What’s Next in App Marketing? Expert Takes for 2024

December 15, 2023

Amidst platform privacy updates, the rise of generative AI, and shifts in user behavior, 2024 is expected to bring its fair share of challenges and opportunities to mobile app marketers. To help you prepare for the year ahead, we asked Steve Green, EVP & GM of Performance Marketing at Fluent, and the experts at Mega Studio, Singular, Kochava, LifeStreet, and data.ai for tips on driving app growth and maximizing ROAS in 2024. 

In this post, you’ll find:

Meet the Mobile App Marketing Experts 

Meet the Mobile App Marketing Experts

Q&A: Mobile App Marketing Trends & Predictions 

Stay ahead of industry trends for 2024 and learn what smart marketers are leaving behind in 2023 with Fluent’s annual mobile app marketing predictions. 

What are some ways generative AI will impact personalization and content creation in mobile app marketing?

“AI is helping marketers become more nimble as they iterate on ad copy and creatives. Wielding the power of AI, marketers can draw from millions of data points to tap into the mindsets of audiences across demographics. By unlocking new opportunities for faster and less expensive multi-variate testing, AI is redefining what it means to optimize on the fly and deliver the right content to the right users in the right context.”

“AI will become much more ubiquitous in terms of plug-and-play types of adoption. For example, taking all my data, streaming through an AI, and parsing based on KPIs to determine which data sets are working and which are not. But more importantly, running that back into a feedback loop to find correlations between two creatives that are performing well and still leveraging the core components. With chat GPT, it currently takes about three prompts to get there; eventually, it will just become automated.”

“Quality and scale have always been enemies. Judiciously applied, generative AI will make quality and scale best friends, helping mobile app marketers do more and do better.”

“I think we’re going to see next-level hyper-personalization. Generative AI can rapidly analyze user behavior, preferences, and interactions to create dynamic, highly personalized content and offers. Enhanced personalization of user experiences (app interfaces, recommendations, notifications, etc.) has the potential to positively impact user engagement and retention at a time when many brands are struggling on that front.”

“Since Open AI’s release of Chat GPT late last year, brands and business leaders have already unlocked profound efficiencies in content creation — from ad text to blog posts and graphics. These gains will accelerate even further in 2024, making the cost of asset creation free or close to free. This, in turn, will power highly personalized creatives and campaigns in which every aspect of a customer’s journey is customized to engage them based on their unique experience. With the cost of content creation shrinking, the focus will shift from content design and production to how effective campaign content ideas are and how efficiently they can be tested and iterated.”

“Generative AI allows for scaling cost-effectively, giving you more options to test creatives and copy to segment to your audiences. This can create cost-saving efficiencies when trying to foster greater personalization and robust testing. However, generative AI may not be as helpful with creatives for brands with strict guidelines.”

How will changes in ad tracking and targeting influence how mobile app marketers measure and optimize their campaigns?

“As Apple and Google continue to roll out new privacy updates, marketers will need to get creative with attribution. For those who can work with cohorted attribution solutions, SKAN integration is a must. Contextual targeting will also return to the forefront as marketers look to reach the right audiences without deterministic data. The future is a bit less certain for marketers and acquisition partners that require one-to-one tracking for attribution. It will be imperative to work closely with MMP partners to navigate Apple’s forthcoming policy updates and pivot when necessary.”

“I think there will be a major reset of the system with a new way of targeting. Mobile companies will finally realize that they need to collect phone numbers as well as email addresses. Companies that implement SMS and leverage PII in a privacy-safe way will be successful in the future. The problem is that you need mobile advertisers also to present phone numbers, even if it’s a hashed ID.”

“Smart mobile app marketers will use SKAN and Privacy Sandbox, but they won’t rely on them alone. Both will be cornerstones in getting deterministic non-granular measurement data, but to build a more complete picture, marketers need their own first-party data, upper-funnel data, and entirely different methodologies, like MMM. That builds into what we call hybrid measurement: a 360-degree view of marketing performance that ultimately could be more effective than old-school last-click IDFA/GAID-based attribution.”

