Tips and Advice

App Monetization, Tips and Advice

7 ad experiences that will kill your retention: freeze, decieve, frustrate, delay, bore, annoy, trick

When integrating ads, one of the biggest concerns is that users might churn away. There is an obvious trade off between the need to give the users a great experience and the need to turn revenue. Not all ads are created equally when it comes to their impact on user retention and it’s important to measure the impact of different ad types and monitor what ad experiences your users are getting from your ad partners. Below is a list of ad experiences to watch for:

 

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

 

1. Crashes and freezes can impact mobile app retention

Ads are served by the ad networks who tend to require an SDK integration. Each SDK increases the complexity of the app and might conflict with other SDKs, in turn cause your app to crashes for your users. This happens especially in edge conditions such as old Android versions or uncommon devices. While crashes are typically reported through your crash analytics provider, there is another type of error that is trickier to track. In some cases, the SDK of the ad network will try to show an ad to the user but will end up freezing the device. This type of error is typically not detected and is harder to monitor but it could have the same negative impact. Both of these errors might cause users to churn away and reduce the overall app usage experience.

2. Close buttons that are hard to find frustrate users

In some situations a full size ad such as an interstitial, video or playable will load and the users will want to close it right away and continue using the app. The lack of an obvious way to skip the ad experience is a big turn off for users who are likely to stop using an app that consistently makes it hard for them to skip the ad experience. There are a few types of ads that have this negative experience. In some cases the X button will have a color that doesn’t pop up from the background, in other cases it will show up only after a few seconds without a clear indication of how long it will take and in other cases it might show up in a different way every time. Sometimes it’s all 3 together causing a very unpleasant experience for the user.

3. Lack of ad diversity will bore your users

It’s one thing to show a user 10 ads per day but it’s another thing to show him the same ad 10 times every day. In addition to being ineffective, repeating the same ad many times is a negative user experience. You may think that advertisers have enough incentive to make sure this doesn’t happen but in today’s mobile advertising eco system the lack of data transparency may result in the same advertiser showing their ads in your app through different channels and without them knowing about each other. In this situation, the frequency capping is not getting enforced.

4. Poorly targeted ads may get your users annoyed

Ads today can be highly targeted and users have come to expect targeted ad content. Poor targeting can range from an ad to a game you already installed and go all the way to inappropriate ad content being targeted to kids. The publishers typically don’t control ad targeting and usually leave it to the ad providers however some ad providers are better than others. While companies like Facebook are known for their hyper targeting, some ad networks have little targeting data to work with and placing the focus not on targeted ads, but rather on their revenue. If you are serious about keeping your retention high, you should monitor ad content and targeting closely.

5. Your users don’t want to wait for a slow loading ad

No one likes to wait but while waiting for something you desire can be tolerable, waiting for an ad to load is likely to be crime in your users’ book. Monitoring the loading time of every single ad can be hard to do on your own but the right monetization measurement platform can help you with it.

6. Deceiving ad creatives are hard to tell from your app buttons

Imagine a user that clicks on a “download” button only to realize it wasn’t a button but actually an ad that looked like the real button. Alternatively, picture someone trying to click on the “next” button but hitting an interstitial ad that popped up between the time his brain sent the command and the time the finger reached the button. These errors might be annoying for a savvy user but think how they impact the experience of a less savvy user who is now trying to figure out where the rabbit hole led him to and how he can get back.

7. Inconsistent ad skipping experience and long duration ads

Users are used to not being able to skip a rewarded video ad. These are opt-in ads that the user initiated and so it makes sense that he can’t skip them. However, other ad placements can have an opt-out experience or have no way to skip at all. Obviously, not having the option to skip is more annoying for users but what will really tick them off is when an ad placement will have a mix of:
  • Ads you can click skip right away
  • Ads that requires no action but just waiting
  • Ads that require a combination of waiting and than clicking to end
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Tips and Advice

in house vs. outsourced tech platforms

The gaming industry is notorious for having a strong NIH syndrome. In mobile games there is more openness for external solutions compared to previous gaming ecosystems. You can even find super successful companies like Supercell who outsource almost everything and are able to keep very lean while on the other hand companies like Wooga who even keep their ad-tech platforms in-house.

What not to outsource

The rule of thumb for outsourcing is that you don’t want to outsource the core functions of the company. This is obviously different from one company to another but in the gaming space almost all successful companies keep in-house is the game backend and BI. There is no lack of services offering BAAS (backend as a service), Game servers and off-the-shelf analytics solutions but there is a strong concenseus among the top tier companies that these should be kept in-house. The situation is different with two types of companies:

  • Companies like Ketchapp are focused on super casual games that don’t have a backend
  • Gaming startups sometimes make short term compromises and outsource components that they are later on hoping to internalize

Outsource your ad-tech platforms

On the other side of the spectrum – the ad-tech platforms are mostly outsourced. Even if you look at top tier companies it’s hard to find companies who built technologies around measurement, optimization and placement of ads. Here are some examples:

  • Attribution platform – most gaming companies outsources to Appsflyer, Kochava, Adjust or Tune
  • Ad Mediation – there are many solutions in the market and only a few companies built their own
  • Ad revenue traceback – companies were not able to build platforms to attribute ad revenue to the user level

Consider the TCO – total cost of ownership

One of the aspects that companies often miss when it comes to in-house development is the on-going maintenance costs. In a typical scenario the vendor will pitch his product and will present a price of $5,000/month. The VP of engineering will say – I can build this in a month. Obiously, the price of 1 month of engineer work should be considered but there is actually a lot more:

  • The alternative cost of the engineer should be considered – if you are delaying a feature that could be worth $50,000 than the price is actually more than just the engineer salary
  • The full overhead – The G&A expenses are correlated to the number of people in the company
  • Maintenance cost – bugs, responding to changes in the industry, upgrades, …
  • Hosting costs can ramp up quickly in ad-tech products
  • Dev-ops costs
Once you add up all of these, most likely that the price the vendor will be the lower one compared to the in-house option.

