On May 19th, App Growth Summit held a virtual version for its EMEA 2021 annual mobile event. Hilit Mioduser Ames, VP Growth of YouAppi, sat down with Krisztina Simon, Retargeting Lead at Product Madness, to discuss Effective Retargeting Strategies in a Post-IDFA World. Take a look below for our top takeaways from the discussion and feel free to check out the full video here


Takeaway: Social Casino Games saw huge growth throughout the pandemic in 2020, and segmenting users, and focusing on incentives and creatives is the best way to help keep the momentum of growth throughout 2021 and beyond. 

Hilit: To jump right in, despite the pandemic, the social casino games had an amazing growth year in 2020, we’re seeing the same trends going into 2021. Would love to hear about your growth team activities moving into 2021 and for the rest of the year. 

Krisztina: I couldn’t agree more, 2020 was a great year for Social Casino at Product Madness, as well. In 2021, our main focus is expansion - we’d love to keep this momentum. We are testing a couple new markets and would like to expand to Europe as well. Of course, maintaining our core base and user market is another of our main objectives. Another channel that is new we are going to try is TV, we are testing this in Europe, and we are also planning some web activities going forward. 

Hilit: Wow, that sounds super interesting. In terms of different segmentations, audiences, A/B testing that you’ve been doing in 2020, from your perspective have you tried to drill down into the same segmentation during 2020, or in terms of scale and the growth, have you seen or tested some new audiences? What is your approach on that?

Krisztina: We really wanted to ensure that you can analyze and measure the profitability and value of retargeting activity. Since the size of the audience has such a huge impact on your success in retargeting, it’s quite tricky. Having said that, we do test different approaches, and one of our latest changes is in how we are approaching our payer strategies and splitting users into segments. We’ve found that narrowing your segments too much and becoming too specific, can make it even harder to retarget them for certain segments or to even find your users. So we do have this strategy currently running, and we are looking for how to improve. We do take this into consideration though, and learn how to merge some of the different groups since some sizes are too small. And the other type of testing that we're doing or have been doing in 2020 as well, was focusing on incentives, not necessarily only for the highest segment but also for lower value segments. Different coin offers we can give to end users to try and bring them back to the game. And, of course, creative, because we all know that creatives are super important. So that's something that we try and have constantly on in the background.


Takeaway: Find pockets of users with different lifecycle stages that could have a positive incremental uplift and target those users without paid strategies. 

Hilit: You mentioned a little bit about, I would say the evaluation, and the effectiveness of all the different ad testing which are so wide and how you still want to focus on what is working and what is not. We started to speak about incrementality and measurements, but if we take a step back, it would be great if you can share a bit about how you are diversifying between the user acquisition efforts, and when it is the right time to actually add all of these retargeting strategies. And if I can add, how are you deciding where to put every dollar when you need to compare the budgets that are going to user acquisition versus retargeting?

Krisztina: So I'm not sure if I have the perfect solution here as to when to start adding a retargeting push, but I think it's really about testing. Historically, we were very conservative, and focused mainly on reactivation, rather than re-engaging our users. When it comes to paid activities, because we really wanted to make sure we're not cannibalizing any users, the main focus was retargeting churned users to payers, essentially. We moved away from that a little bit, and less conservatively now we are also testing everything after a shorter inactivity period. 

That said, we still aren’t targeting users straight after installing or active users, but it's something that has been on my mind for a really long time, and of course we are having internal discussions about it because this could fall into my upsell and activation strategies. But essentially what you really need to make sure is that you can measure it, and that you're not cannibalizing. So, ultimately, my aim or the company's aim would be to find the pockets of users regardless of the lifecycle stage that we think could have a positive incremental uplift and target those users without paid strategies. So, this is not something that can be done from one day to the other and it's quite a complex task, but thankfully we have an amazing data science team who is helping with this project, so it is a work in progress. And I'm hoping that maybe I can share some good results about this the next time we speak. 


Takeaway: Make use of internal data to perform incrementality tests to look for positive uplift as a result of retargeting campaigns. 

