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The upcoming release of iOS 8 means huge volumes of consumer discovery and experimentation with apps. But just as consumers discover new apps, they leave behind many others – and for app marketers, those losses can often offset or even outweigh the gains.

For this year’s release of iOS 8, though, advances in app marketing – specifically the increased viability and reach of retargeting – can help app marketers take advantage of the transition period to retain and regain loyal users.

But before we delve into the how of re-engaging once-loyal users, first we should examine why it’s more possible than ever this year.

Mobile retargeting reaching its potential

Improved retargeting is primarily a result of the wide acceptance of Advertising Identifiers (aka IDFAs) across the mobile ecosystem, combined with Facebook and Twitter morphing into heavyweights in the app marketing industry.

First, the last year has seen the app marketing industry coalesce around IDFAs as the primary means of tracking performance on iOS, as the entire ecosystem of advertisers, publishers, and enabling technologies has focused on adopting and implementing a standard metric for marketing attribution. The maturation of the standard, combined with advancements in programmatic media buying such as real-time bidding (RTB), makes it possible to display advertising to at-risk app users.

Second, Facebook and (more recently) Twitter boast massive amounts of mobile users together with the ability to identify those users regardless of what device they’re using. Their persistent logins make retargeting possible even after users have upgraded to a new operating system – or a new device.

This combination of IDFA standardization and the evolution of media channels such as RTB, Facebook, and Twitter has for the first time created a compelling opportunity for marketers to focus on retention marketing – and the iOS 8 upgrade is a perfect time to implement it.

Using retargeting to react to iOS 8

To combat user decay, then, app marketers should re-engage as many dormant users as possible before users begin upgrading on September 17. Campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, and RTB networks can all be targeted at lapsed users.

Effective retargeting messages include:

  • new features or content that former users may be unaware of
  • reminders of the reasons users downloaded your app originally
  • explaining how your app will improve with iOS 8, if possible

Last year, nearly 60 percent of iOS users upgraded to version 7 within the first 10 days of availability, according to Fiksu’s iOS adoption tracker (editor’s note: the author of this article works at Fiksu) – the fastest adoption rate yet. This year, the move is likely to progress even more rapidly, so the window of opportunity for retargeting will close quickly. Put another way, up to 75 percent of iOS users are likely to be re-evaluating their apps between 9/17 and 9/27.

However, while the window opens soon, it doesn’t close immediately. Last year, Fiksu identified a 33 percent increase in app downloads in the month immediately following the release of iOS 7, so users are definitely loading up their new phones with apps. Retargeting can also be used to great effect after the release of iOS 8, to rebuild connections with loyal users – for at least a month afterwards.

To do so is simple. During this time when users are forming new habits and rethinking their primary apps, you should be reaching out to both loyal and dormant users – retargeting them across Facebook, Twitter, and RTB.

Any OS update can put your user base at risk. But thanks to advances in retargeting capabilities, you can effectively minimize any damages.

Craig Palli is CSO of data-driven mobile ad tech company Fiksu.

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