The hidden price in ad-network sponsored products

One area where companies fail to perform an accurate cost analysis is the area of ad-mediation. In this area there are companies who use in-house solution and others get a ‘free’ one from an ad-network. Here, the price of the ‘free’ product is actually a lot bigger than a paid product would have cost. One of the secrets of the ad-networks is that they are the ones deciding how much to pay the publisher, it’s very easy for them to withold 10% as a cost for the mediation. The publisher will never know. Now imagine a company with $10M in annual revenues. You have 2 options:
  • Get a free service (it actuall costs $1M/year)
  • Develop in-house
Most companies will choose the free service and only a few will build an in-house solution. However, in this case, the price of outsourcing is actually much higher compared to in-house.

Recap

The dicision to build or buy in the gaming space has two main aspects:

  • Know what is the core of your company and keep that in-house
  • Consider all costs including total cost of ownership and the hidden cost of ‘free’ gifts from ad-networks
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Marketing, Tips and Advice

cross promoting between your apps requires creativity - here are 9 ideas how to do cross promo

Most companies in the mobile app ecosystem today have more than one app. Once your company reached this stage, you should start considering cross promoting your new app in the existing apps. You should probably read The Complete Guide to Cross Promotion ROI in addition to checking out these 8 awesome ways to cross promote your apps.

Interstitials and App Trailers

This method is the most obvious way and has been in use for as long as people were making apps. You have one app, you launched a new one. Simply make an app trailer or at least a full page banner ad and add them in the existing app. Most mediation platforms supports this practice and it’s easy enough to do. Keep in mind however that you are taking away from your potential ad-revenue with this method.

Virtual goods / coins bonus

This method is for games only. Virtual goods and currencies are an integral part in most mobile games today. Once your new game is ready you can offer the virtual goods or coins of the new game as a bonus to the users of the existing game. This way the cross promotion message makes the users feel special and has more chances of attracting the users.

In-app notifications

While google and apple are not allowing using push messages for cross promotion, in-app notifications are still allowed. The in-app messages a simple yet effective tool that pops up a “system notification” style message to the user which immediatly grabs his attention.

More games button

This is a classic but still very effective, simply plant a button in your lobby/home screen and allow your users to check what other games you developed for them. Users normally assume that if they liked one of your games they are likely to like another.

Email messages that cross promote a new app

If your iOS app asks users to login or use a social network to connect, you should be able to leverage this method. Android apps can ask a permission to access the user email in the operating system or revert to social login. Once you have a long list of user emails you can leverage them to announce the coming of a new app. If you do this, make sure you include a way to unsubscribe in order to comply with Can Spam Act

Retargeting on Facebook and Google

This method costs some money but could still be effective if your new app monetizes well. Both Facebook and Google allows to target a list of customers and promoting a new app to them. You will need to either integrate an SDK in your existing app in advance for this or if you are a using an attribution provider you can probably ask them for a list of identifiers you can upload for this purpose.

crossy road cross promo method is to introduce avatars from other games

Adding the new game avatars in the existing game

Another method that can only used by games. It was first used by Hipster Whale in their game Crossy Road very effectively except it was used to promote other games. The users get acquinted with the new characters and are interested to explore the new game.

Bonus levels featuring the new app

This method is inspired by the playable ads that are getting a lot of momentum lately. The playable ads allow a user to play a few moves in the existing game before deciding to try the advertised game. Since your company is the developer of both games, you can actually build a better experience and incorporate a short bonus level in the existing game to get the users interested in the new one.

Name hints as a cross-promo tool

This is a generalization of sequales. Obviously, adding the number “2” to the title is an effective way to get users of an existing app interested in the new app. However, sequales requires the apps to be very similar and is a method only for games. Creating a name that hints to the other app creates a softer association that allows the new app to inherit the trust that the users generated towards the existing apps. Some examples:

  • Candy Crush Saga – King created at least 5 more games with a name ending in “Saga”
  • Clash Royale – Supercell hinted that their new game is related to their top game – Clash of Clans
  • Du Apps Studio – Android utility apps maker is dominating the top free charts while all their apps start with “DU”

 

If you would like to measure the tradeoff between cross promotions and ad revenue you should probably start attributing your advertising revenue. Check out SOOMLA Traceback – Ad LTV as a Service.

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Marketing, Tips and Advice

Who should calculate ltv header image with different kpi highlighted, cvr, ctr, cpm

Many companies in the mobile app ecosystem today try to figure out the LTV of a customer also known as CLTV or CLV. In fact, some of them probably shouldn’t. In the past companies simply focused on the value generated in a single session and count page views and conversions and for many situations this method is the right one to chose.

The choice between these 2 distinct methods often impact the choice of analytics platforms, attribution methods and many other things. If you are developing a new application, you should figure out which method suits your application.

