Global marketers have relied on key demographics to develop, create and execute media campaigns. While the accuracy of certain demographic data sets remains strong, the scarcity of certain demographic data creates gaps in the connection between brands and consumers; specifically, as it relates to gender.
In January, we found that inaccuracies in age data limit precision targeting. And now, we put gender to the test, finding that roughly 75 percent of ad requests on various mobile ad exchanges do not contain this key demographic.
Yet mobile ad exchanges are built on a foundation of demographic data as it is often the first input to build target audiences.
It’s important for marketers to understand that not all data is created equal. The software that fuels programmatic ad buying can’t fix the data if it is broken. This begs the question: if the data inputs are faulty or void, how can you ensure the quality of the data you use is sufficient?
"When It Comes to Gender, Size Does Matter: Mobile Demographic Data Provides Scale” uncovers the challenge marketers face due to the lack of gender information on ad requests. This study also discusses the opportunity to better predict gender and scale audiences using verified, first-party mobile data sourced straight from a carrier network.
Mobile data sourced straight from the network gives a behind-the-screen look into consumers’ brand affinities and behaviors, showing app installs, uninstalls, mobile web visits and persistent location data. This uncovers true interests and behaviors, revealing who consumers are as individuals and offering the most comprehensive view of a brand’s ideal audience.
But in the world of real-time bidding and programmatic buying, there’s a need to better match user behaviors with bid requests to reach the right user in real-time. While app installs are a great starting point to measure behaviors, the crowded marketplace makes it increasingly difficult to quickly associate relevant descriptions with individual interests and behaviors.
In an industry where every millisecond counts, our data science team developed an algorithm to model app descriptions based on topics. We analyzed the 23,000 most used apps from Google Play and found 65,000 words associated with these apps. That’s almost 40 percent of the total number of words in the English language.
We then narrowed words down to nouns and simplified them to a root word. This stemming process looked a little something like this: Merry, Merrier, Merriest is shortened to Merri. Brave, Braver, Bravest is stemmed to Brav. This process, called topic modeling, assigns a distribution of topics based on the app descriptions, which uncovered a mixture of categories per app, giving a deeper understanding of what an app “is about.”
For example, common words associated with the topic of food are bread, bake, pasta, and salad. But we also noticed the word “photo” appear. While this word on its own does not seem relevant to what this particular app “is about,” its frequent appearance with the words mentioned above, as well as words like “recip” (the stemmed version of recipe) and “chocol” (likewise for chocolate) start to paint this user’s interests as food; thus, identifying a foodie.
Topic modeling analysis gleans insights into individual interests beyond publicly-available app descriptions, serving as key algorithm inputs to better match individual user behaviors with bid requests. It also gives brands an opportunity to expand audiences based on interests, making behavioral targeting more accurate and relevant than before.
Each device is as unique as the fingerprint of the person who uses it. We get behind the lock screen to understand the various life stage of consumers and their intent to engage. This discovers your best audience, identifying the most meaningful way to connect with them.
iMOBMEDIA announced today it has teamed up with Pinsight Media to advance data monetization and insights-driven advertising for global mobile operators.
The relationship will provide mobile operators and publishers throughout EMEA and Asia with new solutions to drive advertising revenue by combining powerful analytics and first-party data to create targeted audiences.
“These new data-driven mobile advertising solutions offer an important diversification strategy for mobile operators and publishers as they look to make use of existing assets such as audience reach, inventory and data,” said Philip Comerford, CEO of iMOBMEDIA. “We are excited to team up with Pinsight Media to bring the expertise and products to help simplify that process for our customers throughout the EMEA and Asia.”
Pinsight’s expertise in mobile intelligence and audience insights, as well as its industry-leading platform for Data Management and Digital Advertising, will allow iMOBMEDIA customers to gain a deeper understanding of their target audience. The collaboration brings:
- A suite of app discovery and on-device content products, including the Elevate On-Device Monetization Platform
- Data Management Platforms and Data Science Services
- Big Data Services and Programmatic Ad Technology
“This relationship is important step in expanding on-device monetization and big data strategies for mobile operators needed to jumpstart growth at a global level,” said Kevin McGinnis, CEO of Pinsight Media. “We’ve had great success in the U.S. and look forward to working with iMOBMEDIA to expand in other regions.”
