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Mobile Marketing Milestones: Q&A Interview with Apptica

Matthew Kaplan

January 23, 2023

In this edition of Mobile Marketing Milestones, Moloco's Q&A series with mobile advertising and marketing leaders, we chatted with Ksenia Yurkina, Head of Marketing at Apptica. In this half-hour conversation, we cover how advertisers should be approaching their ad creatives, the best performing ad formats, and so much more. Check it out!


Matthew Kaplan, Moloco

Hi, everyone, welcome to Mobile Marketing Milestones, Moloco's Q&A series with the best and brightest in mobile marketing and advertising. And today, very excited to have Ksenia from Apptica join us in conversation. Thanks for jumping on the program today.

Ksenia Yurkina, Apptica

Yes, hi, everyone. So thank you for having me here. I'm Ksenia. I'm Head of Marketing at Apptica. Apptica is an ad intelligence and app analytics tool that helps mobile businesses grow by providing access to the insights and market analytics.


Great, thanks for the intro. And again, really excited to have you on today's program, really excited for today's conversation. So we're gonna dive right in, you know, I think as an analytics platform, certainly Apptica has a unique perspective on the industry. And Moloco here, you know, a big part of our business is user acquisition. And so from your perspective, and based on the data that you are seeing, you know, what are the biggest channels that are helping different new apps acquire users? And how is that varying across genres?


Um, yeah, so basically, the first one we're highlighting is app store optimization. It's one of the best because it's free. So a little time and effort spent regularly on updating your landing page with keywords might help you to acquire new users and just keep those organic downloads coming in. 

And it costs you nothing, actually. And in Apptica, inside Apptica, we have a special section of keywords. There, you can check all the keywords that your competitors use, track them, compare them, maybe find some insights and suggestions for you personally. 

So it's just kind of helpful tool for you. But here, it's quite crucial to understand that not a single tool can know your app better than you do. So that's why we can give you just some solutions and suggestions. But you need to set up some strategies and try them. And just check with your own case which keywords, for example, yes, convert better. So, and these organic channels should be complemented, of course with the paid traffic. So because you need to pay to get new users. And here of course, we are talking about Ad nets, ad nets. And based on our data, I can give some figures just to have a general picture. 

In the first quarter this year, Meta became the most frequently used ad network, among leaders, on both platforms. So we're talking about iOS and Android. The next two places were taken by Chartboost and Unity Ads among Android advertisers, and AppLovin, AdMob and Unity Ads among iOS advertising. 

So it's a bit different if we compare Android and iOS, but the leader is the same. So it's Meta for now. So here, it gets two main channels, and it concerns all genres. So organic growth with ASO, and the paid traffic with ad networks. 

And here, maybe there will be some questions on TikTok, because it's quite trendy. And it's a network. It's a good one. We see in our statistics TikTok but it doesn't take the first top three positions, but it keeps growing. 

So in the nearest future, we're expect it to take maybe something in the top with just going head to head with AppLovin or AdMob. So I guess it's the future. We see this tremendous growth.


Yeah, and I think you brought up a really interesting, two really interesting points, of one is the need to pair organic and paid strategies. 

You can't be too reliant on one or the other, you definitely need to have a holistic view of your approach. And I think it's really interesting to see that there's different, different networks, different exchanges, different sources of users, essentially, that are performing differently for Android versus iOS. 

You know, certainly I think Apple's App Tracking Transparency has really impacted that ecosystem. So that the biggest players on Android are looking very differently than the biggest players on iOS. I think that's a really interesting insight. 


It's true. So they're completely different. And you need to track separately, these two platforms, just to get better results for your app. Yes. And use different strategies maybe. Yeah, of course, one area that I think is consistently important on both iOS and Android for your paid campaigns is around creative. 


Certainly I think ATT has brought creative to the fore and made it even more important. But it's one of those things where I think it's always been important. If your creative isn't right then your strategies. I'm very curious for your perspective, 

I know Apptica has a lot of great tools and features around creative strategy and creative insight. From a paid user acquisition standpoint, what formats are proving to be most effective at the moment? 


Yes, that's quite an interesting question. And it's true that we have a creative gallery. For now, I've just checked before our interview the numbers, and for now we have around 34 million creatives in our gallery. So that's a significant number just to check and to follow. And as the key word section, it might be useful for some publishers and advertisers to check us. 