Services should calcualte LTV

The industries that have traditionally focused on revenue per user calculations and user life time value were the service companies: phone carriers, utility companies providing electricity and cable companies. The models were later adopted by SAAS companies and these days, freemium games started the trend of “Games as a Service” and are using the same models as well. At the heart of these models there is an assumption that the customer will stay for a long time. This usually happens when the cutomer relies on the service for a basic need or when the service becomes part of the user daily routine and habits.

Companies who sell products should use atransactional measurement model

On the flip side, eCommerce sites are relaying more on transactional models where each purchase is measured separately even if performed by the same user. When games started, the Premium model was popular and games were considered products so the transactional measurement model was the standard. Users go to the app-store and buy an app for one or two dollars and that’s it. There is no retention measurement, no LTV analysis, ARPDAU, nothing like that. Transactional models are much simpler.

Habit creation is the deciding factor

The main question you should ask yourself when you are coming to chose between a transactional measurement philosophy or the LTV one is whether or not you are creating a usage habit. We are all used to turning the lights on as we walk into our house. We all flip on the TV as soon as we sit on the couch and many of us open the candy crush app when they wait for the subway. These are habits, they indicate the service became a part of the user life and there is a real chance he will stay for a long time.

Apps that monetize over time but don’t have a habbit

Let’s think about the example of Kayak. It’s an app that helps you compare travel deals: flights, hotles and car rentals. The customer might install the app and use it once but the next time he will use the app is only when he is booking another vacation. By that time, it’s very possible that he will have another phone. There is no habit being created that is attached to a daily or weekly routine. Every purchase is a stand alone transaction and should be thought of it that way. The value of acquiring a user through a CPI campaign is pretty low. And the LTV vs. CAC formula doesn’t really apply here. From this reason, companies like Kayak focus most of their marketing efforts on users that are booking travel in the near future. They might try to promote their app or entice user to bookmark their site but this should be considered more as a way to put an ad banner for free in front of the user’s eyes. There are other models that can be applied to assess the business merits of banner advertising.

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Fun Stuff, Tips and Advice

There seems to be a general acknowledgment that it can be, at times, difficult to keep morale and motivation up in an office. It’s important to keep employees happy and motivated so they can deliver their highest quality work. Awhile back we were facing this problem and we revamped our weekly meetings to overcome this problem.

(1200x600) Boring Weekly Team

The Problem

Every Sunday, we have a company wide meeting to go over the weekly updates. We discuss future plans, business decisions and updates from the different teams. We believe that these meetings are important in every company, big or small, so employees feel included and valued. It is also a great way to emphasize company goals and make sure everyone’s in sync.

The problem for us was that our meetings felt like a lecture in college, where the information was being delivered in a dull manner and all the employees sat quietly and listened.

We imagined the meetings to be a free environment where there could be open discussions and everyone could speak their mind. Everyone’s opinion matters and we wanted our employees to feel like they could speak freely and be heard.

How to fix the problem?

We came to realize that the most important thing for the employees was state of mind. When you are in a good state of mind you are more open, you get more creative and you are more friendly.

To change the employee’s state of mind

There is no need to change the content of the weekly meetings, we just needed to change the employee’s state of mind. To accomplish this we decided we needed to change the general environment in the office – we needed to get creative.

In addition to the weekly meetings, we have a Thursday snack and activity after lunch. Each week a different employee is in charge of bringing a treat and an activity for the team. The activities don’t need to be long, roughly 30 minutes. The activities should however include: teamwork, competitions, creativity and fun.

Ideas for activities in the office

Over the past few months we’ve come up with a variety of great games for the office. They all take roughly half an hour and can be done inside or outside. Heads-Up-for-PC-Windows-7810-and-Mac

General Games:

  1. Charades: You could play the original way. Or a different version called Head’s Up (an app on your phone or tablet). You divide into two groups, each employee holds the phone to his or her forehead and the teammates need to mime or give clues to what is written on the screen. The app takes a video of the whole things which is great to watch afterwards.
  2. Salad Bowl: There are three rounds in the game: 1) verbal clues 2) act it out (no words) 3) one word clue. The team with the most points after the 3 rounds wins!
  3. Competitive Trivia: Divide into 2 teams and play trivia! We usually use Triviaplaza which has many trivia idea options.
  4. Other Ideas:
    IMG_20151112_140240

    Office Beer Pong

    1. Hangman
    2. Pictionary

Active Activities:

  1. Beer Pong: The very-well known college game. 
  2. Treasure Hunt- it can be in the office or outside around the office building
  3. Escape Rooms- This is an out of office activity and is great for team bonding and problem solving.  Not all cities have Escape Rooms, but if your city does, then go! An Escape Room is a team activity in which the participants get locked in a room and must use clues to escape. 
12339446_606230212887546_8393852181028654750_o

SOOMLA team at Escape It Tel Aviv

Getting to Know You Games:

  1. Two Truths and a Lie: Each coworker tells two truths and one lie. The others need to guess which one is the lie.
  2. Try your coworkers hobbies: For example, I am a pastry chef, so I brought cupcakes and frosting and showed everyone how to decorate a cupcake. Everyone decorated their own and then ate it 🙂

Engage Your Employees and Bring Fun to Your Office

Fun in the office is important and valuable to any company. Try to do as many fun activities as possible even if it is just going out for beer, watching funny videos or playing a game. It will lighten the atmosphere and make the office a better and more productive work environment. 

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Tips and Advice

(1200x600) Apple TV 2

Recently we launched a promotion allowing key prospective accounts to win an Apple TV simply by integrating the GROW SDK. These studios were already going to implement, but to help push them along we added a little Christmas incentive to be added as part of their Christmas game update.

