Brand marketers often see mobile as a monolithic structure. This is despite the fact that platforms, channels, and apps are all part of the environment. Advertisers must also consider operating systems.
iOS is a channel that overlaps with Android, but they are in many ways different. There are also opportunities to reach specific audiences through them.
” The adtech ecosystem and advertising in general was spoiled — too easy to get too distinct in targeting strategies,” stated Ben Holmes, the general manager of DSP at Digital Turbine.
Configuring campaigns to match the audience needs and nuances of iOS and Android can unlock a variety of competitive advantages. Experts help to unravel the overlaps between iOS and Android, while dispelling the myths and assumptions about these audiences.
iOS audiences and Android audiences are closer than advertisers might realize
Before recent privacy features appeared in operating systems such as iOS 14.5 and iOS 15, the targeting available to marketers was working at pace. The opt-in rates were high and there were many ways for advertisers reach their target audience. Marketers in the United States may have been leaning in Cupertino’s direction.
” iOS showed a higher return-on-investment in the U.S. market,” Holmes said. Holmes stated that iOS users were assumed to be more wealthy, which meant they had more money to spend and were more likely to use mobile devices to transact. This became the accepted understanding of the audience. ‘These are the highest income cohorts in America. Therefore, you should invest more in iOS if you want to get a bigger bangfor your buck’ .”
Beyond the privacy features that Apple introduced which undermined this status quo, assumptions like that have created additional risks. Marketers could lose significant audiences if marketers neglect Android users when they target strategies.
” There are some very expensive Android devices, some even more costly than iPhones,” Holmes said. They are expensive devices. These statements can’t be made and applied to millions of people. They are not easy to group. It is not possible to group them so easily.
Other demographics also affect marketers’ understanding of the two operating systems and their respective values.
Lens on demographics — minus assumptions
The demographics of iOS and Android users in America are almost identical. They are nearly evenly split between males and females. And the difference in users by age group is minimally different as well, with 58% of users ages 25-34 and 53% of 35-44 opting for iOS. Comparatively, 43% and 50%, respectively, choose Android, according to GWI. The one age group that demonstrates a more significant difference is the 18-24 group, with 28% using Android and 69% using iOS. The difference in targeting between these two environments doesn’t depend on the gender or age gap.
Another characteristic that can be distinguished between systems and people using them is that the phone’s model doesn’t always dictate the return it will bring.
“A person who still has an iPhone 6S will get the same return as someone with a lower-end Android phone.” Holmes stated. Advertisers assume that iOS users spend more money in the U.S. so advertising on those devices will yield a higher ROI. This is a false assumption .”
And, among the 18-24 group, only about one-third use an iPhone released within the past three years.
These factors are key to making informed decisions about how to market to people in both iOS and Android. One way to do this is to demand transparency from advertising networks, i.e. which ads are shown in which operating systems and in what ways.
Volume matters, too. It may not surprise that if a team targets mostly iOS users then the return on investment is greater than for those who are only targeting a small number of Android users. Instead of dividing advertising according to operating system, advertisers can direct their partners in the ad network to target similar audiences on iOS and
Android with parameters about device age and user-age instead. They can adjust their tactics based on the results.
Advertisers have the ability to think outside the box and reach users in places that most people assume are impossible. One aspect of targeting — carrier plan type (prepaid or postpaid) — can help marketers get to know their audience better. And while yet another assumption has been that prepaid Android users are unreachable, technology has unlocked approaches to those phones in 2021.
Across operating systems, the returning of contextual is another unifying factor
Contextual alignment and contextual targeting were abandoned when all audiences could be addressed. Targeting could also be very distinct, stated Holmes at Digital Turbine. That’s changing.
” We went through a targeting phase in which all data was audience targeting data. Now we are in an addressability crisis,” Holmes said. Holmes stated that there will be more changes but it’s inevitable that they will continue to make them.
” Contextual strategies that many would consider outdated are now in the forefront,” Holmes said. Traffic took a hit initially due to the new iOS privacy features. But traffic started to rebound as more strategies were updated. Advertisers only need to plan and target in a new way .”
While Android users can be targeted more precisely with the device ID in applications and cookies on mobile web, marketers who create strategies that are compatible with both iOS regulations and any impending deprecation or restrictions on Android device IDs will be better equipped for the future.