruption-based advertising, in-app ads offer DTC marketers a powerful alternative in the form of rewarded ad placements. 

Unlike traditional advertising, the overwhelming majority of mobile in-app ads are delivered on a value-exchange (or rewarded) basis, meaning users opt-in to view them by voluntarily engaging with an ad in exchange for a reward within the app. This model works particularly well within the mobile games space. Rather than gift cards or cash incentives, mobile app users are given virtual rewards in exchange for their time and attention. Some examples are in-game currency, additional time or unlocking a new level – all of which are valuable to the user because it allows them to continue engaging with the app further on. This environment also has a number of benefits for advertisers:

No matter what you call it, opt-in advertising formats have quickly become the new gold standard in mobile advertising. To learn more, be sure to check out the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s guide to optimizing your growth strategy for opt-in ads.


Audience Diversity

Mobile in-app advertising offers marketers the chance to explore one of the most diverse audience pools in the world, especially in the world of mobile games. In fact, games are tied with music as the third most popular mobile app category in the world. 

Better still, a 2019 study by Newzoo found that mobile gamers are among the most receptive audiences to advertising. As the study explains, “Mobile gamers are much more receptive to advertising than nongamers. For example, they are more likely to buy things from brands that have ads they like, to use ads to keep up to date with products and services, and to associate advertising with high quality brands. They are also much more likely to have a favorable attitude toward a suite of global brands.”

Our own research suggests the same. A recent Tapjoy study found that only 10% of respondents report actively avoiding in-app ads, with the remainder actively looking to engage with rewarded ad placements. In fact, some rewarded ad formats like mobile offerwalls are so deeply integrated into the native gaming experience, that almost half of users surveyed said they’d stop playing if they were removed. 

For these reasons and more, in-app advertising isn’t just another marketing channel for DTC advertisers. It’s an essential part of any comprehensive marketing strategy aimed at consistent, net-positive growth and competitive differentiation. To find out how you can use the power of mobile games and in-app advertising to maximize your return on ad spend, contact our mobile marketing experts today. If you’d like to learn more about the value that mobile gamers represent for DTC marketers, be sure to check out our blog for more great DTC marketing insights.


Set up a test campaign today!

In today’s increasingly crowded mobile gaming space, players are often confounded by choice. Most are content to cycle through the top-ten lists, seldom exploring beyond. In fact, 80-90 percent of mobile apps are abandoned after just a single use — it takes a staggering combination of novelty and utility to win a spot on the home screen. For mobile game publishers, increased stagnancy and competition have driven the cost of user acquisition higher than ever. To compensate, UA marketers and game developers are both prioritizing quality over quantity.

  1. How the offerwall drives value for publishers
  2. How the offerwall drives value for UA marketers
  3. How the offerwall drives value for players

What does quality look like in today’s mobile gaming space? For publishers, it means high fill rates and high eCPMs. For UA managers, it means attracting high-value users whose LTV outstrips the cost of acquisition. Simply put, they want to see a positive return on ad spend (ROAS).

Enter the offerwall. A mainstay of the mobile monetization world, these ad storefronts are once again having a moment. Since their inception, offerwalls have been praised as a premium monetization tactic. Unfortunately, as low-quality imitation products crowded the space, some began to fear that offerwalls negatively impact the user experience. At Tapjoy, however, we’ve stayed loyal to the tenets that have differentiated our offerwall from the beginning:

It’s that simple. And now, new data confirms that the Tapjoy offerwall delivers the best of both worlds for both marketers and publishers and more importantly, our players.


How the offerwall drives value for publishers

For publishers that rely heavily on advertising revenue, the offerwall provides a way to monetize users who do not make in-app purchases. In every game, there is a segment of users that wants to keep playing, but simply won’t invest in the virtual currency they need to do so. Rewarded advertising is invaluable to this cohort. It’s essentially a free ticket to ride.

Despite being an opt-in ad format, the offerwall still sees high engagement: A staggering 62% of players* who open the offerwall once will do so again. For publishers, offerwalls open a door to unprecedented ad revenue. Moreover, offerwalls lead the industry in eCPMs because advertisers are willing to pay more for the quality users they attract.

*Tapjoy Consumer Survey Data, 2019


Case Study Results:

One of the best parts about working with Tapjoy is that they provide full-service customer support for players. My team’s inbox used to be flooded with offerwall support requests — now that number has gone down to zero.