This promotion led to a few interesting discussions and some interesting thoughts about the Apple TV market from a game developer stand point.

Half of US House Holds Will Have an Apple TV

Apple has already sold 25M units from previous models, which is actually not such a big number, but the new model is much better with many more apps, better music integration and the best remote around. This holiday season, many people will most likely get one and Apple’s unmatched ability to push their slick products to consumers will win, especially now that they are serious about this market. I can easily see how half of Americans will have this toy (in the next few weeks). Families that have photos and music on iCloud and use Siri will be even more inclined to get one for the house.

Games Might Not Be the Main App

Most families have more than one TV in the house. The xBox is usually located in the playroom, far enough so that the explosions from the shooter games can’t reach the ears of the adults. However, the Apple TV might find its way to the main living room, where it’s less likely for a 2 hour gaming session to be held especially without interruption. This is one of the reasons why I don’t think we will see many xBox and PlayStation type of games on the Apple TV.

Free-2-Play: Less than iPhone

Apple’s power comes from mobile and iPads. These worlds are dominated by free games monetized through IAP and ads. The initial content offered for Apple TVs is mainly around games that are ported from Apple’s existing platforms. The big difference is that its hard to imagine someone playing this type of game for very long on an Apple TV. It seems most children enjoy playing games on touch screens now compared to the big screen when it comes to action and arcade games. It’s also hard to imagine someone playing Candy Crush on the main TV.

The Opportunity: TV Based IP & Multi-Participant Games

If my theory that the Apple TV will be in the main room of the house is correct, the games that will become more popular are games that allow several people to play together. Games like Just Dance and FIFA are good examples, but they require different types of controls. I believe the hits will come from content that combines IP from the TV space with multi-participant gameplay. This way the content will fit nicely in the main screen and will engage multiple family members or guests. It’s therefore more likely to stay on the screen and not replaced with a cooking show. Maybe its the cooking show to begin with…

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Tips and Advice

Opt out from mobile ad tracking

Mobile ad tracking usually evokes feelings that relate to stalking, creeping and general disdain. But is the feature something we should really feel disgusted by? Or is the constant media talk of our privacy being threatened led us to start blowing into cold milk, too? Is mobile ad tracking really that much of a threat to our privacy, or is it in fact a nifty little feature which improves our mobile experience? There will also be an explanation on how to opt out of mobile ad tracking, but that doesn’t mean I am generally against such features.

What is mobile ad tracking and how does it work?

Mobile ad tracking should not be confused with online ad tracking, two different features which even confused the author of these words at first. Unlike online ad tracking, where ad networks track your browser behavior through cookies, seeing the sites you visit and how long you stay with certain content, mobile ad tracking relates exclusively to apps and not your browser. It is the way ad networks identify you through various apps you use on your mobile device, trying to form a complete picture of your behavior in order to serve relevant ads.

interstital app index

Credit: App Index

There are two elements to consider from the paragraph above: 1) multiple apps; and 2) relevant ads.

When looking at multiple apps, mobile ad tracking means basically the same ads will be served to you in all the apps you have which support ads. For example, if you used an app to find tower defense games, you might see ads for such games in other apps later on.

Relevant ads are where mobile ad tracking really shows. Here’s the deal: turning off the feature will not disable ads in apps. It will not even reduce the number of those ads – it will just (most likely) make them irrelevant, to some extent. Your mobile behavior creates your profile, and *relevant* ads are served with regard to that profile. Turn the feature off and the profile is wiped – which could mean you’ll start seeing ads for things that don’t interest you in the slightest. For example, if you’re using apps that are common with 20-30-year-old males who like sports, keeping ad tracking active might result in you seeing ads for the next Superbowl. Turn it off, and you might start seeing ads for nail polish – completely irrelevant to the target audience.

How does it work?

Turning off mobile ad tracking might mean you’ll be served gaming ads when you’re more interested in hair implants. Credit: Supersonic

Turning off mobile ad tracking might mean you’ll be served gaming ads when you’re more interested in hair implants. Credit: Supersonic

Looking at the two biggest mobile operating systems, iOS and Android, we see that both work in a similar fashion. Each device is assigned a digital identification code. These codes are similar to a cookie — they allow advertisers to know that a specific iPhone or Android user using a certain app and can serve an ad targeting that user.

For Android, the code is called Android Advertising ID, and it is used by advertisers to determine if they have already served an ad to a specific user. They also use the ID to retarget and frequency cap users.

Apple’s IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) was introduced in May 2013, when it replaced the old UDID (Universal Device ID). It was done to give the user more control in both security and privacy.

Android devices work in a similar fashion. Its code is called Android Advertising ID, and it replaced the old Android ID in October 2013, for the same reason.

The real question is should you allow ad networks to look over your shoulder and into your mobile screen or not. Here are the pros and cons of opting out:

Pros and Cons of opting out

Deciding to opt-out of mobile ad tracking means advertising networks no longer have any insight into your mobile app usage. If you don’t want to give such information away, you should turn the feature off. However, there are two important things you should also know. First, there is no private information shared here. That means you’re just a part of a larger statistic, aimed to better tailor advertising.

The second thing is – there’s not exactly some IT weirdo somewhere reading through your emails and app search history, deciding what you like and what you don’t. All those things are done by computer programs, algorithms.

Turning off mobile ad tracking doesn’t really block ads. You will still be served ads, only irrelevant ones, most of the time. There will still be ads based on the device you use, the country you live in and the keywords you use in specific app searches. However, irrelevant ads drastically reduce the chance of you actually seeing something you like and clicking it. Lower click-through rates mean less earnings for the advertiser and the app you use.

