App Trends and C-Level Predictions for 2024

By Ville Mikkola
Event trends 2024 - featured image


It’s been another year of rapid development and shifting circumstances for mobile app marketers, and the early signs are that 2024 will be another wild rollercoaster ride of challenges and opportunities.

The global economic downturn continues, hampering marketers’ ability to drive scale. More privacy changes are on the way that will shake up the marketing and advertising ecosystem still further. At the same time, rising understanding and implementation of AI-driven tools, connected TV advertising, data clean rooms, and more should give marketers plenty of hope for the future.

To boost your chances of adapting swiftly to the conditions we’re likely to face in 2024, we reached out to some of the biggest names in the mobile marketing ecosystem. With their insight, and our in-depth analysis from the top data trends of 2023, we aim to better prepare you to tackle the challenges – and exploit the opportunities – that 2024 is sure to bring.

1. Privacy changes set to shake up the landscape once again

Privacy has been at the forefront of minds across the entire mobile industry in the last few years, with yet more significant shifts on the way in 2024. The year ahead is anticipated to bring with it the implementation of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, a critical mass for SKAdNetwork 4/5, and further developments in Apple’s Privacy Manifest.

Non-organic installs (NOIs) actually rebounded in 2023, rising 9% year-on-year after a 15% slump in 2022. Much of that was down to the improved adaptability and know-how among marketers, ad networks, and MMPs, as the industry got to grips with the massive changes brought about by ATT and SKAN. How will this recovery be impacted by these upcoming privacy changes? 

While the continued economic downturn will impact mobile app marketers’ ability to drive scale in 2024, optimism can be found not only in the industry’s increased adaptability but also in the falling cost of media. After a 15% surge on iOS in 2022, cost of media fell 10% in 2023 which gave marketers more breathing space on the volume of installs they could buy.

The advent of Privacy Sandbox is expected to have a profound impact on NOIs in 2024. While the majority of marketers seem optimistic about Sandbox, we know from recent experience with iOS 14.5 that adapting to sweeping industry changes like this can take time – lots of time.

It’s vital that businesses get ahead of the curve now, to ensure they’re prepared for Privacy Sandbox and other privacy changes, as Dentsu’s Director of Mobile, James Lodge, notes:

2024 trends - Dentsu privacy compliance quote

Collaboration will be key, both internally and externally. Marketing departments will need to liaise closely with their in-house development teams and their own clients so that the impact of these privacy changes is fully understood.

2. Preparing for Privacy Sandbox 

Privacy Sandbox is likely to bring a period of adjustment that will depress the volume of Android installs, as the industry gets to grips with the changes – just as we saw with Apple’s sweeping privacy moves a few years ago.

In 2023, total app downloads increased by just 2% after a 10% growth the previous year – largely due to a 4% decline among non-gaming Android apps. It’s probable that Privacy Sandbox will have a further impact on Android installs, which make up the vast majority of global app downloads.

There was, however, good news for Android gaming installs in 2023, which saw a 6% rise driven by big gains in India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia. To prevent these rises being pulled back to Earth by the launch of Privacy Sandbox, there’s a whole range of areas that businesses will need to tackle in advance. James Lodge from Dentsu underlined some of the critical questions that marketers need to solve ahead of time:

“What are the critical KPIs that we’re using to measure success? How will Privacy Sandbox need to be configured? And how different will this be to Apple’s own privacy changes, and where will it take place?”

There’s a lot to take on, and no one-size-fits-all solution – hence the need to prepare well in advance. Tailored data strategies will be needed, as Belle notes:

“We’re collaborating with our clients to devise tailored data strategies that enable them to be privacy ready. These strategies typically include elements such as first-party data acquisition, expanding the use of non-IP-based data signals, building out consented data partnerships, and lots more. A comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure our clients are well-equipped to navigate the evolving landscape of data privacy.”

3. Continued economic slowdown and marketing budget priorities

App install ad spend was one of the main victims of the economic downturn in 2023, particularly among non-gaming apps on Android. While iOS grew 2% year-on-year, Android ad spend across non-gaming verticals plummeted by 10% – which should put marketers on alert heading towards 2024’s anticipated privacy changes on the platform.

For companies like EssenceMediacom, balancing short-term challenges with long-term growth objectives will be paramount in 2024:

2024 trends - Essencemediacom AI campaign quote

Businesses will have to stay agile, with Belle citing endeavors like the Metaverse and BeReal that were widely anticipated to be key trends in 2023, yet fell flat:

We need to continually reassess these opportunities to determine if they remain beneficial. As the landscape shifts, we need to have enough room and agility to pivot the investment direction accordingly. Trust, transparency, and partnership are essential

Gaming apps were able to resist the wider downward trend in 2023, with user acquisition (UA) spend on the vertical remaining relatively flat across the period. Much of that, though, was down to a 3% rise on iOS. From May to November 2023, for example, Android UA spend declined by a significant 17%.

There’s a lot of uncertainty on the horizon, but also reasons for cautious optimism when it comes to app install budgets. In the early part of 2024, plenty of economic parameters like GDP growth, inflation, and market performance are in a far healthier place than they were in 2022. There’s hope yet that marketers’ ability to drive scale in the next coming year will be less impacted than the previous period.

