Leveraging User-Level Data: What Mobile Publishers Need To Know

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This article is sponsored by MoPub.

The use of user-level data is getting a lot of attention in the mobile in-app space today. More app publishers are leveraging paid user acquisition to attract and retain users. To differentiate in an increasingly competitive market, publishers need to be able to identify profitable campaigns from loss-making ones. By accessing user data at a granular level, publishers can attribute revenue back to the campaigns that drove those earnings. For example, if a publisher determines that a specific campaign resulted in 120% ROI, that publisher can focus on extending their spend on that channel in an attempt to drive more users to their app.

As app publishers leverage supply-side platforms to access user-level data, there are three things they need to be aware of: data granularity, precision, and ingestion flexibility.

Data granularity. Access to granular data enables publishers to better optimize user acquisition. Therefore, publishers should talk to their supply side platform to understand the level of detail they are able to furnish. Analyzing attributes such as revenue, demand source, ad placement, ad type, and geo are all useful in understanding what’s working, what isn’t, and how to improve acquisition campaigns.

Data precision. Today, real-time bidders such as DSPs provide exact revenue for each impression. That’s important because to measure true ROI, publishers need to attribute revenue to each individual user at the impression level. However, many ad networks instead provide eCPM averages, usually at a country or placement level. Basically, ad networks divide the total revenue by the number of users that saw the ad, resulting in an average for each user. In this case revenue could still be used as an indicator in measuring ROI, but won’t be as precise; therefore, publishers need visibility into whether provided revenue data is exact or estimated so they are aware of any limitations, and factor that when calculating their models.

Data ingestion flexibility. Mobile app publishers want the flexibility to either process the granular data themselves or send it to third-party partners for deeper analysis and reporting. It’s important for publishers to understand how providers are going to give them access to this data. Impression-level data solutions that are SDK-based are easier to manage, since third-party vendors already have SDKs installed to measure in-app events. Vendors are able to record each impression as an event, which is then included in their reporting. Other solutions might offer the data through an API, which is also effective but requires more integration work.

Optimizing user acquisition campaigns is just the beginning. In the near future, publishers could also use granular user-level data for a number of additional use cases, such as enhancing the customer experience and improving their overall monetization strategy. Regardless of the use case, data granularity, precision, and ingestion flexibility are very important factors to ensure success for publishers.

Finally, it’s important to realize that precise user-level ad reporting from ad networks won’t be a reality in the mobile industry until in-app bidding (also known as mobile header bidding) becomes more widely adopted, as it will enable publishers to collect granular impression-level data from ad networks in real-time. As an industry, we need to collectively push for in-app bidding to become the defacto mechanism in mobile mediation, to ensure all participants have a level playing field and to deliver critical granular data that helps publishers calculate true ROI and create accurate LTV models.

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