Caroline Lee

Marketing Producer

A Thinking Ape

How the offerwall drives value for UA marketers

Our offerwall is optimized for performance marketing. That means that advertisers never pay for impressions — they pay for results. And as results go, our CPE (sometimes known as PPE) product far exceeds the majority of performance ad products available on the market today. In a CPE campaign, players are incentivized to install a game and complete pre-determined milestones within the app. For UA managers, that means the game itself acts as a lure, attracting only those players who actually enjoy interacting with the app. The result is that every completed engagement equates to a quality user.


Case Study Results:

CPE brings us better user retention and ROAS, It’s working so wonderfully for our games and we will always consider Tapjoy a top partner.

Daphne Li

User Acquisition Director

FunPlus Games


How the offerwall drives value for players

In a recent survey of our global userbase, we asked 16.5K players for their honest opinions on the offerwall. In the process, we uncovered valuable insights to inform our product roadmap — we understand that when players are happy, everyone else is happy too. Here are a few of the responses:

From this data, it’s clear that offerwalls are the definition of a value exchange. For marketers, they offer an opportunity to meet players on their turf and reward them for high-value engagements. For publishers, offerwalls monetize a segment of users that would otherwise not contribute to revenue. For players, the offerwall is a ticket to keep on playing.


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Over the past decade, direct to consumer brands have carved a niche alongside retail incumbents by leveraging innovative growth strategies. When search and social were in their nascency, DTC brands were among the first to give them a test-drive. Fast-forward to today and almost all brands rely heavily on Google and Facebook to amplify their message. What was once the exclusive province of DTC pioneers has become mainstream. 

To survive in this shifting landscape, the average DTC brand is now consistently testing at least three emerging marketing channels at any given time. But what’s the best way to identify new channels to test, and how should you gauge their efficacy? 

At Tapjoy, we’ve had the opportunity to discuss some of these challenges firsthand with experienced DTC marketers. They consistently cite competition as their biggest challenge — notably because DTC brands often compete with other brands that share their business model even if they are not in the same vertical. After all, how many subscriptions is a consumer realistically willing to manage? The best way to counteract the effects of competition, rising CAC, and saturation, is to diversify your growth strategy.

In this guide, we’ll reveal actionable steps you can take to diversify your media mix. Let’s get started.


Step 1: Identify a fresh audience segment

If you’re still spending the majority of your advertising budget on mainstream channels like Facebook and Google, you’re targeting an increasingly saturated market. Moreover, your competitors are playing the same game — talking to the same people — which can lead to audience fatigue. A good first step to diversifying your media mix is always to reevaluate the groundwork. Take a deeper look at the audiences you’ve been targeting, and ask whether there is an opportunity to expand or test an unexplored niche.

Recently, makeup subscription brand IPSY decided to broaden its targeting beyond females for a campaign, and tested its new audience segment on the Tapjoy network. The campaign leveraged our cost-per-action pricing structure to drive subscription sign-ups. By broadening its targeting to all genders, performance radically improved.


Step 2: Find out where your audience spends its time

Once you’ve determined who you want to target, find out where they spend their time most. Because social media channels have a wealth of first-party data, they can be incredibly valuable here. However, it’s important to look beyond the obvious. 

Look at it this way — the average adult smartphone owner uses around 30 apps each month. Social media apps may account for five to six of these, but what about the remaining 80%? Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find that mobile games are the #1 app category downloaded worldwide, across both iOS and Android devices. And they lead by no small margin — mobile games have five times more downloads than the #2 category. That’s a pretty clear indication as to where else your audience is spending their time.

Here’s an example of how you might incorporate new media into your acquisition mix: Say you’re targeting young, high-income professionals. The best approach might be to target them at multiple stages of the funnel. Perhaps first, you run a campaign on social media. However, you may find that few users convert beyond the initial click. This is standard — after all, 67% of social media users say they have not made a purchase directly from or within these apps. So how can you close the marketing loop? Looking at your target audience, you may find that high-income professionals are often avid mobile gamers. Use social media to prime the pump, and mobile-in app to drive down-funnel conversions. In this context, rewarded advertising can be particularly effective because users are incentivized to complete higher friction engagements.


Evaluating New Growth Channels


Step 3: Evaluate channels based on these criteria

When you’ve narrowed down your list of potential advertising channels, you’ll want to evaluate each based on the following criteria:


Step 4: Run tests on risk-averse channels

DTC brands are unique in that they are digitally mature and agile enough to support comprehensive testing. So play to your strengths! When you’ve narrowed down your list to a few promising channels, get ready to run some tests. Before you begin, assess the risk associated with each channel. Until you see proven results, don’t shift too much budget their way. However, it’s also important to strike a balance — make sure your initial investment is enough to gauge the potential quality of the channel.

