App Retargeting: how it works and why you need it to drive engagement

A guide to App Retargeting and the benefits it offers mobile marketers across diverse app verticals.

Melisa Rocío Fernández

November 28, 2019

A guide to App Retargeting and the benefits it offers to mobile marketers across diverse app verticals.

Why is App Retargeting growing?

Although User Acquisition and App Retargeting were once conceived as sequential and isolated stages of the same process, more and more advertisers have come to see the value of combining both strategies. 65% of app marketers across all verticals are investing more in retargeting than in previous years¹. With App Retargeting accounting for 1 in 4 conversions 😱¹, it seems that marketers implementing engagement tactics early in their user’s lifecycle are indeed on the right path.

While only 20% of apps are deleted after just one use², most apps do see a decrease in usage after the first in-app event. According to Adjust data, 79% of new customers leave within the first 7 days and 39% of users don’t even make it to the first week, abandoning an app on day one after install³. In this scenario, it’s easy to see how App Retargeting can play a key role.

As the graph above shows, App Retargeting is a powerful ally in the battle against low retention rates, especially for ride-hail, shopping, travel, and food delivery apps, which see lower retention than their entertainment counterparts.

What are the benefits of App Retargeting?

App Retargeting gives mobile marketers the opportunity to re-activate existing customers, taking users back to the app to increase usage and maximize campaign ROI.

Competitive advantage ✔️

Whether brands are targeting competitive markets like Latin America or APAC, or trying to grow their presence in more consolidated markets, one thing is clear: strong branding efforts do not equal success. This is especially true for verticals such as taxi or food delivery, where users are taking a bite of each app, often alternating between competitors as they seek for the best deals. In these cases, App Retargeting plays a key role in helping brands stay top of mind and first choice.

Increased app adoption & retention ✔️

There is a rather common misconception that App Retargeting is a strategy for recovering dormant users. The truth is, when done right, retargeting enhances app usage across the user cycle, leading users down the conversion funnel, and helping brands turn users into frequent buyers 🛍️.

Incremental revenue ✔️

While User Acquisition looks for new users, App Retargeting focuses on users you already “know”. Marketers can leverage data from previous in-app behavior to predict which users are more likely to convert after seeing a certain ad. With User-Based Retargeting, this data can be used to adjust the creative and bidding strategy for each user to maximize revenue.

Does App Retargeting work for every vertical? 🚗🍔🛍️🏦

Short answer: YES. Apps using retargeting increased their revenue by 63% (50% more than apps that didn’t use a retargeting strategy) in Q1 2018 and 2019 across all verticals¹.

Let’s take a closer look at what industries are implementing retention strategies 👀.

There’s a clear increase in the number of apps adding retargeting to their marketing efforts. Even apps that are currently investing less in this type of strategies are seeing great results. While the graph above shows that Gaming brands have been slower to implement retargeting, the average revenue from their retargeted users is significantly higher than that of their non-retargeted users (as shown in the graph below). It’s safe to assume that the adoption of App Retargeting will continue to increase.

How can retargeting adapt to each app category?

🛍️ | For eCommerce:

Maybe the most obvious use case for retargeting, since the effects of eCommerce engagement strategies are well known from the desktop days. These apps tend to have detailed product feeds which make it super easy to leverage features such as Dynamic Product Ads to drive purchases based on users’ wishlists and previous searches. As a bonus point, these apps can activate those baskets around top shopping dates like Mother’s Day and Christmas.

🍔 | For food delivery:

Users are known to use multiple Food Delivery apps — but only one gets to be the go-to option! Becoming an audience’s favorite goes beyond discounts and promotions. Retargeting gives brands the opportunity to remind their users of how the app can help them with everyday needs. Brands can recommend options similar to the ones their users have ordered to remind them why they love the app, or show ads highlighting new partners. Getting users to shop on the app more often helps creating new shopping habits, leading users to interact and spend more than ever before.

Food Delivery apps can leverage special dates and events to drive immediate conversions by boosting hyper-relevant deals like tempting users into buying ice-cream on a hot day, or offering the best pizza options on game night.

