How to Grow Your App with Programmatic During Ramadan Season

Ramadan season, a holy and festive period for many countries, is coming up. And with it, an opportunity for mobile businesses to serve their users on what matters to them the most.

This piece looks at the opportunities that this seasonal holiday poses for mobile businesses running programmatic advertising campaigns. And, we discuss particular user trends that can be expected for the Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean markets in particular.

How Ramadan season changed in a Covid-19 environment

A festive season invariably poses new opportunities for mobile apps to engage their user base in a more relevant and enriching manner.

From 2020 till today, we've been experiencing a global shift in our lives and economic reality. Despite retaining the festive spirit, the deep changes in overall income, consumption patterns and spending habits are unmistakable. 

Notwithstanding social distancing measures and health safety as a priority, Ramadan season is still observed faithfully, and consumers are always planning and preparing for the Ramadan period to spend on gifts and celebrations.

Online shopping becomes a preferred channel this season, especially for a younger audience that is already familiar with the entire ecosystem and used to purchase and interact online. 

average time spent daily using mobile phones during Ramadan
Image 1- How much time do users spend on their mobile devices during Ramadan?

Mobile shows up as a preferred medium of discovery and information for festive sales, a trend felt in 2020, and that is expected to continue to manifest in 2021.

While 2020 posed more of a surprise and challenge to app businesses due to the novelty of a disrupted reality, 2021 is in many ways a continuation of the previous year situation. However, when it comes to mobile spending and consumption, it is expected to surpass the levels of last year.

Mobile apps during Ramadan: trends & opportunities

Ramadan is traditionally a family-first season and also a spending season for all who observe and celebrate it. It involves gifting and gathering, which invariably leads to spending on groceries, fashion & beauty, food delivery, as well as an increased search for religious apps, streaming and entertainment options like video streaming. For 2020 and 2021, demand surges mainly in a mobile-first environment in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Most used apps by consumers during Ramadan in Indonesia
Image 2 - What are the most used app categories during Ramadan?

Shopping during and for Ramadan happens within the entire season in different intensities, and it is both planned and impulsive. Consumers will shop not only for planned occasions but also for the best offers presented to them at a given moment.

Consumption habits during this festive season also positively affect banking and fintech apps as users plan their budgets and perform more mobile payments to accommodate the spending that Ramadan involves.

App revenue trend for Indonesia - Ramadan 202
Image 3 - Does app revenue increase pre and during Ramadan?

Such a trend was even felt during 2020. Despite the economic downturn caused by Covid-19, Indonesia's online economy still grew 11% YoY due to users being more invested in eCommerce and entertainment apps while spending more time at home.

eCommerce growth by category in Indonesia
Image 4 - Ramadan snapshot

During the past year and 2021, market trends were exacerbated by the continuing pandemic pushing users to increase mobile usage. This opens a window for app marketers to put their app offerings in front of their most relevant users in a practical, fraudless way through programmatic.

Although mobile businesses have been conservative with their marketing budgets, the Ramadan season offers an opportunity to invest successfully in user acquisition and re-engagement campaigns.

Peaks to observe in the Ramadan season to time your programmatic campaigns

The Ramadan start date for 2021 is 12 April 2021 and ends on 12 May 2021. Plan your programmatic campaigns accordingly. 

Pre Ramadan:

The pre-Ramadan period (end of March till 12 April) represents a crescendo period that can be capitalised on by shopping and food delivery apps. This is also an excellent period to push Ramadan related communication and content to remind users about the upcoming festivity. Plan your campaigns accordingly for this initial period but keep in mind that an overly insistent approach might lead to ad fatigue and uninstalls. 

During Ramadan:

The fasting period until Eid al-Fitr is the most critical phase when running the core of your campaigns and keeping the momentum. Users will tend to be more engaged and would respond well to re-engagement messaging.

On and around Eid al-Fitr on 12 May 2021:

The season culminates at Eid al-Fitr's celebrations. Consumers will continue to search for products even after Eid, so this is a good time to capture this intent by keeping top-of-mind. Test revenue-driven campaigns for the final two weeks of Ramadan and the week immediately following Eid.

