This article originally appeared on AppsFlyer.

Three years ago app promotion agencies still had it easy. There were “barely” a million apps in the app stores and mobile marketers could make do with just running cost-per-install campaigns to push apps to the top charts. It was quantity over quality and everybody was happy.

The app economy has grown much bigger since then. There are now more than four million apps competing with each other and global mobile ad spend is nearing $100 billion this year. Costs for acquiring and engaging quality users have risen so much that it’s common for top developers to spend six figures to keep their app in the top rankings or to advertise on various channels to have a steady growth of the user base, something not all app developers can afford.

Growing budget needs are not the only issue. The super-fast growth of mobile marketing as well as high CPIs have attracted fraudsters and a recent study by DataVisor suggests that fraud represents up to 20% of global mobile traffic, or even more in some extreme cases. This is a huge amount of money lost and makes running traditional app promotion campaigns risky for many agencies and advertisers.

To provide the best possible value to their clients, agencies have to move away from just selling app installs or top rankings and start focusing on cross-channel data integration, mobile fraud prevention, post-install event optimization, and more transparent reporting.

How app promotion agencies can still improve

Based on our experience, these are our thoughts on where we, as well as other app promotion agencies, can still improve.

1) Mobile performance based campaigns

App Marketing Agencies need deeper integration into their client’s systems in order to run big data campaigns and achieve better results for performance goals.
The current trends in ad technology enable agencies to utilize cross-channel data, for example from a client’s CRM system, behavioral data from their apps and other third-party data for more precise audience targeting. Adding programmatic media buying to the marketing mix makes serving ads automatically for the right persons based on big data much more effective.

Agencies should also build app marketing plans around the particular life cycle stages of the client’s apps. Properly leveraging a client’s data allows planning for sustainable user acquisition and increasing customer lifetime value (LTV) over time.

2) Fighting fraud

App marketers have tried to mitigate fraud in their campaigns for example by blacklisting IPs and publishers, but fraudsters keep finding new ways to take a piece of the tempting traffic cake.
app marketing fraud
Bots to automate installs during different times of the day to avoid raising suspicions or paying install farms to fake in-app behavior are just a few examples of schemes which cost the advertisers millions nowadays.

Agencies need to improve in teaming up with tracking tools, networks and publishers to prevent fraud in the first place. Analysis of campaign data for detecting fraud and working with advertisers in a collaborative and fair way in order to minimize risk and maximise campaign ROI are clear ways to position agencies as valuable service providers in the mobile marketing industry.

Publishers or mobile networks provide traffic and too often know very well about the fraudulent activities they deliver – but unfortunately choose the short route to revenue. So, it’s the agency’s job to act as a watchdog between the fraudsters and the advertisers.

We’re working closely with tracking tools like AppsFlyer in order to prevent fraud before it happens, which is crucial for successful campaigns. Often fraudsters are usually one step ahead so preventing fraud completely is not always possible. Hence utilizing the rich transactional data from measurement tools in order to visualize and prove the fraud is also the role of app promotion agencies.

3) Optimizing for post-install events

Over the years and with the increasing maturity of the app marketing industry, pure install campaigns have lost their importance as the go-to mobile metric.

Thousands of new apps are published daily, which has led to changing consumer expectations. Because many apps see almost no activity after the installation, app marketers need to move away from offering one-time user acquisitions and start tracking in-app behavior, such as app open rates, registrations, and in-app purchases.

Big data, precise targeting and smart algorithms enable mobile marketing agencies to generate better conversion rates, revenue and ROAS for their clients.

4) Mobile Marketing Transparency

Big brands employ their own “brand police” which react strongly towards dubious traffic sources and inappropriate publishers. App agencies need to deal with these needs of their clients and translate them 1-to-1 into their app promotion activities.

transparency mobile marketingEndless chains of re-brokered traffic not only increase the risk of fraud but also potentially damages the brand. Today and especially in mobile performance marketing, agencies need to work hand in hand with the brands by working only with trusted partners in order to deliver brand-safe traffic from high-quality direct publishers.

Together with mobile programmatic media buying this kind of traffic helps to boost brand recognition, build customer loyalty, drive sales, and encourage engagement with the app. Identifying, focusing and reporting on these publishers is something the agencies have to provide their clients with.