🚗 | For taxi, ride-hailing, and ride-sharing:

This vertical is another example where generating user habits can be a real game-changer. Marketers can drive engagement by considering hyper-local events, dates, and even parts of the day in which the demand for taxi services is up. Offering users to book a safe ride to a music festival or reaching out at peak commuting time on a rainy day makes a real difference when looking to increase user interaction.

  • To see how taxi apps can leverage App Retargeting to re-engage their audience, check our Beat case study.

🏦 | For FinTech:

As Fintech apps are constantly evolving to incorporate new functionalities, App Retargeting is a great way of inviting users to test and become familiar with each of these features. Creating ad sets that cover the app’s wide range of services and updates is a great way to keep the users coming back.

How does App Retargeting work? What kind of ✨sorcery✨ is this?

It’s not magic. It’s custom algorithmic bidding that creates an active customer base, driving incremental conversions.

Jampp’s platform efficiently compares hundreds of relevant variables, such as device model, placement, location (contextual data gathered from the ad exchanges), and time delta amid events and past purchases (behavioral data from the app) among others. After the exploration phase, these insights are used to automatically calculate how much to bid for each user and what creative to serve when looking to drive the desired in-app actions. The selected creative is deep-linked to the most relevant in-app screen to ensure a straightforward consumer journey to a specific purchase, booking, or reorder.

5 best practices for re-engaging customers

It all comes down to matching the right message with the right user at the right time.

#1 Feature personalized ads and update them often 🎨

There are different creative features that marketers can use to ensure they’re targeting users with the most relevant ads. Apps with an extensive product feed can easily leverage Dynamic Product Ads (DPA). With this feature, app users can be targeted and engaged through:

  • Items they’ve searched for but haven’t purchased
  • Items they’ve added to their wishlist
  • Items that are complementary to previous purchases

As long as the product feed is updated, so are the ads. Jampp also has a Dynamic Ads Builder that can automatically create a wide array of display and mobile-first videos. Each creative asset in these ads is a data point which makes testing different variations quick, easy, and highly insightful. Ideal for finding out which elements resonate the most with different audiences.

#2 Go seasonal 🎄

Another great way to ensure relevance is to use the special dates that are already top of mind for users. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the obvious examples, we’ve seen great results on other special dates too, St Valentine’s, for example, is big for food delivery apps.

#3 Forget traditional segmentation, leverage Predictive Audiences instead 🔍

Targeting segments of users that share 2–3 characteristics such as: “made a purchase of $10 in the last 30 days” or “New Yorkers who ordered a car in the last 7 days”, greatly reduces the users that can be reached in a given time frame. This would also mean assuming that all the users who could be positively impacted by an ad fall into a handful of segments… Predictive Audiences, on the other hand, calculates each user’s probability of being impacted and driving incremental conversions. This means the technology has a much larger pool of potential users to advertise to, making smart granular decisions in a vaster ocean while driving a much larger scale.

#4 Deep Links 🔗

Matching the right ad to the right user at the right time is no easy feat! So once accomplished, marketers want to prevent anything from getting in the way of that conversion. Deep links remove unnecessary steps, making the user journey from ad to purchase as seamless as possible.

#5 Measure incremental lift 📈

Last but not least, measure campaign success to ensure retargeting is generating conversions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Jampp’s new feature, Always-on Lift Measurement, uses an A/B testing logic to contrast campaign performance against a control group (based on ghost bids and synthetic impressions). This way, we can determine if the campaign is effectively re-activating marketer’s customer base with scientific accuracy.

Wrapping upe

Choosing the right programmatic partner, like Jampp, allows app marketers to take retargeting one step further. Get in touch to see our App Retargeting product and our growth platform in action, or keep reading if want to learn more about Dynamic Ads or Always-on Lift Measurement.


[1] “Ready for the Retargeting Opportunity?,” Appsflyer, 2019.

[2] “What is App Retargeting?”, Localytics

[3] “Adjust Global App Trends 2019,” Adjust, 2019.