“The move toward cohorted, aggregated tracking is certainly going to continue. We’re getting hands-on with Google’s Privacy Sandbox for Android, particularly their Attribution Reporting API, while also preparing for the introduction of re-engagement support with SKAN 5. Smart campaign structure, hierarchy, and segmentation is becoming increasingly essential to maximize campaign-level insights that can be used for optimization purposes. On the targeting front, I see contextual targeting serving an ever-greater role as mobile ad IDs, cookies, etc., become a thing of the past.”

“When Apple’s ATT Framework was first released, it was unclear whether Apple would actually enforce its new regulations or use them as an opportunity to highlight itself as a user privacy advocate. But, the continued drumbeat of tightening data privacy restrictions — like Apple’s Privacy Nutrition Labels — show that 2024 could very well be the year when advertisers will have to rely entirely on non-deterministic attribution. This will elevate the importance of probabilistic data and machine learning algorithms that can identify patterns and predict which users are most likely to convert without direct attribution.”

“The big conversation now and as we go into 2024 is around the rising price tag of user acquisition due to these privacy changes. There’s certainly more emphasis on efficiency, and while AI can help with some level of that, ultimately, it will come down to evaluating budget and CPIs. Having contextual market data to support intelligent positioning alongside first-party data is key. But it’s also incredibly important to install a level of creativity and willingness to explore alternative pathways to driving growth such as hyper-local partnerships and event activations.”    

What will separate the winners and losers when developing a successful user acquisition strategy in 2024?

“Access to first-party, opt-in data will be key to delivering targeted messaging and converting highly engaged users in 2024. The companies offering a strong value exchange will be best positioned to secure users’ time, attention, and consent. This starts with first anticipating their needs. People can gravitate to the same game or app for very different reasons. Understanding their motivation for playing is the first step toward incentivizing them with the right offers. From there, you can tap into first-party insights to deliver more personalized experiences and drive in-app engagement.

“The companies that will grow will be those that can take the concept of behavioral targeting and contextualize it in their marketing creatives. It’s all about being reactive and understanding the relationship between where and who I market to. I’ve found that you want creatives people will say “yes” to. For example – “Do you enjoy winning money?” or “Do you enjoy coming in the first place? It isn’t a perfect system because you must sift through many records before finding the right people. However, if you have enough quality creative to address a large segment of the market, your CTRs should increase while driving down CPCs and improving your profitability margin.”

“Leaning into learning. The old world of behavioral device-based tracking is over. New privacy-safe marketing measurement requires new knowledge and new skill.”

“An adventurous spirit and a willingness to experiment with new channels and avenues of measurement will separate winners from losers in 2024. Connected TV, podcasts, and digital-out-of-home are great channels to explore if you’re not already doing so, as we’re seeing impressive performance in the campaigns we’re measuring on behalf of advertisers. From a measurement perspective, get your feet wet with marketing mix modeling (MMM). MMM is a future-proof form of measurement that can leverage aggregate performance data and is now dynamic enough to serve UA managers in ways not previously possible.”. 

“With interest rates currently high, we are living in a time when both investors and consumers are less willing to part with their money. This means big advertising budgets are harder to come by, payback periods are shorter, and ROAS targets are increasing. Finding ways to cultivate growth in this environment will separate the winners from the losers in 2024. So, finding ways to stay laser-focused on improving user flows for evergreen titles and doubling down on the strategies that work while carving out time and budget to continue testing new tools and capabilities. Given the rate of change in the tools becoming available to marketers, 2024 is not the year to rely solely on legacy strategies.”

“While big budgets can be the major differentiator between winners and losers, the meaningful inroads will be in the organic space. Creatively leveraging organic tactics like keyword optimization, timely events, communities, and user-generated content can tap into network effects and create a positive feedback loop for both user acquisition and re-engagement. Personalization will also be key – and Custom Product Pages can be a great way to bridge relevant ads to an app store page that reflects the same content, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversions to downloads.” 

What innovations in tech and AI are you most excited about?

