The popularity of mobile applications is growing and businesses are betting on them. The question arose of how to evaluate the impact of display advertising on applications. It seemed that everything was obvious: you just need to connect the standard Firebase with the Campaign Manager familiar to us and get the necessary data for analysis. And yes, at the beginning of 2020, this decision was perhaps the only right one. When we did this integration, we were able to see what the user does in the app after contact with ads: conversions were tracked, and data was transmitted. We would continue to rely on Firebase if we didn’t suddenly lose all iOS conversions. In this article, the Project Manager of the newage. agency, Yevgen Shinkarenko, will tell you why we had to compare Firebase with Adjust, and what conclusions we drew from their battle.
When launching an advertising activity, it is important to think in advance about how to evaluate its result. When it comes to launching standard performance channels, everything is relatively obvious – almost all tools can already show the correct statistics.
With media advertising, it’s a bit more complicated, but we at newage. have developed a Comprehensive Analysis that helps us evaluate the result of a campaign in terms of post-click, post-view, and cross-device conversions.
We used Campaign Manager to associate in-app actions with display ad views. It tagged users who were in contact with ads and then allows you to follow their path through the conversion funnel, starting with the installation of the application.
For tracking, we used the Firebase and Adjust systems.
Firebase is an app development platform that has a tracking feature. The service has paid and free versions.
Adjust bills itself as “a leading company in mobile metering and anti-fraud.” The service is paid and, it should be said, noticeably paid.
Why We Had To Compare Firebase And Adjust
Our client Rocket came to us with a need to run a campaign in Cyprus. Previously, we had already worked with a client in Ukraine, so we had a ready-made bundle of Firebase with Campaign Manager in the arsenal, and we understood what needed to be done and how.
Having previously worked with Rocket, the newage team created and implemented digital strategies for media campaigns that increased the relevant audience, quantitative and qualitative indicators of the mobile application. Find out how we did it in the case study: How We Optimized Rocket Ad Campaigns Even Better Than Expected.
We received input data, made a media plan, approved KPIs, and launched the campaign. DV360 was used to place ads, Campaign Manager was the auditor, and Firebase was the client-side tracking system.
The problem was noticed almost immediately. While going through our weekly checklist, we found that the campaign was missing conversions from iOS. We double-checked all possible settings — everything is set up correctly, there are no unnecessary exceptions, and all targeting and audiences are set up correctly. Nothing stopped iOS users from making conversions, but there were none.
All tech support answers boiled down to the fact that there may not be iPhone users in the region. It sounds unlikely that not a single iPhone was found on the entire island even during the tourist season, but technical support probably knows better.
We tried to remedy the situation by changing the targeting and focusing on iOS. It didn’t work. We made adjustments to bids on devices – it did not help. We even ruled out other devices in order to find at least a single Nicosia iOS device. Nope.
Reluctantly, we almost resigned ourselves to the situation, but then the client suggested using another tracking system – Adjust. A week after the integration, we started receiving iOS conversion data from Cyprus. That is, the initial response of the support turned out to be just an assumption, moreover, false: there are iPhones in Cyprus.
The situation became more and more interesting, and we decided to thoroughly compare the tracking systems. At the same time, we offered to compare the systems of our other client – Prom.ua, especially since they have already begun the process of switching to Adjust.
A month later, having launched new campaigns with Rocket and Prom, and having already 2 tracking systems onboard, we conducted an experiment.
Firebase vs Adjust Experiment
The purpose of the experiment was to compare the overall conversion rate for both systems in order to understand which one collects data more accurately. To do this, we observed the ad campaign of clients that use Adjust and did not turn off Firebase. And in order to collect more data and double-check the hypotheses and results, we focused on three advertising campaigns that took place at about the same time:
- Rocket in June 2021 – the second advertising campaign in Cyprus;
- Rocket June-July 2021 — advertising campaign in Ukraine;
- Prom in July 2021 – an advertising campaign in Ukraine.
At the end of the flights, we compared the conversion data that Firebase and Adjust were able to track. Both systems managed to count delayed post-view and cross-device conversions; even their ratio was kept within the margin of error.
But in absolute terms, Firebase only shows a third of the iOS conversions that show up in Adjust. And for Android applications, the difference could be four times.
Thus, we came to the conclusion that in 2021 and beyond, relying on Firebase data is no longer enough. For our part, we recommend that customers, if possible, connect alternatives in order to have a complete picture.
It is not yet clear why the difference between the systems is so large. Perhaps it has to do with how the world is fighting cookies and tracking right now – the lack of iOS conversions in Cyprus coincides with the implementation of new Apple App Tracking Transparency rules. Also, do not forget that Google is hard at work on the implementation of Google Analytics 4, which could also affect the fact that Firebase began to sag in data.
All we have to do is read the news from the developers and further test the tracking in order to offer customers the best options for evaluating the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.
- Mobile applications are growing and you need to set up cool analytics for them in order to understand the results of activities.
- We decided to compare Firebase and Adjust due to apparent errors in the iOS conversion tracking in Firebase Cyprus.
- We compared in-app conversion data across three ad campaigns. In each of them, Firebase showed only a third of the conversions that were displayed in Adjust. Perhaps this is due to the difficulties of tracking due to the gradual departure from cookies and the tightening of tracking conditions in general.
- Based on the data obtained, it can be argued that for high-quality work, it is necessary to have more than one tracking tool in the analysis arsenal. This allows you to compare data with each other, find errors and inconsistencies. Of course, customers don’t rely on tracking data, they have a CRM for that, where they can see absolute sales data for sure. But within the framework of conducting and optimizing advertising campaigns, especially media ones, where you do not have to rely on click data, you definitely need to be able to compare.