Why is this important to you, you might ask?

When you look at today’s mobile consumer world (and internet for that sake) from the perspective of an average user – everything is pretty much free. But the truth is  – nothing is free, and neither is the internet. Someone has to eventually pay the bill for all the free content and entertainment we consume, and the ones paying it are the advertisers.

They are sponsoring mobile apps who agree to lend their app’s real estate to host ads in return for revenue. This is what keeps apps virtually free. Advertising is a major driving force of the free app economy which sustains it financially.

Opting out of mobile ad tracking will allow you to keep your private information private. It will, however, make your mobile experience less than ideal, unless you completely block all ads in the first place. Keep in mind that ads are the lubricant for the internet, fueling the sites which give you content you enjoy consuming.

Whether you will disable mobile ad tracking is up to you – every major mobile operating system allows you to choose. Should you do it or not in the end depends on what you consider an ideal mobile experience.

How to opt-out of mobile ad tracking:

On iOS:

iOSGo to Settings > Privacy > Advertising.
Turn on Limit Ad Tracking.
To turn off location-based ads, do the following:
Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
Turn off Location-Based iAds.

 

 

On Android 5:

androidGo to Settings > General > Accounts & Sync
Locate and tap on the Google listing
Tap Personal info & Privacy
Tap Ads settings
Scroll down and tap on “Manage Ad Settings”
Find the “Ads based on your interests” slider and slide to “Off”.

 

 

 

 

On Windows Phone

windowsStart > Settings > Privacy
Look for “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps (turning this off will reset your ID)” (usually located at the top)
Disable it

 

 

 

It is important to once again repeat that this relates only to mobile apps and not browsers. Ad networks use different methods of tracking your browser movement, mostly through placing cookies. There are methods of disabling browser-based ad tracking, but we will leave that topic for another time.

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Tips and Advice, Video

6_Tips_Panel_Participation

I recently had the opportunity to be a panelist in an industry conference. I have attended panels before and I have given many talks at conferences, but participating in a panel was a new thing, until October this year when the organizers of Casual Connect asked me to join a panel about data and analytics.

Here are 6 things I learned while preparing, participating and reviewing the video in retrospect.

#1 – Know the Questions in Advance

Very few people can wing their first panel appearance. Imagine getting the question only during the session while the audience is waiting for your response and the spotlights pointed on you. This is a lot of unnecessary pressure. Most likely the panel moderator will be happy to share the questions in advance and even iterate on them with you if you have feedback.

#2 – Disagree at least once

Panels can get really boring if everyone agrees on everything and says the same things. You can see Daniel disagreeing with me and Garrett on minute 7:30 and then in the last 10 minutes Ilja and myself arguing against re-engagement in gaming while Daniel takes the other side.

#3 – Prepare Examples that are Easy to Visualizethis-disturbing-image-of-a-chinese-worker-with-close-to-100-iphones-reveals-how-app-store-rankings-can-be-manipulated

A lot of times expert discussions can become too complicated for an audience to follow. Having an example that is easy for the audience to visualize helps you keep the audience engaged and is much more memorable. In minute 20:48 I’m leveraging the fact that most of the audience has already seen the image of an Asian person sitting in front of hundreds of mobile devices and installing apps on them to make an example of how SOOMLA can detect fraud better than anyone else.

#4 – Use Sound Bytes

Get a few sentences prepared that people can immediately agree with and easily memorize. For SOOMLA the best ones would have been:

  • It’s smarter to look at data from hundreds of games than to look at data from only a single game.
  • If 50% of the revenue is driven by whales, you should spend half your time analyzing that audience specifically.

I actually failed to deliver these sound bytes during the session although at minute 10:40 I had a pretty good opportunity to deliver the first one.

#5 – Use Acronyms to Encapsulate Systems or Processes

Audiences really like it when you give them an easy way to remember a new system, process or method. Using an acronym and explaining what the letters stand for, will get people writing your words down. An example that is relevant to SOOMLA would be: “The segments that game publishers should focus on: S – social whales that can bring you viral distribution, W – whales – these are the people who pay in your game, F – freeloaders which should be monetized with ads. The acronym to remember is SWF.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the opportunity to use this acronym in the discussion. I promise to do better on my next panel.

#6 – You Don’t Have to Answer the Question You were Asked

Sometimes it’s better to answer the question you wanted to be asked. At the end of the day most people would not remember the question anyway. Especially if your answer was good. At minute 2:45, I was asked “tell us something not many people know about your company.” I replied with a shameless pitch – given that we are a startup it’s likely to assume that not many people have heard about what we do so it was sort of answering the question, but not really what the moderator expected.

Measuring Success

The success of a panel is not easy to measure, but one way to gauge it is by how many people queued up for questions after. In this case, I can say that I did pretty well based on that queue, but I still know there are quite a few things I’ll do better in my next panel.

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Game Design, Tips and Advice

(1200x600) eCPM Decay

After weeks, months of hard work, you have finally completed your mobile game. Everything is set, the red ribbon is in place and you’re ready to release it into the wavy waters of the digital sea, hoping it succeeds, bringing you fame and fortune along the way.

You smash the ceremonial bottle of champagne against the computer you used to build the app, and you press “Publish”. Then, after a week of solid stats, this happens:

ecp decay
 

FREE REPORT – VIDEO ADS RETENTION IMPACT

 

What happened?

