Provable Marketing Attribution is a Boondoggle; Trust Your Gut Instead
As is often the case for Rand Fishkin, this was a controversial article and generated a predictable amount of discussion.
There are certainly some valid points here, and also some confusion between the baby and the bathwater — as usual, the truth is in the middle.
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway for me is something I'm not even sure Rand intended: his recommendation basically boils down to 'train yourself to do media mix modeling based on intuition'. Today's MMM solutions certainly aren't a drop-in replacement for attribution, but…
3 Questions Marketers Need To Ask About Marketing Mix And Attribution Modeling
…speaking of MMM, here's a good guest article discussing some of the practical considerations of including it in your strategy.
It's still relatively early days, and we'll almost certainly see more competition and innovation around these solutions in the next couple years (hopefully even to the point of off-the-shelf products in future), but now is the time to start paying attention.
A few other things for further reading:
- AMEX is focusing on MMM instead of MTA.
- So is Asana.
- Accenture (in partnership with Meta) published a whitepaper back in December about why MMM is here to stay, and how it will help bridge the gap caused by declining access to user-level data.
The Day Redditors Broke the Internet… Again
Back in 2017, Reddit ran a pretty cool April Fools project called r/place: a collaborative online canvas where each user can place a single tile every five minutes.
This year, they brought it back. It's definitely worth watching the time-lapse all the way through, probably more than once — you'll see empires rise and fall.
(Also, this had basically the effect you'd expect on their app downloads for the week!)
Apple Will Let Content Apps Like Netflix, Spotify Link to Their Websites to Sign Up Users
This has been hanging in the air ever since Apple's settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission last fall.
It sounds big on the surface, but read the details and you'll see Apple is basically playing the 'take my toys and go home' card. Per the documentation page, some of the restrictions required for an app to use this new option:
- Not offer in-app purchases on iOS or iPadOS while using the External Link Account Entitlement (means: you can add this link if you want to, but then you can do only this).
- Open a new window in the default browser on the device, and may not open a web view (means: artificial friction to make sure the user knows the web and app experiences are separate).
- Be formatted like a standard HTML link (i.e., blue underlined text) and contain the domain name of the website (means: no CTA buttons or anything flashy).
- Link to a website you own or have responsibility for (means: don't even think about using your single link as a back-door into enabling something like this).
Also, Apple is requiring apps to show a scary-looking fullscreen warning to users before sending them to the website destination — you can see the mockup on this page, about half-way down.
Apple will allow Dutch dating apps to use other payment options within existing apps
In related news, Apple finally blinked in its ongoing dispute with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets.
- Back in February, the Dutch antitrust authority found Apple's rules to be anti-competitive and ordered changes.
- In response, Apple grudgingly announced some plans.
- The Dutch authority clearly felt those initial plans weren't sufficient, and began assessing a €5m/week fine. This has been going on ever since.
The newest development: now Apple announced its plans no longer include requiring a completely separate app just for the Netherlands. Still unchanged: a required pre-payment warning modal (very similar to the example above), and a 27% commission rate with mandatory audit rights to Apple.
The ACM hasn't indicated yet whether it considers this satisfactory…so the drama continues for at least a little while longer.
Privacy & Security
Goodbye Tracking? Impact of iOS App Tracking Transparency and Privacy Labels
When it comes to iOS 14 and AppTrackingTransparency, we've had the news articles, the marketing content, the thought leadership pieces, and the governmental investigations.
Now, we get the academic studies.
This one has a surprisingly comprehensive methodology with a robust sample size of apps. Interesting takeaways for me:
- No one agrees on the definition of 'tracking' now.
- CAID (the Chinese Advertising ID, a fingerprint-based IDFA workaround) is dead, but the authors found some evidence that individual Chinese tech companies may still be getting away with something similar after all.
- The authors agree that these have ultimately traded more privacy for more concentration of data collection with fewer tech companies…in other words, the rich get richer.
Tips & Techniques
Deciding the Optimal Conversion Value and Window Setup for SKAdNetwork (SKAN)
Now that we're a year into the Age of SKAdNetwork, the key question has changed from "how do I set this up?" to "how do I make this work better?.
This article is a great (but definitely wonky!) write-up of things you could consider.
My opinion: SKAN gives you a reeeeaaaally small box on purpose. You get a little bit of flexibility around what you want to put into the box, and how tightly you're willing to pack it down, but nothing you do is going to change the size.
And yes, for mobile marketers who have spent years enjoying a magical box that can expand to an unlimited amount in any direction, this is a tough new reality.
So what can you do with this tiny little box? There are some tricks to encode slightly more data, but these are often lossy compression (think a really bad quality JPG) thanks to privacy thresholds, and also come at the cost of increased product and analytical system complexity…and reduced debuggability if something goes sideways.
In other words, when it comes SKAN, unfortunately you can't have everything. Be very skeptical of anyone who promises otherwise.
Designing A Better Infinite Scroll
Infinite scroll or pagination…neither is a perfect solution.
The examples in this article are from the web, but most of the recommendations and takeaways are equally relevant to creating a great mobile app UX.
Introducing data.ai App IQ: The Industry’s First Robust Taxonomy
Two popular requests, which I often hear on an almost daily basis:
- Analyses of industry trends.
- Performance benchmarks.
Sounds simple enough, but try working on either of these for a while and you'll quickly run into a frustrating and rather intractable challenge: it's surprisingly difficult to cohort mobile apps by industry and vertical.
Of course, there are categories built into the App and Play Stores. But these are broad and open to developer selection, which means they're often intentionally gamed by apps trying to jockey for a better placement on the rankings charts. Another option is to create groupings manually as part of your analysis work…but that is really only feasible for quite small cohorts — manual doesn't scale.
Fortunately, there are a lot of very smart people at multiple companies working on this challenge.
I haven't had a chance to look at the App IQ data first-hand yet, but I'm looking forward to the day when this (and similar improvements from folks like AppFigures) make this a problem I never have to think about again.
Dallas Got Rick Rolled With a Giant QR Code on April Fools Day
QR codes are clearly here to stay…this would never have happened pre-COVID!
Mobile Growth Meetup: Digital First to Mobile First
When: Wed, Apr 20, 1:00 PM (GMT+4).
Where: Dubai (in-person event).
Panelists: Rain, MoEngage, InMobi.
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When: Wed, Apr 27, 12:00 PM (PDT).
Panelists: Cricket Wireless.
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Last week, Apple published a report done by Analysis Group, an international economics consulting firm, under the headline 'Report finds third-party apps see global success on the App Store'.
The Apple press release and the report itself are worth discussing separately: the former is full of carefully-polished PR points, but the latter is a legitimately interesting whitepaper with a lot of fascinating industry data.
Setting aside PR spin, it's probably best to take this analysis at face value for exactly what it shows: in certain markets and for certain verticals, users prefer apps not made by Apple. Nothing more, nothing less.Alex Bauer