So if we compare, I've taken the time period of 90 days, because you know, the data keeps changing daily and it's hard to track all the changes quickly in a minute. 

So if we take our creative gallery, 90 days, both iOS and Android platforms, we see that videos have become the most popular, the most shared we have the shared section – the most shared creatives among both platforms, followed by images, and the least used in app format is playable ad, and but the playable ad, it's not like the question that, like developers, publishers don't want to use. It's quite costly to use. That's why we have less creatives of this format. But it doesn't mean that it's worse or it's not worth investing in. 

Actually, all playable ads have quite good results. And if we take some references, for example, I guess the best examples is just Playrix. And just I have another example, yes, Storm8 Studios with Property Brothers and Wildlife Studios with Zooba, maybe you're familiar with these apps, but Playrix for sure. So and the players keep pushing this ad, for example, for Property Brothers now the running period exceeds 180 days. 

So it means that teams see some results and get something out of it, some useful metrics and KPIs. I don't know. That's why maybe they keep pushing and pushing the same ad. It's quite unusual to see one ad to run for such a long time. 

So playable ads are something worth paying attention to. And here, about playable ads, so we shouldn't neglect social media. Because with playable and interactive ads, we're talking about gaming, usually in general, but social media use actually, and we see some examples of interactive ads: TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, and it's an useful one just to show for example, new feature, new mode, so the user could test how it looks like now and just to plunge into the app. So it might be interesting. But again, it's quite costly to produce. And it depends on the mobile on I mean version, because it's quite heavy, and maybe some formatting might go wrong. 

That's why it's the least used in app. So we have videos, image and interactive ads. But it doesn't mean that images are better than interactive, videos are better than images. They just work differently, and they have different purposes.


Yeah, that's a really interesting breakdown. And certainly, I think everything you said around playables, interactive ads makes a lot of sense to me. Yes, it may be very time consuming and expensive to build. But when you can provide users a sneak peek of the app, whether it's social or a game, it definitely can really bring dividends to your app. So really interesting insights and interesting to see even a interactive ad that's been running for a long time can still yield results. That's interesting.


Yes, and also sorry, just to interrupt you now. I've just got an idea that is worth mentioning.

We've noticed that Android advertisers use more the playable ads than in iOS. It's something interesting also, and worth mentioning I guess. And the top advertising, top 30 advertising. they all use playable ads. So it means something. 


Yeah, no, the numbers definitely speak for themselves. And really interesting, I would have expected interactive ads to be more common in iOS in because without the granular targeting, that maybe marketers are used to, maybe they need to use more, more high impact creative. 


So really interesting that is on Android, definitely an unexpected insight. But the numbers might change again. So we have taken 90 days, so the recent creatives that we have in our gallery, but if we analyze 30 days, one week, all time, so we, like starting from 2017, when we, when Apptica was founded, so it might change. So it's not a general truth. But now I just trying to convey what I see inside the platform.


Yeah, absolutely. The numbers don't lie. But of course, things can definitely change over time. 

And it's really interesting, I would not have expected video to be the number one most popular ad format, it probably is not as expensive to produce as a playable or interactive ad. But certainly, I would anticipate it being more expensive and more time consuming to produce than a static image. But really interesting to see that it's become so popular. 


Yes, and we see that this increasing consumption of video content will prevail, and will remain so in the nearest future. And again, here we have the question of TikTok. 

So it will be the performing platform in the near future due to this trend. It just, it will be evolving and I guess the consumption of video will be higher and higher. So it's something also that we see in the market.


Yeah, that's a really interesting point. Certainly, I think TikTok has primed users to expect and want and like more video within their mobile experiences, and certainly we're seeing Instagram follow suit. YouTube's success speaks volumes as well. 

And so interesting that ad creatives are kind of following suit there. 


Yeah. And it's quite psychological. Because with image, it's static, but video it's dynamic. And so you consume, you digest more information, and maybe you get more information out of it. And that's why maybe has its success, just in comparison with the images of course. 


Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense to me. Absolutely. And yet, I think this, let's go, let's segue: interactive ads performing really well,  video increasingly popular. Does it make sense to go with the standard banner or static interstitial ad? Do those kind of image formats have a role to play in paid UA?


