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Data Is King, But Mobile Will Decide Who Rules

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galiareichensteinData-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 Galia Reichenstein, chief operating officer and head of sales at Taptica.

With mobile apps soaring in popularity as a consumer engagement tool in recent years, the market has become decidedly saturated. There are the many “core” apps that most people use, such as email, social networks and a shopping or map application. There are also the one-off apps created by marketers for individual initiatives or to supplement their primary offerings.

Data is the most crucial aspect of any marketing campaign these days, and app marketing is no different. With a growing urgency for marketers to connect the online and offline worlds, mobile creates a bridge between them, allowing marketers to create more complete audience profiles by using data from a variety of first-party sources, such as Facebook, Apple and Google.

These three are the largest providers of the vital first-party data across mobile channels that advertisers rely upon to inform their mobile targeting and retargeting campaigns.

When we download an app, we give it several permissions in exchange, including firsthand access to our mobile data. That comprises our behavior across the device, including payments, location, bookings and searches, plus the ways in which we use other apps on our phones and how often. The ability to track that behavior is invaluable to app publishers and advertisers who need to monitor their app’s functionality and marketing ROI.

Other Players

Apps such as Uber and OpenTable have also spent the last few years quietly gathering strength by building their own first-party databases, which are likely to give the current big players a run for their money.

Unfortunately, not every app can make it to that level. Few do. To become a data power player, an app must be a disruptive technology, with something that can gain widespread appeal based on its ability to improve users’ personal and professional lives. It is this first-party data that gives the big guys unmatched strength and reach in the ad tech market. Unfortunately, this data is siloed within these big companies, making it difficult integrate or incorporate smaller data streams.

Facebook and Apple recently announced changes to their data-sharing policies that are challenging the current methods and philosophies of app retargeting. With the bulk of quality first-party data being housed within these companies, how they decide to share this information can create an almost unchecked hold on the mobile advertising market.

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These moves by the big players impact how advertisers can target and retarget. For example, apps that are built in on a new phone may be used for strong re-engagement strategies. IPhone users probably notice that when they buy a new device or update IOs, they are targeted with ads to encourage awareness and use of the new Apple music service. Likewise, OpenTable users are offered incentives to return, such as loyalty points that translate to free and discounted meals at popular restaurants.

A key part of the overall strategy for success in app marketing and retargeting is responding to the signals a user sends through their use of apps. Obviously, the more users an app has, the more data it can gather. With the app market as crowded as it is, how many can actually monetize their data in any real way?

At first, “there’s an app for that” was literal since apps were created by amateurs and professionals alike, simply to get into the game. Apps that are created today based on data are much smarter, often with the ability to build fairly detailed profiles of consumers to support and maintain their other related marketing efforts.

Ultimately, apps are the new gatekeepers to content for consumers who will provide a great deal of info in exchange for access to that content. In today’s somewhat monopolized mobile app environment, those that can effectively leverage mobile data will be able to maximize return on their apps and edge out the competition.

This means playing nice with the data overlords and maintaining strategic relationships with Facebook, Google, Apple and, soon enough, the Ubers of the world to secure access to their rich, first-party mobile data streams.

It means using that data to inform app retargeting strategies, reach app users at the right place and time and deliver the right story that will keep them coming back to the app, making all the time and money invested in its development worthwhile.

Follow Taptica (@Taptica) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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