Marketing

Analytics, Marketing

blog header image with postbacks for ad whales written as the title and signs that say where, what, why, who, when and how

Before we jump into the topic of postbacks for ad whales, lets first understand what are postbacks and why they are so important for any marketer of a mobile app company. Let’s say you have a dating app called TrueMatch and after you have had some organic growth you have recently partnered with a few marketing partners – mostly ad-networks who specialize in bringing installs. Let’s call one of them Tap4Buck. Tap4Buck places ads to promote your app TrueMatch on different websites and apps. As a result users click on them and get to your app-landing page. Some of them also decide to install your app and a smaller percentage even continues and converts to payers. Since Tap4Buck wants to give you the best results possible, they want to know which clicks ended up converting to installs and which ones converted to purchasing users. The problem is that the app store landing page breaks the flow of information so Tap4Buck can’t continue to track the user once they have installed the app. Postbacks solve this issue. If you are using an attribution provider (you should – it’s a must have these days), you can easily configure it to send postbacks to Tap4Buck and help them optimize your campaign for you.

What are ad whales and what are postbacks for ad whales

Now, let’s imagine that TrueMatch makes 50% of it’s ad-revenue from advertising. This means that sending postbacks for users who made purchases only tells Tap4Buck half the story. What about users who generate a lot of revenue from ad based monetization? Ad Whales are users who made at least $0.7 in ad revenue. This is the minimal amount of revenue a payer can make ($1 purchase minus 30% cut by Apple/Google). $0.7 threshold means that a conversion to ad-whale yields the same amount of money as a conversion to payer would yield. Postbacks for ad whales means that your attribution provider would send Tap4Buck an event every time a user that came through Tap4Buck has generated at least $0.7 in ad revenue and converted into an ad whale. This typically happens with 2%-5% of the users in games that are tuned towards ad based monetization but obviously changes from one game to another.

Who should care about postbacks for ad whales?

Companies who have any type of paid marketing activity would benefit from sending postbacks in general. The ones that also have an ad revenue component that amounts to at least 15% of their total revenue should be sending postbacks for ad whales. Ad whale postbacks also benefit the partners on both sides. For the marketing partner that sent the traffic to your app, better postbacks means more effective campaigns and happier customers. For the monetization partners, better postbacks means that the app will get more ad whales as a result of the optimization and therefore their volume of revenue would increase.

When – 2017 is the year of change

If you have been following the industry trends you already know that ad revenues are becoming the dominant way to monetize apps. It’s already as big as In-App Purchase and is projected to grow faster in the next 4 years. In Mobile games alone, App Annie projects in-app advertising will amount to revenue streams of over fifty billion dollars ($50B) for the companies who will be placing these ads in their apps. The total mobile ad spend worldwide is projected to reach $195B by eMarketer. As ad based monetization is becoming so important, companies are looking for tools to optimize them and postbacks are a big part how the mobile marketing space has been operating.

Where – not all geographic areas are created equally

Most of the media buying today is concentrated in a few countries where people are willing to spend money on in-app items. These countries are often referred to as Tier 1 countries and are also where most of the postbacks are being fired today. At the same time, postbacks for ad whales bring a new opportunity to table. There are other countries with large population where people can’t afford to buy in-app items. These countries offer low rates for user acquisition due to lack of demand. Setting up postbacks for ad whales allow app publishers to find opportunities to acquire users in these countries with positive ROI. This means that as postbacks for ad whales became more popular through out 2017 we will see a shift in the postback geographical activity areas.

Why track conversion to ad whales and report it as postbacks?

There are 3 main reasons to track and post ad whale conversion:
Business goals alignment – many apps that have a big ratio of ad revenue today would make up a game progress goal such as “100 sessions completed” or “10 levels”. These goals would be defined as events and companies would track conversion to these goals and report postbacks to the ad-networks. However, these goals are not aligned with the business of the company. Conversion to payers and to ad whales is a far better goal and will bring better results in the long term.

ROAS not enough
– Measuring and optimizing the return on ad spend is the best theoretical approach. However, in a real world situation it relays on predictive models that are often hard to implement. Media buyers often require a more day to day metric to optimize against. This is why most UA campaigns track the conversion to payers as one of the leading KPIs. Similarly, in apps that monetize mainly with ads, the easiest way for media buyers to optimize is against a goal of conversion to ad-whales.

Postbacks allows manual as well as automatic optimizations – reporting the conversion to ad whales as a postback to the traffic source allows them to have an optimization goal that is aligned with your business. In turn, it impacts what users you will be getting from this traffic source. In some channels such as search and social media there is a lot of algorithmic optimization taking place. These algorithms need a goal to optimize against so having them optimize for ad whales would be the best approach for an ad supported app. Similarly, in other channels there is a manual optimization process of eliminating bad sub-sources such as sites or segments – these manual optimizations also requires a goal and reporting ad-whale conversion as postbacks provides such a goal.

How to set up ad whale conversion as postbacks

There are 3 components for setting up ad whale postbacks in your app:

#1 – Tracing back ad revenue per user – in order to detect the ad whales and report them you will need a way to measure the ad revenue for each user separately. Your monetization partners typically report ad revenue per country and average CPM but not the ad revenue for specific users. The most accurate way to measure ad revenue today is SOOMLA TRACEBACK. It is the only platform that can identify the ad whales for you.

#2 – Connecting the data pipelines – your attribution platform is the one in charge of sending postbacks to your marketing partners. Once you have SOOMLA integrated in your app you can configure it to send the right postbacks to your attribution platform with just a few clicks.