Your eCPM, your effective cost per mille, or how much money you really are making from the ads served in your app, is decaying hard. What can you do about it? You can either hold your head in your hands as you gasp in despair, or you can get to work, slowing down the eCPM decay and pulling the maximum out of your products. But before I explain the various strategies you can employ, let’s first clear out a few basics, like what CPM, eCPM and other acronyms are, in the first place.

What is eCPM?

eCPM is short for Effective Cost Per Mille, and it relates to actual advertising revenue generated for those 1,000 impressions. Even though it’s a relatively new term, it has quickly established itself as industry’s universal standard of measurement and is being used to compare how well campaigns are performing side-by-side. Here’s what the eCPM equation looks like:

ecpm-equation

Image courtesy of Appflood: http://appflood.com/blog/what-is-the-definition-of-ecpm

First thing you need to do when calculating eCPM is to divide your total advertising earnings with the total number of impressions you have been given by the advertiser. The number you get is the amount of money you earn for a single impression. However, as impressions are paid out for every thousand, you have to multiply that number by 1,000.

The final number is how much you are earning on average from the campaign.

If you’re still unclear what the difference between CPM and eCPM is, here it is in a single sentence: CPM is a pricing and reach metric, while eCPM is a performance metric.

eCPM is only part of the equation

However, don’t be tempted to measure the performance of your advertising campaign solely on the eCPM. A website with millions of visitors which ends up with lower eCPM can still earn you more money than a website with less visitors, but with a higher eCPM metric. Other parameters, such as how many people visit a particular site are equally important.

What is CPM?

In the world of mobile advertising, abbreviations such as CPM, CTR and CPC are very common. They usually revolve around online ads, how much people view them and click on them, and how much money advertisers and ad networks earn from people’s actions. CPM is short for Cost Per Mille, with Mille being Latin for thousand. So in the shortest possible definition, CPM is the price of a thousand advertisement impressions. Visitors don’t need to click on the ad for the publisher to be paid. They don’t even have to *see* the ad – if they load it, it counts as an impression.

So, for example, if a website charges $5 CPM, that means an advertiser must pay $5 for every 1,000 impressions its ad receives. The CPM is used as a reach and pricing metric, and should not be confused with eCPM.

What is eCPM decay?

As you monetize your mobile app or game and your ad network of choice starts serving ads to your users/players, sooner or later you will come to realize that your eCPM is slowly (or sometimes, drastically) declining. The trend is also called eCPM decay, and is something many developers and advertisers are struggling to control.

eCPM decay: your ad network starts serving ads to your users and your eCPM is slowly drastically… Click To Tweet

Why does eCPM decay occur?

Most will agree – eCPM decay is inevitable. There are many reasons to it – sometimes the advertiser will promote low-quality creatives and provide you with a few clicks and very few installs. Sometimes, your app or game will hand out too many ad impressions, thus driving eCPM down. User behavior is also something that should be looked at, as users are more inclined during the first few views.

eCPM decay - single network vs. ad mediation

Season to be (un)jolly

Be wary of the holiday season. As I’m writing this article, we’ve basically entered the Christmas holiday season, which is that time of year when consumers are most engaged with advertisers and the content they serve. During this time, the competition becomes fierce, and mobile ads and advertisers scramble to fill target inventory during this time. In the weeks following the holidays, a significant eCPM drop is nothing unusual to experience.

If you have decided to incorporate multiple ad networks into your game to serve ads, you might also be experiencing what’s called campaign overlap, which is also often a reason for eCPM decline.

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What is campaign overlap?

chartboost-interstitialIf you are using multiple ad networks, they might be serving you the same ad, a problem called campaign overlap. Many of the ad networks are working with the same advertisers and, as you might have imagined, the best performing ads could be, and often are, the same for all of them.

A network might stop itself from serving the same ad multiple times, but it is highly unlikely for networks to coordinate between themselves, meaning you will still end up with the same ad served too many times.

Adam Ben-David, VP of Supply Side Platform from Supersonic, a mobile ads company, is aware of the issue and believes the best way to tackle it is through ad mediation: “Campaign overlap and the effort to avoid it is the fundamental reason why developers use Supersonic’s mediation platform. Our ‘weighted’ optimization ensures that only the most relevant content with the highest eCPMs are served from a developer’s various ad sources, ensuring maximum ad revenue and user engagement,” he said.

He did, however, stress that sometimes repeating an ad doesn’t lead to lower engagement. Sometimes it can be quite the opposite: “Serving the same ad creative repetitively does not necessarily lead to lower engagement, perhaps the opposite, as it often takes several attempts to warm the user up before he or she engages at all.”

Slowing down eCPM decay

There is no escape from eCPM decay, that’s for certain. You can either throw your app into the digital wild and watch as it struggles for breath, or you can develop a plan and a strategy to make sure you get the maximum out of your product. Easing the effects of eCPM decay is absolutely doable and definitely something you should look into. There are a couple of things you can do in that respect: strategize on placement and timing; limit ad frequency; set up proper eCPM floors and be uncompromising in terms of minimising cost.

Slow down eCPM decay by: strategizing placement, limit ad frequency and set up proper eCPM floors. Click To Tweet

Keep in mind that these tips are not meant to be used all at once – the things you do to optimize your eCPM depend mostly on the product you have and its audience. Game genre and user engagement will have an impact on the eCPM decay. Sometimes, for example, limiting ad frequency won’t have as big of an impact as setting up proper eCPM floors. For that reason, you should think your strategy through for each individual product and set up a plan accordingly.

