When Edition I was released in Q3 of 2015, it was hard to imagine that 5 years later we would publish Edition X, and that this mini-brand within the AppsFlyer brand would have such an impact on the industry.
So there’s no better time to say: thank you all for the vote of confidence.
To illustrate just how much has changed, take a look at the rankings from Edition I, for gaming and non-gaming apps across iOS and Android (look for the icons, it’s the original design). For those who were around back then, it’s quite a sight (click on the image to zoom in):AppsFlyer Index I
A quick glance tells the story: The media landscape in mobile advertising has drastically changed in 5 years, as consolidation reshaped the space.
Since Edition I, the Google-Facebook duopoly has significantly increased its install market share as both giants grew taller and taller. Google, in particular, got off to a relatively slow start, but has since ramped up its presence on mobile.
We can see that many logos are no longer present, while other big players like TikTok Ads, Apple Search Ads, Snap, and Liftoff have emerged.
The numbers speak for themselves:
60% of media sources that appeared in Edition I, will not be in X
75% of media sources that will be in Edition X, did not appear in I
The shift from quantity to quality in media is exemplified in two sweeping trends:
A distinct clampdown on fraud and reduced tolerance to any sign of polluted data
A shift in budget allocations to media partners with robust in-house technology that can crunch data and drive return
Fast Forward 5 Years: Edition X Marks Google’s Takeover
Edition X is a worthy ending to an explosive decade for mobile apps. It was during the 2010s when apps became our go-to source for content, games, and services. By the end of the decade, App Annie reported app downloads reached 204 billion in 2019.
However, with millions of apps in the stores, developers have been increasingly reliant on marketing to drive installs.
Indeed, almost 60% of downloads of apps with marketing spend in 2019 were driven by app install campaigns — up 15% compared to 2018 and almost 30% since 2017.
Translating this to money, app install ad spend in 2019 totaled a staggering $57.8 billion, according to our recent report.
Ultimately, when marketing plays such a central role in the success of mobile apps, so does the Index.
Note: The data set of Edition X covers the second half of 2019, a time frame that preceded the global outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Having said that, as of March 15, 2020 we have not seen any significant change in the total number of non-organic installs (NOIs) on a global level in comparison to previous years — neither for gaming, nor for non-gaming apps.
What’s new in Edition X?
Performance marketers seek actionable data. That means the more granular a benchmark/ranking is, the more actionable it is. Indeed, it has always been our priority, and as AppsFlyer has grown, the scale of data allowed us to go deeper and deeper in the index’s segmentation — while maintaining its statistical validity.
In Edition X, we have no less than 252 rankings including 20 new category rankings including first-timers like finance, entertainment, and many gaming sub-genres.
appsflyer performance index drop down
Retargeting is also approaching center stage for app marketers, opening up the Retargeting Index to include regional rankings for the first time.
What have we found?
AppsFlyer Performance Index
1) Google tops universal power ranking. Since launching its Universal App Campaigns product a couple of years ago, and in particular in the past year, Google has leaped forward.
In Edition IX, it topped the volume ranking, a considerable milestone on its own. But this time around the search giant hit the #1 spot in the most important ranking — the power ranking — which combines quantity and quality factors. After all, marketers want their media partners to deliver high quality users at scale.
Google’s success can be largely attributed to its performance on the company’s own Android operating system. In fact, it held the #1 Android power ranking in 16 of 23 global segments across gaming and non-gaming categories.
2) Facebook rules iOS and retargeting. The social network generated tremendous value for app marketers in every region and every vertical. But it was on iOS where it reigned supreme with a #1 power ranking in 17 out of 19 global segments across gaming and non-gaming categories.
Meanwhile, the use of retargeting is rising and that’s an understatement — in only six months, we’ve seen a 20% increase in the number of apps running retargeting campaigns. In some verticals, it is now almost mainstream.
Facebook is fully capitalizing on the massive growth opportunity that is retargeting. Thanks to its Dynamic Ads product and unrivaled targeting capabilities, the social network dominates the Retargeting Index in every region.
AppsFlyer Performance Index Retargeting
3) The gaming triopoly beyond the duopoly. Three players are battling it out in the explosive gaming arena: ironSource, Unity Ads, and AppLovin. In Edition X, it was Unity’s turn to shine, significantly growing its market share in gaming. Together, the triopoly achieved 35% market share of Gaming installs in H2, a 10% increase compared to H1.
4) TikTok Ads surge continues. With the TikTok app sweeping across the globe, the demand among marketers advertising on the platform in 2019 surged. TikTok Ads is now the 4th largest media source for non-gaming apps. The app’s success has also led to a #1 ranking in the Growth Index for the second time in a row, increasing its share across the globe: from China and India, to North America and Western Europe.
5) Some positive news about fraud. Over the years, fraud has been the single largest factor that impacted Index rankings. The good news is since fraud, or rather the threat of fraud, has taken center stage, marketers are taking action.
Their reduced tolerance to fraud is clearly demonstrated in the following stat from the Index’s data: 23% of media sources improved their fraud rate by at least 20% in H2 — double the rate of sources whose fraud rate took a turn for the worse by at least 20%.