Okay, here, there is no straightforward answer, like yes, just, you should go only with the static ads, or you should go only with videos. So I, from our point of view, it mainly depends on the creative itself. So if you have a good creative, good picture, good banner, attractive that grasps attention, and you can retain this attention, you will get your downloads. 

For example, I've checked the, just, I have chosen the random, so I just went inside our creative gallery. I chose one of the top apps, it's Survivor by Habby, I'm sure that you're familiar. But there is quite a popular one now in the market. And they have all types of advertising. 

And we have also this metric, this diagram, like depending on some updates that the app has, and I saw that the moment they launched their buyer campaign, the image, like creative, they had more than 1 million downloads. The next day, or just in a few days, 

I don't remember exactly, they tried video. And they also had more than 1 million downloads in the market where they launched the ad. This means that for them all formats were working. So, but they were just different and they were both bright, some bright colors. 

They were delivering the right message to the right audience and they just had their results. So here, so you should try again. So getting back to the, to my first thought of organic and paid traffic channels, so you need to try everything to understand what's the most appropriate tool, channel for your app because you know your app better. So try everything. And then just judging by the results, you can choose maybe the best working platform, the best working channel for you. But don't neglect static images or banner. So it might be also solution for your app, why not? Health and Fitness, for example, they are working pretty well with static images. 


Yeah, fascinating, unexpected, I would expect health and fitness to be all about video. But I think to your point, if it's engaging and eye catching and showing value or use to the user really highlighting the app, there's a lot you can do with even a 320 by 50 banner ad if you're creative and thoughtful about it, for sure. So we've had a chance to speak on a number of different ad formats. Pulling back and thinking somewhat more holistically, are there certain overarching trends that you're seeing in the data that you think are worth highlighting?


Concerning the ad creative, so we could point out, I guess, four main trends, but it's our approach, our vision. So of course, this means general too. So the first step, the first trend that we have noticed, is relatability. 

So the creative teams have taken a course to get closer somehow to the audience, to create a story that would somehow resonate with people and to be more authentic, to be more engaging. So, and it's quite, there is a quite vivid example, again, with Playrix. Because they're quite popular now, that's why I'm taking them as a reference. Maybe you've seen their ads, like with this message, like help me save this lady. So she's in danger, you need just to press here, press this button, or she's getting frozen, just put the fire. 

Hurry up. So something like that. So this relatability, so they're trying to build up this connection with the audience, causing this empathy. So just igniting this desire to help someone. It's in our nature, we are sociable creatures. 

So we want to help someone. Just download this app, find this poor woman, it's just an example, and help her. So that's the first trend, and we can find it not only with Playrix. 

So and here also the storylines should be quite simple. And even if you are in metro or in the public transport with sound off, you should understand from the first second what you should do. So not not to complicate just the storyline. That's the first trend. 

The second here that we could mention is more challenges. So there is this message like I bet you can do better, I bet you can do it better. So to be more precise, the video creatives show that the previous player has failed something, like failure, or can you do it better or wanna try. 

So the best example is Woodoku, it's quite popular now. And it's great, it's quite popular. So they have this message, like wanna try, like check your IQ or something, the previous player has a bad one. So the previous player couldn't put the puzzle, the elements in the, in one puzzle, maybe you can do that. And of course, you're just watching this ad creative. And of course, I'm strong one, so I have a high IQ level. So let me try this app and download. So it's this challenge also is quite provocative. And that's the second trend of the ad creative. 

Then the third one is more sophisticated. So we call it like more sophisticated. So game developers, they're not trying to show the mechanics, but they want to convey some more complex message, not only show how you're going to play this game but some meaningful information. 

And if we analyze the creatives now, videos and images, we see now that they are of high level, so they invest a lot in video production, in image production. It's not just a picture. So it's something more than that now. 

And the fourth here is more inclusivity and tolerance. I guess it's quite pervasive now and it's general now in our society that we're trying to be more so, to be more tolerant. And we don't want to be offensive towards some more social groups. 

And it's the same in the mobile industry. The developers, they're trying to avoid some controversial issues and not to offend someone in some way, in general. And it's quite vivid in, again, health and fitness industry, for example. If you, it's not the general truth again, and notice, it's not the general trend, sorry, we might see some exceptions. But it's quite unlikely to see the phrases like fat or weight loss. We'd rather see, like, shape or sculpt, strength. So the developers, they're trying to, again, to have the same message, but in different wording, just to avoid some offensive structures and offensive phrases, word combinations. 

