Why we ask permission for ad analytics

By Yves Bovin

We have recently started asking Cake users permission for “ad analytics”. Because we don’t like small print and find it very important to communicate clearly about how we handle your data, we are happy to explain this in full.

Recently we ask new Cake users for permission for “ad analytics” when creating their user profile. Existing users also receive a notification via the Cake app to allow this. 

Because we find it very important to communicate clearly about how we handle your data, we would like to explain this further. We don’t like small print and afterall “lead in the open” is an important core value of our company. 

Users as engine of our business model

The Cake app has a unique business model. Cake is free and we don’t get our revenue from the users of the app. And because we’re not a bank we don’t try to sell banking products to our users either. We get our income from companies.

We do this by selling them statistics and reports based on the anonymized transaction data of all Cake users together. Each month, we distribute half of that revenue back to all Cake users. 

But companies can use the Cake app to make Reward cashback offers to users (only via the app, never directly). And on every Reward you earn, we also earn a piece.

Of course, this model only works if there are enough users. The more users, the more interest from companies, the more Rewards, the more revenue for you and for us. 

This way we keep the app free and without ads and you can also earn some money with it!

Attract more users

Currently, the Cake app has over 40,000 users. That’s not bad if you know that we only launched at the beginning of this year, that the app is still in full development and that we haven’t done a major advertising campaign yet. But if we really want to become meaningful that number still has to go up!

This can be done in different ways.

On the one hand we launched our “Share Cake and earn money” campaign. If you recommend Cake to your friends or family and they start using the app they can thank you with a one euro Reward, at our expense of course.

We are also planning a major advertising campaign throughout Belgium in the first half of next year. We don’t yet know exactly what it will look like, but think of TV commercials, magazines, newspapers and so on.

But what will of course also play an important role in our growth is digital marketing. Like ads on facebook and instagram, banners on websites, banners in other apps, … Yep, those things that are terribly annoying if they keep chasing you! We know! Remember, when you clicked on that one pair of sneakers and 5 months later they’re still digitally haunting you wherever you go. Or that one hotel (yes booking.com, we are talking about you) that you once clicked on and now you are wondering when they are going to realize that in the meantime you have already booked in another place.

Example of a digital Cake ad

Better measurement thanks to ad analytics

To avoid that we bother people with excessive Cake information and because we ourselves think it’s a shame to spend marketing money that doesn’t serve any purpose, we want to measure a number of things. 

We have been testing all kinds of digital marketing for a while now. Not doing ad analytics is like going to a ball stall at the fair with a blindfold on. Quite annoying for bystanders who randomly get balls thrown at their heads.

Digital marketing through networks such as Facebook and Google is self-learning. You create a number of ads in different formats. You decide what your target group should be (e.g. Belgians between 18 and 65 years old with an interest in apps and budget management) and how much budget you want to spend. Then the network will automatically test which ad “scores best” and adjust which ads need to be used more or less. That’s what we call “optimization”. 

But what does “best score” actually means?

Without ad analytics, the only thing you can measure is whether someone downloads the app after clicking on a banner. But that doesn’t really interest us. We want to reach people who download the app and actually link a bank account to it and start using the app.

Here’s one example of what can happen if you only optimize ads on downloading the app:

Children playing games on the phone or tablet of the parents see appear a Cake ad with an orange background. They like the color, click on it and accidentally download the app. The ad network then thinks “hey, those orange ads in games score well” and then starts to show more orange ads in even more games that even more kids accidentally click on. You already understand what happens: we spend money on ads that are useless and there are a lot of frustrated parents walking around removing the Cake app. 

Another example of a digital ad

And that’s also what we noticed ourselves when we just started running digital campaigns. We saw a big boost in the number of downloads, but a relatively low percentage of people who eventually linked a bank account to it.

Thanks to “ad analytics” we can now go one step further in measuring. We now not only see if the app has been downloaded but also if a user profile has been created and if a bank account has been linked to the app.

And as soon as we know this, we can optimize the digital campaigns on linking a bank account. 

Back to our example:

The ad network now sees that the apps that were downloaded after clicking the orange ads in games hardly ever have any bank accounts connected to them and are showing less and less of them. The network is now looking for which ads score well on linking bank accounts and discovers that these are blue ads on news sites. As a result, the network will show more blue ads on more different news sites. But not to the users who have already downloaded the app, they will be left in peace.

In addition, what we could do is show the group of users that we know have downloaded an app and created a profile but have not yet linked any accounts other Cake messages on those same news sites. This could be an ad highlighting that any Belgian and Dutch bank can be linked or an ad that highlights a specific Cake Reward. That might be the last push those people need to link an account. But, to be very honest, we don’t know if we want to go this far. We don’t want to be the pair of sneakers that haunts you everywhere. 

Above all, we want people to use Cake because they want to and not because we ram it down their proverbial throats!

Through trusted partners

Our digital campaigns are set up in collaboration with Wuzzon, they specialize in marketing for apps. We brief them on the objectives, target group, budget etc. We deliver them the ads and they closely manage the follow-up. Every week we have a call with them to see where we can make adjustments.

The ad analytics itself is done via the online platform Adjust. Besides Adjust there are many other parties that offer a similar service, but our well-considered choice fell on Adjust for several reasons. First of all they are a European company (German) and founded with the entire GDPR legislation in mind at high security standards. Secondly, they operate independently from large networks such as Google and Facebook which also offer their own tools. We found it important to work with an independent tool. Conducting ad analytics on your own network is something like being simultaneously poacher and forest ranger, in our opinion. And finally, there are now more than 40,000 apps worldwide that work with Adjust’s platform. Thanks to that experience, their tool is simply very good.

How the ad analytics are done

Adjust has provided us with a so called SDK. This is a piece of software that we have injected, so to speak, into our app and that sends information about certain events in our app to the Adjust platform. The information we send includes: creating a profile, linking an account, linking an identity card.

It is important to note that we only pass on the fact that a certain “event” has taken place. No information about the identity, account information or identity card itself is sent. In other words, we pass on that anonymous user XC567BHTa has linked an account, not which bank or account number it is. This is by the way totally irrelevant information for the optimization of the campaign.

Wuzzon and ourselves can then use dashboards in the Adjust platform to monitor how which ad is performing and make adjustments.

This is what a ad analytics dashboard looks like

Here you can see, for example, that the Google ads so far this month have resulted in 978 downloads of which 764 have created a profile and 484 have linked at least one account. 

Not without permission

And because we are not allowed and especially do not want to do this kind of ad analytics without your permission, we need a simple consent from you in the app.

Do you have any questions about this? Don’t hesitate to contact us via the app.

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