4. AI in marketing: Beyond the buzz

One tool that should bring increased hope for marketers in 2024 is the rise of marketing methods driven by artificial intelligence (AI). 

AI exploded into the public consciousness in 2023, as the wider world began to explore the possibilities of chatbots like ChatGPT and other large natural language processing models (LNLP). For marketers, though, AI usage has already taken root and is being woven into the entire user journey on mobile.

AI is doing far more than simply taking a load off strained marketers by handling mundane tasks. With tighter budgets placing an increased focus on hyper-personalized content as part of the customer experience, AI is empowering marketers to leverage their in-house data to further enhance the effectiveness of their targeted marketing.

Heading into 2024, emerging AI technologies hold immense untapped potential for marketers. EssenceMediacom’s Belle Cartwright acknowledges that while AI has been in use by data specialists for many years, it still represents “the next revolution in business across the mobile industry” – thanks, in part, to the popularity of LNLP models like ChatGPT:

Models such as ChatGPT and Bard have democratized access to data, enabling innovative and exciting ways to interact with information in a very human-like manner. We’ve worked with Open AI and Google to access and build from their LNLP models to build a secure environment chatbot that accelerates ideation and automation within our teams.

AI is likely to be a positive disruptive change in the coming years, and has the potential to empower marketers to radically alter the ways in which they do business.

5. Omni-channel strategies: Connecting the dots

The concept of omni-channel marketing continues to evolve, as marketers successfully connect more and more dots from campaign to conversion and enhance the seamless transition from web to app. Consumers now demand a holistic experience, no matter which device or platform brands use to interact with them.

Connected TV (CTV) advertising was one of the big winners in 2023 in this regard, delivering an astonishing nine times more mobile app installs than the previous year. This incredible rise is underlined by the average per app figures, which showed a 2.5x rise since February 2023.

How does CTV advertising build off this success in 2024, as part of a broader omni-channel strategy? Belle Cartwright identifies four areas of strategic importance for marketers to consider:

1) Unifying data across media and creative delivery, app and web analytics, and customer insight sources into a centralized location for better insight-gathering and connected understanding of audiences.

2) Investing in programmatic and other connected buying platforms that enable access to the most relevant and best-quality inventory sets.

3) Ensuring that customer journey mapping is considered upfront, with deep linking enabled and QR codes leveraged where relevant and additive to experiences.

4) Deploying data analytics and AI / machine learning models to understand and optimize how investment across channels, creatives, and platforms is delivering against campaign objectives.”

CTV advertising represents a fantastic opportunity for marketers in 2024, with eMarketer predicting that year-on-year growth will increase to 22.4% from 20%. Underpinning this is the launch of an ad-supported tier on Amazon Prime Video, offering another opportunity for mobile app marketers to capitalize on this up-and-coming marketing channel.

Jan Altmeyer, the Chief Digital & Product Officer at Havas, predicts that out-of-home (OOH) advertising is going to be “the next big wave in digitalisation”:

2024 trends - Havas CTV quote

6. Measurement of tomorrow: Data clean rooms and privacy-preserving data sharing

The use of data clean rooms (DCRs) increased significantly in 2023, as businesses realized their potential as a privacy-preserving method for sharing data between companies. With budgets expected to remain tight in 2024, it’s going to be vital to eliminate blindspots in your data. Enter the data clean room, which is expected to play an even bigger role in marketers’ toolkits over the next 12 months.

Henner Ueckermann, Managing Director of eProfessional, believes DCRs will become a crucial marketing tool over the next couple of years:

2024 trends - Havas DCR quote

DCRs are offering businesses much more than merely secure data activation, though, as Belle Cartwright highlights:

We’ve worked with our clients on applications of clean rooms that extend from insight gathering to the measurement of effectiveness. We’ve also witnessed DCRs’ capability to facilitate better data partnerships between advertisers, publishers, and other data providers. This enables both us and our clients to uncover growth opportunities, and deepen our understanding of current and future customers.

Key takeaways

Buckle up for 2024, as it could be a bumpy ride on the rollercoaster that is mobile marketing. As our industry experts note, though, there’s plenty of room for optimism in the next 12 months and beyond, particularly for marketers who are prepared for the downward slopes as well as the dizzying highs:

  • When it comes to Privacy Sandbox and other privacy changes, be proactive rather than reactive. As we saw with iOS 14, adapting to sweeping industry changes isn’t generally something that can be achieved in just a few months.
  • Internal and external collaboration will be key to effectively handling 2024’s privacy changes – and client expectations of what those changes may bring.
  • Tighter marketing budgets mean that staying agile, and being prepared to pivot investment direction, will be vital in 2024.
  • AI in marketing is already being used for ideation, as well as automation – and marketers are still only beginning to scratch the surface of its potential.
  • Connected TV advertising was one of the biggest winners of 2023 and looks set for an even stronger 2024, representing a fantastic opportunity for marketers.

Ville Mikkola

Prior to being Regional Director DACH at AppsFlyer and Managing Director CAAF (Coalition Against Ad Fraud), Ville co-founded and served as Chief Operating Officer at TreasureHunt, a Berlin based mobile gaming studio. Previous positions include Managing Director of Europe at Yeahmobi, Head of Network Operations at Glispa and Marketing Director at Fox Mobile (20th Century Fox Mobile Division). Ville has over a decades worth of management- and marketing experience across the mobile, web and offline space.

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