+5 votes
How do people form an assessment of who is on point with their mobile user acquisition? FB ad library? Talks at conferences etc.? Articles about them etc.?

Related question: what criteria do you use to form this evaluation typically as an outsider looking in? What comprises 'leading edge UA'?
by (2.3k points)

1 Answer

+2 votes

This is a great question, and I think it's something that everyone should do before they compare their progress to another company. Here's what I do:

  • I look on LinkedIn to get a sense of how large the UA team is and what its composition looks like. It's not rare to see a company that is clearly growing very rapidly through advertising that has no UA team. In these cases, I presume that they are using external agencies for UA and may not be scaling profitably / efficiently;
  • If I do find a UA team for the company on LinkedIn, I look at their backgrounds and roles. Are they all junior media buyers? Do they have a marketing engineering team or dedicated marketing analysts? How long have people been at the company -- do they churn through marketing people, or is their team un-poachable?
  • Are they growing? You see lots of VPs of Growth on stage at conferences talking about all of the innovative things they are doing with marketing / "growth loops" that aren't actually driving growth for their companies. Try to find revenue numbers / install numbers / DAU numbers for the company over time;
  • Does the company employ many people with similar-sounding job titles / is it clear who owns marketing at the company? In my experience, when a company has a Head of Growth and a Head of Marketing and a Head of User Acquisition and a Head of Brand Marketing and a Head of Digital Marketing and a Head of Programmatic Marketing etc., they're poorly organized and their marketing function probably isn't effective;
  • This is a controversial take but I stand by it: do their junior employees participate in a lot of vendor marketing (eg. Liftoff Mobile Heroes, AppsFlyer MaMA, etc.)? I have experienced that when this is the case, there isn't strong leadership in the team -- the CMO / Director of Marketing / Head of Marketing / etc. isn't closely involved in the day-to-day mechanics of operating the marketing function and has lost touch with what the team is doing. No company should want their employees participating in these things; if they are, it's usually because the marketing leader isn't interfacing with the team often / at all, and that usually also means that the team isn't operating optimally / efficiently;
  • I look in the Facebook Ads Library / SensorTower to see how many ads the company is launching on a weekly / monthly basis. Are they consistently producing new creative? How conceptually diverse is the creative they are publishing regularly? Are they clearly optimizing for IG?;
  • Continuing on the creative assessment: are they clearly running events-focused ads (for games) or seasonal ads? Are they clearly running re-targeting / re-engagement ads?
  • When I've interviewed people that worked at that company: were they smart? Did they know more than basic UA talking points like "measure everything!" or "LTV > CAC!"? How did they perform on the skills test? What were their backgrounds?

These are just a few things that I think that insight into the effectiveness of a UA team can be gleaned from. I'd be really happy to hear thoughts from other people, though, as this is a really difficult thing to do.

by (12.1k points)
Thanks, great stuff. And what do you think about getting insights on traffic sources (marketing channels and spend)? I would look at the setup and backgrounds of the UA team on LinkedIn and make assumptions from there.
Yeah, that's harder. SensorTower has data on spend by channel, but I'm not sure how reliable that is. Honestly I think you can use Facebook as a pretty good proxy for what's going on elsewhere, but you can't get much of a sense of spend there. In order to assess spend, I usually combine Top Downloaded chart movement with Grossing Chart movement with creative volume turnover.