Mobile Retargeting In A Cookieless World

  • May 1, 2018 at 12:00 PM EDT
  • By Marty Berman, InMobi
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on email

I’ve read countless stories about crumbling cookies in mobile advertising, which typically include a level of fear for what this means for advertisers. What I say to that is fear not, marketers, some ad tech companies have been preparing for some time now. Retargeting on mobile has had distinctly different strategies for mobile web and mobile apps. While Apple may have recently announced restrictions to cookies in Safari mobile, in-app advertising was built using persistent advertiser IDs for personalizing ads rather than cookies. This comes as a benefit to advertisers who have focused on advertising in-app.

Rise of Mobile In-App Remarketing

With users increasingly spending time inside native apps, mobile in-app remarketing will replace cookie retargeting. App retargeting is not the same as desktop, because of identity measurement and cookies not functioning in-app. It’s difficult to collect user information (unlike pixels on web) and use the same to retarget users on app inventory.

The initial phase of in-app retargeting started off with marketers providing a list of device IDs to the retargeting networks and using static creatives to target the users. The entire ad experience was subpar as the user was not seamlessly taken to the app due to lack of deep links available. Performance measurement was also an issue as attribution partners were not equipped to measure retargeting events and retargeters were not getting their SDK inside the client’s app to measure performance.  


App remarketing is now far superior and has evolved with the evolution in deep linking and MMPs (Mobile Measurement Partners). With deep linking, retargeting networks can take users to the right product/cart/intent pages within the app and are delivering superior conversion rates. Advertisers see nearly 4X better conversion rates through app remarketing compared to mobile web retargeting.

MMPs are capturing and sharing user-level in-app events through which retargeting platforms can deliver personalized ads and higher performance. With minimal effort, marketers can now switch on retargeting campaigns with app remarketing networks, creating more flexibility, and allowing networks to start innovating on driving performance at scale.

App remarketing is becoming crucial with more users spending time on native apps and with cookies dying on the web. Marketers should start incorporating app remarketing in their marketing strategy from the get-go to retain and cultivate users in the app ecosystem

What’s Next In Mobile Remarketing?

As we look at mobile in-app retargeting and the next phase of growth in this space, a few trends are shaping up that will impact marketers and define mobile retargeting over the next few years:

  1. Emergence of Mobile Web: Retargeting on mobile web has always been a challenge as there is no easy way to link cookies and device IDs yet. There are a lot of probabilistic ways to do this, but many are not very effective or accurate. With growing investment in mobile web, like Progressive Web Apps and other such technologies, time spent is bound to go up. There will be a need to bridge this gap between mobile web and app.
  2. Convergence of MarTech and AdTech: There is a convergence in the market where marketing and advertising channels are coming together with closer integrations, allowing overall retention strategies to be combined across channels rather than in silos. Marketers will not look at MarTech and AdTech channels in silos going forward, but will look for integrated platforms in the new era for achieving combined ROI across marketing and advertising channels.
  3. Creative Innovation: A lot of marketers and traditional retargeting networks are replicating desktop creatives on mobile, hoping the same will work. However, there is a missed opportunity as mobile ads can be more personalized. Retargeting platforms should look at video, native and rich media ad formats on mobile to make retargeting a compelling channel and deliver more innovative ROI for marketers.
  4. Incrementality is Key: Desktop fails to provide easy ways to measure incrementality of your retargeting spends as cookies are not universal. Mobile as a channel provides better ways to measure and monitor incrementality of your retargeting spends. Going forward, marketers should focus on measuring the incrementality they are seeing through their retargeting efforts, and retargeting platforms should provide transparent ways for advertisers to measure uplift from the retargeting campaigns to prove efficacy.

Mobile app retargeting is on a S-growth curve right now, and the next wave of trends will make mobile retargeting a sustainable growth channel for all marketers. It will help move the industry towards a clean, more personalized form of remarketing, benefiting all parties involved.


Marty Berman in the VP of Remarketing at InMobi. He is responsible to manage and scale the North America Remarketing business for InMobi.

Feature Your Byline

Submit an Executive ViewPoints.


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below:

Access The Media Kit