Brands are eager to spend on mobile ads – new research predicts a rise in acquisition and performance teams

opera mediaworks

Mobile users are spending considerably more time in their favourite apps each day and brand advertisers are finally taking note. According to new research from Opera Mediaworks, the mobile advertising network, app users spent up to 10% more of their time using a variety of top apps every day.

The Mobile First Insights reports takes a closer look at the current state of app usage and the rise in brand advertising across mobile devices.

In terms of app category, News & Information scored top for impressions in the US, whilst Games, Social Networks and Communications apps also ranked high.

Top app categories June 2016



Engagement rates were highest for Education and Travel apps, followed by Lifestyle, Games and Tech and Computing apps. Interestingly, in terms of conversions, Games, Sports and Lifestyle rank highest.

In line with increased app usage, mobile ad spending is predicted to overtake desktop spend this year with Retail, Automotive and Financial Services industries leading the pack.

Among those that have invested most heavily in mobile over the last 12 months, are Technology and Gadget verticals capturing 24.3% of ad dollars spent on performance campaigns. This category includes photo apps.

Big spenders in performance-based mobile advertising

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When it comes to overall spending, the tech sector isn’t alone. Food and Delivery services captured 23% of the mobile ad spend during the period from Q3 2015 to Q2 2016. eCommerce retailers are also showing some good ad spend growth at 15%. Over time, Opera Mediaworks predicts that the line between branding and performance advertising will blur.

Ad spend by industry

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Will Kassoy, CEO of Opera Mediaworks, says:

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“Thanks to powerful attribution and return-on-ad-spend metrics now available, brands are not just comfortable, but eager, to spend at scale on mobile. We are seeing a trend of brands focusing more on attribution metrics using partners like us to complement their traditional media to drive incremental reach, engagement and actions on their mobile device.”

Whilst app installs have fast become a core metric to measure performance campaigns, mobile-first providers are quickly turning to optimise their post-install reengagement actions in order to drive ROI. Among behaviours generally identified for measurement are: number of sessions, session duration, stability of growth, and registrations.

In addition, Opera Mediaworks identified machine-learning as a differentiator between a mediocre campaign and a top performer. However, results largely depend on the algorithm. Tracking events post-install is certainly a good idea to see which users are most likely to hang around.

Jude O’Connor, Opera’s Vice President of Brand Performance, adds:

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“These top QSR brands are looking to do much more than drive app installs at their targeted CPI rate. They’re measuring post install engagements such as registrations and coupon downloads, with an ultimate goal of driving foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar locations. By tracking those post-install events, we’ve been able to create audience profiles of their common customers, optimize to those audience and others who match their patterns of behaviors, and play a large role in them redeeming coupons within store – thus directly boosting the brand’s sales and revenue.”

Whilst tracking is one thing, creativity is another. Brands are often found reusing their TV or desktop ads to fit the mobile screen, but it’s fast becoming apparent that that often backfires. It helps to have an experienced mobile partner that can guide visual resources to get the most out of them.

In-app footage and messaging around the value of an app was found to be another key point in advertising the app. Brands also find some of the brand guidelines too restrictive to be truly creative.

Opera Mediaworks recommends that app makers brainstorm their mobile ad assets with the consumer in mind. Creative features can be pulled from previous ads, but should be used in a different way on mobile to enrich a story. Ad content should also focus on answering user questions as to why the app should be downloaded.

Advertisers should bear in mind that creative features such as sound may not always be enabled and hence shouldn’t feature as the most important part of an ad. In addition, video ads should be fast at around 23-29 seconds and even less for the least competitive app markets.

Kevin Teng, Senior Director, Performance Advertising, Opera Mediaworks, concludes:

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“Targeting, tracking and optimizing is how you win in the world of performance, and that’s why having a mobile-ad SDK is so important – so that you can feed your algorithm with accurate data signals and feedback from campaigns. But the people who work with that data are also important. As demand for top-tier performance advertising grows, I believe we’re going to see even more User Acquisition and Performance teams with incredible talent in analyzing KPIs and navigating complicated reporting and attribution structures.”