Marketing

Marketing, Research

Singular ROI Index symbol with a banner saying best ad networks over a blue background

About a week ago Singular released a very interesting study ranking different traffic sources or user acquisition channels according to how much return on ad spend they bring for companies using them. Return on ad spend (ROAS) or marketing ROI has been a critical KPI for marketers in the mobile ecosystems. It allows decision makers to compare marketing activities not only by the amount of received installs but also by how much dollars were received from users who arrived through the channel and compare cost vs. return on each channel sperately.

The Singular ROI index

The study can be downloaded via this link – Singular ROI Index. It ranks the top 20 ad-networks in terms of ROAS for Android and the top 20 for iOS. It also draws some interesting insights about the differences between these two ecosystems. It finds that despite higher CPIs on iOS the ROI is 1.3x when compared to the ROI for the same app on Android running via the same ad-network. This is partially due to higher average payout on iOS.

What about Ad Revenue

The report is lacking in one aspect – it only accounts for In App Purchase revenues for ROAS calculation. A more complete view on ROAS today would consider 3 elements for each channel:

  • Cost for that media channel
  • IAP revenue made by users who came through the channel
  • Ad revenue generated by users who came through that channel

Factoring in the ad-revenue generated from in-app ads in the ROAS calculation is becoming more and more important as the change in the mobile monetization landscape continues. This means that ad-networks who bring users who don’t convert to payers but do convert into ad-whales are under indexed in Singular’s report and networks who brings users who convert to payers but don’t contribute any ad-revenue are over indexed in the report.

Your own ROAS should also consider ad revenue

If you are using Singular for calculating your own ROAS, your decisions may be subject to the same measurement errors. Fortunately, there are already solutions for attributing ad revenue and completing your ROAS picture such as SOOMLA TRACEBACK consider using them and connecting them to Singular.

Feel free to share:
Analytics, Marketing

Reality can prove very different than the statistics that represent it

There is a simple idea at the core of most mobile marketing campaigns these days – if you spend $x on some marketing activity and received $y in return you want y to be grater than x. This is often referred to as ROAS or campaign ROI. We have trained mobile marketers to break down their activities to small units: ad groups, ad sets, ad creatives, audiences, … and find the ones that show ROAS. Doubling down on the positive ROAS units while shutting down the negetive ROAS units is the leading campaign optimization strategy today.

Here is the problem – it only works under certain conditions.

There is a famous saying by Mark Twain – “There are lies, damned lies and Statistics”. It comes to warn people about using statistics in a wrong way. One such way is using statistics when small numbers are involved. Another way in which statistics are deceiving is called Multiplicity or Multiple comparisons. Let’s see how those come into play when calculating returns.

Beware of the small numbers

Most companies base their ROAS calculations only on revenues from In-App Purchases. This is a result of 2 things:

  • Up until recently, ad based monetization and ad spend were mutually exclusive
  • Until SOOMLA TRACEBACK there was no way to attribute ad monetization

The problem with In-App Purchases revenue is that it’s highly concentrated. Studies have shown that purchases are less than 2% of the users and among those 2%, the top 10% generate half of the revenue. Let’s say that you spent $5,000 to acquire 1,000 users and you are trying to figure out the return. Most likely you have 20 purchases but there are 2 whale users who generated $1,500 each (this is aligned with the studies – yes). Now, suppose you had 2 ad-groups in that campaign and you are trying to figure out which one was better. Here are the options:

  • Group A had both whales
  • Group A had one whale and B had one whale
  • Group B had both whales

Since we are talking about 2 users here – the scenario that actually happened would be completely random. Even if one ad-group is better than the other it is still very likely for that group to outperform the other group when we are talking about only 2 users who can flip the outcome completely. The danger here is that our UA teams would double down on the ad-group that yielded the 2 whales without understanding that it’s not better than the other. If we look at sample sizes here n=1000 is normally considered a good sample size. Has the monetization been less concentrated a sample size of 1,000 should have been enough to make decisions. However, for the purpose of acquiring whales the actual sample size is n=2 in this case. We should try to get at least n=500 before we start making decisions on media buying. The problem of course is that attracting 500 whales could be a very expensive test – more than $100,000 based on the numbers in the example above.
On the other hand, companies who monetize with ads enjoy the fact that more users participate in generating revenue and can make decisions based on smaller sample sizes and smaller test budgets.

