Why in-app advertising is critical for performance marketers

In-app ads are a highly effective way for brands to accurately target, connect with and truly engage their audiences where they spend their most screen time – in a more efficient and customised way than mobile web advertising allows.

Christy Labrador Nakpil, Director of Customer Success, LifeStreet, explains the pivotal importance of in-app ads, over broader mobile advertising, to successful brand marketing campaigns.

With more than 91 per cent of the global population using mobile devices to shop, communicate and entertain themselves, investing in mobile advertising is no longer optional for brands – its imperative. But not all mobile advertising channels are created equal. There are different ways advertisers can spend their mobile ad budgets, whether via ads shown on a mobile website or ads served in a mobile app. 

Tapping into mobile ad inventory lets performance marketing agencies and brands connect with their audience where they spend their most screen time: in mobile apps. In fact, when a consumer is on their mobile device, they spend an average 88 per cent of their time in apps. What’s more, while two-thirds of Americans don’t identify as “gamers,” they play mobile games an average four times a week.

While both types of mobile advertising strategies are valuable, in-app advertising can provide better ad viewability and targeting options. This, in turn, drives superior performance outcomes. On average, in-app ads drive 150 per cent more conversions than mobile web ads. In-app ads also have a 0.56 per cent click-through rate (CTR), more than double the 0.23 per cent CTR seen on mobile web.

You don’t need an app to take advantage of in-app advertising

While many in-app advertising campaigns take a user from an in-app ad to the App Store to download an app, there are ways to combine in-app and mobile web touchpoints to market to mobile users without developing your own app. With app-to-web campaigns, advertisers can take users from an in-app ad to a mobile web page to convert. This strategy blends the high performance of in-app inventory with the frictionless experience of mobile web in which users flow seamlessly through your sales funnel to make a final purchase.

At LifeStreet, our partners have seen the value in-app-to-web conversion campaigns can drive for their growth campaigns. In the first half of 2023, the average conversion rate of our three largest partners running in-app-to-web campaigns grew by an average 28 per cent. At the same time, the average payer rate of these partners increased by 59 per cent in Q2 2023, while the average cost per registration (CPR) decreased by 20 per cent. This shows how in-app-to-web increased conversions while cutting costs, scaling our partners’ growth. 

The benefits of in-app advertising

Refined audience targeting 

Compared to mobile web advertising, in-app advertising provides marketers with richer insights on the mobile environment in which ads are being served, especially when a user shares their device ID. A device ID allows marketers to track user behaviour and deliver custom user experiences that drive more engagement and conversions. These insights can be combined with first-party data provided by a user to make ad targeting more accurate, efficient and personalised than mobile web advertising. 

What’s more, with the information provided on mobile web via device IDs, advertisers are less likely to serve ads and waste adspend on an uninterested user. And, even in instances where a device ID is not available, marketers can use contextual cues and learnings from non-personalised traffic to fill in the gaps.

Heightened user engagement 

Users download apps they find valuable and entertaining. As of 2022, daily in-app time averaged three hours 21 minutes, dwarfing the 52-minute average on mobile web. Predictions for 2023 show in-app engagement rising to three hours 28 minutes. To be successful, performance marketers should invest in the channels people are most engrossed with, and today, that’s apps.

Superior Ad Visibility 

Ads within apps often have greater visibility than those on mobile web. For context, in-app display ads command a 72.5 per cent viewability, outpacing mobile webs 63.6 per cent. This might be attributed to the fact that in-app advertisements are crafted to integrate seamlessly with the apps layout, enhancing the chances of a user seeing them or because full-screen interstitial ads, one of the most popular ad formats, improve viewability and engagement. Moreover, there are more advanced ad blockers on mobile web than in-app.

Innovative ad formats 

Mobile web advertising involves displaying ads on web pages accessed through mobile browsers like Chrome or Safari. These ads, which can take the form of banners, videos or pop-ups, target users as they browse the entire expanse of the internet on mobile platforms.

On the other hand, in-app advertising displays ads within specific mobile applications. Along with the static formats served on mobile web, in-app advertising enables the use of diverse, dynamic ad styles. This includes immersive and captivating ad formats like interactive playables. Playables currently have the most efficient cost-per-install (CPI) rates (an average $1.98 CPI versus $3.79 for other gaming ad formats). 

Navigating the programmatic landscape with a mobile marketing partner

In the dynamic realm of mobile advertising, today, a significant portion of ad expenditures are spent programmatically. Regardless of your familiarity with programmatic advertising, there are specialised partners who can help you navigate this space. To capitalise on in-app advertising, its essential to partner with a data-driven mobile marketing partner.

  • Profound programmatic knowledge: This expertise is paramount given most mobile ad dollars are transacted programmatically.

  • Established machine learning methods: To ensure efficient and optimal ad placements, targeting and bidding.

  • Comprehensive testing capabilities: This includes testing different strategies, creative formats and predictive models to ensure the highest return on your adspend.

By choosing a partner with these capabilities, performance marketers can harness the value of in-app advertising, expand their reach on mobile channels and achieve tangible results.

Christy Labrador Nakpil

Director of Customer Success