These solutions will help operators and publishers manage millions of mobile user profiles, as well as deliver targeted audiences and ad campaigns. These insights help inform brand media strategies, and have the potential to create new revenue opportunities for mobile operators in the mobile advertising ecosystem.
iMOBMEDIA, an Enterprise Ireland client company, delivers strategic solutions to mobile operators and provides data-driven mobile advertising solutions for publishers and mobile operators globally. iMobMedia’s platform enables mobile operators to leverage the customer’s location profile data to generate new revenue streams from brands, agencies and retailers. Our mobile advertising solutions include a rich media and location based advertising platform. Office locations: Dublin (HQ), London, Dubai and Johannesburg. For more information, visit www.imobmedia.net.
Nearly every media campaign starts with a basic foundation of demographic data, which is generally sourced from either third-party, user-entered, survey, social, or census data. Often this information is dated, implied or too broad. Inaccuracies in simple demographic data build upon each other, resulting in limited reach and wasted ad spend.
While mobile programmatic ad buying continues to grow, campaign success remains relatively flat due to data overload. In 2017, the performance of the data will become the central theme as it must gain on the promise. This begs the question: is the accuracy, freshness, and dimension of the data you are using sufficient?
A discussion surrounding the quality of data is necessary as you approach your campaign, ensuring that the intelligence behind it is in fact the ground truth.
We analyzed age information submitted via ad requests across mobile ad exchanges, and the findings identified significant inconsistencies when compared to the verified, first-party data we source straight from the network. If you can’t be confident in the age data you are getting, what does that imply about the other data you are leveraging from that same source?
“Guess My Age: Age Discrepancies Across Ad Exchanges” shows the challenge with ad requests containing either an assumed age or no age, as well as the opportunity to better predict and model ages based on verified, first-party mobile data.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Pinsight Media, a mobile data company and Sprint’s innovation venture, announced a new collaboration today with Digital Sandbox KC to support Kansas City’s early-stage digital entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization.
As part of the relationship, Pinsight will extend proof-of-concept project funding and provide app development resources for consumer-facing product companies selected by the Sandbox. This includes additional funding and resources needed above the $25,000 limit for the minimum viable product (MVP).
“As a locally-grown technology company based here in Kansas City, we want to help others grow and continue to expand our technology footprint nationally,” said Kevin McGinnis, vice president of Pinsight Media. “We see a great opportunity with Digital Sandbox and look forward to helping speed up the launch process for its companies.”
This new relationship aligns with Pinsight’s app development program called Rollout that offers mobile development and app monetization solutions for founders of high-growth, consumer-facing products.
“With Pinsight’s involvement and generous support, entrepreneurs now have access to industry experts with extensive knowledge in app development and app marketing,” said Jeff Shackelford, executive director, Digital Sandbox. “As a result, we hope that even more consumer-focused founders will apply to tap into the entrepreneurial resources available in our own backyard.”
Shackelford adds this is a unique model for Digital Sandbox. “This relationship brings a depth of knowledge and expertise to our program. From building mobile apps to marketing them, we can now offer participating companies the total package.”
About Digital Sandbox
Digital Sandbox KC is an unprecedented partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region designed to spur the creation of high growth companies. Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources including market validation, prototyping and beta testing support for development of digital technologies within new and existing businesses. More details and the application information can be found at www.digitalsandboxkc.com.
We’re proud to announce that our predefined audiences, Pinsight Personas, are now available on The Trade Desk.
How We're Different:
Our data scientists use a proprietary method to build these predefined audiences, which results in smarter audience targeting to maximize spend and minimize waste. We combine verified, first-party mobile data with mobile web, app and location data to understand the persistent behaviors of a brand’s best customer, pinpointing those who have the highest propensity to respond.
How It Works: Bringing Our Personas to Life
Our network-level data provides deep behavioral insights and affinities of a brand’s best customer. This “always-on” mobile data let us see behaviors across the consumer’s entire device activity, providing a complete view of the user. For example, our Health & Fitness Enthusiasts are built from a combination of behaviors, such as frequency and recency of health and fitness sites visited (i.e. GNC), social activities and interests such as running clubs, and more.
Persistent Location Data
We see an average of 260 location events per user per day. To build our traveler personas, we pinpoint the type of traveler based on the velocity at which someone travels from one market to the next, and we identify day of the week traveled. Leisure Travelers are those who travel outside of the home market, typically over a weekend, for five days or more. Travel is also heavily concentrated around peak travel seasons, like the holidays, and while on the trip, travel patterns are more varied.
Verified First-Party Data
To open a new account with a mobile carrier, customers must show a valid ID and proof of address to confirm their credit rating, while also verifying age, gender and address. Unlike others who determine age based on non-verified, user-entered data, we validate age, giving you confidence in those you are targeting.
