How to win in Vegas: AppsFlyer’s 2024 MAU recap

By Brett Pinto

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. When it comes to the insights and amazing conversations with thought leaders in the mobile marketing industry – that’s a good thing. The tiny bit of a tan is nice, too.

We’ve taken the past week to really digest the many unique experiences, interactions and events that are part of MAU. From checking out everyone’s swings at Topgolf to speakeasies, dinners, and pool parties, there was something for everyone – that’s the beauty of conferences in Vegas.

This year’s conference was well-attended and included many old friends, partners and mainstays at the show, along with new players in the industry who came ready to disrupt with AI-powered creative capabilities. There were solutions presented for some of the most pressing privacy issues of the moment, and brands who had seen amazing results as they began their digital transformation processes over the past few years.

If you are new to the mobile marketing industry, as some of the amazing marketers we met on the ground were, there were a lot of acronyms, buzzwords, and hot takes that might have been… confusing on first listen. 

What was on everyone’s minds

It’d be easy to sum up the industry’s big challenges, focuses, and opportunities that were discussed at MAU in about a minute – and I don’t think many of them would be a surprise. 

Signal loss. Measurement challenges. Automation. Finding a prime table at Nobu.

However, that is really just scratching the surface of what was discussed with customers, partners, and other attendees throughout the week. So, let’s take a deeper dive into what was on peoples’ minds.

Innovation drives the day

AI (I know, shocker) was a hot topic on stage and across the show floor. For the first time, real-world use cases were everywhere – many of them data-backed and with a case study to boot. It’s exciting and important to move beyond the hype cycle and into practical implementation. This event was a confirmation that people across the ecosystem have prioritized incorporating AI-driven solutions as a means to expand their capabilities within the marketing tech stack. 

Alex Yip, AppsFlyer’s Director of Product Discovery, hosted a riveting conversation between MobilityWare’s VP of Marketing Zach Pond and TikTok’s Head of Creative, Liraz Dvora diving into the usage of AI-driven creative optimization tools (like AppsFlyer’s) to help scale creative output and determine success.

Alex Yip, AppsFlyer’s Director of Product Discovery with MobilityWare’s VP of Marketing Zach Pond and TikTok’s Head of Creative, Liraz Dvora

Zach Pond said during the panel discussion, “Everyone has lived through the loss of signals post-ATT, and now certain platforms just don’t work for us. We’ve doubled down on creative production, and we’ll create 4-5 buckets of content before honing in on the winners we’ll use.” Pond went on to say of the budding technology, “while (this current iteration) is the best AI you’ve ever used, it’s important to keep in mind that this is also the worst AI you’ll have for the rest of your life.”
Unsurprisingly, gaming apps continued to lead the charge in innovation, but there were a few other verticals that shone through. Wellness and gamification apps emerged as intriguing verticals driving forward – stay tuned. Loyalty and rewards programs were frequently discussed when it came to these types of apps, with a lot of enthusiasm for building out those programs.

The buzzwords of the event were undoubtedly monetization, engagement, and user acquisition, highlighting the industry’s continued focus on driving user interaction and growth within apps. Soundcloud’s Hope Barrett joined two fireside chats in which she broke down rebuilding her martech stack amid a push for user retention and engagement. With the industry pushing forward, we’re in for a bright future.

Everyone needs a single source of truth

Over and over, the need for a single source of truth came up and we can think of a few reasons why: 

  • the fragmentation of data
  • introduction of SKAN 
  • Meta’s AEM
  • Google’s soon-to-come Privacy Sandbox

Bottom line – marketers are hyper-focused on the ability to implement a system of accurate measurement and attribution across all of their channels. Organizations need to have a single source of truth for the entire marketing picture. 

AppsFlyer President and GM, Brian Quinn said during his keynote, “Keep in mind, Finance will have their view. Product teams and game studios have their views. Ultimately, the entire business needs to have a source of truth consistent across the board.” Quinn went on, “The marketing picture is very complicated and fragmented, yet you’ll need to provide a single view of marketing – aggregating all the measurement methodologies and signals to inform the business and make the best decisions.”

The average customer will engage with brands through many different avenues and platforms nowadays. The challenge is to count a given user only once because that same user can be attributed by multiple methods. 

In his keynote, Quinn referred to AppsFlyer’s Single Source of Truth (SSOT) as one of the key inputs for a modern marketing organization to understand its key signals. Quinn was joined by Mobilityware Director of User Acquisition Chris Kim, who provided an incredible example and insights into how he leveraged the AppsFlyer SSOT to find a new signal to help optimize UA efforts. The results were clear and impressive – increased iOS spend by 6%, decreased SKAN CPI by 46%, and increased the company’s SKAN ratio by 30% YoY!  

Mobilityware results from implementing AppsFlyer SSOT

SKAN + Privacy Sandbox = SKANBox

The gold medal for “most mentions at MAU” certainly goes to Android Privacy Sandbox and SKAN4.0. We’re now three years post-ATT rollout, and many marketers are finally comfortable with the state of play, yet with SKAN4.0 looming along with Google’s mobile Privacy Sandbox still to come, there is still some uncertainty. While much of this played out in attendee-to-attendee conversations and meetings throughout the week, there were plenty of content sessions dedicated to helping prepare marketers for the Sandbox rollout. Google hosted their own session at the show, and AppsFlyer also hosted a fireside chat with Amit Varia, Director of Product Management for Privacy Sandbox and AppsFlyer’s Barak Witkowski, Chief Product Officer that was moderated by Remerge CEO & Co-Founder, Pan Katsukis. 

MAU panel on signal loss

With an ever-changing privacy landscape, Varia and Witkowski were able to dive deep into the intricacies of privacy-focused attribution, remarketing, and app install ads use cases. Privacy Sandbox will have even more powerful modules that will make it easier for advertisers, including Topics APIs & Protected Audience APIs. Google themselves have a lot to say.

After the panel, Witkowski said the key takeaway from the chat was, “Understanding that Privacy Sandbox should be combined [with the rest of your tech stack] towards a Single Source of Truth – which is the best way to really push for adoption.”

Varia built on Witkowski, saying: “The insight is to make sure you are getting involved in testing – whether that is asking your advertising partners what their plans are… [for testing the Sandbox]” in order to get your hands dirty and better understand the Sandbox, or for the advertising partners to start testing themselves.

Let’s get to work

There is an energy and enthusiasm in this industry different from the past few years. The industry has taken the punches of COVID, economic uncertainties, privacy regulations, and evolving technologies – and now the ball is in our court. 

2024’s promise remains promising to those who are in charge of driving growth with less financial resources, but more tech capabilities at hand. The excitement felt during MAU is an early sign that we are all eager to get our hands dirty with what’s to come or already here: signal loss, data fragmentation, Privacy Sandbox, adopting AI for automation and for better creative optimization. 

Among all the variables, something constant has emerged: the premium on accurate marketing data. 

And as proven by the foot traffic at MAU: we all still learn better when meeting up in person. Can’t wait for next year!

Brett Pinto

Brett Pinto is the Senior Manager of Communications, North America at AppsFlyer. Brett oversees the communications and media relations for North America. He is an experienced communications and brand marketing leader, with previous roles at InfoSum, Streetsense, and POLITICO.
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