Here, again, performance pricing can help offset risk. If you are paying only for completed purchases, every ad dollar is guaranteed to contribute to your growth objectives. Performance pricing can also give you a clearer sense of how each campaign is contributing to your overall ROAS goal, helping you make judgement calls early on.


Step 5: Measure the results

Congratulations! If you’ve made it to this step, that means you’ve gotten out of your comfort zone and explored some new strategies. However, to maximize the value of your insights, we recommend evaluating the long-term payoff of each test you ran. Can you trace the user journey from top-of-funnel brand engagements all the way through to the purchase? How can you close the marketing loop? Next, you should assess the quality of the users you did manage to acquire. How does their LTV compare to users acquired through other channels? Are there ways to optimize the traffic on that channel to increase user LTV? These factors will inform how you allocate your marketing budget moving forward.

Friends talking around laptops


We’re here to help

Today’s market is in constant flux. Competitors are always learning new tricks, and sometimes it can feel like consumers themselves are moving the goalposts. As you evaluate new growth channels, remember to stay true to the spirit of innovation that brought you this far. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and strive to inject every interaction with value and relevance. 

Diversifying your media mix will be a process of discovery, and there are no safe bets. That said, mobile in-app has become an increasingly strong choice for DTC brands. It enables brands to deliver their message at scale, reach their target audience, and engage new users — all in a cost-effective, brand-safe environment. It’s also been proven to deliver high-quality users with strong LTV and retention. Curious about the latest mobile in-app ad formats? Start with a test! As always, our UA experts at Tapjoy are here to help.


Set up a test campaign today!

Direct to consumer marketing is entering a new heyday. Modern DTC marketers distinguish their brands with an underdog narrative, taking a stand against retail giants in the name of quality, convenience, and integrity. That spirit of innovation also informs the marketing strategies of these DTC disruptors. After all, these brands were among the first to buy into modern digital advertising channels, such as Google and Facebook. However, the DTC landscape is constantly shifting and continual innovation is necessary. In this article, we’ll provide actionable insights to help you stay ahead of the curve.

So what’s changed today? As more DTC competitors saturate the space, customer acquisition costs (CAC) are skyrocketing. At Tapjoy, we’ve heard first-hand from partners how challenging this influx of competition can be. Those brands that remain characteristically disruptive by embracing emerging channels will soon outpace the competition. Meanwhile, brands that are slow to adapt will fall behind their more exploratory counterparts. Now, more than ever, DTC brands can benefit from a diversified growth strategy. 

Keep reading to explore the risks of a narrow acquisition strategy, and the benefits you stand to gain by testing new channels.


The risks of a narrow customer acquisition approach

Social media and search advertising are the building blocks of the modern DTC empire. Likely, established channels like Google, Facebook, and Instagram will continue to drive success in the short-term, but that strategy is hardly future-proofed. If you’ve primarily relied on search and social media, it’s crucial to evaluate the advantages of testing additional media channels moving forward. 

A diversified strategy limits risks, keeps you agile, and provides a much-needed competitive edge. Here are a few of the pitfalls inherent to a narrow customer acquisition approach:


The benefits of an omnichannel growth strategy

In the past five years, savvy DTC brands have increased their annual marketing budgets and prioritized direct response campaigns. These explorations enable them to test quickly, invest in new channels, and break out ROI by source by accurately tracking and attributing every sale. By leveraging new performance channels, these brands discovered that they can combat rising CAC and improve overall ROAS. After all, testing additional channels widens the net. Each individual channel offers its own unique value, enabling marketers to reach 100% of their ROAS goal. Here are examples of the different benefits marketers can achieve with a diversified mix of acquisition channels:

