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Why ad spend is drastically shifting from iOS to Android

Why ad spend is drastically shifting from iOS to Android

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A quarter of total budgets shifted from iOS to Android as a result of Apple's app tracking transparency, according to data from AppsFlyer's Performance Index 14 comparing H2 2020 to H2 2021. The shift in average ad spend dip was at 10% to 15%.

No less than 29 media sources saw their position change at least two spots as a result of Apple's privacy change, while 20 fluctuated at least three spots multiple times. This includes all top 10 media sources – self-reporting networks (SRNs) and non-SRNs alike. SRNs communicate events such as new installs and in-app events to AppsFlyer via API. Each SRN has a unique attribution policy and reporting method.


Gaming verticals also saw fluctuations in both iOS and Android rankings. Gaming apps are mainly data-driven and typically depend on user-level data analysis. With far more limited data due to the privacy changes, the study noted that gaming app marketers have struggled more than their non-gaming counterparts to adapt to the new reality.

Meanwhile, Meta has placed first in both power and volume positions in three out of four index rankings: in-app engagement non-gaming, in-app purchase Gaming, and IAP non-gaming. SKAN is another way to receive the attribution of ad campaigns on iOS. When SKAN first rolled out, Meta struggled to adapt to the new reality and was ranked second in the first SKAN Index last year. This time around, Meta dethroned TikTok for Business which was ranked first last year.

This ranking is significant for Meta given that Apple's iOS changes posed headwinds for the company last year. During its fourth-quarter earnings call last year, COO Sheryl Sandberg said Apple created two challenges for advertisers. "One is that the accuracy of our ads targeting decreased, which increased the cost of driving outcomes. The other is that measuring those outcomes became more difficult," he said.

She added that these challenges are complex and interrelated and the company is working to try and improve things, for example, by making progress in closing the underreporting gap for iOS web conversions. Additionally, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also listed Apple's iOS changes as one of the headwinds it encountered in Q3 2021. He said back then that the changes not only negatively affected Meta but also millions of small businesses.

Meanwhile, Google was able to capture third place in both in-app purchase and engagement power rankings for non-gaming apps, mostly driven by a second-place finish in the Life and Culture category. In Gaming, however, it did not perform well as well, coming in fifth and sxith in in-app advertising and in-app purchase, respectively.

AppsFlyer leveraged multiple indexes such as SKAN, retention, in-app purchase, in-app advertising, growth, and remarketing Index to generate a segregated ranking based on power and volume, with a definite methodology. The index analysed a total of 610 media sources, 25 billion installs, and over 18,000 apps from July to December 2021. From this, the SKAN Index covered 240 million postbacks from over 1,800 apps and 32 media sources.

Tan Tmangraksat, director of partner development, SEAPAC, AppsFlyer, said it is obvious that Apple’s ATT has significantly impacted the mobile app economy in the past year. "But while the focus has been on its effect on app marketers, the privacy shift has also had a massive impact on mobile media companies,” he added.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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