Mobile Advertising Measurement: Winning the Long Game

Advertising is a fundamental component of most mobile marketing campaigns, from just launched apps to well-established enterprise-level organizations with strong brand recognition.

Approaches to advertising fall into two general categories: long-term campaigns and burst campaigns:

  • Long-term campaigns are designed to acquire quality, long-term users that remain engaged and contribute to the financial component of the app. Long-term campaigns also play a role in building brand recognition and re-engaging existing app users.
  • Burst campaigns are designed to move apps up the top charts in app marketplaces. In most cases the quality of users is relatively poor, but moving up the top charts helps acquire additional organic installs.

These strategies each play a distinct and important role. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each type will enable you to implement successful mobile advertising campaigns and improve the probability of achieving a strong return on your ad spend.

Long-Term Campaigns

Even in our advanced digital age, it’s incredibly challenging to measure whether a user was truly exposed to an ad.

The goal of long-term campaigns is to make an impact in one of three primary areas: user acquisition, re-engagement, and brand awareness.

User Acquisition

Acquiring quality users is one of the biggest objectives of long-term campaigns. It’s important to note that the goal is to drive quality users, not just installs.

The precise definition of “quality user” may vary depending on the purpose of your app, but generally speaking, a user that remains active and engaged with the app over time, contributes to the financial components of the app, and has a relatively high lifetime value (LTV), can be considered high quality.


Experienced marketers understand that acquiring new users is just the beginning of a much longer relationship. Re-engagement is great for apps that typically result in specific in-app events occurring infrequently. An example would be a hotel app that wants users to purchase a hotel reservation. In this example, the advertiser could compensate advertising partners each time an event happens rather than the more typical cost per install campaign.

Brand Awareness

A well executed advertising campaign can be extremely helpful in creating brand awareness. The ultimate goal is to have your app at the top of the user’s mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

What Campaign Events Should You be Measuring?

When running playing the long game in advertising campaigns, advertisers need to measure more than just the install.

So what events should mobile marketers measure?

Not all apps are created for the same purpose or target audience so each app will have different events that are considered important.

App Events

That being said, there are a handful of events that are shared across most, if not all, apps that advertisers should measure.


Ultimately, marketers want users to keep coming back to the app day after day. One way to determine whether or not existing users are engaged is to measure the opening your app.

If you have a lot of installs but people aren’t opening or re-opening your app that’s a red flag. There is no point in driving installs if people aren’t using your mobile app. Knowing if users are engaging with your app will give you an idea if you have loyal users which translates to higher engagement and retention rates.


Mobile apps that require a user to first register (i.e. create a user profile, before enabling the full functionality of the app), measuring the completion of the registration allows you to distinguish users who have a genuine interest in using your app, and therefore a greater likelihood of generating in-app revenue later on.

Registrations rates can also provide you with insight into the flow or “ease of use” of your app. High open rates but low registrations rates can be indicative of a poorly designed user experience or a complicated interface.


Do users make purchases within the app? Do you know how many start the purchase funnel but don’t complete the purchase?

A user’s purchasing behavior is vital information and you can leverage this knowledge in your app’s favor. Knowing what users have bought in the past can help you guide them towards future purchases and ensure that they keep doing so.


Here is a list of other common events mobile app marketers are measuring to gauge the performance of their long-term campaigns:

  • Tutorial complete: The completion of a tutorial within your app.
  • Add to cart: An item has been added to the user’s shopping cart.
  • Add to wishlist: An item has been added to the user’s wishlist.
  • Registration: The user has registered themselves as a user in your app.
  • Login: The user has logged in to your app.
  • Checkout initiated: The user has begun the checkout process, but has not completed it.
  • Purchase: The user made an in-app purchase.
  • Search: The user completed a search within your app.
  • Level achieved: The user completed a level in your app.
  • Achievement unlocked: The user has received access to a new achievement.
  • Content view: The user has viewed particular content.
  • Share: The user has shared something within your app via a social network.
  • Invite: The user has invited others to your app via a social network.
  • Reservation: The user has made a reservation through your app.

Beyond the Install

Know Your Audience

Utilizing web analytics has been a standard practice in every industry for many years. However, relying on web analytics to measure the performance of your mobile campaigns may leave many blind spots in your reporting.

Over the past few years there has been significant progress in mobile analytics – and this is great news for mobile app marketers. There are two types of mobile analytics in particular that should be a part of every app campaign:

  • Marketing Analytics: Also known as attribution analytics, marketing analytics enables you to understand which specific ad and publisher are responsible for an install. As mentioned previously, some enterprise marketers work with hundreds of publishers, and being able to identify which partners are actually driving app installs enables you to modify your campaign and get the greatest return on your ad spend.
  • In-app Analytics: In-app analytics enables marketers to understand user behavior in the app. For example, with in-app analytics you can measure button clicks, ad clicks, levels completed, content read, or any other definable event. In-app analytics also gives you the ability to gather basic demographic data and identify information about the user’s device.


For mobile marketers, it is essential to know who your users are and how they interact with your app. And mobile analytics will allow you to do just that and help you win in the long game.

Related reading

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