  1. Brand awareness – Mainstream media channels such as Facebook and Google serve well for broad brand awareness. Today, DTC brands also increasingly experiment with out-of-home buys and commercial spots.
  2. Brand recall – If your goal is to promote brand recall, video is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Here mainstream channels, such as YouTube and Instagram can yield positive results. Whenever possible, prioritize channels that allow you to pay only for completed views. This option is available on some streaming platforms, as well as the majority of in-app networks.
  3. Brand affinity – The best way to foster brand affinity is through a value exchange. That’s why opt-in, skippable, rewarded experiences are rated most favorably by consumers. In exchange for their time and attention, they receive the power of choice and in-app rewards. Rewarded video is a consumer favorite.
  4. Measurable engagement – Personalized engagement is the best way to tap into the hype factor. These campaigns are memorable, story-based, and ideally, shareable. Interactive platforms, such as desktop, mobile web, and mobile in-app, are ideal for this. Playables are particularly effective. Just make sure you’re paying only for completed engagements.
  5. Precision targeting – Social media channels are optimal for precise targeting or retargeting. These channels have a wealth of first-party data that provide insight into user interactions. In-app is another good solution here, retargeting specific users with a rewarded ad campaign can be a valuable strategy to close the marketing loop.
  6. Direct communications – Some things change, while others remain the same. Interestingly, many of today’s DTC innovators are going old school with direct mail when it comes to coupons, trials, and signups. Incentivized email signups can also help establish leads, opening up another direct response channel.
  7. Down-funnel conversions – The holy grail of marketing — the purchase. If you’re looking to pay only for verified, attributed purchases, mobile in-app channels drive unparalleled results. Subscription-based brands, in particular, tend to see success driving signups in the rewarded in-app environment. These campaigns consistently generate high conversion rates and, as a result, strong ROAS.



Stay ahead of the curve

While mainstream channels like Google and Facebook will surely continue to play a prominent role in DTC growth strategies, brands that test alternative channels will have a leg up in this increasingly crowded market. A diversified customer acquisition strategy insulates you from risk and delivers a broad range of unique benefits — all of which contribute to your total ROAS goal. 

DTC brands own the entire supply chain, which gives them data surrounding the entire customer journey. That means that unlike traditional brands, they have the agility to test new advertising channels and digest results quickly. If you’re interested in diversifying your approach, but not sure where to begin, start with a test! As always, our UA experts at Tapjoy are here to help.


Set up a test campaign today!

In the age of always-connected devices, direct to consumer companies have found more ways than ever to connect with audiences. This shift has led to a renaissance in the DTC category: Social media has replaced the mail-order catalog, and modern-day consumers embrace the hype with word-of-mouth. Whether they’re selling glasses, razors, mattresses, or cleaning products, modern brands are eschewing traditional retail strategy in favor of selling directly to customers.

For years, DTC brands have relied heavily on Google and Facebook for customer acquisition — and for good reason. Billions of people use these platforms daily, making both high-profile options for digital advertising. Although Google and Facebook are ideal for generating awareness, down-funnel engagement is a struggle. For instance,  67% of users report that they have not purchased “from” nor directly within social media. On top of that, customer acquisition costs are rising, and Google and Facebook remain expensive. To stretch their marketing budgets further, direct to consumer companies must find new channels for user acquisition and target down-stream engagement metrics.

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Create memorable, personalized experiences

The influence of Google and Facebook ought not to be discounted, but modern DTC brands are experimenting with new ways to drive ROAS. Alternative channels may not yield the same number of views, but if you deliver a memorable experience, they could drive more consumers to the purchase.

To do that, you’ll have to make your ads a little more personal. DTC marketers are always coming up with new ways to tailor products to their intended audiences. Often, the customer journey even begins with a personalized quiz. For example, vitamin brand Care/of quizzes customers and delivers personalized supplement recommendations. Similarly, haircare brand Prose specializes in making custom shampoo and conditioner based on customers’ hair texture, health, and environment. These kinds of experiences could easily translate into the mobile advertising environment.

In fact, mobile advertising is becoming an increasingly common strategy for brands looking to deliver personalized value. Playable ads, in particular, have surged in popularity over the past few years. IAB defines playables as “a single ad unit that combines interactivity [with] gamification to enable full-funnel marketing brand communications (attention, education, and action).” Direct to consumer brands are already seizing the opportunity, launching memorable mini-games that delight consumers and gently encourage a purchase. In fact, according to eMarketer, US agency professionals cited playables as the single most effective format for in-app advertising.

Furthermore, rewarded advertising in the in-app environment is a particularly powerful approach for creating memorable ad experiences. In a rewarded model, app users receive an in-app bonus, such as coins in their favorite game, just for engaging. Then the experience drives to the purchase as a secondary organic action. Alternatively, customers could be rewarded for signing up for a free trial. Virtual rewards foster brand affinity because it’s a two-way exchange of value.


Think about the end-game — Not clicks or impressions

It’s time to stop thinking about views and clicks as the most important measures of success. Since the dawn of internet advertising, marketers have chased these metrics, wanting to get ads in front of as many eyes as possible and entice a good percentage of those viewers to click through. The truth is, with so many screens and apps vying for users’ attention and so many brands to choose from, that’s simply not enough anymore.

