App marketers now have more capabilities than ever before to reach new audiences. Yet, despite the wealth of options available, many app marketers choose to rely solely on social ad networks (SANs) for their user acquisition (UA) efforts. 

This is in part because many app marketers believe that SANs are sufficient for effective UA. But, this misses the significant impact that SDK networks can offer apps in terms of scale, optimizations, and resilience. All of which is left behind when marketers choose to only utilize SANs. 

Here we’ll address the reasons app marketers should be leveraging SDK networks, as well as the common misconceptions that lead app marketers not to do so, and the impactful resources left on the table when choosing not to diversify UA marketing channels.

Capturing untapped growth opportunities

Scalability is the measure of app success, and effective scaling requires access to as wide a pool of users who can be converted as possible. While there’s no doubt that social ad networks offer substantial growth opportunities, they are not, or even close to, the totality of the market. 

In other words, limiting marketing channels to SANs means losing out on the untapped scale that is available through SDK networks, and as a consequence limiting your app's growth potential. Using SDK networks in tandem with SANs mitigates this loss of scale. 

Resiliency to market and channel policy changes

Expanding beyond social networks also has the added benefit of resiliency to market and channel policy changes. 

SANs operate under a set of requirements different from SDK networks, needing to conform to standards unique to them. While your app may be currently compliant with these guidelines, they continue to evolve and update. When changed, your app would need to quickly adapt or stop running UA. Diversifying your marketing mix enables you to create a buffer with additional avenues for growth.

And that’s just at the regulatory level. On a business level, the companies behind these social networks frequently change their policies. A change in policy could mean extensive work to meet the new requirements, which could then result in a loss of growth. By adding SDK networks to your marketing mix you can create a more resilient UA strategy that isn’t totally reliant on one set of policies that are subject to change.

A bigger toolbox for optimizations

A significant benefit to a diverse UA marketing mix is having multiple processes for reaching high-quality users. Each SDK and SAN has its optimizations for finding you the right user for your app. But, with differing solutions come differing results. This is a weakness when marketing channels are siloed from one another, or used in isolation. However, used as a part of a comprehensive and diverse marketing strategy, this means you get access to more tools to reach high-quality users at the right price.

Each network prioritizes users differently. So while SANs may miss the users you actually want, SDK networks could help you fill in those gaps, and vice versa. The larger your toolbox of algorithmic solutions, the better you can optimize and the more likely you’ll be able to find the right users for your app. 

Common misconceptions: Implementing SDK networks

While there are many clear upsides to integrating SDK networks into your UA mix, some app marketers have been reluctant to do so. A large part of this reluctance is connected to the higher investment needed, both in terms of personnel and capital. But, this reluctance is for the most part based on two common misconceptions:

Misconception 1: SDK network implementation and optimization is highly manual

A common myth around SDK network integration and optimization is that it requires a lot of manual management in order to drive results. While this was true in the past, the industry has since become far more efficient and automation driven. This is particularly true for optimizations. 

Thanks to advancements like automated bid optimizers, much of the manual heavy lifting has been taken out of the equation. The ironSource Ads tCPA optimizer, for example, uses machine learning functions to optimize bids based on certain actions. In the past, this would all be done manually, but it’s now a streamlined process that only requires the setting of which action and price you wish to optimize for.  

Misconception 2: ROAS is difficult to solve for 

An important metric for utilizing SDK networks successfully is return on ad spend (ROAS). This is the measure of revenue generated in relation to the cost of running the campaign. To effectively leverage SDK networks, app marketers need to know what ROAS goal they should be solving for. Without it, spending could exceed revenue, meaning that your UA could cost you more than it earns you. 

A common concern is that efficient ROAS is tough to identify and that generating a reliable ROAS benchmark requires a deep understanding of SDK networks and their optimizations. While this was historically the case, the industry has evolved to account for this difficulty. Most SDK networks offer account managers to assist marketers in calculating their ideal ROAS. Plus, solving for ROAS is now an established science - with the correct formulas and tools, it’s now far easier. 

Diversify your marketing mix for better UA performance and more resiliency

While SANs offer performance and scale and should be a part of your UA channels, there is significantly greater growth potential in adding SDK networks into your marketing mix. On top of this, having a diverse marketing mix gives your app a more resilient UA strategy that can adapt to changing policies, both on the regulatory and business levels. Combined with easily accessible automated optimizers and comprehensive account management, app marketers can now easily integrate SDK networks into their marketing mix for a more diverse and efficient UA strategy. 

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