Many marketers who remarket to online shoppers, don’t use the technique to reach mobile shoppers. Here are six strategies for applying this effective technique to mobile marketing.

Retargeting—the practice of re-engaging with existing users, encouraging them to complete their purchase or reactivating dormant ones—is all but mainstream on the web. In fact, 88% of marketers include retargeting, aka remarketing, in their marketing mix.

But only 56% of marketers use this valuable technique to reach mobile shoppers. That’s according to an adroll survey of 250 marketers across various industries which states “More than half the marketers we surveyed have gone mobile (56%)—yet 44% are still not retargeting on mobile.” However, with new technologies helping marketers make the most of retargeting on mobile, that number should increase rapidly.

While there are many things you can do to take your mobile retargeting campaigns to the next level, we’ve singled out six: 

1. Use Deep Links

First things first: A must-have element in any retargeting campaign on mobile is deep-linking. Simply put, deep links are the mobile equivalent of the web’s URL. If an ad is deep linked, when the consumer clicks on it she is taken directly to the relevant page within the retailer’s mobile app, assuming she has it installed on her phone.


Deep links are essential for effective mobile retargeting. Otherwise, the consumer who clicks on an ad will be taken either to the retailer’s mobile site or to the app store to download the app, even though she may already have it. That  is a terrible user experience.

But when the user experience is not broken, when you actually see what you expect to see, the chances of conversion and a happy consumer shoot way up.

Making use of deep links in a retargeting campaign can prompt mobile web site visitors to install your app, to complete the purchase of a product they’ve viewed in your app, or to reactivate dormant users by offering an appealing incentive.

2. Cap Frequency


While placement and visibility is essential to the success of retargeting campaigns, annoying your user with constant advertising may in fact lead them to ignore the advertisement altogether, or even worse form a negative feeling about your brand that will be hard to shake.

A frequency cap will place a limit on the amount of times your ad is displayed and will prevent app visitors and existing consumers from catching banner fatigue. The number varies greatly among verticals and stages in the funnel so start small (2-3 per day) and find the right balance.

3. Design with HTML5

The purpose of effective advertising, especially in the mobile world, is to make sure that a whole lot of information is properly and simply presented. It takes skill to make an ad work on a small screen, not to mention the variance in the size of screens.


Retargeting creative is ideal for direct-response ads rather than branding-based creative. That means it seeks to invoke immediate action from the user. This is done by strong messaging, a compelling image and a prominent call-to-action button. It goes without saying that the greater the relevance to the user, the greater the chances of the action being taken.

From a technical standpoint, HTML5 creative is making strides and is perfect for the flash-less mobile environment. From simple banner ads to interstitials, video ads, expand and collapse ads, in-banner videos, ads with animation, advanced masking and cropping, zoom-in etc. The bottom line is that HTML 5 creative offers flash-like capabilities and it actually works on mobile. 

Shockingly, only 45% of rich media ads delivered to mobile devices were in HTML5 formats leaving 5.35 billion rich media impressions served to mobile devices squandered in Q1 of 2015 alone. So make sure your rich media creatives are in HTML5!

Last but not least, don’t forget to test every aspect of your creative to find out what works best, and then test again.


Click here for more great examples of mobile creative.

4. Measure, Measure, Measure

It goes without saying that digital marketing efforts left unmeasured are as good as nothing. Retargeting is no exception.

First, you’ll want to measure attribution. The mechanism is no different than an install. It simply means an advertiser defines a desired in-app event (e.g. app open for a dormant user, in-app purchase for an existing user) for which the attribution provider would credit a media source that delivered the last click that led to the desired action.


Retargeting attribution is often divided between “re-attributions” and “re-engagements.” The former represents users who re-installed the app after interacting with a retargeting campaign (assuming the Identifier for Advertising, or IDFA, the unique device identifier, remains the same), while the latter describes users who have the app installed and engaged with a retargeting campaign.

Second, you’ll want to measure key in-app actions—purchase of a product, booking of a flight, return to a game—that followed a re-attribution or re-engagement so you can actually connect immediate and lifetime value to a retargeting campaign. You can then compare different retargeting networks, campaigns and creatives and optimize accordingly.

5. Run with networks capable of receiving rich in-app events

To make the most of retargeting, go beyond segmented retargeting (i.e. users who added a product to cart but didn’t buy) to personalized retargeting (aka ‘segment of one’—user who viewed Dior dresses). Clearly, the higher the relevancy, the greater the engagement. To reap the rewards of true personalization, you’ll need to run on networks that are at the forefront of targeting capabilities—such as Facebook, Twitter, Criteo, and Tapcommerce.


These networks are able to receive rich in-app event data in real-time from measurement partners they are deeply integrated with and then automatically trigger personalized ads based on this flow of data. For example, they are informed in real time that the user with IDFA 1234 has viewed a pair of adidas shoes but then left the app. They are then able to show that user a creative with the adidas pair as soon as that user is encountered on one of their publishers. IDFA is Apple’s Advertising Identifier that uniquely identifies each iOS device. As such it is considered a deterministic identifier that has a very high accuracy rate. It is used to serve ads within an app, to attribute installs to a previously served ad, and to attribute post-install actions.

6. Ensure the bidder you are using is adapted to mobile

On top of standard user data available in bidding decisions, the mobile exchange also passes multiple data parameters that can be leveraged to further optimize decision-making in real time. These include mobile OS, time of day, day of week, carrier, device maker, connection type, device, geo, content category per OS, Geo and others.

The Bottom Line


In today’s multi-screen, super-competitive landscape, marketers understand that properly communicating with existing users is just as important as bringing in new ones. It is the double-sided path to growth. Retargeting plays a big role in maximizing value from a current user base. And when the digital reality is becoming mobile-centered, getting retargeting right on mobile is a must.

AppsFlyer specializes in mobile advertising attribution and analytics.