Articles6 min. read

Web-to-App Funnels For Mobile App Promotion — Post-IDFA World Solution to combat iOS 14.5 and SKAdNetwork limitations

Anna Korman

Marketing manager, Appbooster

With the release of iOS 14.5, mobile app promotion through social media became less flexible. Now app developers must ask for users' permission to monitor their data and use it for tracking, end-to-end analytics, and retargeting. Not all users give this permission, so the new rules have sharply decreased the effectiveness of app promotion on Facebook and other platforms. Advertisers have to adapt to the new environment:

  • Conversion data on Facebook now comes in with a delay and is only available after some "random" period in a window of 24 to 48 hours. This is to hide the actual time of app installation. App Tracking Transparency Framework makes the "old" way of traffic purchase ineffective: you have fewer opportunities for ad campaign optimization, and it is also more difficult to control your campaigns, so you can even end up in the red.
  • Conversion data on Facebook is now grouped by campaigns, not by ad sets and specific ads. This makes it more difficult to test your creatives and optimize purchases. SKAd Network aggregates data, which complicates measuring the effectiveness of specific ads. For instance, you cannot break the data down by age and gender.

It is now also more difficult to optimize ad campaigns for conversion actions, and this is what decreases promotion effectiveness.

Where do we go from here? RocketShip HQ has done a research of successful advertising strategies for the Post-IDFA era:

  • Optimizing for installs instead of conversion on Facebook;
  • Minimizing the number of campaigns;
  • Finding alternative SAN (Self Attributed Network) traffic sources;
  • DSPs and other ad networks (for big advertisers with millions to spend);
  • Web2App flow.

We focused on the last strategy, the one using Web2App flow. It allows you to configure your ad campaigns the same as before — with maximum flexibility. Let's apply Web-to-App to Facebook and see how it works, what results to expect, and if the technology is worthwhile.

What is Web to App?

It is an alternative way to attract users that allows you to bypass the IDFA limitations. You can promote on Facebook using the "good old ways", without decreasing campaign effectiveness.

The process is simple: a user follows an ad and is redirected not to a store page directly but to a dedicated landing page. From there, he/she goes to the App Store and installs the app. With this, all the information about the user's behavior goes to Facebook Ads and can be used when optimizing Facebook campaigns.

How does Web2App work in iOS 14.5?

Unlike in the traditional app-install campaigns, traffic is first directed to a landing page — and then to the App Store, to your app page, where the users download it. These can be all kinds of landing pages, from the very basic, containing the main USP, to various quiz mechanics. You can even use your own site — instead of creating a separate landing page. The landing converts site users into mobile app users.

A Web2App landing example in the Kids category on App Store
App Store page simulation 
Two examples of simple landing pages with an app description, review and "Download" button
The Health & Fitness category quiz landing page

The app events (installs, trials, purchases, etc.) are sent to the Facebook pixel. This enables you to see real-time effectiveness data right in the Ads Manager and use it to optimize web campaigns for the events inside mobile apps.

A look into a Web to App funnel

A user follows an ad onto a landing, and the data about their interactions with creatives is displayed in Facebook Ads. On the landing, the user clicks on a CTA button (for example, "Download") and is directed to the app page in the App Store. The landing uses custom tracking links, which allows the Facebook Pixel parameters to be transferred to the back-end.

When the user goes to the App Store and installs the app, the product analytics system transfers the in-app events data. These events are then matched against the Facebook Pixel and Facebook Click parameters from the landing. We return the data to Facebook Ads using Facebook CAPI as a server event, without delays. Facebook CAPI is a web solution, this is why a landing is needed.

Thus, users arrive into your app in 3 clicks: 1 — on a web ad that leads to a landing page, 2 — on a link leading from the landing page to the App Store, 3 — on the "Get" button.

Pros of the Web to App solution:

  • Decreases costs. Since your ad campaigns are optimized for conversion events more effectively, CPI and CPA decrease. Expanded audience will reduce CPM and decrease the cost of the whole subsequent funnel. Plus, web traffic is usually cheaper than working with app-install campaigns. This negates the loss in conversion on the landing stage. Also, there is no need to use expensive paid MMPs. You can switch to a free service and save on attribution.
  • The ability to set up payments within the web funnel, saving on platform commissions, and to create web payments without the limitations imposed by Apple and Google.
  • Expanded reach. This approach will enable you to broaden your targeted audience and increase the possibilities for app optimization and ad creatives testing. You can use almost all of the previously available Facebook inventory.
  • Attracting organic traffic. An effective web page can improve users' understanding of your product, encourage them to download the app, and convert free organic web traffic into active users.
  • Increased user engagement. According to Appsflyer, the average CTR of Web2App funnels is around 4,5%, and the conversion into installs is around 30%. A properly configured web funnel will not decrease conversion: on the contrary, it will increase it thanks to the additional user engagement (for example, by using web onboardings).

What results can you expect from Web2App campaigns: a case study by Appbooster

We are already using Web to App campaigns with Appbooster clients. For one of them (NDA, streaming service category), we configured both types of campaigns for their iOS app: the Web2App campaign and the app-install one. We were able to get results for both campaigns in the same project and compare them:

As we can see, the Web-to-App approach accomplished better. The CPI has decreased by 1,8 times, and the CPA decreased by 20%. The Web2App campaign also resulted in 2,5 times more installs and 40% more trials.

What are the prospects of this technology?

Major companies are already active users of Web-to-App. So, the answer to "Should I launch it right now?" is definitely "Yes". This technology is worth trying out before it becomes the industry standard and the competition intensifies.  

You can configure Web to App on your own. However, if you would like to quickly run and test this solution for your projects, we are ready to help.

In Appbooster, we have launched a ready-to-use platform to process Web2App transactions: to start, you will only need to connect your landing to it and configure your Facebook Ads and tracker. Everything else is already set up: all the campaign data is accurately transferred to Facebook. We can configure and launch your Web2App for you: if you are interested in a turnkey solution, including landings creation and traffic purchase, fill in the form, and we'll work it out!

The goal of this summary was to provide an overall understanding of what a Web to App funnel is and how it works. If you have already set up Web to App in your projects, feel free to contact us and share your case studies, and let's discuss those together.

Anna Korman

Marketing manager, Appbooster

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