Instead of running campaigns on a cost-per-mille (CPM) impressions basis, explore options like CPA — cost-per-action (also known as cost-per-acquisition). In CPA advertising, brands only pay for ads when the customer completes a desired action, such as a purchase. 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. Another popular CPA tactic is to encourage users to sign up for regular newsletters or emails. This is a particularly good option for brands whose content marketing is on point.


Keep it simple, streamlined, and relevant

DTC brands need to return to the tried and true tactics that have always served them: keeping things simple and relevant. These principles are evident in their products and websites, and they must extend to their advertising. Men’s shaving supplies company Harry’s is an expert at this: The brand earned over a million customers in its first two years in business by being straight-forward and user-friendly. Its website keeps things clean and streamlined, limiting itself to a few categories and only a handful of products within each. As a result, when someone sees an ad and clicks through, they’ll find an easy-to-navigate user experience where they can quickly find exactly what they’re looking for. Digital ads can follow this same philosophy — but remember, simple doesn’t mean boring. Whatever kind of interaction you’re hoping to achieve, it has to be designed intuitively so that potential customers can find their way to the desired result.

Finally, you can’t discount the advantage of influencers in today’s market. Influential YouTube steamers and social media users often have followings numbering millions of people, many of whom are active viewers. Studying the social media techniques that boosted these personalities to internet success could also be a successful technique in your own marketing campaigns.


While Google and Facebook still have their roles in the DTC marketing industry, gone are the days when they’re the only way to reach consumers or measure success. The successful modern DTC retailer is constantly evaluating new channels of communication, analyzing its own strengths and weaknesses, and evolving along with technology. For more information about modern DTC user acquisition and advertising, contact the experts at Tapjoy!

Increasing app retention is one of the top goals for app developers all across the industry today. This ultra-competitive environment has driven user acquisition costs higher than ever, making it imperative to keep existing users engaged. Today, the challenge is understanding what truly drives retention. An app must deliver value — in the form of exciting gameplay, engaging content, or functional utility — but how else can developers keep their users coming back? Developers must foster continuous engagement, days, weeks or even months after the initial install.

Tapjoy conducted a study to understand the relationship between rewarded advertisements and user retention. Rewarded ads gift app users with virtual currency or premium content in exchange for their engagement and attention. We sampled the behavior of over 500 million app users worldwide across nearly 10,000 apps. We then studied data from the first week post-install and examined how user interactions with rewarded ads affected their 30-day retention rates.

As the research in this report shows, rewarded ads have a profound positive impact on app retention. The findings are presented here to help developers understand how they can leverage rewarded ads to drive retention and maximize user LTV.

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Retention benchmarks

App users are finicky: Two-thirds of players never use an app again after the first day they download it. Retention rates drop to just 22% after one week and less than 13% after one month. Two months after they’ve installed it, just 6% of users will still be using the app. That’s why it’s critical to hook users’ interest right from the start.

With so many apps from which to choose, it appears that most players download an app with the intent to simply “try it out.” If they are not immediately impressed, they have no qualms either uninstalling the app or allowing it to languish on their device. With retention rates so low throughout the mobile industry, how can developers engage players during the critical first few days? This question is the key to increasing both short and long-term engagement.


App Retention 1


Advertising engagement frequency

Many developers believe that presenting ads too early may scare off new users, and that may be true for traditional, non-rewarded ads. However, our data shows that rewarded ads do just the opposite: They deepen engagement and drive long-term retention. Many players value the option of rewarded ads as an alternative to in-app purchases because they make premium features, content, and power-ups accessible to all.

Users who engage with just one ad in the first week — whether a video ad, playable or offerwall placement — are four times more likely to stick around after 30 days. Players who complete any advertising engagement in the first week have a retention rate of at least 50%, depending on the ad type, compared to the retention benchmark of just 12.72%. The more ads with which they engage in that first week, the greater the likelihood they’ll be around at the 30-day mark.


App Retention 2


Video ad performance

Rewarded video ads have the most profound effect on app retention of any ad type. Players who watched just one rewarded video during their first week had a 30-day retention rate of 53.2% — an increase of more than 300% over the average 30-day retention rate. For players that watch seven videos in their first week, the 30-day retention rate was 71% — more than 450% greater than the benchmark.

It’s easy to see why video ads are so effective at increasing retention: They are a great introduction to both opt-in, rewarded advertising and to an app’s overall virtual economy. They are easy to complete — requiring just 15 seconds of a user’s attention — and the reward they earn can be redeemed immediately and used to enhance their in-app experience.

