- TikTok and Apple Search Ads last year delivered high returns on investment for advertisers of mobile apps, rivaling other platforms such as Google and Facebook among ad networks. Ad spend on TikTok, the social video app that exploded in popularity last year, surged 75 times from May to November, researcher Singular said in an annual report that ranked ad networks by ROI.
- Apple Search Ads, which highlight apps in the iPhone maker's App Store, appeared in all 12 of the regional and vertical rankings that Singular tracks. The company's findings are based on $6.3 billion in media spending among 550 ad networks for 2.2 billion app installs.
- Smaller companies like Vungle, IronSource and Tapjoy also performed well, demonstrating their ability to outperform ad giants like Facebook and Google in niche markets. While e-commerce giant Amazon is the third-biggest digital ad platform in the U.S., it doesn't appear in the top rankings because it's more focused on retail sales than on app installs, per Singular.
Singular's annual ROI report shows several emerging trends in app marketing, including the growing importance of TikTok as an ad platform for app developers. The surge in ad spending on the social video app is a direct byproduct of its massive growth to an estimated 738 million downloads last year. The app's key strength is in reaching Generation Z audiences, helping them to discover fresh content while urging them to participate by creating their own viral videos. TikTok is working to broaden its customer base in several ways, including the development of a self-service advertising platform that may help to compete with rivals like Facebook.
Singular's research also indicates that Apple Search Ads delivers a strong ROI for app marketers. Those ads reach Apple customers when they're most ready to download apps, making them a key promotional tool for developers. Apple doesn't disclose how much it earns from ad sales, but one analyst estimated that the iPhone maker will see substantial growth, particularly after last year's launch of Apple TV+. Apple may boost its ad revenue more than fivefold to $11 billion by 2025, an analyst at JPMorgan estimated in November, per Reuters.
TikTok's appearance in the ROI ranking is an interesting development considering that parent company ByteDance spent heavily on other social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to promote TikTok and boost downloads. TikTok also took aim at Facebook's advertisers by running ads on Google to target people who searched for information about advertising on the social network, Adweek reported. TikTok's parent company ByteDance is privately held and doesn't disclose data about its ad growth. However, consulting firm R3 estimated in November that ByteDance's share of digital ad spending in China reached 23% during the first half of last year, or $7 billion. That growth made ByteDance the second-biggest digital ad platform in the country after Alibaba.
While it doesn't appear in Singular's rankings due to its focus on retail sales over app installs, Amazon's advertising sales jumped 41% to a record $4.8 billion during the key holiday quarter, and could increase in importance for mobile marketers as the company experiments with mobile app video ads and influencer storefronts.