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Online travel giants lead next-generation app install marketing

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Online travel steps up mobile app know-how

HotelTonight and Hotels.com are two early adopters of mobile application install ads that provide important learnings for marketers that are just now looking to test the growing options in this area, including new ad units from Google and Twitter.

Twitter, Yahoo and Google are looking to break into the same success that Facebook has seen with mobile app installs ads with the launch of new ads in the past few weeks. As the opportunities begin to wane for promotion within app stores, new options including Google’s video and mobile search-based ads should ramp up some advertiser interest while also segmenting ads towards specific groups of consumers.

“It will be interesting to watch and see how these new platforms evolve, change and find their strengths in the near future,” said Guillaume Lelait, vice president of North America at Fetch, San Francisco.

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“Google should be an exciting platform to watch in particular, due to the strength of video advertising, the profound amount of data Google has access too, and the scale in which they are able to reach,” he said.

Online travel gets leg-up
Online travel brands are an interesting example of a vertical leveraging app install ads because many of the efforts here are more focused on re-engaging consumers who have already downloaded a mobile app versus acquiring a new user.

Google singled out HotelTonight earlier this week as a brand that is testing its new search-based app install ads. According to Google, consumers with the HotelTonight app installed may see a search ad linking to a specific page within the app if they search for hotel-related keywords.

HotelTonight was also one of the first brands to use Facebook’s retargeting app install tool last year (see story). 


HotelTonight's Facebook ads

Hotels.com was also mentioned in Twitter’s announcement last week as a brand testing its new app install units.

Online travel brands are known for innovating quickly in mobile, and in many cases these marketers place a large focus on apps that cut down the booking process significantly while also incorporating loyalty.

The focus on mobile app install units in the online travel sector suggests that the newest crop of install ads may be best suited towards marketers that have already invested quite a bit in apps and are now interested in targeting existent users to drive additional engagement.

Data overload
Google’s unveil of app install ads earlier this week is the latest attempt to capitalize on the same success that Facebook has seen with mobile app install ads.

The new ad format lets marketers promote app installs in mobile search results and on YouTube.

Both new formats are the search giant’s latest attempt to monetize the growing amount of mobile traffic coming to its properties, particularly within apps where consumers spend a majority of the time.

The YouTube ads could also help Google stand out from either Facebook and Twitter as the growth in mobile video continues to grow rapidly. 

Facebook is also testing mobile video within app install ads, but the YouTube ads will presumably be integrated into pre-roll video ads.

A December study from Ooyala found that mobile and tablet video views spiked 133 percent year-over-year (see story). 

With more video being watched via a smartphone or tablet, advertisers are increasingly interested in hitting these video viewers with targeted mobile ads.

On the other hand, the in-search app install ads are an attempt from Google to boost mobile revenue from AdWords.

During its first-quarter results, the search giant reported a 9 percent year-over-year drop in cost-per-click; however that percentage remained the same from the previous quarter (see story).

Although Facebook and Twitter also offer targeted ads, Google’s differentiator is the trove of data that the company has collected on users.

Taking a page from Facebook
After acquiring MoPub last year, Twitter rolled out a new set of app targeting tools last week that marketers can use to drive downloads within the company’s app and on MoPub’s network of apps.

Similar to Facebook’s ads, the ads appear in news streams with labels indicating that they are promoted.


Twitter's new ads

In addition to Hotels.com, SeatGeek, Spotify and Square are among a handful of advertisers testing the ads.

Twitter has been pushing for bigger ads and content with a recent redesign of Web profiles and Twitter Cards that essentially give advertisers more room to show off ad creative.

According to Dave Martin, senior vice president of media at IgnitedLa Segundo, CA, one of the biggest implications with the new app install ads is a shift from low-cost and low-quality install ads to more qualified ads.

"It will bring more transparency and competition to the marketplace, which are both good things for marketers," he said.

"I think we’re going to see marketers getting smarter about optimizing toward lifetime value of their customers instead of just install volume. The new platforms are going to help push this ball forward."

Yahoo is also testing in-stream mobile app installs that appear within news streams on the company’s mobile properties.

As more companies continue to churn out apps, the number of app discovery platforms will only continue to grow as advertisers look to break out of app store marketing.

In addition to Yahoo, Twitter and Google, other big online companies are expected to roll out other app install ads this week.

“Twitter app cards are great for organic or paid app user growth in a world where App Store promotion is increasingly difficult,” said Nathaniel Perez, global head of social media at SapientNitro, Boston.

“By enticing fans to interact on Twitter with content which requires the app, we are effectively promoting organic downloads,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York

Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer. Reach her at lauren@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Advertising, mobile, mobile marketing, Fetch, Guillaume Lelait, Sapientnitro, Nathaniel Perez, Dave Martin, Ignited

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