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In the new era of mobile marketing, the adtech giants are seeing their dominance challenged more than ever, according to a new report by marketing measurement company Singular.
The Singular ROI 2023 report said we are in a new privacy-focused era for return on investment for ad spend. Meta and Google are still at the top, but the adtech giants are being challenged by relatively small networks like Moloco, Mistplay and Blind Ferret. Apple Search Ads is also on the rise, the report said.
Moloco is growing and tied with Google and Meta in at least one key metric: top ad networks for several specific industries and geographies. TikTok added quality to ever-increasing quantity as it generated better ROI for more marketers than ever before, and two adtech giants, AppLovin and the recently merged Unity+IronSource, rival the most extensive ad networks.
According to data from Singular, Apple now owns the second largest mobile user acquisition ad network on iOS.
To find the best ad networks for mobile marketers, Singular analyzed trillions of ad impressions, more than $10 billion in advertiser ad spend and billions of mobile app installs, said John Koetsier, author of the report (and a former VBer), in a email to GamesBeat.
On Android, things will continue as usual, with the Google Ad ID still available at least until 2024, when the Privacy Sandbox for Android launches. However, on iOS, this report represents the first full year of results under Apple’s App Tracking Transparency requirements, including the use of Apple’s SKAdNetwork for marketing measurement and attribution. Apple changed the world when it phased out the use of the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) because it prioritized privacy over targeted advertising.
The rise of Apple
Apple Search Ads is not directly comparable to ad networks using SKAdNetwork, the third-party attribution framework, as Apple provides the Apple Search Ads Attribution Application Programming Interface (API) for its own first-party network.
But by dollar volume and number of conversions – which Singular measures across all platforms – Apple Search Ads is now the second largest ad network on iOS for app marketing.
Apple Search Ads is now the second largest user acquisition network on iOS, with a massive transition of the ad spend platform in 2022. It increased from 36% in 2021 to 47% in 2022.
After a rocky start with new attribution methods, brands measuring marketing through Singular have learned how to use Apple’s privacy-focused SKAd Network and spent more on iOS. iOS ad spend, which fell in 2021, rose from just 36% iOS in January to 47% in December 2022.
The top ad networks by percentage growth of spend on Singular were Moloco at number 1, followed by TikTok for Business, Twitter, Google Ads, Unity Ads, AppLovin, Snapchat, IronSource, Apple Search Ads, and Liftoff.
Koetsier noted that retail media is a non-ad network that creates an ad network to advertise to its customers. For example, Uber has an advertising network that targets Uber drivers on their trips. All of the data around it (targeting who the ads go to, what the riders do in response to the ads, etc.) is first-hand data for Uber, because it’s Uber customers (the riders) who get the ads and respond to the ads.
“That’s similar to Apple Search Ads, where the resulting data is first-party to Apple (because all iOS users are Apple customers),” Koetsier said. “It’s different from ads placed with an ad network, where an advertiser buys ads from a network to place on a publisher’s app or website. Since the ads are placed in a third-party app or site, the resulting data is third-party data, subject to Apple’s app tracking transparency rules. ATT is primarily focused on data sharing between multi-company apps and websites… not so much with first-hand data.”
Smaller advertising networks such as Moloco came up with privacy solutions more quickly. TikTok combined increasing quality with ever-growing quantity to become an even more formidable competitor in mobile adtech.
Meta and Google are still huge and competitive due to their installed base and global platforms for which they own both supply and demand: audience and advertiser. But for perhaps the first time, we’re seeing credible attack capabilities for other players, Koetsier said.
Rise of connected TV
Another challenge: the growth of connected TV, where advertising grows by 20% annually: faster than mobile growth now. And where mobile is a mature market with well-known players and playbooks, CTV is chaotic and unconsolidated. It’s also a place where only one of the duopolies really plays: Google with YouTube.
A big battle coming into 2023 is the competition between Unity + IronSource and AppLovin. Both have all the elements of the modern mobile adtech stack and both have significant advantages, Singular said.
Apple’s SKAdNetwork version 4 has been released, but is only beginning to be adopted. While early versions of SKAN suppressed mobile ads due to signal loss, SKAN 3 is better and SKAN 4 should be a significant improvement, which should boost iOS marketing in 2023, Singular said.
While Privacy Sandbox on Android probably won’t directly impact the market until 2024, Android is likely to follow a similar pattern to iOS when Apple rolled out App Tracking Transparency: a surge in spending near transition as advertisers take advantage of signals still available and data, and a drop right after the transition as they adapt to new realities. We could see that increase starting towards the end of 2023.
Surprisingly, Twitter took seventh place overall for the number of rankings in the various top vertical and geographic-based partner lists. The caveat, of course, is that most of the data behind the Singular ROI Index comes from before Elon Musk’s takeover of the company and subsequent dismantling of the workforce.
TikTok, probably unsurprisingly, is one of the biggest growth stories for profitable advertising platforms. The most significant change this year, however, is that TikTok has added quality to quantity, leading to increased revenue and app installs at a similar cost to previous years.
“We are increasingly moving from an era of deterministic granular data to a more nuanced aggregate form of marketing measurement that uses many more signals to build a better picture of growth,” said Gadi Eliashiv, CEO of Singular, in a statement. declaration. “The companies and ad networks that figure out how this works are the ones that will win.”
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