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March 15, 2018

Historically, paid social experts have regarded Android as the ugly stepchild to iOS. Citing lower conversion rates and lifetime value on Android with higher ad fraud rates (up to 3x higher), mobile advertisers tend to favor Apple inventory.

Android does, however, make up a considerable portion of the total smartphone operating system market. In the U.S., Android takes the lead of the operating system market share with 52.1% compared to 41.9% held by iOS.Statistic: Market share of mobile operating systems in the United States from January 2012 to December 2017* | Statista

Global numbers are even more staggering; Android users account for at least 88% of the operating system market worldwide. It should go without saying that advertisers can’t ignore this immense audience forever. To do that efficiently, however, one needs to understand why these stereotypes exist.The most significant factor, perhaps, is the level of diversity within the Android ecosystem. Android has 4,000+ different devices produced by over 400 manufacturers, compared to Apple’s roughly 60 devices produced by a handful of manufacturers. This variety impacts all kinds of things including reliability, consistency, and most importantly for this discussion, results.

For the sake of this conversation, we’re sharing some benchmarks from our client data:

  • Android’s click-through rates (CTR) are 51% higher than iOS
  • Android’s cost per thousand impressions (CPM) is on average, 26% higher than iOS
  • Android’s cost per click (CPC) is on average,16% lower than iOS
  • Android’s CPI (cost per install) is 18% cheaper than iOS

With those assumptions and benchmarks in mind, here are some tactical strategies we’ve implemented to acquire Android users more efficiently on paid social:


#1: Understand the differences between iOS and Android users

The heart of this discussion is making the most of your paid social investment. To accurately calculate your return on investment (ROI) on either operating system, start by finding out what the conversion rates and lifetime value are on each.

Understanding your conversion rates (CVR) between operating systems will help you start to work backward to determine how many impressions and clicks you’ll need to scale conversions. Across clients, our Android CTRs are on average, 51% higher than on iOS. That said, if your purchase (or another downstream event) conversion rate is 2x lower on Android, your conversions won’t necessarily be higher.

Next, calculating your lifetime value (LTV) across operating systems will help you start to work backward to determine how far your ad spend will go. Our average cost per install (CPI) is 18% lower on Android than iOS, but if your LTV is 2X higher on iOS, you have a totally different picture.

Since your LTV and conversion rates won’t change significantly over time (barring product or positioning changes), you’ll be able to set more accurate ROI goals.

Depending on your unique business offerings, prices, and model, understanding those pieces of the puzzle will help you decide whether or not to invest in user acquisition across Android and weigh that decision against your acquisition volume goals.


#2: Separate your campaigns

If you’re struggling to hit conversion goals or cost targets on Android, start by dividing your campaigns by operating system. In our own work, about 80% of our ad spend goes to campaigns split by Android and iOS.

By default, Facebook recommends ‘Automatic Placements’ which groups all Device Types (mobile vs. desktop), Platform placements (i.e., Facebook Feed, Instagram Stories, Audience Network, etc.), and Operating Systems (android vs. ios). If you want to be able to optimize your Android targeting, bidding, and creative, you should rethink that default recommendation.

While we’re on this subject, make sure your app is available on each OS and to only target devices that meet the minimum download requirements. For example, if your app is only available for Android devices with version 5.0 or higher installed, your placement targeting should reflect that. This is a simple mistake that we see all too often and will save you from tossing money out the window.


#3: Develop unique bidding strategies

Your users’ product experience and demographics undoubtedly vary between iOS and Android, even if just slightly, thus affecting your KPIs. Now that you’ve separated your iOS and Android campaigns, you can see how those variations affect your KPIs and optimize to drive conversions and lower costs.

There are several levers at your disposal to optimize campaign bidding and budget–campaign objectives, bidding event, bid type, bid amount, daily budget, delivery, and more.


Here are a few examples of bidding strategies you might consider:

  • Bid amount: Since Android tends to be less expensive at the top of the funnel with higher costs down funnel, you should be bidding less on Android. Bidding the same amount across iOS and Android will also affect delivery; your bid will be more competitive on Android, thus the Facebook algorithm will favor ad spend on Android.
  • MAI vs. AEO: If your activation rate from install to conversion on Android is low, you may want to try app event optimization (AEO) bidding rather than mobile app install (MAI).
  • AEO Events: On Android you may have fewer purchases than on iOS. To get enough AEO conversions, you may want to optimize for an ‘Add to Cart’ event on Android. (The same concept applies to oCPM on web conversions).


#4: Build high-value Android-specific audiences

The answer to cracking Android paid social may lie in within audience targeting. While there’s no silver bullet for unlocking pockets of high-value customers on Android, always start with what you know about your existing high-value users to build relevant Lookalike and non-Lookalike audiences.

Start by jumping into Audience Insights to compare your most and least active/valuable users and determine if there are meaningful differences between the two.

Take those learnings to build audiences based on what Pages they’re connected to, their over-indexed interests and behaviors, and more. You can also sort by under-indexing to exclude interests/behaviors/Pages from your audiences. The goal is to narrow in on your highest value users while maintaining a large enough audience size for your bid type.

Apply the same tactic to compare your users on iOS and Android, implementing positive attributes of your iOS users into your Android audiences. You might even try running Lookalike audiences of your iOS users to find similar people that happen to use Android.


#5: Understand and optimize creative for each OS

Once you’ve separated your campaigns between iOS and Android and have launched audiences specific to each, the next step is to start optimizing your creative. Analyzing and tweaking design concepts, messaging, ad formats, and CTAs for performance differences will ultimately help you reach your Android goals.

Use this high-level methodology to get started:

  • Compare best and worst performing Android and iOS creative next to one another to note major concept differences. Did Android perform better across the board with illustration over photo imagery? Did ad copy with emojis perform terribly on Android? Think about the reasons behind those learnings and iterate from there to maximize performance.
  • Separating iOS and Android also helps us note differences in placements and ad formats. Did video ads perform better on Android? Do Instagram Story placements work better on iOS or Android?
  • Once you start to notice what’s performing for Android users, start iterating on those successes. Facebook Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) is a great way to test several assets. For larger-scale tests, try utilizing Facebook’s new testing feature, creative split testing.
  • In addition to these high-level concepts, think about Android-specific details. Try using images with the Google Play logo and user Android-specific copy like “featured in Google Play store” etc. For displaying mobile or desktop screenshots, avoid displaying Apple devices.
These performance indicators should drive your macro and micro strategies, as well as help you make incremental optimizations to drive up conversion rates and down costs.

To recap, here are five things you can do to start making Android perform for you:

  1. Understand conversion rates and user lifetime value on Android and iOS to inform where and how you spend your advertising investment and what you can expect from that investment.
  2. To start optimizing your campaigns, start by separating out your Android and iOS targeting into their own campaigns, making sure (if applicable) you’re targeting devices that meet the minimum download requirements.
  3. Tweak and test different bidding and budgeting strategies on your Android campaigns, targeting the highest value actions.
  4. Leverage knowledge of existing users (especially those on iOS) to build audiences specifically for attracting high-value audiences on Android.
  5. Develop and test creative for Android users to scale conversions, lower costs, and ultimately improve your return on Android ad spend.

We know that each business is different, and Android users represent something different to each which is why this framework is so flexible. We simply urge advertisers to give Android your best shot, treating it as a high-potential challenge that can be optimized just like any other audience.

Interested in getting some more hands-on Android expertise? Check out our paid social services to see if we can help with your goals.

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