#3 – Setting up postbacks in your attribution platform – this step is slightly different depending on the attribution partner. However, they all have a partner configuration screen where you can set up the ad-whale conversion from phase #2 as the trigger for the postback.

 

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Guest Post, Marketing

Baas offers a one stop shop but big app publisher often chose an architecture with internal DB and complementry point solutions

Disclaimer: There is no universal remedy for every single purpose: you have to see what aims you pursue and how exactly a push provider is going to boost your product.

Still, push notifications are not a supplement to a backend but a superior communication channel between you and your audience. If you feel this difference, you’ve already outgrown the “appendix” push notifications almost every BaaS platform offers. This article will help you realize you are all set to win the market using mature push campaign.

To make it more vivid, imagine your product is a car going through a race. Marketing strategy is a car engine aimed at helping you move forward and stand out. BaaS push notifications, as a part of marketing strategy, make it possible to start moving. However, it’s too slowly and you never foreknow when the engine runs too hot and gets broken. Point solution for push messaging is a dual fuel injection that empowers the engine and rushes you forward at full speed, so fast you just can’t back off.

Yet let’s go step by step.

To Each His Own

As stated in the disclaimer, it all depends on your goals, on what you are going to achieve with the help of your project. BaaS with push notifications is undisputedly the right choice for small apps with simple logic and basic push requirements. In other words, if your team consists of you and your idea only, it’s definitely a point in outsourcing a database for your project. The cloud backend lets you focus solely on the UX and business logic of your app, replacing your entire server infrastructure with an API-driven service. You’ll also get push notifications but in limited functionality mode. Anyway, it’s still enough to say meaningless “hello” to all your subscribers at once, but you won’t go beyond the simple push that way. No way you can guarantee to one million subscribers they will get notified the time and the way they like.

So, if you have a complex app and business goals to achieve with push notifications, BaaS is not the solution you are looking for. If you want to quickly prototype and run a proof of concept app – you’d better outsource backend.

4 Point Solution Perks BaaS Users Miss

Segmentation is a power feature not available through BaaS provided push

When you decide to use push notifications in marketing strategy, you want to have clear returns on your effort. And it’s impossible to make money out of push messages just by saying “Hello, Marianne”. It’s much better to say “We hope you are having a great weekend, Marianne! The red jeans you’ve added to your shopping cart are still trendy. Take a look at related items!”.

You will need advanced segmentation features to address the audience individually, the time when they are most responsive. That’s the right way to deliver them the reason and urgency to make a purchase.

Here come the marketing possibilities a point solution offers. Services like Pushwoosh has advanced segmentation that helps you precisely target your audience across different types of segments. Need to notify female users aged 25-35, who spent more than 35$ making in-app purchases last month? Not a big deal! Use Tags and Filters to collect additional data from your customers and send relevant messages to every single user, inviting them to visit your app.

Not all solutions deliver push notifications with the same speed

Delivery speed is a point of interest for every push provider. When your job is to keep notifications running fast and smoothly, you are interested in making guarantees for your users. The volumes may vary, but you are sure delivery speed is safeguarded when you sign an SLA with a push service.

Let’s say you are going to address 100000 users with a push message. If something goes wrong and notifications are being delayed – you can always rely on the previously signed SLA. As a result, both parties benefit from this mutual commitment.

The full solution approach of BaaS limits your flexibility

It is really important to stay flexible when you have an application released. The market is changing and you may need to evolve to stay ahead. BaaS is not a one-stop-shop for app development, you may require custom code, 3rd party integrations or complicated business logic on your stored data. Bummer! As a BaaS user, you are bind to use features your provider offers, but no more. By the way, these features are most likely proprietary, so you can’t migrate from your backend provider to another BaaS. Moreover, if you are a Firebase user, you are vendor-locked, and we all remember what happened to Parse, no matter how good it was.

In that case, having an internal database infrastructure is much more flexible, since you are fully in control of your product. Push notifications and other point solutions complement your feature set when keeping database infrastructure internally.

Point solutions approach proves more cost effective than BaaS in the long run

It might be profitable to let someone host your backend and handle your pushes at the very beginning. This entire database headache doesn’t bother you and you are free to create a design of your dream that drives tons of conversion. Everything is great and you are happy…until you make it. Out of the blue, you realize your app needs functionality that requires your own backend code. When you get 100,000 users and hit storage limit, you’ll be surprised to see BaaS can’t manage your custom needs. On Firebase free plan you have 100 simultaneous connections. It means you can handle 100 users at the same time, making 1 call for each of them. Or even 50 users at once, if making 2 calls for each. And what if you decide to boost your marketing campaign using push notifications? You’ll get cropped functionality incapable of sending targeted push messages and addressing your audience effectively. Gosh, it all hurts!

You’ll be forced to find another backend solution or DIY your database. It will result in extra development efforts, extra costs and extra time spent, which are lethal for the product.

Why should you doom yourself to titanic efforts? It will be much more reasonable in long-term perspective to deploy and maintain your own backend and let professionals run your push campaign. For example, you can reach 500,000 customers with unlimited push messages, and that’s just the free plan Pushwoosh offers. When you have your own backend infrastructure, you are unaffected by provider limitations and free to try each and every feature a push notifications solution has. After all, isn’t it the genuine goal of a trial period?

Takeaway

Well, it’s surely no crime to use push notifications offered by a BaaS platform. Depending on the project size and complexity, this solution can help you bootstrap your product and get to the market as soon as possible. And that’s great for model-view-presenter applications.

However, if you are seeking for long-term benefits and push messaging is a major part of your marketing strategy, you are good to go. A point solution is your lucky ticket.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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