This Holiday Season, Don’t “Wrap”

Here at Branch, we’re just back from Branchout, our first-ever mobile industry event dedicated to overcoming mobile fragmentation, building optimal cross-platform experiences, and measuring ROI. (You can view all the keynote recordings here, as well as a summary of the event here.) Among the many interesting conversations I heard or participated in was a noted increase in mobile marketers’ interest in retargeting. Statistics are hard to come by, but—from everything I’ve heard—I believe a larger piece of marketing budgets will be focused on retargeting this holiday season and beyond.

With traditional Internet marketing as a guide, this makes complete sense. After all, retargeting is one of the tried-and-true tactics of most digital marketing playbooks. ROI for retargeting campaigns tends to be among the highest of any campaign tactic (although the issue of “incrementality” continues to be a lively debate that I will leave for another day). With mobile marketers experiencing success acquiring new app users, and with mobile developers building more and more compelling native experiences, it makes perfect sense to spend a growing percentage of mobile ad spend on retaining those app users, who convert 300% better than mobile web browsers. Criteo’s recent report cited that 71% of all mobile commerce occurs in apps, demonstrating not only the increasing importance of native apps among consumers, but also that app audiences have hit critical mass.

Despite consumers’ strong preference for apps, a well-known problem of the industry is the attrition of app users after download. Localytics reported that a staggering 80% of app users don’t return after 90 days. Addressing retention is clearly a need, and as the number of app users has grown, the benefits of prioritizing retention have become increasingly apparent.

To use mobile retargeting effectively, marketers need to focus on two things: customer experience and attribution.

Retargeting campaign performance depends on routing your target audience to the app, which contains the optimal experience. These users have invested in their relationship with your brand by downloading the app—taking them to the mobile web undermines this. In fact, taking consumers to the web not only fails to meet consumer expectations, but also introduces challenges to effective attribution and measurement of the campaign. If a given consumer starts on or lands on the web and then converts in the app or on the web, those events can be hard to link together, leading to under-reporting on campaign performance and incorrect budget allocation decisions.

One way marketers and retargeting networks can solve these customer experience and attribution issues is to avoid wrapping links with click measuring domains, particularly for in-app advertising inventory, because link wrapping “breaks” the linking functionality into the app and will take the user to the mobile web instead.

Customer experience and attribution have to be viewed as complementary—solving for one enhances the other. Branch provides a robust deep linking platform that enables marketers to provide optimal user experiences within retargeting campaigns. Earlier this week, we announced our new Attribution engine to equip mobile brands with an attribution solution that truly ties together the entire digital journey of their consumers.  

As you increasingly turn to mobile retargeting to drive revenue this holiday season, we encourage you to ask your ad network partners whether they wrap links, and to ensure you’re checking the performance of campaigns across devices and across OS’s prior to launch. The links you use should deliver optimal customer experiences, and should provide you with insights to effectively measure the impact of your campaigns, no matter what fluid path your consumers take on their way to purchasing.

This holiday season, save the wrapping for presents.