Caroline Suttlehan

It is no coincidence that the biggest players in ad-tech all have their eyes on emerging markets—countries that have a combination of high GDP growth rate, low GDP per capita, and large total GDP. These companies are in a race to meet the increasing demand from app developers looking to grow their user base in countries outside the highly saturated app economies of the United States and Europe. App developers rightly recognize that their growth over the next five to 10 years will come from new geos.


As a result, the mobile advertising industry in emerging markets has become increasingly competitive. When it comes to acquiring and retaining mobile users, each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses, which is why it’s important to put several players on your roster in order to win. Ultimately, you should work to develop a marketing mix that capitalizes on the strengths of several different channels.

Building your advertising roster

Two of the strongest players in the game, Facebook and Google, are stand-out performers when it comes to user acquisition and they’re two players you should have on your team if you don’t already:


  • Google’s robust self-service platform, with granular targeting capabilities, does a great job of addressing the needs and asks of app developers. If you prefer to manage your own campaign from ad creation to reporting and everything in between, Google’s self-serve platform is an excellent option for those more experienced in user acquisition. No matter how responsive an account manager may be for you, nothing beats the immediacy of a self-serve platform where you can make changes to your campaign on the fly.

  • Google offers the widest range of ad units—from display, to search, to Adwords, and video—all of which can be managed through their single platform. With several ad options available, there are multiple avenues to success in partnering with Google.


  • Similarly, Facebook’s ad manager enables advertisers to run campaigns across not only Facebook, but also Instagram and their Audience Network. Facebook’s Audience Network allows advertisers to extend their ad campaigns to reach users outside of Facebook’s own walls.

  • Facebook is a low-cost risk for advertisers. With such a large user base—1.79B monthly active users—Facebook’s sheer reach allows for quality and scale on a low-scale budget. As a result, you’re able to take advantage of the many unique targeting features available, such as interests or professions, while still maintaining steady volumes each day.

Facebook and Google’s limitations for advertisers

Quote About Facebook and Google's Limitations For Mobile Advertisers


Both Google and Facebook offer self-serve platforms with strong targeting capabilities and scalable audiences. Yet, despite being all-star players in the UA space, both channels leave something to be desired in two main areas:

Customer support

  • Self-serve platforms are well suited for those with a refined UA strategy in place. However, for those looking for support along the way, it can be counterproductive to receive relatively generic guidance like, “Your ad should have less text” (Facebook) or “Your ad may not be seeing traffic right now.” (Google)

  • While Facebook and Google have extensive reach in these markets on a user level, they also have a lot of unwanted traffic that can come if you’re not targeting correctly. Despite having auto-optimization capabilities that prioritize the best performing ad, the sheer number of variables for targeting in Facebook and Google can be overwhelming for newer advertisers. For instance, if you’re targeting Brazil and are getting traffic outside of large cities, a first-time advertiser may not initially consider this a bad thing. Soon they realize these are actually wasted impressions that are increasing the bounce rate on their site and leading to a low click-to-conversion rate.


  • Both Facebook and Google display the typical advertising metrics, such as CPC, CPM, and general demographics like age and gender. Despite the granularity to which you can target your campaign, very little is reflected in the reporting on those users that you’re bringing in.

  • For many advertisers, it’s important to understand the various attributes of the audience that engages with their ads. Facebook offers sophisticated targeting options that allows for layered targeting, but developing multi-layer audience profiles based off of reporting can be a challenge. While Facebook Audience Insights aims to combat this issue, there is still much to be desired. Achieving such granularity can require advertisers to connect with other analytics, business intelligence, and DMP platforms. In some cases, layered attribute-based reporting for audience members can be a challenge due to the mutually exclusive nature of reporting attributes. For example, a company is interested in knowing if females in India who are 18-25 and interested in shopping on an OS version 5.0 or above engaged with their advertising campaign. The reporting may indicate that females were interested, as well as individuals with a shopping affinity were engaged, but it may be difficult to decipher if females who are interested in shopping were engaged.

What Jana brings to the plate

At Jana, we often struggle with many of the same challenges of running UA campaigns in emerging markets, but we also fill many of the key holes that Google and Facebook are not addressing.


  • Jana offsets high mobile data costs to reduce risk of the install: Since mobile data is relatively expensive in these markets, users are selective about which apps they download. Jana was founded with this particular user audience in mind. Jana has overcome the data barrier by offsetting data costs so that users can download and try apps risk-free. When a user downloads an app promoted through Adwords or banner ads or Facebook, they must decide if downloading the app is worth the cost of the mobile data needed to do so.

  • Focus on retention and engagement: When running campaigns with Google, you set a target CPI, but bid on CPC or CPV.  The campaigns are then optimized to meet your target CPI and volume goals. As a result, you are paying for clicks or views, not necessarily confirmed installs. At Jana we run campaigns on a CPI model, so not only are you paying for confirmed installs, but due to our hyper-focus on driving retention and engagement, you’re really paying for loyal users. The average app loses more than 75% of its users after one day. The Jana team knows it is crucial to demonstrate the value of your app to the user within those 24 hours and then continuously over the next week to increase retention and engagement.

  • Emerging markets are our business: We’re focused solely on emerging markets and spend 100% of our time working closely with app developers looking to their grow user base in these markets. Our regular trips in-market give us first-hand experience with the recent trends and pain points of users and advertisers in a particular country.

  • We own our audience: As a company with an app product, we have access to first-party data that we leverage as consultants for our partner apps. This affords us insight into top app usage and mobile data usage in countries like India or Brazil.

As an Account Manager at Jana, I spend my days deep in the weeds of my clients’ campaigns, focused entirely on meeting their goals and providing feedback and analyses. We’ll work with you to help you better understand these new users, how you can localize your app for the market, what success looks like in these countries, and how we should measure that success. Google and Facebook are great options for a vendor—arguably the best—but Jana will be your partner as you take on user acquisition across the globe.