Apple’s depreciation of mobile tracking tool UDID shows no signs of deterring advertisers’ willingness to use the channel as one alternative, Mobile Future Group’s Ad-X, nears 100m downloads.
A year ago Apple revealed it was to begin restricting app developers’ access to device information, as part of its iOS5 update, by phasing out third-party access to unique device identifier (UDID) which can be used much like a cookie to document app and content use (nma.co.uk 22 Aug 2011).
Given that Apple’s iOS ecosystem accounts for such a large proportion of mobile internet usage, this had sparked concerns among advertisers, especially ad networks whose inventory comes from such apps, over brands’ willingness to invest in the channel.
This pressure was brought to bear chiefly by Apple’s concerns over regulatory scrutiny from both sides of the Atlantic with industry sources estimating that apps with no UDID access could see up to a 30% drop in revenues, because of their inability to monitor how well an ad converts into an action (nma.co.uk 16 May 2012).
The tool lets brands track the budget they spend to promote their suite of apps, from click-to-download through to in-app sale, in real time using a technique known as “AppSwitch”, according to MFG’s CMO David Fieldhouse.
This technique involves briefly opening the device’s browser when an app is installed on a phone to ensure it contains the monitoring code which allows for real-time download reports, and then reactivates the app session.
Brands including Domino’s Pizza, ESPN, Priceline and official Olympics sponsors Samsung and McDonalds have all used this method with mobile ad networks AdMob, owned by Google, Adfonic, Millennial Media and Mojiva also approving the technology.
Fieldhouse said there are over 263 advertisers using Ad-X and that it is now “used as the de-facto verification tool by global media agencies and advertisers” to help resolve discrepancies in app tracking reports (nma.co.uk 8 Feb 2012).
Scott Lake, mobile product manager for travel booking service Priceline, explained that he was able to more efficiently manage his ad budget by using Ad-X as he was able to monitor which channels drove app downloads as well as in-app sales from one source.
Meanwhile, James Hilton, CEO M&C Saatchi Mobile, an agency which has worked with brands including Hyundai and Reebok, also noted that he used Ad-X as it was able to monitor usage across a wide array of ad networks.
Offering a brief glimpse of the spilt in the current mobile app market, MFG’s Fieldhouse also revealed that 60% of Ad-X clients were monitoring iOS app activity, 45% iPhone and 15% iPad. Meanwhile, 35% of the apps being tracked with the platform were Android devices while the remainder were Blackberry (3%) and Windows Phone devices (2%).
The importance of monitoring app usage, both downloads and in-app activity, was highlighted by analytics company Flurry which revealed that retention rates for Android and iOS apps drop by 76% after three months. Drop-off rates increase dramatically after this, reaching 96% after 12 months, according to the data (nma.co.uk 17 May 2012).