Mastering mobile marketing by closing the gap between web and app, by AppsFlyer’s Samer Saad

By Samer Saad, regional manager, Middle East, AppsFlyer.

There’s no doubt that mobile apps are more important to UAE businesses than ever before. The pandemic caused a surge in digital engagements, with mobile apps offering the most comprehensive and feature-rich experience for users. Companies have been quick to recognize this, and we’ve seen UAE businesses across all verticals – from retailers and restaurants to streaming services and car refuelling – rushing to bring their mobile app to market.

And while the country’s appetite for high-end devices virtually eliminates smartphone storage and performance concerns, consumer attention is a rapidly depleting resource in this crowded and highly competitive space. Today, the threshold for installing a new app is much higher than ever before. Especially now that the UAE has evolved into a mature mobile market, users are increasingly unlikely to see an ad for an app and download it straight away.

This is where other channels, such as the web, come in. Although many predicted that mobile web usage would become less important to advertisers, installs with web touchpoints nearly doubled during 2020. Moreover, of the UAE’s 9.73 million active internet users, a staggering 92.17 per cent are mobile internet users[1], so any gap between web and app could lead to a significant drop-off and lost opportunities for the country’s mobile marketers.

So, what would a seamless web-to-app journey look like? Marketers drive users to a mobile website, for example through a pay-per-click campaign. Once they land on the website, users can see content such as smart web banners or hyperlinked text that informs and incentivizes the user to download the app. When the user clicks on either the banner or the text, they are directed straight to the app store to install the app. Or, if the app is already installed, the app will automatically open to the right in-app content relevant to the user. Utilizing the web in such a manner offers a number of benefits for advertisers.

Personalized experiences

Driving users to mobile websites opens unlimited possibilities for advertisers to engage with existing and potential customers in different ways. In addition, if the user is a repeat visitor, brands may have information about them based on past interactions with the website. All of which can help create personalized experiences, such as landing pages relevant to their interests, or unique promotions just for them.

Reduced costs

Advertising within apps is getting more challenging and competitive each year. As a result, the cost of user acquisition is increasing, and marketers are getting less for their budgets. In contrast, because it’s a relatively untouched advertising channel, many marketers are finding that web acquisition costs less than mobile acquisition, making it a more budget-friendly strategy.

Increased retention

Many users only install apps after they fully understand the product’s benefits and offering, particularly in the travel, e-commerce and food and beverage verticals. By utilizing the web, marketers can extend the pre-install journey, and present the user with compelling reasons why they should download this app, as opposed to another similar, alternative app.

Not only can this lead to higher conversions, but it can also help boost loyalty. Because users understand the “why” of your app, you can increase retention and lower their churn rate.


Apple recently launched iOS 14.5, which introduced a major new feature, known as App Tracking Transparency. Now, iPhone users must proactively opt-in to sharing their Identifier for advertisers, a unique ID that advertisers have relied on to measure and identify how well their marketing campaigns are working, and where their app installs and revenue are coming from.

As a result, many marketers are looking for new ways to engage with their users that are fully aligned with Apple’s iOS 14 privacy guidelines, such as web-to-app campaigns.

From a privacy perspective, because the user journey in web-to-app includes ad networks and/or owned digital properties, IDFA does not need to be collected for attribution purposes and first-party data can be leveraged to optimize the experience.

Better onboarding

Some businesses, particularly streaming and media apps, prefer that users register, subscribe and sometimes even pay on the web, before driving them to the app. This allows advertisers to keep track of the acquisition funnel and understand where a user came from. For example, if a user arrives at your site from a PPC campaign, you can send them to the user acquisition funnel in the mobile site. Once the user downloads the app at the end of the mobile web journey, you will be able to attribute them to the initial PPC campaign.

Given the compelling reasons for using web-to-app, we expect these funnels to become more and more common. As the mobile app space saturates, it is this level of marketing ingenuity that will determine which apps earn and maintain that coveted position on consumers’ digital devices.

[1] https://www.globalmediainsight.com/blog/uae-internet-and-social-media-usage-statistics