Mobile Advertising

AppsFlyer released the 16th edition of its Performance Index

Marketers continue to navigate a turbulent marketing landscape with budgets dropping 20% in 2023 due to economic challenges and privacy restrictions

AppsFlyer today released the 16th edition of its Performance Index, ranking the top media sources in mobile advertising across 11 regions and 22 app categories. The latest version of the Index, which originated in 2015, found the economic downturn had a significant impact on the mobile app media space throughout 2023 as nearly all top media sources saw declines and app install ad spend budgets reduced by 20% in the third quarter of 2023 when compared to Q3 in 2022.

“As the world continues to bounce back following bouts of economic uncertainty, marketers and media owners cannot afford to make the wrong decisions – especially when it comes to media source budget allocation,” said Shani Rosenfelder, Director of Content and Market Insights at AppsFlyer. “Only four of the top 20 media source players saw budget increases this year, costs of media continue to fluctuate and channels like CTV are leading ecosystem players to quickly adapt and think outside of the box to reach consumers. For marketers, selecting the best media partners is particularly important on iOS because of its high quality audience. However, privacy-driven fragmentation in measurement has only created more uncertainty, increasing the need for accurate performance rankings for the platform.”

Apple Search Ads and Meta Lead the Way Across iOS Gaming and Non-gaming

The best way to properly depict the state of the iOS media market is by looking at a single source of truth (SSOT). AppsFlyer’s first ever SSOT iOS index combines SKAdNetwork and traditional attribution, and accurately deduplicates between the two data sources.

Apple Search Ads (ASA) is the #1 media source for iOS gaming apps and non-gaming categories, coming in at #1 in almost all the rankings across every region and every category with high quality and unmatched scale, particularly in non-gaming. The dominance of ASA in non-gaming is even more pronounced than it is in gaming, coming in at #1 in all the rankings across every category and every region except for Latin America with unmatched scale and high quality.

Although still far from its dominant iOS position before iOS 14.5, Meta ads continues to adapt in the post iOS 14.5 era, coming in at #2 in the power and volume rankings (power rankings combine quality and quantity metrics while volume only covers quantity). The social network’s performance is mostly fueled by non-gaming apps on SKAdNetwork, Apple’s privacy-centric attribution interface, where it drives the highest number of installs, well above the competition.

Google Ads came in at #3 in the rankings thanks to its scale among non-gaming apps. It should be noted that for Google, iOS is secondary compared to Android, especially when compared to its web business.

For gaming apps, Applovin ranked fifth in the global power ranking, driven by success in casual and hypercasual games, followed by Unity Ads in sixth place, thanks to a #4 rank in casual and hypercasual games. ironSource ranked second globally in social casino, and second in hypercasual games in Western Europe, Indian subcontinent, Latin America, and the Middle East.

For non-gaming, Meta ads ranked second in the global power ranking, driven by its performance in Life & Culture where it ranked second, while Google reached fifth place (third in the volume ranking) thanks to a #2 power ranking in finance. Snapchat and Moloco ranked third and fourth, respectively thanks to top-notch quality.

Google and Meta Dominate in Android Gaming and Non-gaming

Google Ads continues to dominate Android gaming and non-gaming, further extending its power ranking gap from second place Unity. In fact, it holds the top power and volume ranking in every single category within Android gaming, with the exception of hypercasual where it is ranked second.

Unity Ads held its #2 global power ranking position, but dropped one spot in the volume ranking to #5. Its success can mostly be attributed to Match genre games, where it ranked second, as well as in Puzzle, Shooting, and Tabletop game apps where it ranked third globally. ironSource surged in the global rankings, coming in at #3 in the power and volume rankings — up an impressive three slots, compared to the previous edition of the Index.

Meta ads ranked fourth in the global power ranking — up one slot compared to 2022 — thanks to a #1 ranking in casino as well as #2 spots in midcore games (RPG, Shooting, Strategy genres), as well as in puzzle, and sports and racing games.

It should be noted that power ranking gaps between Unity, ironSource, and Meta are minor.

Meta Surpasses Google Atop Shopping Ranking for Remarketing Rankings

The Android remarketing ranking finds Google and Meta, and TikTok For Business to some extent, dominating market share. Google Ads, which is the #1 player across most remarketing rankings, came in second to Meta Ads in the most important category — shopping. Meta ads was able to close the gap with Google in the global power ranking because of its success in shopping, where it surpassed Google to come out on top.

TikTok For Business came in third in the global power ranking, driven by its significant scale, particularly for shopping apps. Liftoff ranked fourth thanks to great quality, while remarketing specialists Adikteev and Remerge followed with a #5 and #6 ranking, respectively. The former’s success was largely driven by Life & Culture apps, where it ranked third thanks to great quality, while the latter came in as the top player in casino games where it clinched the #1 power ranking.

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