4 Trends From Past Recessions to Inform Your UA Strategy in Economic Downtimes

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4 Trends From Past Recessions to Inform Your UA Strategy in Economic Downtimes

Mobile advertising is already a hyper-competitive field, but when you throw in periods of economic turmoil, user acquisition gets even tougher. With economists warning that a recession draws near, UA marketers are once again bracing themselves for what comes next.

Of course, mobile industry professionals aren’t strangers to economic downturns. The 2008 recession hit a year after the iPhone’s launch, just as smartphones were blurring the lines between communications devices and personal computers. More recently, the 2020 recession presented even more challenges during an already difficult time as the COVID-19 pandemic raged. Here’s what marketers can learn from these recent challenges in order to prepare their UA strategies for 2023.

Streamline Your Budget

You might think a recession is a time to cut back on your marketing efforts, but that’s not the whole story. Mobile ad spending actually rose in 2020, with marketers spending $98.3 billion (compared to $86.7B the year before). Instead of dramatically slashing budgets, perform a full audit of where your money is going and look for opportunities to shift things around and diversify your user acquisition campaigns.

If you’re not seeing acceptable ROAS from certain channels, change it up! Rather than shouting into the void, create targeted campaigns that only cost you money when you get the desired results. Consider Cost Per Install (CPI), Cost Per Engagement (CPE), and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) campaigns, which allow marketers to focus on specific goals and stretch their budgets further. For example, a UA advertiser trying to weather a recession would greatly benefit from CPI campaigns that drive high-volume, quality installs.

Be Empathetic and Relatable

During the 2020 pandemic, celebrities and influencers made social media posts about their own lockdowns in attempts to show solidarity with their fans. Predictably, it backfired; as it turns out, those images of millionaires on yachts or strolling around their luxe mansions did not make them as relatable as they’d hoped. Keep this in mind before embarking on any influencer campaigns over the next year or so, and instead, consider how to connect with people who are struggling and looking for a small escape.

According to a 2021 Nielsen study, video games — and mobile games in particular — experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic. Why? Because people wanted to combat the boredom of being stuck inside, escape the real world, and find safe ways to connect with family and friends. Keep these motivations in mind when thinking about your user acquisition campaigns in the near future, and consider using micro or nano-influencers to promote your apps.

Want to know more about running a successful influencer campaign?

Download our free ebook: What Mobile App Marketers Need to Know About Performance-Based Social Media Influencer Marketing.

Put the User First

Grabbing the user’s attention is only the first step. To guide them through the funnel from awareness to download to repeat use, you’ll want to streamline the onboarding process as much as possible. Don’t ask for too much information upfront; while that data is obviously valuable, you need to build trust first.

One good way to attract new users and make them feel special? Rewards! In 2020, 48% of mobile gamers said they would watch video ads for in-game currency, with extra lives, bonuses, and power-ups also ranking highly. Find ways to celebrate users at every part of the UA journey and they’ll stick around long after the recession ends.

Don’t Underestimate the Lipstick Effect

One of the most surprising indicators of a forthcoming economic crisis? Lipstick sales. Economists have dubbed this the lipstick effect, and what it means is that people will be looking to replace experiences that “provide an emotional uplift without breaking the budget.” During the recession, mobile users will be looking for these small, affordable luxuries, and that’s where you come in.

When crafting your user acquisition strategy, think about how you can use the lipstick effect to your advantage. When it comes to paid apps and in-app purchases, a few dollars is a small price to pay for long-term entertainment, particularly when other activities become financially unreachable. Consumers will also be looking for ways to replace expensive subscriptions and services with cheaper ones, so lean into this and let potential users know how you can make their lives easier during a recession.

Let AdAction Guide You Through

Navigating UA during a financial downturn is challenging, but the right mobile ad platform can help you overcome those challenges. AdAction has long been a leading ad network in performance-based mobile marketing, and quality user acquisition at scale is one of our areas of expertise. With performance-based and custom-tailored app campaigns, you can reach the audience you want without wasted ad spend. Ready to learn more? Get in touch.

Contact AdAction

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