Why You Need to Reframe Your Thinking About Mobile Data

Redefining performance marketing in a privacy-first world

Amid evolving trends and the loss of legacy identifiers, including the third-party cookie, brands and agencies are reframing how they think about data and data-driven marketing in a privacy-first world.

In doing so, mobile data needs to take center stage, but not necessarily in the same way that it has in the past.

Today, 97% of Americans own mobile devices, and according to eMarketer, U.S. users spent an average of 4.4 hours per day on mobile in 2021. Importantly, more than 90% of that time was spent in apps, not browsers. In other words, mobile devices—and mobile apps, specifically—remain the crux of the marketing world. However, mobile data’s role in this landscape is evolving.

In a privacy-first world, marketers must look to mobile data as more than just a tool for targeting. It’s much more than that—and it’s within that “more” that the industry has an opportunity to rechart a more sustainable future for marketing and advertising.

Forget legacy success metrics

To future-proof strategies going forward, marketers should reconsider some long-standing campaign metrics. A prime example is using app installs as a success metric. For years, marketers have emphasized app installs as a key end goal within campaigns.

However, they’ve often stopped short of ensuring those installs translate to real value for a brand. The fact is that a tremendous percentage of installed apps are uninstalled within 30 days, and an even larger portion sit unused on a person’s mobile device.

Marketers should see app installs as what they really are—a first step that, if properly nurtured, can unlock greater value. Part of that value lies in the opportunity to foster a deeper relationship with the app user, which can be achieved by reengaging them after they’ve downloaded an app—and giving them reasons to continue to open and use it.

With successful retention programs in place, marketers can then leverage known app user bases as a lens through which they can understand their customers more deeply, not only in terms of how they engage with their own brands, but also how they engage with other brands’ apps both inside and outside their vertical. That’s where app insights come in. 

Embrace app insights data

As marketers reframe how they think about app installs, they should also dive deeper into app insights, specifically in the form of app ownership and usage data. Together, these insights provide a comprehensive view of the apps a user has chosen to download to their smart device, as well as how often and for how long they open and engage with those apps.

Because mobile app usage is now the dominant activity on mobile devices, app ownership is a much better behavioral indicator of intent than standard web browsing activity. The mix of apps a person has on their device and how frequently they use them are a strong representation of their general interests and behaviors.

With app insights, brands can better understand their customers as it relates to the other apps they use, including when and how often. They can also leverage such data to better understand their competitors’ customers in comparison to their own. For example, a food delivery service could make strategic decisions by comparing how frequently customers open and use their own app versus competitor apps.

Marketers can also validate the success of new offers and campaigns within a few days to confirm the impact of their own app engagement lift, as well as how their competitor’s latest promotions affected attention and engagement.

The data landscape has shifted beneath marketer feet, but that doesn’t mean brands have to take a step back in terms of how they understand and engage their customers and prospects.

Today’s marketers have an opportunity to rethink and expand mobile data’s role in future-proofing marketing strategies for 2023 and beyond. And as brands assemble new and reliable sources of scalable and privacy-compliant data, app insights will play a tremendous role in enhancing audience knowledge and campaign strategy—enabling savvy marketers to not just bridge a gap, but to open an entirely new door.

Mike Peralta is VP and GM at T-Mobile Advertising Solutions. He is responsible for driving T-Mobile’s targeted advertising, measurements and insights business, and has over 20 years of extensive domestic and international experience in technology and media.