That's also the trend that we have noticed recently. And what else? I guess I'm finishing touch here. It's better — again, it's our advice — it's better to use different creatives for different ad networks. So, and we can see that the same studio for the same app with the same message, they're using the different creatives and different ad networks, because networks are different. They have their own specific features, their peculiarities, worth taking into account. And just to get better results, better KPI, it's better to create, maybe something different. 

Adjusting to the core elements of this ad network you want to put your ad in. For example, AdColony, more powerful with internet trends and music, with the money-oriented approach supplanted cash. Vungle, more life into ETFs, more engaging, more live actions, challenges. AppLovin is the most sophisticated network with more sophisticated storytelling and serious attitude to visual and semantic elements. So here, maybe it's better to dive deeper into ad network, just again, check our creative gallery and see how the advertiser put their ad, the same ad, but in the different ad networks. Maybe it might make a difference for you. So I guess that's for the trends and the, yes, for the elements that we've noticed. But I can talk a lot about that. I guess it's a different topic to dive in. Just we need more time for that. It's just a brief, like recap. 


Yeah, yeah. And really, really interesting, you know, as I'm sitting thinking through all this, so if you're in charge of paid UA and thinking about creative, you need a background today in psychology, sociology, ad ops, analytics, programmatic, you really need to wear a lot of hats, because all of these different elements, the creative, the text, how it's being served, who is serving the ad, all make a huge difference. And I really appreciate how comprehensive you are, it hopefully will give folks listening a lot to chew on for sure.


I hope so, that it wouldn't be in vain. And this information might be useful for someone. So we are here for that, Apptica is with you in the market to help with analytics. 


Great. So we've covered a lot of ground, but wrapping up today's conversation, as you're thinking ahead, looking to see what will happen in 2023 and beyond, how do you see app user acquisition evolving? 


We've already touched the base bit during our conversation talking about TikTok. That's the future. That's the future leading platform of user acquisition for sure. Then just expanding on the social media channels, we seem just a different approach to what social media now, in terms of user acquisition. If before, we used to think of social media as brand advertising alone, for brand awareness, something just to put your brand so more audience could see these brands, could see your logo and maybe somehow just retain this information. 

But now user acquisition teams, they actually use social media for getting more users for achieving their KPI and even more. And it's mainly due to a rise of influencer marketing. So it's quite popular now. And we see that it will be evolving in the future.

So this bloggers and trendsetters in the social media, they are now quite a powerful tool for UA teams for sure. So apart from that, there is a trend to toughen up the privacy policy. And again, we've mentioned already Apple with its App Tracking Transparency, and it will be harder and harder, unfortunately or fortunately, to track users behavior. We believe that Android will follow the lead and put some challenges for that as well. So more likely, we will see more complex mechanisms and tools to collect the data. It's our future. We need to cope with that. 

What else here, and yeah, so video. So video content, so it will prevail. We've already discussed that. And the last here to mention, I guess, the market in general. So we see creatives popping up every second, every day. 

So the market is really always saturated with the creatives. And just to stand out in the market, you really need to think out of the box, to come up with something creative, with new ideas, to distinguish yourself from your competitors, because competition is tough. And just you need to win your users by again thinking out of the box. And just to grasp the attention of your users, for your users, from the first second. That's crucial and really important for now.

Yeah, all really interesting to see how it will all shape out. And I think we're already starting to see more user generated content show up  in video ads. So the influence of TikTok is here and will only get stronger, I'm sure. And influencers. It's something new as well. 

So we need to follow the trends to be ahead. Yeah, we will have. I know we covered a lot of ground. And we definitely will have to talk again to see how things are evolving over time, because there's a lot that's happening in the creative space, in the UA space overall. And definitely important to stay on top of all the trends so you can acquire new users for your apps. Yeah. And I hope that we could expand on this topic in the nearest future together just in the webinar format, just to give more valuable insights and just more valuable information. 


Yeah. Well, everyone, thank you all for tuning in. There's clearly going to be a lot more from Moloco and Apptica, so stay tuned. And Ksenia, thanks for talking with us today. 


Yeah, thank you for having me here. It was a pleasure to share some insights. I hope it would be useful for you. So thank you.

Matthew Kaplan

Senior Content Marketing Manager

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