Leveraging deep insights and powerful integrations to scale a global business

Musica.ly AppsFlyer Customer


Founded in 2013, Musical.ly (now TikTok) has grown from a small start-up to one of the world’s largest global video communities. 

Through the app, users could create 15 second to 1 minute lip-syncing music videos with soundtracks, pre-set filters, and other effects.

Their two primary properties, musical.ly and live.ly, a live broadcasting app, enjoyed phenomenal success with youth around the world and in 2017 ByteDance acquired Musical.ly later merging it into TikTok.


In order to scale their growth engine, the Musical.ly team needed to understand both what specific campaigns drove their new install growth, as well as their new user quality and down-funnel retention and engagement. 

Rather than simply collecting metrics, Musical.ly sought to understand and shape their user behavior. 

For example, while some platforms seemed to have low CPIs and similar retention, their in-app user behavior differed dramatically. The team wanted to understand these user behavior patterns in order to build better engagement profiles that could then be used to optimize campaigns.

Additionally, whereas many marketers focus on measuring paid media, the Musical.ly team recognized the importance of scalability and sustainability. They knew they needed to understand the incremental lift of every marketing channel, from new media partners to earned and organic channels. 


Following a thorough data quality and accuracy review, as well as consultation with industry peers, Musical.ly selected AppsFlyer as their mobile measurement partner.

Understanding growth

Using AppsFlyer, the team mapped every step in their growth funnel across every channel. From paid growth through partners like Facebook and Google, to peer-invites, earned media and influencer marketing, the data yielded powerful insights into their user growth and customer journey. 

By integrating all of their marketing data sources, Musical.ly was able to measure the impact of every marketing effort. 

For example, they were able to associate spikes in regional organic installs with media and influencer coverage in their brand monitoring solution.

Putting data to work with Pivot reports and Custom Dashboards

One of the biggest challenges growth teams face is data overload. 

Using AppsFlyer’s Pivot reports and Custom Dashboards, Musical.ly organized their data by region, team, and capability. This not only kept their teams focused on the right data and KPIs, but it helped to facilitate benchmarking and executive reporting across teams and regions quickly and efficiently.

This unique setup quickly changed their internal team behavior; Musical.ly’s marketing teams weren’t just collecting data, they were actively finding broader use for it. 

With accessible data, performance trends jumped off the screen. As a result, A/B testing became easier and faster. And, looking at KPIs more holistically, they began adapting and testing new, additional KPIs in each market. KPIs grew to include incremental install volume, cost, retention, quality of engagement, engagement persona, day 7 and day 30 retention and more. 

This holistic approach led to faster growth, improved LTV, and an increase in marketing ROI.

Pivot reports allowed teams to easily dive very deep into their data, clone, adapt, and share their reports; looking at their data from every possible perspective and collaborating with ease.

Understanding behavior and activating partners

Using AppsFlyer Cohort, Retention, and Activity reports, Musical.ly’s marketing team was able to develop a series of KPIs that address their unique growth needs. 

For example, where other marketers tend to focus on high-level metrics like day 3 or day 7 retention, the team found that data signals such as the number of videos created, videos viewed, and the number of social connections for each new user, were key to predicting user LTV, building lookalike audiences, and retargeting optimization.

While the AppsFlyer Overview Dashboard quickly became their daily source of truth for growth and engagement insights, the growth team further synced all of their AppsFlyer pre-conversion data with their own BI team to develop deeper, holistic insights across pre-install and post-conversion customer journeys.

With these robust engagement profiles and models in place, Musical.ly team of marketers was able to leverage AppsFlyer’s integrations with global partners to sync in-app engagement data and target audiences for regional activation, retargeting, and optimization. While in the past, syncing data with each partner required manual setup and management, with AppsFlyer, every data sync was fully pre-configured, taking under a minute to set up.

Claire Sun, Head of Business Growth at Musical.ly noted:

“With AppsFlyer’s all-around data analysis, innovation and 24×7 professional support team, we make better decisions on our global growth strategy.”


Musical.ly at its peak climbed up to the number 1 position in the iOS App Store, including the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Brazil, and the Philippines.

With incredible worldwide user growth and tens of millions of daily active users, it’s safe to say their investestment in strategic, data-driven growth paid off and was a key factor in their success and subsequent acquisition by ByteDance.

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