August 9, 2016 by Dennis Mink

Got An App? Let’s Talk Retention

AppsFlyer just released their bi-annual Mobile Performance Index. The Index ranks the top performing mobile ad networks and demand side platforms (DSPs) like Liftoff. If you spend on marketing mobile apps, it’s a good read, especially if you’re looking to test new channels for app installs.

In a nutshell, the Index ranks the top performing networks and DSPs based on (1) how well they can scale, and (2) the quality of the app installs, as measured with a 30 day retention window.

All of the usual suspects made it into the index – the large networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google, the mobile-only ad networks and exchanges including Vungle and Chartboost. And then…if you look closely…there we are… Liftoff. Yes, Liftoff made it onto the Index, side by side with the big boys.

We didn’t quite make it into the Power Rankings (not yet anyway). But we did something even better. We ranked high across all of AppsFlyer’s Retention Rankings. And I do mean high.

For iOS Non-Gaming apps in North America, Liftoff ranks #2 in retention, second only to Google AdWords and ahead of both Facebook and Twitter (3rd and 4th respectively). Globally, we rank 6th on retention for iOS non-gaming apps, moving up 8 spots compared to the previous time period. And for Android non-gaming apps, we currently rank 13th.

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For iOS Gaming Apps in North America, Liftoff ranks third, behind Vungle and AdColony. Compared to the previous time period, we didn’t even rank! Whoa. Not only did we crash the charts but we came in 3rd in retention of gaming apps.

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Let’s think about this for a moment. Liftoff is wedged between the two super powers of mobile advertising – Google and Facebook. We don’t own our own ad network or own any ad inventory. We buy everything programmatically from exchanges like MoPub and Doubleclick. And yet somehow we are competing with everyone, and outperforming nearly the entire industry on the one metric that matters most these days to app marketers – retention.

When I shared the news internally, it was quite funny to see people’s reaction, usually consisting of “Wait, what? Oh wow, that’s fantastic! Ahead of Facebook on retention? Wow. Really? Wow.” And it got me thinking, I need to unpack this a bit. Liftoff ranking 2nd and 3rd on the non-gaming and gaming retention indexes is not a coincidence or a fluke. What are we doing right to warrant this validation?

Taking a birds-eye view of Liftoff, I believe the reason why the mobile users we acquire for our customers rank so high on retention comes down to 3 very simple but important things:

  • Our Technology (including Creative Tech) – we’ve developed a very deep technology stack over the past 4 years that covers the gamut of what is needed to succeed in mobile user acquisition: an advanced machine learning system, a hyper efficient bidder (for buying ads programmatically), a rich database of over 2 billion mobile profiles, and an industry-leading creative technology stack including dynamic ads.
  • A Performance Marketing Mindset – as a marketer who markets a mobile marketing company to marketers, I am reminded every day that Liftoff is a mobile performance marketing company. The performance mindset and language permeates all areas of the company. We think in terms of costs and conversion rates, target CPAs, revenue, funnels, downstream events, frequency of app usage and retention rates. This mindset keeps us focused on what matters most – delivering on our customer’s performance goals and targets. In other words, performance.
  • Our AdOps and Creative Teams – boy do these people deserve a lot of credit. Our AdOps and Creative Teams spend their days analyzing campaigns, tweaking and optimizing ad creative, spend, targeting criteria and channels, while guiding our machine learning system to make smarter and more efficient decisions to reach a target CPA.

When combined together, these 3 areas working together efficiently can produce some amazing results for our customers, namely mobile users with a strong interest to use their apps and high retention rates.

Got an app that’s suffering from low retention? Let’s talk.