In-App Advertising in a Post-Cookie Era

0 (1)

Alex Mcilvenny – Country Manager zeotap UK

Your smartphone usage reveals a great deal about you. According to a 2018 report, A Decade of Digital Dependency, Britons are now so addicted to their phones that they check them every 12 minutes. It also revealed that 40 percent of adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking up, increasing to 65 percent of people under the age of 35.


In the UK, 83% of that mobile time is spent in apps, and engagement is a daily habit — people launch at least nine apps daily and around 30 on a monthly basis.

Given how dependent we are on our mobile devices, there is no better indicator of our personalities and interests. From the apps we install, to the frequency that we open them and our behavior once in, these valuable insights paint a detailed picture of who we are.

Audience Insights Could Go Deeper

Researchers from Aalto University in Finland and Qatar Computing Research Institute analyzed demographicsand app usage to create models to predict gender, age, marital status and income with up to 82% accuracy. For example, the study showed that women are likely to have Pinterest or Etsy on their phones, and if you use LinkedIn and Fitbit, your income is likely €50,000or higher.

These modeled insights are a decent starting point but we could glean so much more about digital audiences.

It’s time to move beyond just a few bland sociodemographic data points about larger groups of the population to actually understanding the psychological makeup of users. By looking at particular app usage and the frequency of actions taken, advertisers could be much more strategic in their planning. For example, apps can identify in a very timely manner life changing moments such as becoming a parent, buying a house or moving to a different city — all key moments for advertisers that have been traditionally difficult to spot. These pivotal moments will likely be reflected in new app downlands — such as baby care and mortgage payoffs — which through app usage data, are very easy to detect and act upon.

In-App Advertising: A Good Alternative as Cookies Keep Dying

A couple of years back, the biggest tech providers started making it much harder to rely on 3rd party cookies for desktop advertising. Chrome, for example, with the largest browser market share of 62.8%, released a cookie privacy update last month forcing developers to set a featured called SameSite, defining if 3rd party cookies can be read across sites or not. Of course Apple — with a smaller market share of 15.8% — has been much tougher on cookies. Its new ITP 2.2 release reduces 1st party cookie expiration time from 30 to 7 days, and blocks 3rd party cookies by default.

Advertisers that base their campaign on such volatile identifiers as cookies will have a hard time keeping up. That’s why it makes sense to start basing their campaigns on more permanent and reliable ones like MAIDs for several important reasons: they track devices and not browsers, don’t pose any limits on mobile, and don’t have all the problems associated with cookies such as duplication or inaccurate syncing.

This is the perfect time for advertisers to look into shifting larger parts of their desktop-based strategy to mobile and in-app, utilizing MAIDs as the central identifiers and the potential wealth of insights that apps can gather to better guide their strategy.

The Future of In-App Targeting

Apps are usually closed, siloed ecosystems that don’t communicate with each other, so advertisers don’t have insights into a broad user profile. For example, through SDKs and other means, it’s fairly easy to tell whether Spotify, LinkedIn and Rightmove are installed on a user’s phone. What’s much more challenging to determine is whether people actually use these apps and in what way. Then there are popular apps such as Uber which are quite protective of their data and don’t give advertisers even minimal access.

It’s time we start making the most of the targeting goldmine of apps, especially in a post- cookie era. In order to do so, the industry needs to solve the technological challenges of cross-app silos and convince premium apps like Uber that their valuable data can be an incredible revenue stream while still protecting their users’ privacy.

On that note, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is obviously top-of-mind but we have to find the right balance to dramatically improve digital advertising from modeled assumptions to those based on how users actually think and act.

It can be a whole new world for in-app targeting with the right approach and new mindset.

Author: Alex Mcilvenny – Country Manager zeotap UK

With 13+ years of international experience in digital marketing and advertising, Alex is recognised within the industry as a senior marketing leader with a proven track record for launching and growing digital businesses in the UK through successful partnerships with agencies, advertisers, publishers and tech platforms.

As UK Country Manger at Zeotap, Alex helps brands and agencies achieve better marketing ROI thanks to Zeotap’s deterministic end2end solution to onboard, understand and activate 1st party customer data.

Before joining Zeotap, Alex held the roles of VP Sales Europe at Ligatus, Managing Director at Mozoo and Head of Sales UK at Widespace. Alex is also the Founder & CEO of AM Media Consultancy, which provides media and communication services to independent businesses.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s