Developers should use all of the tools at their disposal to direct users to rewarded video placements, including in-app messages to video, direct play videos, and push notifications to video. These tactics ensure that players have the opportunity to complete at least one rewarded video ad at some point during their first week.


App Retention 3


Full-screen interstitial performance

Full-screen Interstitials (FSI) also have a dramatic impact on players’ retention rates. As with videos, a user who completes just one FSI in first week post-install has a 300% higher 30-day retention rate compared to the average. From there, their retention rate goes up with each subsequent FSI with which they engage. However, subsequent FSI engagements do not have as strong an impact as subsequent video views.

FSI ads appear during natural break points in the app experience. They take up the device’s entire screen. With Tapjoy, developers have full control over the placement of FSI ads and can insert them wherever they feel is appropriate.

Developers should be judicious with their use of full-screen interstitials because they can be distracting if deployed too frequently. However, as the data below shows, when players engage with these types of ads, their 30-day app retention shows a dramatic increase over the benchmarks.


App Retention 4


Offerwall performance

A similar pattern emerges when looking at the impact on retention of players who complete an ad through the Tapjoy offerwall. The offerwall is a custom-skinned marketplace of rewarded ads that developers make accessible through their storefront or merchandising screen. A prompt to visit the offerwall can also be triggered through a message-to-earn (M2E) placement at specific moments in gameplay.

Players love the offerwall because it provides them with a long list of relevant offers from their favorite brands, enabling them to pick and choose which advertisements with which they’d like to engage. Some offerwall ads require minimal engagement, such as videos, while others encourage users to engage with brands on a deeper level for a larger reward.

Offerwalls provide a simple, unobtrusive way to let players engage with rewarded ads. By adding an “Earn Free Coins” or similar button to the store screen or main screen of their app, developers can let their players seek out rewarded ads all on their own — without disrupting gameplay.


The power of rewarded advertising

Many app developers subscribe to the outdated belief that their users will be turned off by advertising. But that perception is based on traditional advertising — the type that typically interrupts, annoys and does not reward its viewers. Rewarded advertising actually enhances the user experience and leads to higher retention rates.

The key lesson that developers should take from this data is that it’s important to present users with rewarded ads during the first week after they have installed an app. If they complete at least one rewarded ad offer, their chances of long-term retention will increase significantly. The more ads with which they engage, the more valuable they will become for your app.

Rewarded videos ads are the easiest and most effective way of maximizing 30-day retention, but other ad types — such as full-screen interstitials and offerwall ads — will boost retention as well. For more information, take a look at Tapjoy’s mobile monetization strategies.

In 2019, mobile is an essential advertising channel for marketers across every industry.

Mobile devices are becoming more ubiquitous than desktop computers and, in the US, mobile has surpassed TV as the medium with the most daily time-spent. Apps account for over 90% of internet time on smartphones, making them an ideal marketing environment—specifically for primarily digital businesses like mobile games or e-commerce brands. To run mobile advertising effectively, however, marketers must understand the complexities of mobile attribution.


What is mobile ad attribution?

Attribution is the practice of measuring and analyzing the impact of an advertisement in driving user engagement. When applied to app ecosystems, mobile ad attribution allows marketers to better understand — and optimize — a user’s journey across the entire conversion funnel.

Mobile ad attribution is distinct from other digital formats, particularly web-based attribution. When users engage with ads from a web browser, marketers can use cookies, image pixel tags, beacons, and other features to measure engagement. Since mobile apps have a different infrastructure, they require the use of other attribution techniques that apply specifically to in-app ecosystems. These are typically powered using SDKs integrated within the app itself.

Unfortunately, on mobile, attribution can sometimes be difficult to accurately track—there are a number of competing models and few industry standards around which data points ought to receive credit. What’s more, the issue of widespread fraud adds another layer of ambiguity and uncertainty. Mobile users might view the same ad creative across multiple apps before ultimately converting. If the user only partially engages with the first placement, how do you attribute ad spend? Should the first or final click be given full credit for the conversion? Or should all placements receive equal credit?

Mobile ad attribution is constantly evolving, but let’s start by taking a closer look as it exists in 2019.



Mobile ad attribution windows

Once a pre-defined conversion has been achieved, mobile marketers must analyze the engagements that led the user through the funnel. But if a user watched a video a year prior to making a purchase, should that conversion be attributed to that campaign? Most attribution providers say no, and exclude data points that fall outside of a certain timeframe — this is called an attribution window.