Multiplicity – the bias of multiple shots

Another bias we normally see in mobile marketing is Multiplicity. The easiest way to explain this is with the game of basketball. Let’s imagine you are through from the 3-pt line and you have 50% chance to score. What happense if you try twice, the chances of scoring at least once becomes 75%. With 3 shots, it’s 87.5% and so forth. The more times you try the better your chances to score.This is what happens when you try to hard to find positive ROAS in a campaigns that has a lot of parameter. You compare ad-groups – that’s 1 shot, you compare ad creatives – that’s a 2nd shot, you compare audiences – that’s a 3rd shot and so forth. The more you try to find a segments with positive ROAS by slicing and dicing the more likely you are to find a false positive one.

Feel free to share:
Industry Forecasts, Marketing

IMG_3787

If you have been marketing your app long enough you must have noticed a CPI increase. Getting users to install your app used to cost a lot less than it costs today. This change can be noticed globally and across different platforms.

The reason behind CPI increase

One of the drivers of the CPI increase we are seeing is the brand budgets starting to pour into mobile. when the internet just emerged, users adopted it first and a few years later bigger budgets started to follow. Facebook story also shows a lot of resemblece – the social network first had 1 billion users and 3 years later it was making $25B in advertising. Mobile advertising also follows the trend of the money following the eyeballs. Recent report from eMarketer projects mobile advertising to reach $195B by 2019 with most of the increase coming from brand budgets.

74EA3461-9AEA-4FD6-8C66-66A8E0BEC25D-867-000001AAAD3F016E_tmp

Ad spend per user is growing

Here is another way to think about it – if you devide the projected ad spend growth by the projected user growth you can see that the average ad spend per user has been increasing but will continue increasing even more.

43795225-69B2-4B1E-B1B7-D3A61F6A6204-867-000001A6FF326DBF_tmp

So apps who want to get users face 2 options:

  • Try to relay on organic discovery
  • Increase their LTV in order to afford higher CPIs

Relaying on organic discovery however has proven more and more difficult due to the app stores being overly crowded. Apps today have to invest in marketing to gain momentum. So that leaves us with only one option – increasing LTV.

Adapting to change in CPI prices

In order to increase LTVs app companies must adapt to the change quickly and make the brand budgets work to their advantage. In other words, your company needs to make sure some of this new money finds it’s way over to you. The most effective way to increase LTVs is to introduce a view-to-play model in your app and targeting the 98% of the users that don’t pay. This puts your app in a position to enjoy the projected increase in ad-spend per user and not suffer from it. From a unit economics perspective, monetizing a larger portion of your user base allows you to increase ARPDAU and LTV. Combined with an adequate ad revenue measurement tool, you would be able to increase CPI bids with confidence, remain compatitive in the market and keep growing your app.

Feel free to share:
Marketing

Hero image showing ad whales tiled in a pattern to cover an areaEarlier this year we introduced the concept of Ad Whales. These are the users who are generating the most amount of revenue from advertising inside your app. In other words, if you had the full data about the ad revenue of each user you could put all the users in a spreadsheet and “sort by” the column that has the ad revenue in it. Your top 1% are the Ad Whales.

ad whales are users with high ad revenue - you can find them by sorting your user ids by ad revenue column

Ad whales are the users with the most amount of ad revenue

This time of year we are pleased to tell you about some new ways to use the TRACEBACK platform driven by the integration with Facebook Ads Manager that was announced recently.

Creating audiences based on eventsscreenshot from facebook audience creation process showing how you can create an audience of ad whales that keeps fresh all the time

The Facebook platform has a very powerful feature called audiences. There are multiple ways to create audiences but one of the best ones is to leverage existing events to do this. Once you have followed the steps to send data from TRACEBACK to FB Ads Manager, these events will already wait for you in Ads Manager. For now FB have us send ad revenue event as “Add to Wishlist” events so from the audiences dashboard create a custom audience for those events and then lookalike audience to expand it. TRACEBACK will continue to send ad revenue data to FB which means that both the custom audience and any lookalike audience will always stay fresh for you.

