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Almost too good to be true: On-device app install advertising

As advancements in technology, targeting and performance capabilities have transformed OEMs and carriers from a static partnership to a dynamic advertising channel, mobile advertisers are beginning to realize the unique benefits they offer. Working with technology platforms that can harness the full power of on-device app recommendation, mobile advertisers today can reach users at high-intent moments with almost zero risk of fraud, and see results which differ hugely from the metrics they’re used to seeing on traditional UA channels.

Below we look at some of the ways traffic on OEM and carriers behaves differently than on traditional user acquisition channels, and explain why these differences provide tremendous value to advertisers.

The on-device experience 

First, it’s important to understand the unique nature of the app recommendation experience on new devices. Far from the traditional preloads of old, today, advertisers can leverage a rich, dynamic onboarding experience that is designed to present users with relevant recommended apps and services at precisely the moment they are focused on setting up their new device with the apps they need. 

Along with targeting according to device model and geo, advertisers can also leverage additional targeting parameters, since users often input age and gender data during the onboarding process. Moreover, advertising during the onboarding experience enables advertisers to connect with users in an environment that feels native and value-generating, versus interruptive. Ultimately, users are actively looking for apps to download during this moment, which means that apps they choose to download are likely to be in use over the long-term.  

Additionally, when a user chooses to install an app recommended during the onboarding experience, the app is installed immediately. Instead of being redirected to the store, when the user taps to install, the app starts downloading on their phone directly. Essentially, apps marketed through OEMs and carriers represent a smoother user experience, with a shorter funnel and fewer points of friction along the way to install. 

High CVRs

The nature of this unique advertising environment means that advertisers can expect a conversion rate (CVR) north of 20% for a campaign run on OEM and carrier inventory. Although CVRs this high on traditional UA channels would almost be suspicious, on platforms leveraging OEM and carrier partnerships it is the norm. Recommending apps to users at the moment they are setting up a new device is an entirely native experience where they are fully focused on choosing new apps to install, leading to much higher conversion rates and higher LTV, since users are choosing apps they want to use over the long-term versus trying out an app they saw in an ad.  

Post-install behavior

Although ordinarily low engagement post-install would be a sign of an unsuccessful campaign,  for users acquired through OEMs and carriers it is in fact a reflection of the nature and context of the ad experience. When users choose to install an app when setting up their new device, they are doing so in the belief that they will use it over the long-term, not because they are necessarily looking for short-term or immediate value. 

In this sense, OEM or carrier-driven installs drive a key unique value, delivering users with high LTVs over the long-term. Take a travel app as an example - while users may not open an app immediately after downloading (it’s unlikely they would immediately be interested in booking a trip abroad) they are almost certain to engage with the app when the time comes for them to do so, because they chose this app as their preferred travel app at the time of device setup. 

As a result, an LTV graph for a user coming from an OEM and carrier channel is more likely to look like the graph below, starting off flat and then rising sharply at a given point in time. 

While OEM and carrier partnerships have been around for a while, it’s only in the last few years that the channel has evolved to support the kind of sophisticated targeting and performance-based optimization of more traditional UA channels. Platforms like Aura offer unique advertising experiences that are inherently native, and which result in very different user behavior than that seen on traditional advertising channels. Happily, the results of this channel are not too good to be true.