Often, an advertiser and publisher will agree on a reasonable attribution window, such as a seven day period. Then if a user converts within that window, the publisher will receive credit and payment for that conversion. However, if a marketer is running a robust mobile campaign with multiple placements over many networks, a user may see several different ads from different sources. This is where things get complicated — advertisers and publishers must agree on a mobile attribution model so they may analyze more complex interactions.


The five models of mobile ad attribution

All mobile ad attribution models can be separated into two distinct types: Single-touch and multi-touch.


Single-touch attribution

Single-touch models attribute conversions solely on a single click. As such, two models apply to these circumstances:


Multi-touch attribution

What happens if you want to account for multiple engagements with an ad placement? Multi-touch models measure these clicks and grant a percentage of attribution to each event. Multi-touch attribution analysis (MTA) is more complex, but it can result in an average of 30% increase in ROI when implemented correctly. Multi-touch attribution models include:


Mobile attribution and the conversion funnel

Mobile ad attribution works by measuring user engagement at key points of the conversion funnel. While single-touch attribution measures a single conversion event, multi-touch attribution can measure multiple events leading to conversion and prioritize their importance.

Here is an outline of the typical mobile attribution conversion funnel:

  1. User clicks on an ad: The entire process begins when a user first engages with an advertisement. Web-based attribution typically only measures conversion rates using these clicks, but mobile attribution follows events further along in the conversion funnel.
  2. Advertising network saves user ID: The hosting advertising network saves the user ID to track additional clicks and other events. Most mobile marketers use the device ID for this purpose, but other ID solutions — such as an Apple ID or Google Play account — may be used in some cases.
  3. User installs and/or opens app: The user installs the app and opens it. These two events tend to be the most common indications of a conversion.
  4. Attribution SDK requests user ID from the network: Once the conversion event has taken place, an integrated attribution SDK requests the user ID from the advertising network.
  5. Each event is saved and transmitted to marketers: If using single-touch attribution, the attribution tool saves a record of the specific conversion event. If using multi-touch attribution, all potential events within the conversion window are saved. This information is then made available to marketers to calculate revenue and optimize their campaigns.


Mobile ad attribution and privacy regulations

Data sharing for attribution purposes is an essential practice for mobile marketers, but it does raise privacy concerns. New consumer data legislation, including GDPR and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, mandates that conscientious data management is practiced across the industry.

Fortunately, mobile marketers have found ways to maintain effective attribution models while supporting consumer data privacy. The Mobile Marketing Association recently published a guide detailing suggestions for updating existing attribution models. The following approaches are 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.

These recommendations will ensure compliance with regulations and help brands foster trust with customers.

The mobile ecosystem is always changing, and attribution frequently changes along with it. 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!

It’s official: mobile gaming has gone mainstream.

Our latest survey of more than 18,000 mobile gamers has revealed mobile games are downloaded and enjoyed by users from all walks of life, even more so than social media. Parents are just as likely to unwind with Candy Crush or Quell+ as their children are to enjoy Pokémon Go or Fortnite.

Perhaps most compelling was the diversity of respondents from which we received answers. Survey participants came in largely equal measure from rural and urban backgrounds, high and low income, parents and non-parents, and much more. All of this points towards the sheer scale and variety of inventory available to marketers, especially those taking advantage of programmatic advertising strategies.

With only a few quick clicks, programmatic ad buyers can leverage the power of mobile gaming and the Tapjoy ad network to connect with almost any desired audience at scale. With more than 2.4 billion people playing mobile games this year, in-app advertising is an opportunity few marketers can ignore.

With such widespread adoption, we set out to identify some of the largest and most valuable market segments within the mobile gaming ecosystem. We distilled our findings into the Modern Mobile Gamer – 2019 Personas eBook to give marketers a clearer sense of the opportunities that exist.

The full report is available here, but here are some high-level insights we uncovered:



What most mobile gamers have in common

While modern mobile gamer demographics reflect a diverse range of backgrounds, there were a number of consistencies among respondents.

Perhaps most important is the fact that identifying with mobile gaming as a cultural touchstone is becoming increasingly common. Roughly 60% of respondents self-identify as gamers, a 26% increase from a prior study conducted in 2017. Gaming is also ranked as one of the most common mobile activities, second only to texting in terms of overall usage. When asked which mobile apps they would be willing to give up, 69% of players claimed they would give up social networks or television before deleting their games.

To better our understanding of who’s playing mobile games, we took a deeper dive into three specific personas our research uncovered:


Millennial mobile gamers are a market group primarily made up of educated females from densely populated areas throughout the United States. Roughly half of this group are married or in a significant relationship, yet the majority do not have children. 67% of millenial respondents said they would rather give up social networks or television before mobile games.

