Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework for iOS 14.5+ made it way harder to measure and optimize app campaigns.
That’s just the new reality for app marketers and publishers.
But creative assets are a largely untapped performance data source developers can use to measure campaign success in the absence of an IDFA.
“If you get down to the asset level you can attribute based on which assets were used in a campaign or drove the behavior you were looking to drive,” said Alon Tvina, CRO of Bidalgo, an Israel-based mobile marketing platform that focuses on creative performance.
On Friday, Bidalgo launched an attribution solution that allows app marketers to label and track the different aspects, themes, colors and concepts within their marketing creative down to the specific designer who made the content. (A marketer might work with hundreds or even thousands of designers, both in-house and on a freelance basis.)
The labels can either be manually customized or added automatically based on the naming conventions used in the files.
All of that data is aggregated and modeled into a single analytics dashboard, bringing together data to understand which assets are performing the best, what needs to be tweaked and which creative elements should be scrapped.
Animated creative might work better than static creative for certain cohorts at a particular time, for example, or a sports-focused game might get more juice from creative that features the likeness of one celebrity athlete over another varied by region.
Creative tracking is not a panacea, though.
Facebook, for example, used to be the king of creative optimization, running and testing hundreds of assets in concert for any given campaign while in flight. Apple’s changes put the kibosh on that, and Facebook is now recommending fewer ad set permutations and for advertisers to spend more time analyzing the totality of their campaigns.
But this recommendation is mainly related to Facebook’s ability, or rather its diminished ability, to target users. Other ad networks are grappling with the same set of challenges.
“Creative-level delivery is mostly driven by engagement signals, which ATT hasn’t impacted,” Tvina said. “Therefore, it’s recommended to create fewer campaigns with more creatives.”
Bidalgo does its creative performance modeling based on two sources of data: upper-funnel metrics associated with creative assets, such as spend, impressions and clicks, and post-attribution ad-level data coming from Apple SKAdNetwork, the advertiser itself, channels such as Facebook, Google and other ad networks or a measurement partner.
And there’s no need for a user-level identifier, because marketers are tracking the creative labels rather than the person.
Bidalgo started investing in creative analytics and measurement several years ago, before Apple made its move, Tvina said. But ATT lit a fire.
“We’re still in the turbulent education phase,” Tvina said. “People are looking for answers and solutions and there’s quite a lot of tension and stress.”
Developers and their partners are still changing and adapting, said Maya Kahane, creative performance and operations lead at social casino studio Huuuge Games, which has been using Bidalgo’s labeling tool.
Because not all users give their consent for tracking, “other methods and models have to be used to get a thorough understanding of campaign performance and its attributed revenue,” Kahane said.
This isn’t a brand-new concept.
Even before ATT and SKAdNetwork became the law of the land on iOS, user acquisition managers were gravitating toward creative as a performance driver in reaction to changes in the auction dynamics at the largest ad networks.
Facebook and Google have both been systematically introducing more and more automation into their own ad networks for years, leaving UA folks with less control over audience detection and targeting.
“Because of this, creatives have become one of the most important levers to manually influence and optimize,” Kahane said. “User acquisition teams are aware of this and increasingly focused on getting the most out of creatives.”