March 20, 2014
Case Study

Mobile Retargeting: Deep linking effort increases revenue 10.6%, app open rate 8.8%

SUMMARY: Having your customers welcome your app into the home of their smartphone is one thing, but getting them to actually use it? That's another challenge. Marketers are quickly realizing that scoring an app download is only half the hurdle.

Discover how ticket search engine SeatGeek successfully re-engaged its app users by deep linking mobile ads, resulting in an 8.8% increase in app open rate and a 10.6% lift in revenue per targeted user.
by Allison Banko, Reporter


Sniffing out tickets to sports games and concerts can seem like an event all in itself. SeatGeek, a ticket search engine, aims to take the trouble out of this process through a website that's "your ticket to every ticket."

"You can think of us like Kayak for sports and concert tickets," Russ D'Souza, Co-founder, SeatGeek, said. "Come to SeatGeek, and you can easily find the best deal."

The e-commerce site also has a free mobile app for ticket treks on the go. It was customers' behaviors with the SeatGeek app that prompted the team to take a deeper look into its user engagement.

"When somebody downloads a mobile app, they're not necessarily in the phase where they're about to buy," D'Souza explained.

But when its customers are ready to buy tickets, SeatGeek's team wants users to remember they have an app for that. The team's challenge was finding a way to re-engage and remind the audience to put the SeatGeek app to use and complete conversions.


Push notifications may seem like the obvious answer for re-engaging mobile users. After all, they are straightforward reminders, gracing a smartphone screen in a way that mirrors a text message.

However, D'Souza explained that SeatGeek believes there's an unspoken, implicit agreement a company has with its app users. If a customer grants a download, a company will respect them by not overwhelming their notification center. SeatGeek wasn't going to toy with this tactic to re-engage its mobile users. Instead, the company sought to target engagement deeper than the lock screen.

"We couldn't just send them lots of notifications because they'd be upset about it and delete the app," D'Souza said. "But we could show them lots of ads for SeatGeek on other mobile apps they have."

The team achieved this through deep linking mobile ads. SeatGeek ads would pop up in a mobile user's other existing apps, linking directly to the SeatGeek app. These ads would be targeted, customized to users based on their past activity on the SeatGeek app. An advantage to mobile retargeting, D'Souza explained, is that device IDs don't change.

"You don't have to worry about cookie deterioration," he said. "You can know that you're going to be able to target the same user for a length of time."

Step #1. Evaluate the potential value of a mobile effort

Before SeatGeek sunk its teeth into the meat of a mobile retargeting effort, the team had to determine if this project was worth pursuing in the first place. To do this, the company looked at its app downloads, observing that it was acquiring thousands of downloads daily.

"When you're getting that kind of volume, you know that it's important to retain those users," D'Souza said.

He added that SeatGeek was already fond of retargeting in general because the team had previously seen it work well on its desktop website. For this mobile marketing project, SeatGeek utilized the targeting agency companies it had for its past campaigns.

But because the mobile aspect of retargeting was a new endeavor, the team also brought a new vendor in for deep linking.

Step #2. Collect information to generate dynamic ads for the SeatGeek app

To develop targeted ads for mobile, the team collected information about all of the events and tickets SeatGeek offers. With this, they could dynamically generate ads for each event, targeting them to users who were most likely to purchase corresponding tickets.

This set of users would be determined through SeatGeek's internal prediction software that examined customers' previous interactions within the SeatGeek app.

Step #3. Utilize data to retarget app users through deep links

After collecting the relevant information, the next step was to use it for the creation of targeted mobile deep link ads.

"We were able to capture the content based on how a user is interacting with SeatGeek application, and then actually use that information to target that user with relevant advertising in other apps," D'Souza explained.

For example, say a customer searched for Los Angeles Lakers basketball tickets within the SeatGeek app. Perhaps the customer found a specific Lakers game they wanted to attend and even added those tickets to his cart. But, for one reason or another, the customer didn't purchase those tickets.

Through SeatGeek's deep linking project, this customer is then recognized as someone who would be very likely to buy Lakers tickets. So, when this customer is on other ad-supported apps on his smartphone (perhaps he's playing a game), he'll receive a SeatGeek display ad for a Lakers game.

When he clicks on it, the customer will be taken to the Lakers page directly within the SeatGeek app, re-engaging him with the brand.


"There are just so many apps that people have on their phones at the moment, and I think it's so easy to get lost in the clutter of that," D'Souza said. "You need to have reminders to the user that your app exists and that it's useful for whatever purpose your app is supposed to be beneficial."

SeatGeek's resolution of mobile deep linking for re-engagement resulted in a 10.6% increase in revenue per targeted user and an 8.8% increase in the app's open rate.

The team honed in on the overall importance of focusing on your mobile users even after they install your app. You must understand that as more users install more apps, your value per user can decline. Re-engaging these users you already have by pulling them back into your app is crucial. Deep linking can help achieve this.

"We're getting people who have downloaded SeatGeek app, but haven't really gone through the purchasing funnel," D'Souza said. "[Now customers] see our ads and click on our ads, and then go through the stages of the purchasing funnel. We're re-engaging users at a rate that has exceeded expectations."

Creative Sample

  1. Mobile retargeting ad


Russ D’Souza, Co-founder
Sam Arnold, Marketing Analyst
Ben Clark, Director of Customer Acquisition

John Milinovich, CEO
Nathanael Smith, Head of Design
Chris Sell, Head of Product
Andrew Goldstein, Data Scientist

Related Resources

B2C Marketing: Top takeaways of the year on mobile optimization, retargeting and behavior-based personalization

How Deep Links Could Revolutionize Mobile Advertising (Mashable)

Is This The Future Of Mobile Marketing And Mobile Advertising? (Forbes)

Marketing Research Chart: Mobile search marketing tactics

Email Marketing: E-commerce site increases online ticket purchases by 66% with relevant content

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions