Mobile App Advertising Trends to Watch in 2022
Mobile app advertisers are better prepared in 2022 for the evolving advertising ecosystem than they were last year. We can now quantify the impact of Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) loss and understand A/B testing implications of automated buying and privacy restrictions. Based on public comments, IDFA impact is generally being accepted as the new normal, with lower-level setting and margin compression due to the complexity of targeting and measurement on iOS. Mobile app businesses are acclimating and many are growing within these new constraints. For the global mobile game market, Newzoo predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +11.2 percent by 2021. Similarly, GlobalData estimates the mobile gaming industry will record a CAGR of 11 percent by 2030.
Based on conversations with our clients and leading industry experts, +11% CAGR is a moderate estimate. However, many speculate that emerging trends may be underindexed and could increase market growth upwards of 20 percent. We're excited to see how mobile-first companies are improving and innovating in real time to address advertising ecosystem challenges.
From first-party data to NFTs, here are the successful strategies and user acquisition trends we’ll be watching in 2022.
Companies that build their own identity systems tied into behavioral dynamics and layered with contextual advertising don’t need to rely on third-party visibility. For valuable first-party data, mobile app companies with the resources are wise to build ad platforms alongside or in tandem with their publishing platforms. Setting up native experiences allows for control of tracking, measurement and analysis. Similarly, social platform-based experiences, such as games on Snap and TikTok, provide native attribution tracking and analysis.
Companies will need to enhance their iOS acquisition portfolios beyond Facebook and Google, and expand volume from SDK Networks (Applovin, Unity, IronSource, Vungle) and DSPs. A true multichannel approach should also include YouTube, TikTok, and Snap. As portfolios grow, complexity grows, requiring robust media mix modeling and reliable attribution analysis.
Contextual, Persona-Led Advertising
As reliance on upper-funnel campaigns increases, ad creative optimized to appeal to discreet personas is the most efficient lever for sustained profitable user acquisition. Without deterministic tracking, motivation-based, persona-led ad creative is critical to attracting high-quality top-of-funnel installs.
Focus on the First 24 Hours
To help with SKAN restrictions after install, the first 24 hours to 48 hours of app usage should identify consumers that indicate a propensity to monetize. We recommend streamlining and instrumenting your onboarding flows and events to capture these early monetization signals. With persona-led creative paired with onboarding events, the algorithms will learn what changes to make to deliver better audiences.
Just as consumers have come to expect omnichannel shopping experiences, gamers will increasingly expect console-to-mobile flexibility and consistency. With global 5G adoption estimated to hit 1 billion subscriptions in 2022, mobile games can leverage higher download speeds for higher fidelity gameplay. Companies building their own identity systems can provide consistent experiences and analytics across platforms, while taking advantage of alternative purchasing mechanisms outside of the App Store. Apple's official App Store Review Guidelines states, "apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your website, including consumable items in multiplatform games, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app."
Direct-to-Consumer and Alternative Payments
As the industry-shaking lawsuit of Epic Games v. Apple continues to play out in the appellate courts, developers should plan for alternative purchasing mechanisms outside of the App Store. If Apple is required to allow metadata buttons and external links for payments, developers can increase revenue by 30 percent as they eliminate App Store commissions. By offering direct-to-consumer billing options, app developers can also decrease IAP costs for users.
NFTs and Blockchain
Through non-fungible tokens (NFTs), mobile gaming companies will have a massive market opportunity. From digital plots of land to rare gear, NFTs built into core gameplay loops have the potential to drive significant in-game purchases. When tied to player motivations, NFTs can appeal to completionists, collectors, customizers, status-seekers, and strategists.
Creator Ecosystems and UGC
User-generated video continues to drive meaningful engagement on social platforms. As platforms increase interactive video capabilities, that engagement will only increase. Building out creator ecosystems that support user-generated content (UGC) have the added value of providing first-party data through native experiences.
Adjacent to and often overlapping with creator ecosystems is the Metaverse, a persistent, virtual, connected social space that's emergent and speculative. Second Life was prototypical and popular contemporaries include Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. Immersive environments and the communities that grow within them present significant opportunities for monetization, UGC, contextual advertising and first-party data.
Stay Ahead of Mobile App Advertising Trends
Keep watch of these top trends in UA for 2022 and beyond, and watch the brands that are dabbling in the these spaces to get a sense of what strategies may be a fit for your business.
Brian Bowman is the CEO of Consumer Acquisition, a technology-enabled marketing services company and creative studio that provides clients with proven solutions for profitable mobile app user acquisition.