For a full list of Pinsight Personas and details about custom audiences available on The Trade Desk, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the end of 2015, Facebook and Google represented more than half of the $100 billion worldwide mobile advertising market. Their overwhelming dominance has led many mobile operators to question whether they can build a competitive mobile advertising business. The truth is there may be no better time to learn from these OTT players to better understand mobile behavior.
Facebook and Google’s success is undeniable. Mobile represented 84 percent of Facebook’s second quarter ad revenue, up 76 percent from 2015’s second quarter. It’s a natural progression as users move from desktop to mobile. Mobile DAUs grew to 1.03 billion, a 22 percent increase year-over-year.
As for Google? They’re making the shift to mobile as well. More than half of their searches now come from mobile devices. With newly introduced mobile ad formats, Google’s ad revenue rose 29 percent from 2015.
It’s understandable that operators are apprehensive to dive into the mobile ad business, but it’s not as daunting as it may seem. The legwork done by OTT players can provide deep insights into understanding mobile behavior. The breadth of Google and Facebook’s user data allows them to deliver mobile advertising that’s fairly effective and falls in-line with native content.
But that’s only a piece of the puzzle. Facebook and Google still have targeting issues when it comes to delivering truly relevant ads. Remember those shoes you thought about buying a month ago? Did you buy them? Either way, you’re most likely still seeing mobile ads.
It’s difficult for anyone to deliver consistently relevant advertising. Operators can utilize the same raw resources as Google and Facebook, but they also have the most valuable targeting asset, something the big fish don’t have: first-party carrier data.
That’s where Pinsight comes in. With worldwide reach and multiple monetization solutions, we help operators fuel hyper-personal mobile advertising, utilizing that first-party data to compete with OTT players. By partnering premium demand with quality supply from over sixty ad networks and RTB exchanges, we make it easy for operators to drive quality engagement. Pinsight makes it simple to put your data to work, removing risk and delivering mobile advertising that compliments the user experience.
By continually observing how users engage with their mobile device, Pinsight has created monetization solutions for carriers that elevate content, engagement, and revenue. Contact us to make sense (and cents) of mobile behavior.
I’m a big fan of comeback stories. One of my personal favorites is America’s childhood star turned bald maniac, Britney Spears. As soon as she attacked the paparazzi with an umbrella, it seemed her career was over and the downward spiral would never end. Fast forward to 2016: she’s back and better than ever. Her net worth is $185 million, she headlines a show in Vegas, and landed no. 6 on Forbes’ list of top-earning women in music in 2015, right between Sasha Fierce.
As much as I could go on about my infatuation with Britney’s comeback – and I could – there’s a point here. She’s a powerhouse, and her story is not-so-distant from some of the most popular comeback stories in business: GM, Apple (remember the market-flopping Newton and when Jobs was fired by the board), J.Crew, and Ford, to name a few.
These companies persevered against the odds and staged remarkable comebacks. They evolved their brands, blending creativity and innovation while investing in top talent to fuel their turnarounds. A turning point for Ford, for example, was when former CEO Alan Mulally bluntly stated, “We have been going out of business for forty years.” He consequently inspired the entire company to become their “best selves.” From this, the One Ford vision was established and by the time Mulally retired in 2014, Ford was the no. 2 top performing automaker in terms of U.S. sales.
Now one of the nation’s most mature industries is experiencing a similar shift. Global mobile network operators continue to fight declining revenues from voice, messaging, and data services. They also don’t know how to create value from their data. They have the oil, but they don't have the rig to drill.
The path for this industry’s comeback: mobile adtech investments. As noted by TechCrunch, “Mobile operators are in a great position to provide mobile ad services because of their intimate connections to millions of customers.” By partnering with adtech companies, MNOs can turn around declining profits by monetizing their most valuable asset: customer profile data.
At Pinsight, we’re currently doing this with the biggest supplier of our goods: Sprint. Utilizing verified first-party data, we have the oil and the rig, making us experts in monetizing valuable MNO data. We bring the supply, demand, and technology needed to monetize carrier device inventory, all while implementing industry-leading privacy practices (read about how we partner with Sprint, as well as other major MNOs, to create value from their data in this recent AdWeek article).
As reporter Adam Cohen-Aslatei observed, “If a wireless carrier can capture just a fraction of the U.S. mobile ad market, it could outperform the competition. The opportunity is massive and brands are taking notice.”
This is one comeback story I can’t wait to see come to fruition. And luckily, no reporters have been harmed with umbrellas in the process (yet).
