Kick Starting a Successful App Retargeting Strategy

Mobile is eating the world and it’s no surprise that marketers are increasingly adopting advanced strategies and technologies for their mobile campaigns. App platforms with a large install base have realized the importance of retaining users rather than just getting more installs. Even new mobile apps with relatively lower but growing install base are beginning to evaluate app retention strategy relatively sooner in the marketing lifecycle.

While there is an increased awareness amongst marketers of the need to have an app retargeting and re-engagement strategy in place, we still see a significant gap between knowing that one has to have a retargeting strategy vs. understanding the nitty gritty of what exactly it takes to start an app retargeting campaign.

In this blog, I’ll try to list down several important factors necessary for a successful app retargeting strategy. If you are already well versed with the nuances of retargeting campaigns, do read this blog on the evolution of app retargeting which talks about how you can ensure that you are getting the max out of your retargeting strategy.

Without further ado, let’s talk about some of these key factors.

Mobile Measurement Platforms (MMP)

First things first. You need to select a mobile measurement and attribution platform since if you can’t measure the effectiveness of your retargeting campaigns, you might as well not run it. There are many app attribution platforms like Adjust, Appsflyer, Apsalar (now Singular), TUNE, Kochava, etc. Here are some retargeting specific criteria that you should keep in mind while finalizing the measurement and attribution platform:

1. Retargeting Support: Not all MMPs have the same level of support for measuring retargeting campaigns. Most of these platforms were born out of the need to measure user acquisition/install. While selecting an MMP, ensure that the platform can support retargeting and reengagement metrics. Question vendors on how they support metrics like reattribution window, lookback window, reengagement window etc. Make sure they support the attribution logic that works for your business.

2. Pricing Format: Check if the MMP is going to charge you based on attributed installs, events forwarded, fixed monthly fee or any other model. Select a model that is cost effective while giving you an ability to configure multiple app events. A successful retargeting strategy relies on your ability to configure and postback granular user events. More the data you share with your retargeting partner, better will be the campaign performance. If MMP platform imposes any limit on the number of configurable events or if the total cost of the solution increases with the number of postbacks, you might want to consider other non-event based pricing models.

3. Miscellaneous Features While a solid attribution and event forwarding capabilities are critical, given that most of the MMP platforms are going to support these features, you might want to look at advanced capabilities such as fraud detection & prevention, re-engagement reports & dashboard, advanced cohort analysis and more.

Mapping App Events

Selecting an MMP is just the first step. Many marketers fall to the fallacy that once you have selected and integrated your MMP’s SDK, you are all set to start your retargeting campaigns. But for an effective re-engagement campaign, it’s essential that some key app events are mapped and forwarded to your MMP and retargeting platform. These key events can differ based on your app vertical. For instance an e-Commerce app will view conversion funnel events such as “Category Listing”, “Product Detail,” “Add To Cart,” “Purchase” as critical while for a gaming app , events such as “Level Up,” “In-app purchase” etc are important.

Unfortunately, in most of the cases, the first version of MMP SDK integration includes just the basic “Install” and “App Open” events which are not enough to start an effective retargeting campaign. Marketers should work with their tech team to configure key events via MMP SDK and make sure that these events are being published to the retargeting partners.


Deeplinking support at the mobile platform level has been around for few years but we still see lack of adoption or incorrect implementation in many scaled up mobile apps. Deeplinking enables each screen within the app to have a unique address which can immensely boost the performance of a mobile engagement campaign. For example, in a retargeting campaign, if you are showing a dynamic ad of a product that the users are interested in buying, you would want them to land directly on the product page when they interact with the ad rather than taking them to app home screen. You can get a significant boost in the campaign click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR) when you run dynamic product ads with deeplinks.

Retargeting Partner

Once your app is ready to run the retargeting campaign; to get maximum reach and performance, you would need to zero down on your retargeting platform outside the walled gardens of Facebook and Google. Here are some pointers that can help you select a right retargeting partner:

1. Transparency: You would extend your retargeting strategy outside the walled gardens so that you can get a much better view of the campaign performance. Hence, a platform that offers full transparency and flexibility should be an important criteria. A transparent platform should give you granular insights such as the audience cohort being retargeted, publishers where your ads are running, performance across different creative formats to name a few. Don’t be satisfied by mere vanity factors like getting a peek into CPC etc. It’s your campaign and you should have full visibility.

2. Programmatic Reach: Programmatic is where the world is moving to- be it Open RTB, Preferred Deal or a PMP (Private Market Place). Choose a platform which has access to programmatic inventory. Selecting an old age, pure-play ad-network may not be the most future-proof approach since it will significantly hamper your ability to reach more users across different inventory sources.

3. Flexible Attribution: Many marketers prefer a flexible attribution model which works for their business. While the MMP’s support basic attribution (last click, view- through etc), they may not be able to customize their attribution logic based on your specific needs. For instance, you might want to have a separate attribution model for install vs. retargeting partner wherein all purchases within a seven-day install window gets attributed to install source while a purchase after seven days is attributed based on last click logic. Some marketers want to have separate attribution logic for first vs. repeat purchasers. Evaluate your business requirements and ensure your retargeting platform can support flexible attribution based on your changing goals.

4. Managed vs Self-Serve: Some platforms are only enterprise-class solutions while others operate as barebone self-serve platforms. There is no one-stop solution that works for every marketer. Many marketers prefer working with a partner who can run campaigns for them (managed mode) in the initial phase with a flexibility of taking the platform in-house down the road. Do keep these long-term goals in mind while selecting a retargeting platform.

I hope this gives you a good idea of what it takes to run a successful app retargeting campaign. Will love to hear your thoughts on how you are planning to kick start your re-engagement and retention strategy.

About RevX

RevX is an app retargeting platform that powers growth for mobile businesses through dynamic retargeting. The platform is built on integrated and transparent technology combining four key pillars - audience intelligence, programmatic media, personalized ads, and ROI optimization. Mobile marketers across verticals like e-Commerce, travel, lifestyle, hyperlocal and gaming use RevX to enhance user engagement by activating new users, converting existing users and re-activating lapsed users. If you have any doubts, queries or ideas, do reach out to us at

Sandip Acharyya