Studying the Ad Whales demographics and interests

Once you have set up an audience like described above, you can also use the audience insights tool provided by FB. You can start by looking at the demographics of the users in that audience. You will be surprised what you find out.

Screenshot from facebook audience insight tool showing the demographics of the ad whales

Once the audience gets big enough, you will also be able to get other insights like interests and activities. This should give you new ideas for ad sets in Facebook but you shouldn’t stop there. Having a good grip about who are your best users can completely change how you do marketing.

Feel free to share:
Analytics, Marketing

4 top mobile a/b testing tools header image

This is a guest post by Natalia Yakavenka from SplitMetrics

Ask any mobile marketer what is the best way to optimize conversion rates for your app page and you’ll most likely get A/B testing as a response. While A/B testing is still most often associated with the web, the concept of a/b testing for mobile app pages is not new. The very first solutions growth hackers used were custom coded landings, but such approach requires time and effort. However, app page conversion optimization only became popular when self-service platforms like SplitMetrics and Storemaven emerged. These platforms brought a completely new level of A/B testing for mobile pages as they provided insights on top of showing the winning variation. Later on, the introduction of Google Play Experiments in 2015, brought A/B testing of app landing pages into the “must have” category for app marketers. Since that time, plenty of new solutions have emerged but we recommend sticking to the 4 most popular tools presented here.

Google play store allows experiments - a limited way to do mobile a/b testsGoogle Play Experiments

When it comes to selecting the best A/B testing tool, the most common question is why go elsewhere if you have the free Google Play Experiments. Indeed, it allows mobile publishers to run free experiments on their app pages, but it comes with significant limitations. The most serious ones are that you can’t test unpublished apps and you’ll never find exactly what worked due to the lack of on-page analytics. Still, Google Play is the perfect solution for those who are not familiar with paid traffic and user acquisition as it doesn’t require driving traffic to the experiment from ad resources. The other three tools require sending traffic to their experiments and are usually for more advanced marketers.        

Distinctive features: absolutely free + requires no additional traffic

Split metrics logo - this mobile a/b testing tool offers many advanced ASO featuresSplitMetrics    

Founded in 2014, SplitMetrics was among the first ones to provide every marketer with an easy-to-use, unlimited, and flexible A/B testing tool. In addition to the regular icon/screenshot testing, it offers pre-launch experiments for unpublished apps and Search, Category and App Store Search Ads testing. Unlike the Google Play service, it offers a multi-armed bandit approach which helps reach significant results fast. But it’s not as ideal as it seems to be — you have to pay for it. Though the price is very reasonable and you have a 30-day trial, you will need to pay a monthly fee for your subscription.

Distinctive feature:  pre-launch experiments and App Store Search Ads testing

StoreMaven is one of the pioneers of the mobile a/b testing and ASO spaceStoremaven

StoreMaven provides easy-to-use A/B testing for the entire app store landing page experience. One of their advantages is offering benchmarks based and best practices based on their broad client base in each of the app store categories. On top of that, StoreMaven clients benefit from their money saving algorithm, StoreIQ. This algorithm helps conclude tests with fewer samples and lower costs by leveraging historical data to quickly determine the winning creatives. StoreMaven provides a fully dedicated Account Manager to make sure clients make the most of their testing budgets. This tool is also a paid tool that is offered as a monthly subscription.

Distinctive feature: Professional Services

One of the features offered by the tune platform is A/B testing to improve your ASOTUNE’s A/B Testing

4) Tune offers many services for app marketers. They are mostly known for their attribution service — measuring paid app installs. However, they also offer A/B testing and optimization tool for the app landing page. Launched in spring 2016, it already provides solid functionality, offering the basic functions of testing different types of assets and showing all measurements and stats collection. While Tune offering is more complete compared to the other testing tools, it’s biggest limitation is that it doesn’t work with other attribution providers. The tool is also limited with regards non-US regions and only supports a small list of regions. In terms of pricing, Tune’s A/B testing tool is not available as a stand alone and so customers have to buy it as part of a suite of services.

Distinctive feature: works very well with other Tune capabilities

A/B testing can be easy with the right tools and is recommended for any app marketer as part of a data-centric growth strategy. Feel free to also try our quiz — test yourself to see how data-driven your game is.