Mobile Game Demographics Millennial

The majority of millennial mobile gamers pay more attention to mobile game advertisements than ads in any other medium. Only 10% avoid rewarded ads, while 76% prefer rewarded ads over interstitials. Roughly 68% of millennial respondents enjoying playing while relaxing at home, with 59% playing four or more times each day.

The top careers of millennial mobile gamers are:

What does this mean for advertisers?

Millennial gamers don’t always have the disposable income of other demographic groups, but they do enjoy spending what they have on travel experiences and on demand services. Programmatic campaigns are a great way to get your app’s offering across to this demographic that has a higher than average response rate!


The mobile gamer parents group primarily consists of educated females in suburban areas with two or more children. Most have established careers, and are married or in a committed relationship. 62% of this group are employed full or part-time and most earn enough to enjoy some level of disposable income. Mobile gamer parents tend to engage with ecommerce, real estate, entertainment, and puzzle apps.

Mobile Game Demographics Parent

Mobile gamer parents are also quite likely to engage with rewarded video ads, with 93% of respondents preferring ads that connect with gameplay. A full 100% of parents enjoy playing mobile games at home, usually while watching TV or before bed. 87% of respondents play two or more times each day.

The top careers of mobile gamer parents are:

What does this mean for advertisers?

Advertisers should note that gaming parents don’t shop solely for themselves — 45% of respondents intend to make purchases for their children in the immediate future. Programmatic advertisements for back-to-school clothing or children’s entertainment is especially relevant to this demographic.


High income mobile gamers are equally split between men and women, most of whom live in urban or suburban areas. The vast majority of this group is highly educated and currently holds a senior career position. Most are in committed relationships and have one or more children. Many high income mobile gamers earn over $75K each year and engage with financial, ecommerce, travel, and entertainment apps.

Mobile Game Demographics High Income

A significant volume of high income mobile gamers — roughly 40% — recognize rewarded ads provide the revenue that supports game developers. Even when this fact isn’t recognized, 74% of respondents still prefer rewarded ads over other formats. An impressive 87% of high income mobile gamers will play two or more times each day, while a majority also spend time on traditional gaming consoles.

The top five careers of mobile gamer parents are:

What does this mean for advertisers?

High-income professional gamers are primed to engage with rewarded advertising, even if simply to support mobile developers. Many are interested in financial services, and are willing to spend disposable income on expensive items like trips, game consoles, or entertainment outings. Programmatic advertisers should tailor their ad deployments to this market accordingly.

Mobile gamers come from a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and careers, but all are found playing games — often on a daily basis. What’s more, mobile gamers are highly receptive to branded messaging in their apps and will gladly engage with opt-in rewarded ad placements. By understanding the unique needs and interests of each gaming demographic group, advertisers can deploy engaging creative that converts players into loyal customers. Better still, marketers taking advantage of programmatic buying capabilities can connect with these and other demographic groups at scale through the power of the Tapjoy private exchange.

For the full results of our study and further mobile game demographics insights, download the full report today!

Summer may have just begun, but it won’t be long before the back-to-school shopping season kicks in. Any marketers promoting fall clothing or classroom supplies should be getting ready to utilize the most effective ad channels. Tapjoy surveyed more than 4,000 mothers in the US and EMEA about their back-to-school purchasing behaviors and mobile gaming habits. The research proves that mobile games are high on the list of effective ways for marketers to reach parents in advance of the back-to-school rush. We found that the vast majority of mothers with 6-17 year old children play mobile games on a daily basis — often exceeding other app categories. What’s more, their smartphones play an essential role in shopping for back-to-school supplies.

As noted in our report, majority of respondents intend to purchase back-to-school items this year. More specifically, the biggest in-demand items include clothing, classroom supplies, electronics, backpacks & lunch bags, arts & crafts, and snacks. The most important purchasing incentives behind these products include:

  1. Cost
  2. Promotional deals
  3. The variety of merchandise

So what does this have to do with mobile gaming? Well, it turns out that mothers spend an average of 80 minutes each day playing mobile games, the majority of which feature opt-in advertising placements like offerwalls and rewarded videos. Approximately 68% of respondents play while relaxing at home, while 45% would delete social media apps before giving up their mobile games. Combined, these figures represent an ideal opportunity for marketers to reach mothers during the back-to-school season.

That’s just a sample of what Tapjoy’s back-to-school study covered. For more results, you can download the full report. Don’t forget that Tapjoy’s mobile advertising experts are available to help you reach mothers during the busy back-to-school season!