01 Intro

The AppsFlyer Performance Index is back for the 4th edition, ranking the top media sources in mobile advertising. It is the most comprehensive and trusted ranking in the ecosystem, and we are proud to have become the industry standard media report card for mobile app marketers.
In this edition, we’re introducing a new and improved methodology and a more segmented regional analysis that includes North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, North Pacific Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

02 Methodology

Period
H0
(July-December 2016)
# of media sources evaluated
0000
# of installs
0
Billion
# of apps
0000
(with a minimum of 2000 non-organic installs)
# of app opens
00
Billion
More about our methodology >

02 Ranking Calculations

Retention Score
Step 1
We calculated the non-organic retention rate of each app per media source and per country. We did this separately for each day of a 30-day period, dividing the number of users who were active on the day in question by the total number of users who first launched the app in the selected timeframe.
Step 2
We calculated the organic retention rate of each app on a country level, separately for each day throughout 30 days.
Step 3
We then compared the non-organic and organic retention rates for each of the 30 days. Using organic retention as a benchmark significantly reduces the impact of a given app’s quality, and therefore offers a far stronger indication of a media source’s performance.
Step 4
We calculated a weighted average using a retention-based logic; the longer a user is retained, the higher the assigned weight. As such, the day 1 non-organic to organic ratio had the least weight, and day 30 the most weight. This weighted 30-day average serves as our retention score.
Step 5
We removed statistical outliers - apps that had a significantly higher or lower retention score in specific countries.
Retention & Power Ranking
After removing media sources that did not meet our strict threshold (based primarily on client adoption), we ranked each source’s retention score to derive their retention rank. To calculate the final Power Ranking, we normalized both the number of installs generated by each media source and its retention score, and then combined the two factors.
Install Ranking
A ranking of media sources based on the total number of app installs they generated throughout the study’s time frame.
General
Only media sources with activity in all regions were included in the universal index, while the global indexes comprised of media sources with activity in at least two regions.

The comparison vs. the median retention is based on the median of each index in question.

The traffic analyzed in the index includes both incentivized and non-incentivized ad formats.
A word on fraud >
A Word On Fraud
Mobile ad fraud is a [dark] force to be reckoned with in our ecosystem. Over the last year, we have seen continued growth in both fraudulent activity, as well as the sophistication of fraudsters. To counteract the impact of mobile fraud on these rankings, we have taken the following measures:
Removing fraudulent installs and activity
The AppsFlyer Active Fraud Suite data signals to remove fraudulent installs and activity. This is the most advanced data-driven fraud protection in the industry, including: Largest cross-publisher app marketing database in the industry Active filtering & distribution modeling Install and activity validation DeviceRank™ device-based protection
Analyzing highly suspicious installs and activity
As mentioned above, many fraudsters have learned to impersonate real installs and engagement, frequently bypassing industry-standard anti-fraud solutions. Our Active Fraud Insights platform helps advertisers identify dense pockets of unusual activity that is very likely fraudulent (for example, device ID reset marathons).

As a corrective measure, we excluded data outliers in the index’s data set where we saw high concentrations of highly suspected fraud on a per app, per region basis.

