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Debunking four myths about on-device advertising

Advertising directly on devices through telcos and OEMs has come a long way since the days of static factory preloads. Now, the tech ecosystem supporting on-device advertising has become sophisticated enough to transform it into an innovative channel that adds incremental value to UA portfolios. Below, we debunk the four biggest myths and misconceptions app marketers hold when it comes to on-device distribution.

Myth 1: It’s all about preloads

In the past, on-device marketing was mostly limited to one ad placement: preloads. As a result, a misconception persists that this channel remains a one-trick pony, revolving around unpersonalized placements that don’t positively impact the user experience. However today the tech allows for a wide range of placements that give users a choice, offer relevant recommendations, and reach them at touchpoints where they’re primed to install. 

This is win-win: users enjoy the best user experience and advertisers benefit by showing their ads in a seamless, high impact environment. For example, when users finish an operating system update or the onboarding process for a new phone, they’re prompted to complete the process by installing apps from a relevant list of recommendations, based on contextual data. 

Myth 2: There's no room for optimization

Jumping off the previous myth, there's a misconception that on-device channels don't allow for optimization, making this a poor channel for performance marketing. While this may have been true in the past, today the on-device advertising ecosystem is a sophisticated performance marketing channel.

On-device channels use deep machine learning to automatically optimize the user experience and deliver on advertisers’ KPIs. They run thousands of A/B tests per day, adjusting features like the color and format of each touchpoint, ensuring results for advertisers are consistently improved in real-time. Machine learning also automatically places the highest-performing content, app, or service within a touchpoint – using customer opt-in data to dynamically power the content recommendations. 

In addition, advanced filtering with parameters like device model and geo let advertisers bid on a granular level and, in turn, better optimize their campaigns. With such robust optimization, advertisers can access all the analytics needed to understand the customer journey and drill down into each touchpoint’s funnel data and KPIs. Crucially, this means advertisers know if on-device channels are providing ROI, just like on other performance marketing channels. 

Myth 3: It’s cumbersome to integrate the tech 

In the past, advertisers may have experienced some friction with getting started running campaigns on telcos. They are often large companies with complex structures and high regularity standards, meaning sales cycles were typically long with deal sizes that must justify the effort put into the process. In addition, until recently advertisers needed to provide a dedicated APK to the phone manufacturer, and by the time the phone hit the market the APK might have already lost its relevance.

Now, however, in order to get started running campaigns directly on users’ phones, it’s a quick and seamless process for advertisers. For example, with Aura, you don’t need to integrate a dedicated SDK - all you need to do is provide your app’s tracking link from your attribution partner, and Aura takes care of the rest and serves the latest APK from Google’s Play Store - meaning you can set up your first campaign within a couple of days. 

Myth 4: On-device installs cannibalize organic installs

Back in the early days of on-device marketing, when advertisers were limited to static preloads, concern about cannibalizing organic installs was valid. You wouldn’t want to waste advertising dollars on preloads for users who’d have gone on to install your app on their own accord - and there was no effective way for avoiding this. 

However, nowadays, on-device channels have technology to measure incrementality, which solves the issue of cannibalization. An incrementality test is a controlled experiment that measures the number of unique new users that a media channel delivers. This incrementality is not evaluated in a vacuum, but rather relative to other media channels - also against the effect of not running paid media at all. 

Therefore, advertisers running on-device campaigns can use incrementality testing to understand the true value of this channel compared to their other paid media channels - as well as whether or not the channel is driving new installs at all, or just reaching users who would have installed the app organically regardless.

On-device channels like Aura can also identify whether users have an advertiser’s app already installed on their phone, or even if it's sitting dormant in their backup - that way advertisers never waste spend. 

Far from cannibalizing organic installs, on-device advertising gives advertisers the ability to identify and optimize towards incremental growth, and fine-tune the way they allocate budget across their portfolio of media channels for maximum impact and efficiency. 

Strengthening the marketing arsenal

With so much attention placed on emerging marketing channels, from Tiktok to connected TV, it's the channel that’s been around for over a decade that’s quietly driving growth for app advertisers in verticals ranging from entertainment to fintech. 

The combination of diverse ad placements, minimal barriers to entry, strong optimization capabilities, and incrementality measurement makes advertising directly on devices through telcos and OEMs a powerful addition to the marketing arsenal of forward-thinking growth managers. 

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