Feel free to share:
Industry News, Marketing

Apple search ads - what's the master plan - header image

About a week ago, Apple launched it’s Search Ads platform into existence and there are many app publishers who are trying different tactics to use this medium to their advantage. You can read about some of these here:

Once the dust settles, you might want to ask yourslef what is Apple’s master plan for this? Why is Apple doing it? Here are my thoughts on this subject.

Search Ads aren’t enough for Apple

Apple’s revenue is well over $200B. When they go after a new revenue stream they ask themselves – is this channel going to be meaningful for us. If the channel has the potential of being at least 5% of their total revenue or in other words $10B/year they might consider it. If it’s lower, it might not be worth the efforts and risks. For example, the app-store revenue for Apple were $6B in 2015 but it’s growing fast and are likely to reach $15B in a few years. App-store search ads can’t deliver these revenue volumes on their own. There is simply not enough supply.

Apple is looking at the mobile ad spend forcasts

Some of you might have seen this report by eMarketer forcasting $195B in mobile ad spending by 2019.

Emarketer's forecast showing global ad spend on mobile will reach $195B by 2019

[Image credit: www.emarketer.com]

Everything we have seen until now tells us that this forecast is going to come true. Apple is 75% percent ahead of Google when it comes to App Store revenues but it knows that it’s far behind when it comes to advertising. The Apple ad-network – iAd was shut down as of June 30th 2016 after failing to become a major monetization channel for apps but Apple didn’t give up hope. Their mistake was that they didn’t understand the importance of consistent demand. They were fucosing on bringing big brand campaigns which is important in order to drive eCPMs up and stay competative but without consistent demand, publishers remove your SDK in favor of other SDKs. Apple learned from this mistake.

When Google launched their search ads product Apple were watching and they realized that Google did a sloppy job this time. Unlike Adwords, the Google Play search ads are not available as a market to the public but are instead offered as a managed service through Google account managers. Apple saw this opportunity to create a more appealing open product that allows anyone to set up their own campaigns. They created high demand for it’s search ads and more importantly this time the demand will be consistent.

Apple’s next move is for the supply side

The revenue potential of search ads alone is limited as we mentioned before. The demand is huge but the supply is the problem. Following the moves of other tech giants can give you a hint as to what Apple’s next move might be:

  • Google generated consistent demand with Adwords and then launched Adsense to improve supply
  • Facebook generated consistent demand with Feed Ads and then launched Facebook Audience Network (FAN) to enhance supply.

It’s likely that Apple will try to do the same once they aggregate enough demand for their ad products. They have tons of data about their users so they can offer the same levels of demographic targeting offered by facebook in addition to leveraging search data to indicate interests of users. Since they are the platform owner, developers will trust their SDK and give them a shot again. This time the demand will be consistent and allow developers keep them as part of the monetization mix. It might take a year or even 2 years but eventually this has to be Apple’s plan.

 

Feel free to share:
Industry News, Marketing

img_3345

In the last WWDC, Apple announced that they will be launching Search Ads into the App Store in one of the biggest changes since the App Store was first launched. Later in Jun/16 they also revealed additional details about how the new feature will work. The release date was recently announced as October 5th – today. If you haven’t done anything about it yet, now will be a great time to start moving so you don’t get surprised and might actually benefit from the chaos that will break lose following the launch.

Bidding on brand searches for your own apps

One of the standard practices from search ads in Google will also work well here. Buying the name of your own app as well as small variations and mistakes allows you to to defand against Conquesting.

Conquesting – getting the top search result when the user was clearly searching for a different app than yours


I can imagine that its frustrating to pay for something you used to get for free. However, not doing this will be much more painful as your competitor will conquest your brand searches. In addition, Apple explained that they will optimize the algorithms based on user interaction and relevancy so even if you place a low bid you are likely to win as your app is the most relevant one.

Conquesting your competitor brand searches

The flip side of this is that a few of your competitors will be less prepared and you can catch them off guard to conquest their brand searches. This will give you highly targeted users and can work especially well in genres where apps offer similar services or gameplay. For example: casino games, card and board games, dating apps.