03 The Index

Power Ranking / Universal

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04 Key Findings

1. Facebook maintains #1 position
The social giant continued to dominate mobile advertising in the second half of 2016, landing at the top spot in the gaming Power Rankings across all regions - on both Android and iOS. Their global retention score on Android did not change compared to H1 - remaining at #3, but on iOS they dropped three spots to land at #5.
2. Google All-Powerful on Android
Google’s position in the global Android Power Ranking remained unchanged at #2, driving the 2nd most installs and the second highest retention score (-1 vs. H1 2016). On iOS, they ranked #6 in the Power Ranking, and #8 in retention.
3. Apple Makes Quite An Entrance
The tech giant made its first entry into the index with its powerful intent-driven Apple Search Ads offering. Apple’s new ad platform shows strong potential, with the 3rd best retention score in iOS North America, leading it to the #6 position in the Power Ranking. As a new platform, there is still room for gaming app install volume growth, as they ranked #16.
4. Taptica Is the Most Improved Player
The mobile network surged 17 spots in the iOS Power Ranking to reach #7, and 13 spots in retention to land at the #4 spot. On Android, they broke into the pack for the first time, vaulting straight into the top 10.
5. Gaming Pours a Lot of Lovin on AppLovin
A continued major force in gaming, AppLovin reached the #3 position in the global Android Power Ranking (unchanged), and climbed two spots to secure the 6th best retention score. On iOS, they remained the #2 player in the Power Ranking, and went up 1 spot to 3rd place on the retention list.
6. Twitter Drives Quality, But...
The online news and social networking service had the #1 retention spot on Android, leading it to climb 10 spots in the Power Ranking to #5. However, when it comes to scaling the number of gaming app installs, Twitter faced a tougher challenge, coming in #20. On iOS, they climbed 3 spots to place #9 in the Power Ranking, albeit with better scale (#14 in installs).
7. Video Delivers Engaged Gamers
Mobile video continues to be a powerful way to engage potential gamers with a 23% higher retention score than the global median retention score. Video networks Vungle, Unity Ads and AdColony reached the #4, 5 and 6 spots respectively in the iOS Power Ranking with Vungle and AdColony placing at #1 and #2 in retention. In the Android Power Ranking, Unity Ads came in 4th, Vungle 6th and AdColony in 7th.
8. Incentivized Ads Generate Downloads But Very Low Quality Gamers
The use of rewards to drive app installs is still a popular UA tactic in gaming despite the fact that it delivers low quality users -- a 60% lower retention score than the index median.
9. iOS Shows Ability to Scale Gaming
Despite Android’s far larger market-share, the top 30 media sources on iOS delivered roughly half of all gaming app installs driven by paid media. In other words, though iOS has far fewer users, they download apps from ads for games far more often than their Android counterparts. The average retention score and Power Ranking was roughly the same across operating systems.
10. Regional Networks Deliver Results
In order to achieve statistical validity, scale is required (among other things), which gives the larger media sources an advantage in the index. However, niche and local networks - such as myTarget (Mail.ru) in Eastern Europe, Adflex in Southeast Asia, and ADPICK in North Pacific Asia - are also delivering great results for our clients. It is therefore important to test many sources, not only the large ones, to find the ultimate marketing mix that drives the highest ROI.

04 Key Findings

1. Apple Takes Intent All the Way to #1
With the debut of Apple Search Ads, Apple shows that intent goes a long way when it comes to app usage over time. The tech giant had the best retention in iOS North America, while proving their ability to scale with the third highest number of installs of non-gaming apps. With the strongest debut index performance we have seen to date, Apple came in #3 in the Power Ranking in question.
2. Facebook Rules
Thanks to its unrivaled scale and strong retention score, the social network reigned supreme among non-gaming apps in H2 2016, coming in at #1 in the Power Rankings across all regions - on both Android and iOS. However, their Android retention score dropped two spots vs. H1 2016 to land at #5, while on iOS Facebook retained their 4th place retention position.
3. Google Proves They Mean Business in App Marketing
The search giant held their #2 position in the Power Rankings globally with massive scale and great retention. Regionally, Google came in #2 across the board on Android and in most regions on iOS. Some of this growth in scale may have resulted in a slight drop in retention as their retention score dropped two slots to #4 on both Android and iOS.
4. Twitter Proves Power of 140 Character App Install Ads
The micro-messaging platform climbed three places to hit the #3 spot in the global Android Power Ranking thanks to their first place retention score. On iOS, Twitter also reached the #3 position globally in the Power Rankings with an impressive 4th highest number of installs and 2nd highest retention score (+1 vs. the previous H1 index).
5. Taptica Storms into the Top 5
The ad network had an impressive H2 with the #4 Power Ranking position (+4 vs. the H1 index) largely due to their significant jump in retention (+9 positions on the index). On Android, Taptica surged 21 (!) slots to land at the #5 global Power Ranking, and 10 spots to reach #3 in retention.
6. StartApp Moving Up
The ad network climbed 4 places to hit an impressive 4th place in the Android Power Ranking, and jumped 10 places all the way to a second best retention score. On iOS, StartApp made their first index entry, landing at #10.
7. Vungle Proves Value of Video for Non-Gaming Apps
The video ad network jumped no less than 19 and 14 spots on the Android and iOS Power Rankings, to reach the #9 and #5 position, respectively.
8. iOS & Android Media Performance is Very Close
The average Power Rankings and retention scores on both iOS and Android were roughly the same. Android however, had 7x more non-gaming installs than iOS thanks to their stronger market share.
9. Global Rules But Regional Also Making a Mark
The index is dominated by the larger global media sources because they have greater scale which is needed to achieve statistical validity. This gives them an advantage. However, niche and local networks - such as Yandex In Eastern Europe, MoBrain in LATAM, and tyroo in India - are also delivering great results for our clients. It is therefore no surprise that there are no less than 31 local ad networks in the non-gaming indexes.

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