In sum, build your strategy to cover the entire season but cater specific programmatic campaigns for each key period mentioned to reach your users with relevant signals.

How to make programmatic advertising work for you during Ramadan season

What can programmatic partners like RevX do to help you succeed during this holy period of Ramadan? We can consult you on the best strategy to roll out and implement it for you. 

Consumers are wired to choose from what is presented to them at the moment. So, brand recall through ads is essential when there are relevant offers.

To structure your ad strategy for this season, start by defining clear goals for this season. Depending on your app's nature, you will have to set different KPIs, determine which audience segments to target, and combine creatives with relevant messages for each campaign to run.

Let's deep dive into the top pillars that can make or break your programmatic ad campaigns for Ramadan.

Create meaningful messaging

Choose the right tone for the season while preparing ad campaigns that will resonate with users. Here are some pointers:

  • 🔹 Given the nature of the season, messages conveying the spirit of family, togetherness and community, especially in a time of distancing, appeals to users as they will continue to stay connected online.
  • 🔹 Ramadan is also a time where campaigns evoking more warmth and happiness will make your ads become "stickier", more memorable as they will be a respite from regular day to day.
  • 🔹 For eCommerce apps, it makes sense to create a countdown to Ramadan key highlights with a selection of products and differentiated offering.
  • 🔹 Create a sense of "hunger" and desire for your offerings: highlight the most prominent offers coupled with CTAs to drive purchase and follow-up intent in your targeted users.
  • 🔹 You don't need to create different messages for Ramadan necessarily. Try to repurpose your message in various formats to maximise conversions throughout the season.
  • 🔹 Keep your messages crips, short and to the point in all your ads.

Build relevant creatives

Ads become efficient when built with creative innovation in mind. Creatives can make or break your campaign results. Build creatives that capture the users' attention fast (you have only a first few seconds). 

  • 🔹 Different target segments in different markets will react differently to creatives, so experiment with different styles adapted to local preferences and traditions. 
  • 🔹 Creatives can help you balance storytelling (your message) with selling your product or services.
  • 🔹 Personalising your creatives is always a profitable and attractive way to gather users' attention.

Test and measure

Don't run your campaigns blindly throughout the season. Keep an eye on your results for the first couple of weeks and adjust if necessary. Measuring your seasonal campaigns' true impact will provide valuable insights that will be useful for other upcoming seasonal campaigns.

Opportunities for all app verticals

Ad campaigns for eCommerce tend to generate more revenue when run along with seasonal deals and promotions, especially towards the end of Ramadan and the week after Eid. Seize the opportunity and concentrate your budget spending in these periods to match users' intent to make the bulk of their purchases.

For streaming and entertainment apps, the beginning of Ramadan is the most cost-effective time for acquiring new users as people would be looking for options to help them pass the time. Revenue campaigns during this time tend to be cost-efficient. For retargeting your existing users, aim to run promotional campaigns during the entire season. 

When it comes to food delivery and dining, target app users in the last two weeks of Ramadan and after Eid. Data from last year show that both open sessions and revenue peaked for this vertical in the last two weeks of Ramadan, as users begin ordering food more frequently when they break fast. This was also reflected in the time to first purchase for new users.  

Finance and banking apps will benefit from more activity towards the later part of Ramadan when people plan to spend on their gifting and gatherings. Campaigns for this vertical should be run during this period for maximum results.

Ramadan action plan for this year

Make this Ramadan season a successful one. Your campaigns' success will depend not only on keeping up with competitors but, most importantly, using all the knowledge you can gather on your targeted users and use those data points to cater your campaigns to your users' needs and interests. 

App marketers should be ready for a more competitive environment in 2021, as most categories are expected to recover compared with last year. 

User acquisition is vital at the start of any festive season but shouldn't be your only focus. Keep investing in app retargeting that gives you better chances of incremental uplift on purchases.

Do you wish to discuss your programmatic strategy for Ramadan in more detail? Don't hesitate to contact us here.

Marta Gaspar

Marta is a digital marketer and a content strategist with 11 years of experience turning ideas into prose and campaigns. She likes to stay updated on the mobile marketing scene and often writes about AdTech.