AppsFlyer, the global leader in mobile attribution and marketing analytics, released its latest Performance Index, providing marketers with the most comprehensive report to date on the evolving mobile advertising industry. Covering activity in the second half of 2018, the report draws on 370 media networks to examine 20 billion app installs, 11,500 apps, and 39 billion app opens.
While Facebook and Google continue to dominate the rankings overall, other power players are emerging — particularly in the vibrant gaming market. In categories like shopping and eCommerce, Apple Search Ads and Snap still trail Facebook and Google in the rankings but saw continued growth. Additionally, relatively high fraud rates worldwide continued to impact the rankings and chip away at marketers’ budgets, prompting marketers to re-evaluate certain tactics like affiliate marketing.
The study surveyed media sources in the following regions: North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and, for the first time, rankings for Africa and the Middle East were included, demonstrating the region’s growth. Categories surveyed included Shopping, Utilities; Lifestyle & Culture; and Gaming, segmented into Casual, Midcore & Strategy, and Social Casino apps.
Among the report’s major takeaways:
- Facebook remains No. 1 network for mobile apps, while Google excels at non-gaming. Continuing its success at sustaining user demand for games, Facebook held onto its position as the top network for mobile apps, driven by its performance in gaming. Google, meanwhile, saw higher growth in non-gaming apps compared to the social media giant, likely a reflection of Google’s search intent model.
- Google’s retargeting share surges. The search giant’s 190 percent jump in its share of the app retargeting landscape marked an impressive showing for Google, while Facebook maintained its No. 1 perch on this metric.
- AppLovin is a powerhouse in gaming, while ironSource sees sustained momentum. AppLovin cemented its No. 3 spot in gaming rankings behind Facebook and Google, having made significant strides the last two years in its share of the gaming app install pie. When it comes to driving gaming app installs, ironSource has almost doubled its market share, surpassing Unity Ads with the 4th largest piece of the pie. Having said that, Unity Ads held its #4 position in the universal power ranking in the gaming category overall, compared to ironSource’s 5th spot.
- ROI saw major fluctuations. Among the networks to see the biggest changes were Snap, which rose to fourth place from ninth in the non-gaming ranking, while declining from the top spot to No. 12 in casual games; CrossInstall, which plunged from first to sixth in universal gaming; and Vungle, which rocketed from 12th to fifth place in universal gaming.
- Emerging players face significant growth challenges. Among the networks appearing in AppsFlyer’s previous Growth Index, which showcases performance of up-and-coming media sources in a specific region, 40 percent saw absolute negative growth, and only 10 percent remained in the rankings of the current and previous editions of the Index. All were emerging media sources.
- Mobile fraud is stubbornly persistent. At 30 percent worldwide, app install fraud remained high, impacting some rankings and underscoring the magnitude of the threat to marketers’ budgets and decision-making based on polluted data.
- Affiliate models take a hit. Amid growing attention to mobile ad fraud, the second half of 2018 saw a shift away from the affiliate model, with a 12 percent drop in affiliate-driven app installs, even as overall app installs increased by 32 percent.
- Africa and the Middle East are on the rise. Making its first appearance on the index, the Africa/Middle East region showed substantial growth, reflecting the region’s continued economic development. As the number of smartphone owners increases in the area at breakneck speed, the region represents fertile ground for marketers vying to attract and retain new customers.
“AppsFlyer’s latest Performance Index reflects our unwavering commitment to serving as the leading source of actionable intelligence and insights for marketers navigating an always-evolving mobile landscape,” said Shani Rosenfelder, Head of Mobile Insights at AppsFlyer. “As marketing campaigns become more dynamic, complex, and transcend various media platforms, marketers are looking for ways to engage audiences across a diverse range of media sources, regions, platforms and channels in order to build messages that resonate — and to connect the dots across the user journey. The latest Performance Index reflects ongoing shifts across the media landscape, and complements our unique position as the go-to resource for marketers navigating the mobile ecosystem.”
To access the full version of the latest AppsFlyer Performance Index, please visit here.