A mile wide and a cent deep

One of the interesting choices that Apple made is not to enforce any minimums on the bidding. That’s right – you can bid as low as $0.01 per click. This calls for a wide net strategy. If you set up enough keywords at $0.01 there will be a period of time where demand is still picking up and it will allow you to get some really cheap installs.

 

Feel free to share:
Game Design, Marketing

Mixing existing gameplay ip with new narrative IP is what Pokemon Go a hit but there are other ways to leverage IP

Pokemon Go was a huge success partly because it was using very strong IP. They were not the first and certainly not the last. One of the interesting trends in the mobile gaming space is that if you look at the top charts, most successful games are using External IP. Here is the 101 on leveraging existing IP in your game.

Gameplay IP saves you time and money

One form of IP that is being used by many developers is public gameplay IP. Here are some examples:

  • Casino / Slots – leverage gameplay from land based casinos and real money online casinos
  • Card / Board / Dice games – most of these games are digital simulations of a real world game
  • Drag racing and Real racing – have been around since the early days of console games
  • Match 3 – obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of games using this format

The thing about gameplay is that most people want a familiar format. They know what they like and actively look for it. Innovating on gameplay is very expansive – it requires trial and error over a long period of time and the success rate is not high. All these iterations translates to effort, time, money but most importantly risk. This is why most of the top grossing games in the last few years are relaying on existing IP when it comes to gameplay. Fortunately enough, most gameplay IP is unprotected or in other words – free.

The challenge with leveraging existing gameplay IP is that you are competing in existing categories where other companies already play.

Narrative IP can help you stand out

To get user attention in crowded categories, successful companies often leverage narrative IP in their games. This means that the story, characters and the world of the game are all based on IP that is already familiar to the user. The IP can come from a movie, tv show, celebrity, sports league, land based slot machines or PC games. Some games from the Top 100 grossing that leverage narrative IP: Pokemon go, Clash Royale, Marvel COC, Madden NFL, Star Wars – Galaxy of Heroes, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WSOP and the list goes on and on. If you are a small studio, you might not be able to afford IP from TV or movies. However, there is free IP that can be leveraged.

Pokemon Go example – leveraging existing Gameplay IP with new Narrative IP

One of the things that worked well for Niantic is that they already developed compelling gameplay IP with their game Ingress. The leveraged this IP and dressed it with the Pokemon narrative and visuals to create a new mix.

Successful games often innovate by creating new mixes. You can leverage Football IP in a runner game, Frozen Movie IP in a match-3 game and numerous games were created by mixing sports IP with flicking gameplay. Pokemon go is the most known example but it’s not the first time and not the last time a new mix is created.

Leveraging narrative IP from a successful game you created

If you already have one successful game, you will be able to leverage it’s gameplay but you can also leverage it’s narrative and visuals. Unlike what Niantic did with Pokemon Go, you can mix IPs the other way around – bringing in new gameplay. Narrative IP is less likely to get copied so that’s your real asset. Some examples:

  • Rovio brought racing gameplay to angry birds IP
  • Supercell brought fantasy cards game play to Clash of Clans world
  • Outfit 7 brought bubble shooter gameplay to Talking Tom IP
  • Color switch brought dozens of new game play types into the colorful world they created

 

Feel free to share:
Marketing

imageAbout a week ago I received a question from a friend and I thought the answer could be useful for a few others as well. As a media buyer in one of the leading mobile game publishers he is working with different DSPs and from time to time he is using lists of IDs and publishers – both whitelists and blacklists. “How can I be sure that other mobile game publishers don’t get access to my lists once I give them to the DSP provider?” he asked.

His concern is very easy to understand. Often whitelists are used in retargeting campaigns and contain a list of the most valuable users that ever played the app. Blacklists on the other hand often contain a list of all the users who have the app installed so you can exclude them from your campaign. Either way, these are very sensitive lists – the damage of having them fall into the wrong hands could add up to millions of dollars.

The answer has 4 parts:

1 – Legal – contract with real teeth

The standard agreements obviously have some sections that say “vendor will use his best efforts to protect….” or something similar. This is pretty loose and might not do the trick for you. As a game publisher I would suggest a clear language that places blame on the DSP in case of leakage and names severe penalties. In combination with the other tips below this change will go a long way towards ensuring your data is pretected. Another aspect of this is to verify that the provider has assets you can sue against. The threat of a penalty will be less effective against a provider with nothing to lose.