Placement

Think about your product: how much space does it have for an ad? Does the ad appear too often, in too many places? Is it hindering user experience? If that is the case, you can end up destroying your own produbreak prisonct, so be careful about where you place your ads. Games that offer short-length levels (a few minutes) often serve ads only after the player has finished a session, while others opt for rewarded video ads, which have proven to be extremely effective in terms of user engagement.

Limiting ad frequency

Timing is also of the utmost importance: if the ads appear at the most inconvenient moments (during the game, at the pause menu, etc.) not only will the user engagement drop, but the risk of players abandoning the app altogether rises. Pay close attention to how often the ads appear, and if you’re getting a campaign overlap.

Setting up CPM floors

When monetizing your app or mobile game, at one point you will also be asked to set up a minimum CPM, also known as the CPM floor. The CPM floor is the minimum acceptable CPM at an ad unit level. It represents the lowest possible price at which a bidder can win an impression on your app or game.

This is also a very important metric and should be treated as such. Setting up a low CPM floor, a high one, or simply trying to match it with the eCPM can all have different consequences on your monetization. A low-cost strategy might push you to later impressions, while a high one might have you ending up with significant decay beyond the second and third impression. Sometimes, matching the CPM floor with eCPM might have unwanted consequences, as you might appear too expensive for CPM advertisers. By matching these two metrics, you could cut out a lot of cleared impressions in the lower end, hurting your impressions count and revenue. So which of the three roads should you take? As with everything else, it depends on your product and your audience, but my general tip would be to be uncompromising in terms of minimising cost. In other words – avoid low-cost strategies and go for a more valuable first impression.

Avoid low-cost strategies and go for a more valuable first impression. Click To Tweet

Here’s why: opting for a low-cost strategy, you will most likely be pushed towards later impressions. Those are quite often only viewed by reward farmers – players watching ads only to gain something in return (in-game currency or something similar).

There’s no stopping eCPM decay…

…but that doesn’t mean you should let it freefall. You can use the tips written above to create a controlled, sustained fall which will maximize the monetization of your app. You can do that through proper strategy and careful planning on how the ads will be served in your product.

Proper placement and timing of the ads are crucial, as well as well-balanced CPM floors to reach those lower-paying gigs and still perform nicely. Try avoiding low-budget strategies and unique rewards obtainable only through ads, as you will most likely end up with reward farmers that are a true eCPM killer.

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Marketing, Tips and Advice

You Need an Email Address, You Say?

I’ve recently been working on email outreach. I’ve got my personalized pitch ready to go, but I’m missing one thing. The perfect email address. I’m not just looking for a generic email; I’m looking for a valuable employee email who is relevant to my search.email-2-icon

Most of my searches I’m pretty lucky and after digging around I get the email I want. I will say there are some people who are really good at hiding themselves and I give them kudos. In this day in age, it’s hard to truly hide yourself with such sophisticated tools to track people.

Not to Spam, but to Enlighten

Before we dive in let’s just be clear, use these tools for good, not evil. When I’m reaching out to leads I truly believe our service can and will benefit them. I don’t use these tools to spam, but to enlighten potential customers. Every email sent should be personalized and tailored to the recipient. If it’s not, then you should reconsider your email outreach process. Email outreach is generating valuable leads that will be genuinely interested in your service, not just shouting to the masses that you have a new product.    

Tools of the Trade

I use a variety of tools to find an email. Most are free or give me X number of searches per month. While by the end of the month I’m usually out, I still enjoy these tools and you can too as long as you don’t require significant scale which requires payment. These are the tools I use to assist me on my endeavors:

The Process

I first begin researching the company and if I stumble upon an interesting email I make note of it, but keep researching until I know that is the exact person I want to email.

While at the end of the day I’m trying to find the perfect email address, my search really begins with the company. I begin looking around, trying to figure out the structure of the company, who does what which leads me to my potential contact person. To show how certain steps work my example subject throughout the post will be our VP Marketing, Gur Dotan.

Know Your Company

Company Website

This may seem obvious, but begin your research at the company website. You will, of course, learn a lot about the company and you might even find the email you’re looking for.

Find the “Team/About Us” page. Read about the various team members and decide who is the best person to reach. If they list the employees and their job descriptions pay attention! This will give you a great starting point of who you need to target.

Also, if you can find the company’s social media pages, open them because you’re going to want to go over them.

LinkedIn – Details, Details, Details

Moving right along to my favorite tool, LinkedIn. Wow! Has LinkedIn helped me more often than not. It doesn’t always give me the email, but it helps me learn about the company and/or the person and that’s where looking at the details is important. When I begin my search in LinkedIn I have two objectives:

  1. Nailing the right contact person with the right role in a company.
  2. Exploring if LinkedIn connections permit a more personal reach out than a cold email. Maybe a coworker has a connection and can make an introduction.

I have found, that for the most part, professionals keep their LinkedIn profile up to date. There have been times I have someone in mind, but when I go to their LinkedIn account I realize they don’t work at the company anymore. It’s important to look at these details and read their job descriptions. You might have in mind that you want a Product Manager, but read their description and realize you actually need someone else in the company. Pay attention to their job descriptions and make sure they’re the right target.

I usually begin my LinkedIn search with the company page. I like to:

    • Read/skim the company page top to bottom. I re-familiarize myself with the overarching theme and mission of the company.
    • Review their location and see if they give a range of how many employees work at the company.
    • Members – check to see if you have any second or third connections, if so this is a great way to wiggle yourself an intro or connect on another level.

