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SEA Marketers spent US$244m To Acquire New Users; Mobile Fraud Drops 20% Across Region: AppsFlyer

AppsFlyer, the global attribution leader, released its 2021 edition of the State of Finance App Marketing report, which found that marketers in Southeast Asia (SEA) spent over US$244 million on user acquisition and remarketing efforts in 2020. This makes up about 8% of global marketing spend, which totalled US$3 billion that same year. 

AppsFlyer’s 2021 State of Finance App Marketing report tracked 2.7 billion app installs in Asia-Pacific (APAC) between Q1 2019 and Q1 2021, of 4.7 billion app installs globally. The report also examined 600 million non-organic installs and 1,230 apps across SEA markets including Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Finance Apps in the report have also been separated into different categories, such as Digital Banks, Traditional Banks, Financial Services, Loans, and Investments.

Marketing spend in SEA largely relies on trends in Fintech app demand, with about 65% of marketing budgets dedicated to gaining users through non-organic installs (NOI). Out of the US$244 million marketers spent in user acquisition, Investment apps were pushed the most aggressively, making up more than 65.5% of NOI in SEA. The report also found that the pandemic led to more users in SEA utilising Loan apps, making up a 58.3% share of NOI in the region. Financial Services ranked last out of all categories with NOI of 37.3%, owing to the fact that many in SEA switched to using contactless payments due to social distancing measures. 

Ronen Mense, Managing Director & President, APAC, AppsFlyer, says, “2020 was a game changer, impacting how businesses and consumers interact and operate. The Fintech sector has radically adapted to the changing environment and accelerated digital transformation, especially in developing markets where many are unbanked or underbanked. As more users shifted to their mobile devices, Financial Institutions followed suit, enabling consumers to function through their devices. Marketers should focus on meeting this increase in demand through remarketing and user acquisition campaigns to be successful amongst competitors.”

AppsFlyer’s report also found that developing markets make up 70% more Finance app installs compared to developed markets, which can be attributed to the majority of the population in SEA being either unbanked or underbanked. According to the 2020 e-Conomy SEA report by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, the pandemic forced SEA to rapidly digitise, with over 40 million new users coming online for the first time. This is also why the report found that countries in SEA rank among the top 15 globally by Finance app installs — Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam ranked 3, 6, 9, and 13 respectively owing to this shift.

In 2020 the region’s overall demand for Fintech apps grew, with all four countries showing higher demand in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. Interestingly, Thailand saw demand rise by 8.5% during Q1 2020 to Q2 2020 despite lockdowns, while Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam saw a drop in demand between 6.6% – 34% during the same period. These three countries did see demand bounce back from Q3 onwards. The region’s changing trends in demand saw marketers respond in a similar way; across the four countries, marketers reduced spend by 46% during Q1 2020 to Q2 2020, in response to the falling demand. Philippines and Thailand saw the most significant drop in marketing spend, with budgets being reduced by 35%. The report also found that marketers in Indonesia and Vietnam were less cautious, choosing to increase their ad spend from Q2 2020 to Q3 2020; Indonesian marketers increased spend by 31% while Vietnamese marketers increased their spend by a substantial 52%.

Mobile fraud in SEA has always been high, especially in the Finance vertical — mainly due to its high pay-out and scale that attracts fraudsters — but this is changing slowly. According to AppsFlyer’s report, significant improvements in anti-fraud solutions have seen SEA fraud rate drop 20% between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021. Marketers have also become more vigilant in recent years; Financial Services apps have experienced a 48% decline in fraud rates — the highest drop among all the apps examined.

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