AppsFlyer Performance Index puts Facebook and Google on top

Facebook and Google may rule the rankings but persistent challenges and rampant fraud are mixing things up, according to the latest Performance Index from Appsflyer.

According to Appsflyer’s study, Apple Search Ads and Snap are continuing to grow despite trailing behind the reigning champs. Meanwhile, high fraud rates are hitting rankings and budgets all around, encouraging a re-evaluation of strategies like affiliate marketing.

The mobile attribution and marketing analytics company looked at mobile activity in the latter half of 2018, drawing on 370 media networks, examining 20 billion app installations and 39 billion app openings, across 11,500 apps. It was a worldwide study spanning North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. App categories surveyed included shopping, utilities, lifestyle and culture, and gaming. Gaming was split into subcategories of casual, mid-core and strategy, and social casino apps.

Shani Rosenfelder, head of mobile insights at AppsFlyer said, “As marketing campaigns become more dynamic, complex, and transcend various media platforms, marketers are looking for ways to engage audiences across a diverse range of media sources, regions, platforms and channels in order to build messages that resonate — and to connect the dots across the user journey.”

The other main findings from the study are as follows:

Facebook remains No. 1 network for mobile apps, while Google excels at non-gaming

Continuing its success at sustaining user demand for games, Facebook held onto its position as the top network for mobile apps, driven by its performance in gaming. Google, meanwhile, saw higher growth in non-gaming apps compared to the social media giant, likely a reflection of Google’s search intent model.

Google’s retargeting share surges

The search giant’s 190%  jump in its share of the app retargeting landscape marked an impressive showing for Google, while Facebook maintained its No. 1 perch on this metric.

AppLovin is a powerhouse in gaming, while ironSource sees sustained momentum

AppLovin cemented its No. 3 spot in gaming rankings behind Facebook and Google, having made significant strides the last two years in its share of the gaming app install pie. When it comes to driving gaming app installs, ironSource has almost doubled its market share, surpassing Unity Ads with the 4th largest piece of the pie. Having said that, Unity Ads held its #4 position in the universal power ranking in the gaming category overall, compared to ironSource’s 5th spot.

ROI saw major fluctuations

Among the networks to see the biggest changes were Snap, which rose to fourth place from ninth in the non-gaming ranking, while declining from the top spot to No. 12 in casual games; CrossInstall, which plunged from first to sixth in universal gaming; and Vungle, which rocketed from 12th to fifth place in universal gaming.

Emerging players face significant growth challenges

Among the networks appearing in AppsFlyer’s previous Growth Index, which showcases performance of up-and-coming media sources in a specific region, 40% saw absolute negative growth, and only 10% remained in the rankings of the current and previous editions of the Index. All were emerging media sources.

Mobile fraud is stubbornly persistent

At 30% worldwide, app install fraud remained high, impacting some rankings and underscoring the magnitude of the threat to marketers’ budgets and decision-making based on polluted data.

Affiliate models take a hit

Amid growing attention to mobile ad fraud, the second half of 2018 saw a shift away from the affiliate model, with a 12% drop in affiliate-driven app installs, even as overall app installs increased by 32%.

Africa and the Middle East are on the rise

Making its first appearance on the index, the Africa/Middle East region showed substantial growth, reflecting the region’s continued economic development. As the number of smartphone owners increases in the area at breakneck speed, the region represents fertile ground for marketers vying to attract and retain new customers.

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