Google_LinkedIn

Once I’ve reviewed the company page, I find my target and hone in. Each LinkedIn profile is set up differently, so it’s important to go over the various sections to find the information you’re looking for. When looking at a personal LinkedIn account:

    • Review current and past positions.
    • Go over job experience and descriptions (the descriptions can be eye-opening and tell you if you’re even researching the right person).

Gur_LinkedIn

In Gur’s account, he has the relevant information in his summary, rather than his job description.

Facebook – Did you remember to add your email address?

Most companies list an email on their Facebook page under the “About” section. While this might be a generic email address, it is a good starting point and might even show you how their emails are structured.

soomla FB

You also want to review their latest posts and make sure they’re recent. If they haven’t posted since 2013, then sending them a direct message on Facebook might not be the best avenue to reach out.  

Make sure you pay attention to what they’re posting about. Note if they’re posting about any major events, such as conferences they’re attending or an event they’re hosting. If so, it’s unlikely they’re answering emails or, if they are, it could be at a slower rate. For example, if you look up, our VP Marketing, you’ll find that he was on vacation a earlier in the week and know not to start emailing him.

Gur_Facebook

Let’s Find That Email Address

You have now done your research, you’ve got a target in mind, yet no email. This is when the real searching begins. There are a ton of tools that can help you find the email address of your target person.

1. Your Email List – Email Addresses at Your Finger Tips

The very first email list I go to when searching is our MailChimp list. If you don’t use MailChimp, that’s fine, just go to your email list and search. What would be better if the person I’m trying to reach has already signed up! It doesn’t happen often, but I have found team members from that company signed up for our newsletter, which is a great sign! It usually means they’re interested in your company and you can begin by reaching out to that individual. Which could then eventually lead to an introduction to your target.

Gur_MailChimp

2. WHOIS data  

WHOIS data is publicly available data and is usually collected when registering a domain. Any WHOIS tool such as Who.is will generate the information you’re looking for. It’s not my favorite tool, but it has proven useful. Most professional companies will have their domain secured and registered with privacy protection, but I have occasionally found a few relevant emails.

3. Google – Why Not Google the Email Address?

Well, it doesn’t hurt to just Google it. It’s quick easy, might won’t work, but it doesn’t hurt. Have a name? Have a domain? Type them it into Google and see what you get. You might not get an email, but some other sources that can lead you to an email.

Google Gur

4. Twitter Advanced Search – (at) (dot) your way to an email address

It might be surprising, or not, that a lot of people will just ask for emails via Twitter. Use Twitter Advanced Search to help you find an email address.

  1. “All of these words” – search (at) (dot)
  2. “From these accounts” – add Twitter handle of said company

It will then pull up tweets from that company with any (at) (dot) and potentially give you the email you’re looking for.

Twitter

5. Sidekick – Your Trusty Sidekick Will Help You Find an Email Address

Sidekick is a one stop shop email extension from HubSpot. They offer a variety of tools such as tracking email opens, link clicks, how many times a person opened your email and scheduling emails. However, I took advantage of their email profile tool for this process. Sidekick generates a profile for the email recipient when composing an email. I was able to check email addresses by going over the individual’s profile.

When looking at Gur, I can see his job title, company, education and Twitter handle. If you’ve used Sidekick to track the email it will show any opens or clicks as well as mutual connections.

Sidekick

6 . Mixrank – Email Address Generator, For a Price

Mixrank is an awesome tool. We pay for the service, but it helps generate targeted lists of potential leads. You can create lists from specific keywords or categories. We use it in a variety of ways from looking at specific games to looking at various companies in our industry.

To find Gur, I would go to our main page, contacts and search for Gur Dotan. He then pops up and I have his email.

Gur_Mixrank

7. MailTester – Test Email Addresses Before they Bounce

Maybe you have an idea what the email address is, but you don’t want to send an email just to have it bounce. MailTester lets you do exactly what it says, test the address. Put your the email address in their finder and see if it’s right.

MailTester

8. Email Hunter – Email Address by Domain

Email Hunter, another life saving tool, collects and organizes email addresses all over the web. I use the Chrome Extension and it works wonders. I have a little button at the top of my browser and when I’m on the site, I click it and it compiles all the emails for the website.

Email Hunter

On LinkedIn, an Email Hunter button pops up on every account page and can generate an email (usually).

Gur_Email Hunter LI

9. Rapportive – Email Address Finder for Anyone

So you’ve gone through your tools, but still don’t have an email. Rapportive, a tool acquired by LinkedIn, shows LinkedIn profiles when you have the correct email. If I have a first name and a domain, I use Rapportive and play with different email options such as:

    • gur@soom.la
    • gurdotan@soom.la
    • gdotan@soom.la
    • gurd@soom.la
    • gur_dotan@soom.la
    • gur.dotan@soom.la

When it’s a match, you get a popup on the side of your email (like below) and you know you’ve found the right email.

Gur_Rapporative

10. Anymail Finder – Can it Find the Email Address You Need?

Still can’t find that email? There have been times I know the name of the person, have the domain, but don’t want to go through Gmail and/or Rapportive just guessing. Anymail Finder, does the guessing for me which is pretty handy.

Anymail finder

Keep Calm and Find Email Addresses

You are now equipped with a variety of tools to help you find the email address of a potential lead. While these tips will take you far, there is no 100% way to find an email address unless it’s given to you directly. Take your new found knowledge and use it wisely.

Have you ever used any of these tips and tricks? Or do you have any other tools you use? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!

 

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