Hilit: I'm certainly looking forward to that. I truly think that incrementality is one of the most important keys to utilizing a retargeting campaign. It is super important to make sure that you're not only looking at how the attributed results are actually happening, but how they compare to the organic. It would be very interesting if you can share a little bit from your perspective if you are utilizing internal API's for incrementality versus vendors? What type of goals or benchmarks are you using for incrementality? I think you started to mention the ROI, it would be great to hear about the different metrics and how they work for you.

Krisztina: Yeah, for sure. And again, I couldn't agree more that incrementally was my favorite ride in 2020 for sure because we were focusing on it so much. It's super important because you want to bring that incremental uplift, whether that's in ROI or in engagement, or the number of sessions or the length of the session. There's many great partners out there who have different features and products that you use. You can also use uplifter studies on some of the social channels, but we really trust our internal analysis, most of the time, and we consider those as the source of truth. 

So for us, everything is internal, all our incrementality analysis is done internally and we have our global holdout group that we compare against, which is constantly refreshed on a periodical basis to make sure that we're not bringing any sort of bias into the testing. And essentially, we call our methodology an improved intent to treat methodology that we follow internally. And what we were looking at in 2020 was really to prove the value of overall retargeting, so we ran a number of tests to make sure that we are constantly having this positive uplift. 

Firstly, we wanted to prove that there is an uplift in revenue, but this is really tricky partly because of the genre, and the fact that the percentage of payers in social casino games is small, so if you take that into consideration then we have between, let's say 1-3% of the users who are payers and we want to retarget those users, then we focus on the incremental revenue from them. We were seeing some indication for positive uplift, but it wasn't statistically significant, so we shifted the focus towards the other engagement metrics.


Takeaway: Make sure to implement ATT popups to have an understanding of the opt-in rates and to customize them for better results. Understand your pain points and bottlenecks, so you can come up with creative solutions. 

Hilit: We’re also seeing a lot of partners, similar to those in social casino, that are focusing on both the stickiness and data retention versus ROI that you mentioned. And maybe moving into the last questions to talk about the inventory and, taking into consideration the iOS 14.5 changes that rolled out, are you seeing in terms of revenue growth goals, any special focus on Android versus iOS or specific placements? Or checking incrementality differences for geos that are leaning more on Android, etc.? 

Krisztina: Yes, so iOS 14 is definitely a pain point for us and for the industry, especially for retargeting. I wouldn't say it was really part of a set strategy in terms of the preparation, for instance we didn’t decide that we were going to move half of the budgets from iOS to Android or have a massive blast push on iOS or anything like that. But naturally some of the spend on retargeting moved towards Android. We're still focusing on incrementality, but since incrementality is not something that you can constantly follow, what we do at the moment is to have a periodical check in at least once a quarter, and to make sure that we're still hitting the numbers that we're expecting in terms of uplift. On iOS, we're still kind of waiting to see what will happen so the iOS campaigns that we're running are slightly scaled down at the moment, and we are gathering learnings and trying to understand what we will be able to do. 

We implemented the ATT popups, across all the games so we are already having a better understanding on the opt-in rates on our end, but obviously, we also need quite a significant opt-in rate on the SSPs to be able to retarget our users. But having the iOS competitor running is useful because it helps us identify some issues, and we already found some bottlenecks. One being actually blacklisting users straight after retargeting happens, because given the strict advanced privacy policies that are in place now also from the MMPs, if the user comes back, and they are inactive for a longer period of time, then we are not sending any more than events to the DSPs, for example. So having a real time blacklisting is becoming one of the pain points that we're looking into at the moment, and trying to find ways around.

Hilit: First of all, thank you so much for all of these feedbacks and comments. It is super interesting. Just to wrap up and as my final question, can you share with me what was recently the app that managed to retarget you as a user and if you know why and what influenced you to go back and use the app.

Krisztina: Oh that's a good question. Actually I think one of the apps that did a really good job with that was one of the bigger food delivery apps. It wasn't very recently, it was more at the beginning of the pandemic. They were really targeting me across all the channels. I wasn't a very frequent user or regular user in the past when we were going into the office. But I think they really increased and stepped up their game when the work from home era started. So they were targeting me across all the platforms and channels and eventually I gave in.

Hilit: Great, thank you so much Krisztina for your time and for your insights. And enjoy the rest of the event. 

Krisztina: Thank you so much for having me.