6 Pro Tips for Successful Mobile Games App Retargeting

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. Today’s column is written by Ido Zehori, data science team leader at BigaBid.

One in five users forget about an app after using it for the first time. They’re originally drawn to the app from an offer they’ve received or for a specific use, but after their first time using it, there’s a good chance the app will fall completely off the user’s radar.

Mobile marketers and product managers need effective strategies for preventing this churn and to keep users returning. A good retargeting campaign can be super effective, but it must be executed properly.

Here are six pro tips for doing mobile app retargeting the right way.

Start by focusing on churn prediction and user importance metrics

The segment that you target in your retargeting campaign should be designed primarily around how likely it is that the user has churned for good. In other words, what is the probability of the user returning naturally to the app?

You can also apply a "user importance" metric assigned to each user to determine how important it is to bring that user back. This importance metric can be based on features that rely on the user's behavior, usage patterns, and total time spent in the app, as well as other insights you have on the user outside of the game.

Remember to:

  • Offer the right CPM (or the bid you offer in the auction for the right to show a user an ad). For example, users that have lower predicted ARPU should get a lower bid.
  • Show the right creative. For example, base your creative on a certain type of mobile game you know the user is active in.
  • Determine your frequency cap. Be specific about how many ads you want to show the user overall, per day and per hour.


Go beyond your basic churn prediction and user importance metrics

While churn prediction and user importance should be the bread-and-butter of any retargeting effort, take your retargeting campaign even further by looking at over a thousand different features and their incremental value to the retargeting effort.  These features are different types of data points, such as a user’s device model, time of day, rewards they have claimed, a certain level reached in the game, etc.

Consider for instance the incremental contribution of the feature to the user’s incremental return rate, incremental first time deposit rate or incremental ROI. If you have machine learning architecture, input these features, which will let your models produce the expected incremental value of showing the user an ad.

Measuring incrementality helps reveal the difference in the app’s performance when running a reengagement ad vs. not running one at all. Only by predicting the incremental value of showing an ad can you determine how much you should bid for the user.

In essence, you’re predicting the incremental gains of targeting a specific audience.

Employ special offers for retargeted users

When you’ve successfully reengaged users, make sure you keep them by designing special offers for retargeted users only. For example, if your game is a slot machine app, offer your returning users free coins to help them get back into the game and rediscover the joys of playing.

Do not keep these perks a secret. Design creatives around your special offers to let users know what awaits them when they return.

Use deep links

By sending users directly to a specific in-app location, deep links help users skip the need to locate a specific page themselves, which significantly enhances their user experience. Moreover, deep links significantly increase conversion rates and the effectiveness of your retargeting effort.

Manage audience updating the right way

Retargeting campaigns let you target users based on several special characteristics – mostly features around the user’s historic journey within the app, OS, special user segments, etc.

So it’s crucial that you build your target audiences in real time. Ideally, your user states should be updated in real time, or at least once per hour to provide the optimal retargeting treatment. Moreover, your audiences should automatically update themselves in real-time, as you should not be burdened with the need to manually update your segments as your user base grows.

Tweak your retargeting treatment regularly

In any retargeting campaign, the performance of your user segments changes over time. The incremental ROI of your campaign can also vary significantly. Therefore, regularly adjust the retargeting treatment you’re giving users and measure the impact of the choices you’re making. A failure to respond in this dynamic market can quickly eliminate a lot of potential value.

Retargeting campaigns are very interesting work that require diligence, creativity, monitoring and tweaking. They also can be complex, which is why the previous tips are a good start, but only begin to scratch the surface of the real complexity surrounding good retargeting campaigns.

Follow Ido Zehori (@IZehori) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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