10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Mobile Ad Agency

Bamboo Team
August 19, 2022
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When people are using their mobile devices, a majority of their time is being spent within apps. Business of Apps shared in June 2022, that there are over seven million apps available across iOS and Android platforms, extending to every app and game genre and niche. Once these apps are made however, the focus shifts to promotion and driving awareness. 

As a result of the increase in app development, mobile app advertising budgets have skyrocketed. If you’re looking to pay for app installs, there are now millions of publishers, networks, supply-side platforms, demand-side platforms, adtech vendors, and agencies all fighting for your budget and the promise of delivering your desired result...Hopefully. 

Here’s a little secret: Only a handful of mobile ad agencies are actually worth your investment. Here are 10 questions you should ask when choosing your mobile advertising agency. 

"First and foremost, why do you specialize in mobile?"

The best mobile advertising agencies are enchanted by the possibilities that mobile grants them and that passion will work on your behalf every day! If they lack that passion and determination, you will lose out on the halo effect that comes from it.

"Are you mobile-first?"

For many traditional “one-stop shop” agencies, mobile is a shiny new toy. They want a piece of that budget and sell accordingly, but unfortunately, most of them are all bark…and no bite. Make sure you select an agency partner that has already managed mobile campaigns at scale and has built strong relationships within the industry. They can leverage these relationships on your behalf from the get go. 

"What verticals do you have expertise in?"

Having experience with mobile is critical in your search for the right partner but mobile is a platform, not a vertical. If you’re trying to grow the customer base of a finance app and you’re speaking with a partner who primarily works with gaming apps, they’ll likely waste your money (and time) while learning how to buy ads for finance apps. Ensuring you partner with someone who knows your vertical well and again, can leverage their expertise on your behalf from the start, is crucial. 

"What networks do you recommend we buy on?"

In the early days of mobile, the ad network landscape was really fragmented. Advertising at scale on mobile required the active management of many partners, the building out robust cross-channel reporting, and a technical integration with each. But now? Google, Meta and Amazon accounted for more than $7 in $10 (or 74%) of global digital ad spending last year according to Digiday. With this shift from many networks competing to few holding the majority, the expertise required to be successful has changed quite dramatically. If a mobile advertising agency is pitching you on “managing all of the networks for you”, take that pitch with a grain of salt. 

If the agency has proven expertise in Meta and/or Google at scale for mobile products in your vertical, trust that you’ll be able to easily spend $1MM+ per month with better ROI than you’ll see with the “organizing complexity” crew. If they specialize in mobile display (or anything that isn’t paid social and/or paid search), you should find a partner who is great at paid social and/or paid search first since it’s higher upside and typically higher ROI as well. 

The best mobile advertisers tend to separate the mobile display team, the mobile & paid social team, and the mobile & paid search team, regardless of whether all of those teams are agencies or in-house.

"What “MMP” do you recommend we use?"

Teams who genuinely understand how to do high ROI mobile advertising also know how to effectively attribute mobile. We use the term “MMP” interchangeably for Mobile Measurement Partner and Mobile Measurement Partner; we always mean a third-party mobile attribution provider. 

Here’s a list of providers that are an acceptable answer to the MMP question today (organized alphabetically so we don’t play favorites and please let us know if we’re missing any!): Appsflyer, Adjust, Branch.io, Mobile App Tracking by TUNE, Kochava, and Localytics

If you hear any of the following responses…we recommend you run away. Fast. “We recommend you use our SDK!”, Mixpanel or Google Analytics. These responses aren’t necessarily bad ones if your question is “What analytics provider do you recommend?” but they don’t do the attribution necessary for running paid mobile app install campaigns at scale. 

Statista forecasted that in 2022, mobile will finally overtake desktop with a 51% share of ad spending. (Source: Statista)

"How much does your biggest client spend per month with you?"

If you’re an advertiser hoping to spend $10K per month and the agency that’s pitching you says their current biggest client is spending $1M+ per month, you probably want to find another option as you won’t be a priority for their team. However, the inverse of this is also true... Don’t hire an agency to spend $1M+ per month that doesn’t do it actively with other clients. Success at scale is a specialization in itself!

"What do you think our cost per install will be?"

This is a great question to ask because it’s actually a trick question! A good mobile agency should answer by saying, “Who cares?”. Mobile app installs are one of the initial steps in a funnel that should generate revenue and then, drive a long-term customer relationship. That being said, the best mobile agencies should be able to give you cost per install ranges that they see in your vertical along with the caveat that cost per install shouldn’t be the main KPI.

"May I interview my Account Manager first?"

It’s important that you work with an Account Manager that not only meshes with your in-house team, but also one that you know has the expertise needed to add extra value. You can interview your potential Account Manager with the same questions we’ve outlined here as you might be being sold by an expert even though the agency plans to give you a not-so-expert Account Manager. If you allow it, the not-so-expert Account Manager may be learning on your dollar...

"May I speak with a Client Reference?"

Asking to speak with an actual client reference is one of the most valuable things you can do while vetting a new agency partner. If possible, try and ask for a reference from a client that your potential new Account Manager is actively working with. If the client is a well-respected mobile advertiser and they are pleased with their service quality, it’s likely you will be, too. (Bonus if they advertise in a similar vertical to you!)

"Why should we go with your agency vs. just hiring in-house?"

Strong mobile agency partners know whether or not their value outweighs an in-house resource, and they should be able to quantify this tangibly. Look for a partner that aims to augment your in-house efforts and create a true partnership with you vs. thinking of themselves as an alternative to your in-house teams. Some of the largest scale mobile advertisers typically have both an agency partner and an in-house team that collaborate together. 

Having managed $100MM+ in mobile app advertising budget, we’ve learned quite a bit from our experience and consider ourselves experts in budget allocation on mobile. Learn more about our mobile advertising services and the clients we’ve helped scale.

Bamboo Team

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