As you probably know by now, the mobile programmatic space is complex.

With issues like quality, transparency, volatility, and data privacy ever-changing, choosing the right retargeting partner is a daunting task, especially for growth marketers who are new to re-engagement and retention campaigns.

What’s it like to identify the right partner to fit your growth needs on a practical level? Read our go-to-guide of considerations as you evaluate new retargeting partners.

How much is it going to cost?

When considering a new partner, it’s important to analyze how much time and money it’s going to cost. To decipher this, do a technical evaluation of the onboarding process. While the potential partner should be equipped to handle all campaign set-up, you might need to involve your engineering, data and/or R&D teams to handle in-app events, deep linking and other aspects of your campaign integration.

As the saying goes: ‘time is money.’ If you are going to need to involve internal teams outside of marketing, how many meetings and work hours will be required? If the potential partner will need to involve your engineering team in multiple meetings for campaign set-up, then request clear and concise instructions and/or documentation to limit inefficiencies.

How can this partner support my data integration needs? 

The first step in setting up your retargeting campaign for success is compiling the resources to create a robust audience list. Depending on your growth stack and the sophistication of the retargeting partner, they should be able to provide a playbook of options to enable audience integration.

Consider your growth stack as you create this plan. Do you work with a CDP (customer data platform)? Or, does your internal engineering team handle data analytics and external integrations? This will clarify your available options for campaign set up, from ‘low touch’ to ‘high touch.’ 

  • Low touch - This includes an audience list of users who performed certain actions that aren't being passed from MMP to partners, or pulling historical data prior to a live integration set up. While, ideally, you would be able to set up a live integration of customer data with a partner for better campaign targeting, if the latter isn’t an option, then the partner should be able to support you with a low touch setup.
  • Mid to high touch - This includes a S3 server integration or live integration.  As we’ve mentioned before, setting up a live integration as soon as possible is a key strategy for creating a high performing campaign since it utilizes data that is automatically updated from the MMP to partner configuration. This type of integration might need to involve your engineering team and be more resource intensive by result.

What internal analytics will the campaign require?

Again, this consideration will depend on your growth stack. Do you work with BI (business intelligence) platforms? Do you have additional APIs (like a cost reporting API)? A retargeting partner should be able to seamlessly onboard your MMP, integrate a reporting API, and any data management platforms (DMPs) you work with.

Additional matters related to your KPIs will flush out these considerations further. Does the partner have the ability to align with your attribution model and KPI requirements? For example, many apps have certain time frame metrics that help them evaluate user LTV. This could include analytics that show a user that reaches a certain game level or session time is more likely to make an in-app purchase.

Sometimes, it can be hard to provide a partner with the real time reporting or internal metrics required to enable the above use cases. If your app is not able to provide internal metrics to an external partner for privacy reasons, focus on communicating your needs as clearly as possible.

Can they do incrementality testing?

Incrementality, or incremental lift, is a key metric for understanding the value of your retargeting campaigns in your overall marketing mix. The ability to undertake thoughtful incremental lift testing should be a key consideration as you evaluate a new partner.

Ask potential partners if they can run an incremental lift test and, if so, what the minimum spend is for a first test. Other questions we suggest asking to potential partners about their incrementality testing capabilities:

  • What metrics do you take into account?
  • How long do you recommend running a test?
  • Can you provide education and information on how to run a proper incremental lift test?
  • What methodology do you use to do incremental lift testing?

While there are several incrementality testing types, we recommend ghost bidding as the most efficient and effective methodology. Like other incremental lift test methods, ghost bidding involves a holdout group. However, this testing type segments out users in the holdout group who are not served an ad to control for ‘noisy’ data. Instead of serving ads to these users, ghost bids are placed on them. This provides an apples-to-apples testing environment using programmatic technology without spending additional money on serving non-brand related ads — as is the case with the PSA testing methodology.

As you evaluate retargeting partners, inquire about their incremental lift testing and whether they are able to undertake the ghost bidding methodology. A retargeting partner should also be able to add any parameters to your reporting that you would like to include in an uplift test.

Do they provide creative support?

When considering your creative needs, review your minimum spend requirements and the types creative asset support the partner offers. This will help you decide whether external creative design support is best aligned to your needs. In some cases, partner creative teams can conflict with internal design processes and create more inefficiencies in the end. With that said, ask your potential partner about their creative design approvals process to decipher whether it’s a fit for your time. You might benefit more from a smaller, agile creative team than a large creative agency.

What kind of service do they provide?

It’s smart to consider if the retargeting partner provides the type of service that aligns with your needs. If you are looking for full control and have the internal resources to set up, optimize and evaluate your campaigns, then consider a self-serve retargeting platform. However, if you are looking for a more supportive advisory relationship, then consider a retargeting partner that provides a managed service.

When evaluating managed service providers, highlight communication timeliness. While over communication can be a waste of your resources, expect weekly meetings and regular alerts; especially to notify you of performance fluctuations. Try to avoid partners that notify you of performance issues weeks or months after they occur.

Takeaways on Choosing an App Retargeting Partner

Choosing the right retargeting partner is a daunting task. On a practical level, here are key considerations to keep in mind as you’re evaluating the right partner.

  • How much is it going to cost? Undertake a technical evaluation of the onboarding process a new campaign partner will require. Is the partner equipped to handle campaign set-up or do you need to involve your engineering and/or R&D teams? This will clarify your understanding of how much onboarding a new partner will cost your app.
  • How can this partner support my data integration needs? Consider your growth stack. Do you work with a CDP? Does your internal engineering team handle data analytics and external integrations? This will clarify the available options for your campaign set up, from ‘low touch’ to ‘high touch.’ 
  • What do I need for my internal analytics? Consider any BIs, APIs and specific KPI needs you might have.
  • Can they do incrementality testing? The ability to undertake incremental lift testing is a key consideration in your evaluation. Ask about methodologies they support and if they can undertake ghost bidding (our recommended incrementality testing type).
  • Do they provide creative support? It’s good to know if a partner can support you with your creative design needs. Evaluate your resources and whether you might benefit more from a smaller, agile creative team than a large creative agency.
  • What kind of service do they provide? Clarify if they provide a self-serve or managed service and what works for you. If a managed service is more aligned, set out timely communication expectations.

Looking for a retargeting partner?

On the hunt for a retargeting partner? Contact our team to evaluate if your app’s needs align with our services.