Google AdWords last year regained the top spot for ROI on Android mobile devices in a global ranking of ROI on mobile, pushing aside Facebook which had led in 2016, per Singular ROI Index data released today. The Google ad service led Facebook on Android devices in most regions, except Europe Middle East Africa (EMEA). Facebook also had the best ROI for iOS devices worldwide.
Snapchat showed better ROI results in 2017 after more marketers started testing out the platform in the prior year, per Singular. On iOS, Snapchat had the sixth-highest ROI for non-gaming marketers and the 15th-highest ROI among all verticals. Twitter delivered the second-highest ROI in 2017 on Android and iOS for non-gaming marketers as spending on the social network increased.
Apple Search Ads, a relative newcomer to the market that started two years ago, delivered the fourth-highest ROI on iOS, up from the 10th highest in 2016. Apple’s ad platform also captured a larger share of digital marketing budgets, rising from the 23rd to the 6th highest-volume media source on iOS as measured by total ad spend.
The Singular tracking data confirm the reasons for Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital advertising with their strong ROI metrics driven by audience data that are unmatched by other media channels. The companies still face a challenge in policing objectionable content to ensure their platforms are safe for brands. Big advertisers are clearly concerned about what Unilever's CMO Keith Weed this week called "this swamp which is the digital supply chain," suggesting strong ROI needs to be coupled with effective strategies for quality content if digital platforms want marketers to continue investing.
While Apple’s core business is in selling luxury-priced hardware, the company does show strong potential to grow its ad business and crowd out other applications, particularly on iOS. That’s particularly true for gaming, where iOS drove 1.2x higher ROI than Android, which is closing the gap with 8% annual growth in ROI, per Singular. In the Americas, Apple Search Ads drove the 2nd highest ROI on iOS, surpassed only by Facebook.
The challenge for Apple continues to be walking the fine line between protecting user privacy and leveraging the wealth of data the company can collect on users for ad targeting. In December, Apple introduced an ad product that lets software developers pay for placements based on the number of app installations from its App Store. Called Search Ads Basic, the service is aimed at smaller developers compared with the existing Search Ads product, which was now being renamed to Search Ads Advanced.
Mobile video is also a strong source for growth, as seen with the results for video-focused media sources Vungle, Unity Ads and AdColony. The three ad platforms all had top spots in the rankings for the second year in a row, moving into the top 5 on Android in 2017. They also captured a greater share of marketing budgets on Android and iOS, Singular said. The Singular ROI Index ranks 30-day ROI by analyzing $1 billion in revenue data from more than 1,700 apps with 315 million installs.