As one of the world’s fastest growing internet economies, Southeast Asia is home to 400 million internet users, making it a sweet spot for mobile app marketers to lure new, tech-savvy users. In 2020, marketers across the region spent USD 244 million to acquire new users in 2020, accounting for 8% of the USD 3 billion spent globally, according to a report published by AppsFlyer in June.
AppsFlyer is a San Francisco-headquartered company offering marketing analytics. It is one of the few firms that have benefitted from growth in the mobile app marketing industry. Last November, the firm snatched USD 15 million in an extended Series D round led by Salesforce Ventures, bringing its total funding to USD 225 million.
After AppsFlyer reached a valuation of USD 2 billion, Ronen Mense, APAC president of AppsFlyer, told KrASIA that the firm has brought 188 fintech and banking customers onboard since the onset of the pandemic. “Raising money is not a top priority for us. The priority for us as a company is to continue to deliver as much value to our customers as possible. Hopefully, we will be able to IPO by the end of next year, or at the beginning of 2023,” Mense said.
KrASIA recently sat down with Mense to discuss the development of mobile app marketing in Southeast Asia, as well as mobile advertisement fraud in the region.
The following interview has been edited and consolidated for brevity and clarity.
KrASIA (Kr): How has mobile app marketing evolved across Southeast Asia?
Ronen Mense (RM): There are now mobile-native or mobile-first companies. Some marketers are also mobile natives and have discovered different ways to acquire users through Facebook, TikTok, email marketing, and in-app ads. When it comes to mobile marketing, it comes down to what drives the best results.
What has been happening in this industry in the app space is mind-boggling. For example, Apple rolled out its App Tracking Transparency framework on iOS 14 in April. It allows marketers to identify mobile app users. This new framework creates some challenges for marketers and forces brands to think about the way they operate. Companies need to build a competitive advantage, and only the ones that embrace these changes will be able to adapt to the new reality.
Kr: What are some of the most popular mobile app marketing strategies used by regional tech giants for customer acquisition?
RM: Online shopping festivals like mid-year sales that take place in June, mid-November’s Singles’ Day bonanza, and Ramadan in Indonesia have been important for marketers to reach new users. It is interesting to see how marketing strategies have evolved. Third-party app stores like Huawei and Xiaomi have become popular places for app discovery. When users successfully install an app on their device, marketing analytics firms like us will assess the marketing stimulus behind this development to understand the app discovery journey. Then, we will look into how that user engages with the app.
Marketers need to use a mix of their traditional marketing knowledge and mobile advertising technology. We are in a world where branding is critical. Branding is about trust, and the more trust that we’re able to build, the better our engagement with brands is going to be.
Kr: Online advertising is also a breeding ground for fraud. How bad is this situation in Asia?
RM: The Asia Pacific region registered USD 945 million in app installation fraud in just the first half of 2020. These numbers are significant. If you look at specific countries like India, mobile app fraud rates exceed 40%. What really happens is that fake users can pollute your data and make you think that you gain real users, which are, in fact, just robots. As these fraudsters are very advanced, they know how to imitate human behaviors. The cycle repeats itself until you discover that you’re spending money on garbage that does not have any business value. Marketers should protect themselves with proper anti-fraud tools.
Fraud is a business where some people spend days and nights thinking of ways to cheat the system or make money through nefarious activities. We have done a really good job in providing marketers with a security blanket, so they can operate without having to worry too much about being targeted by fraudsters.
We have a large team and their focus is to stop fraudsters. We won’t catch everything immediately, but we have systems that learn and adapt to protect our users and customers as quickly as possible.