“As AI gets smarter, we’re looking forward to applying optimization capabilities that were once limited to the walled gardens. Leveraging downstream events to optimize ad placements, our Dynamic ROAS Optimization technology has been a game changer in helping advertisers find their highest-performing audiences. While we can predict how a user will behave based on their demographics and other high-level data, the ability to feed our machine learning models with behavioral data has added a new layer of precision. We can now trigger automated recommendations and optimize campaigns based on real-time learnings.”

“I’m most excited about the generative AI for art. So, for instance, my artists use Midjourney, a tool for creating new hard assets, but they use their own art. So they draw and upload pictures, and then the AI can build new content based on their own work. Projects that used to take weeks now take 15 minutes. For me, AI is not about building on the back of somebody else but on the back of your own creative. Then you know that it’s yours, it’s proprietary, and nobody else will have it.”

“Generative AI has me all excited. We’ve already released an AI Prompt tool within the Kochava platform that enables advertisers to chat with their data—easily tapping into insights that used to require an expert analyst or data scientist. I’m excited for what we’ve got planned next.”

“Honestly, I’m most excited for an AI-powered personal assistant with an effectively unlimited context window, access to my calendar, email & docs, and can act effectively as a digital EA. On a more personal note, I’m really excited about video creation tools that will let me instantly create cartoons for my son that feature any favorite items or desired messages/teachings and are totally unique and customized to our family.”

What's your take on the top UA channels for app marketers to leverage in 2024?

“It’s no secret that competition across mainstream channels is high, and pricing can be inconsistent. The duopoly isn’t going anywhere in 2024, but marketers can still expand their user acquisition strategy beyond the walled gardens to help offset some of this uncertainty. Alternative UA channels such as rewarded discovery, sponsored content, and influencer partnerships can help marketers diversify their media mix, unlock new audiences, and maximize their ad spend.”

“Platforms are interesting because they can use so much more first-party data in the post-device-identifier era of targeting. Ad networks with owned properties they can leverage for similar advantages are also intriguing.”

“I believe the big platforms will continue to drive the most scale in 2024. But, there will also be value in niche partners with access to unique inventory and data. That being said, if app marketers want to scale in 2024, buying from big platforms or DSPs with programmatic inventory will continue to be the way to go.”

“We’ve seen some strong success with communities supporting game launches and creating effective virality and network effects. Monopoly GO had great success in fostering viral user-generated content (UGC) on TikTok along with a Facebook trading group. Communities (across varying demographic segments) can be a powerful acquisition and retention tactic. Within the App Store, events are a powerful marketing tool to create a timely gamified experience. These have been well executed by games and represent an area ripe for opportunity with non-games if done strategically.” 

What's one thing app marketers should leave behind in 2023?

“2024 is the time to leave preconceived notions of typical user behavior behind. Marketers often have certain assumptions about the audiences they need to reach and the channels where they can find them. However, a closed-minded approach to user acquisition can lead to missed opportunities. We live and work in an era of seemingly infinite access to information. Listen to what the data says, and don’t be afraid to have your assumptions proven wrong.”

“I think they need to leave behind the idea that CPI and ROAS are the most important things in the business, which sounds completely counterintuitive because that’s everything we care about. But because there will be almost no deterministic targeting moving forward, you need to look at the business holistically. People must reject the idea that everything is siloed and needs to be separated.”

“Rewarded ads with tiny Xs and multiple stages totaling 90+ seconds of watching, waiting, pretending to play, and so on. Shoot your best shot and get out of the way.”

“Fear of the future. Don’t get stuck trying to hold on to past methods and approaches. Be the mad scientist, the crazy inventory, and leap out there.” 

“Let’s leave last-click attribution in 2023. Giving 100% of the credit to the advertiser who won the last click on an ad does not align interests with vendors and platforms. It lets platforms claim they’re driving value for brands when really they prioritize winning the last click on an ad. As an industry, if we want to continue elevating ROAS and campaign efficacy, we should be considering different attribution models, like multi-touch, that account for the realities of the user experience — and the fact that a user can be shown ten mobile ads that contribute to a final, converting click.” 

Ready to ring in a successful 2024? Connect with us here to learn how Fluent can help you reach your ROAS goals in the new year.