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Ad networks down in 2023, with only four of the top 20 players showing an increase

Apple Search Ads and Google lead on respective platforms, with only Meta ads making the top five on each
Ad networks down in 2023, with only four of the top 20 players showing an increase
Date Type Companies Involved Key Datapoint
Nov 16, 2023 report AppsFlyer
  • For the iOS rankings, Apple Search Ads, Liftoff and Moloco made up the top three
  • For the Android rankings it's Google, Unity Ads and ironSource
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Data analytics company AppsFlyer has released its 16th edition of the AppsFlyer Performance Index, ranking mobile advertising’s top media sources. The purpose is to help marketers choose which source to partner with for app advertising, with results diverging dramatically depending on platform.

Rankings were made based on the performances of media sources through Q2 and Q3 2023 from a huge 11.5 billion app installs across 30,000 apps.

A taste of the Apple

For the iOS rankings, AppsFlyer created a new indexing system called the SSOT index, through which Apple Search Ads came out on top by a strong margin. The source ranked first across apps and games, though notably took a smaller lead ahead of the competition when it came to gaming and wasn’t the strongest for hypercasual specifically. Overall though, the number of clients was unrivaled, as were volume search rankings.

In second and third for mobile games were Liftoff and Moloco, ranking here for high quality but low scale compared to competitors. Interestingly, Meta ads ranked fourth for mobile games but second for other app forms.

Rounding out the top five for gaming power was AppLovin with much of its power in the field attributed to casual and hypercasual games.

Android dreams

As for the top media sources on Android, Google naturally took the lead and actually extended it compared to the 15th edition, dominating the Android gaming space in every genre but social casino and hypercasual, where it ranked second.

Unity Ads came second overall for power ranking but fifth in volume, found to be particularly effective for casual game genres like match and puzzle.

ironSource made the top three on Android in power and volume, having risen by three spots compared to Appsflyer’s previous index. This was led by hypercasual, and ironSource also proved to be a strong contender in the action genre across the past two quarters.

Carried by casino and midcore games, Meta ads ranked fourth on Android, though the rankings were incredibly competitive between it, ironSource and Unity this time around. Notably, Meta ads was the only media source to make the top five on both platforms.

Finally, AppLovin fell one place into fifth on Android with much of its success attributed to casino and tabletop games.

Marketing in 2023

Overall, 2023 has seen a steep reduction in app marketing budgets due to the economic downturn experienced around the world. Budgets have fallen 20% year-over-year and Appsflyer has observed a market shift away from growth mindsets, with companies focusing on survival and, ideally, profitability.

"All top media saw declines in 2023, with only four of the top 20 players generating a budget increase," Appsflyer stated. "As the economic uncertainty lingers on and a recovery is not expected before 2024, marketers cannot afford to make the wrong decisions, especially when it comes to media source budget allocation."

Earlier this month, AppsFlyer announced the acquisition of full-circle data analytics solution devtodev, showing significant progress towards the AppsFlyer Privacy Cloud Marketplace. Its full 16th edition report goes beyond the top five media sources per platform and into double digits.