2 – Prefer DSP platforms with no conflict of interest

Some DSPs are hybrid DSP companies that play a dual role. With some companies, they are simply a platform provider that don’t have a stake in the game but with others they are providing agency service on top of their platform and are measured by the success of their campaigns. When acting as an agency for your competitor, they are actually creating a conflict of interest with your company if you are only using their platform. I would recommend sticking to the pure platforms that don’t engage in agency services.

3 – Programatic data handling creates consitency

Some DSP providers have tools built into their platform to manage lists. These tools allow you to create a list, delete it or modify it. Other providers manage lists manually. There are 2 main differences:

  • Software tools are more consistent than manual handling – this means that leakage either never happens or happens all the time
  • When using software tools only a handful of people in the company has the access or knowledge to extract the data and they are usually not the same people who might have their incentives aligned with your competitors

4 – Set traps or at least pretend you did

You can easily add a few known IDs into your lists. If these device IDs will start showing irregular activity from competitor campaigns you would know that the list leaked. All you have to do is monitor these IDs in one of two ways:

  • By having the actual device and checking what ads you receive in a test app
  • By requesting bids from different exchanges for these device IDs

If you are also following the advice in #1, it might be enough to pretend you have such a system to make the DSP provider think twice before sharing any of your lists.

Combine these methods for maximal impact

Having the teeth in tip #1 is very effective if the provider know you will be monitoring as explained in #4. If the provider is handling lists manually as explained in #3 he will be hesitent to sign up for penalties explained in #1. These methods work much better if you use all of them and there is no reason why not doing so. Combine multiple layers of defense that re-enforce each other.

 

Feel free to share:
Marketing, Open Source, Plugins

How we got 8500 apps to install our SDK. Tips for marketing your SDK.

As of last week, the number of live apps using the SOOMLA open source framework is 8,500. While the framework was not a commercial success and is no longer the main focus of SOOMLA it is still a big achievement and often people ask us – how did you do it. It is very common to hear these days terms like SDK Fatigue and here stories about how no-one likes to install new SDKs. SOOMLA’s framework miraculously made it’s way to a huge number of apps including apps by very big publishers: Disney, SEGA, Gumi, Kabam, Ketchapp, Playlab and Scopely. Here are some of the secrets behind it’s success.

Tip 1 – If you want to be in the rocket, get in before the launch

Many mobile games follow the pattern of a rocket. There is a ton of work done before the launch but once it’s launched it’s very hard to make changes and bring in new passengers. A company that just launched an app has so many things they need to do and everything is critical that your SDK will never get enough priority to get included.

Following the footsteps of giants like Unity and Cocos2d-x, SOOMLA realized that for the SDK to reach massive distribution it needs to be included in the first build. The way to do that is to solve a problem that saves the developers development time.

Tip 2 – Open source and app development shops

Another thing that worked to our advantage with the SOOMLA framework is that developers like open source but even more – app development shops likes open source. There is a surprising amount of apps that gets outsourced to 3rd party development shops. No one tracks how many exactly but there are pretty significant app publishers that outsource as a philosophy. Other publishers do it from time to time. For app development shops there are many advantages to using open source projects. It’s free and it saves them time and development effort which are the two most precious things in an outsourced software project. Once our framework made it’s way to the hearts of the app development shops it started getting included as a default in all the apps that were made by that shop.

Tip 3 – The Unity Asset Store + 13 Tips in one free eBook

In August-2014 we uploaded the framework as a plugin to the Unity. Since the plugins were downloaded close to 20,000 times and the number of apps that use the framework grew 2.5 times. Successfully publishing a plugin in the Unity Asset Store is an art on it’s own – if you are serious about it – download this free eBook – The Unity Asset Store COMPLETE Publisher’s Manual

free ebook - the unity asset store complete publisher's manual

Feel free to share:

Join 7606 other smart people who get email updates for free!

We don't spam!

Unsubscribe any time

Categories

SOOMLA - An In-app Purchase Store and Virtual Goods Economy Solution for Mobile Game Developers of Free to Play Games