Industry's First Interactive and Custom Emoji Platform Unveiled at CTIA
LAS VEGAS - Sept. 9, 2016 Today, Karmies, in partnership with Pinsight Media, announced the launch of the market’s first interactive emoji platform connecting brands and users in a real-time social environment. Representing the next evolution of mobile content, this unique platform is completely customizable and enables on-demand delivery of personalized content.
"Leveraging the 6 billion emojis and 23 billion texts sent on a daily basis, the opportunities for this type of technology are endless. Brands now have a new and innovative way to engage with their most valued audience in a social environment and publishers benefit from the additional revenue stream created by these actions,” said Megan Haines, CEO of Karmies.
Karmies - a 2016 Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars - in partnership with Pinsight Media, has already demonstrated strong performance in beta with early adopters and third-party messaging apps, such as Loopy for Telegram.
“We have a strong history of innovation and partnering with Karmies further illustrates that commitment. We are thrilled with the market reception, adoption and performance thus far and look forward to continued success,“ added Kevin McGinnis, head of Pinsight Media.
Haines also commented, “Given the aggressive growth trends within the emoji marketing space, our goal is to provide marketers with the tools and features they need to continue to enrich campaigns. Combining this level of customization and targeting will enable marketers to deepen the existing relationships and add value.”
View the Karmies demo here.
A mobile content distribution platform that connects brands to mobile users by leveraging the over 6 billion emojis sent every day. The Karmies Platform enables custom interactive emojis that are delivered on-demand to the smartphone keyboard to extend brand awareness and enrich the messaging environment. karmies.com
For inquiries, contact:
At Pinsight, we have a new, unique offering that leapfrogs the basic branded emoji. We are proud to announce the official launch of the Karmies Interactive Emoji Keyboard. This industry-first content platform turns these visual delights into interactive mobile ad units. The Karmies keyboard gives mobile users a new way to engage with emojis, and it lets brands and publishers make money with emojis.
How? Behind the emoji, advertisers can include unique offers and advertisements, custom call-to-actions, location details, and event promotions. From the front-end, a user simply clicks on the Karmies emoji, which reveals the unique content behind it.
Watch the demo below to see how it works:
CONTACT US to activate these unique emojis today.
Since the dawn of man, artists from around the world have dedicated their lives to creating works of art and pieces of literature that inspire generations, spark conversations, and invoke emotion. Thank you Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello (and no, I’m not referring to any mutant Ninja Turtles).
Fast forward to the 21st Century. There’s a new art form on the rise that is synonymous with our desire for simplicity and our affinity for portmanteaus (Brangelina, anyone?!). The emoji. That’s right. These tiny icons, appropriately named by combining the Japanese words for picture and letter, are so popular they are now considered part of the English language. In fact, “😂” made Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” in 2015. So for all you etymologists out there - you might want to take on a new field of study.😉
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” artfully constructed and widely pronounced by ad campaigns in years past. But what about the emoji? What is this simple graphic worth? As ad campaigns become increasingly interactive and immersive in nature it shouldn’t surprise anyone that emojis are taking the ad world by storm. According to recent research from Appboy, the growth of emoji use by consumers has increased 20 percent month-over-month this year alone. They are now more likely to send an emoji than they are to snap and send a photo via SMS. Major brands are taking notice, implementing taco and pizza slice emojis in major ad campaigns.
Karmies, one of the 10 companies in the 2016 Sprint Mobile Accelerator powered by Techstars, has succeeded in bridging the gap between these visual delights and mobile commerce. We at Pinsight are proud to introduce Karmies to our family, jointly introducing a new ad unit that offers complete freedom to add coupons and other incentives behind emojis, increasing consumer engagement. For brands and advertisers, this technology goes beyond advertising, reaching consumers in the most personal format: their mobile messages.
“By teaming with Pinsight, we have the ability to introduce this new ad unit to the industry at scale, giving both advertisers and publishers a fresh way to connect with their customers,” said Megan Haines, CEO of Karmies. “Together, we are bringing both mobile app expertise and a creative format that goes beyond basic mobile monetization, driving higher customer lifetime value and brand engagement.”
Karmies Interactive Emoji Platform integrates seamlessly with messaging platforms of all shapes and sizes. For our publisher pals out there, this interactive ad unit drives user acquisition and engagement, increasing the number of user sessions and keeping users in your app longer.
Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could send dear old Dad an early Father’s Day gift via a clickable icon? By using “⛳️,” it could take him to a coupon for the latest golf gear from his favorite sports retailer. Or, take advantage of summer fun by offering discounted airfare via "✈️" or by promoting happy hours with the ever popular (and my personal favorite) “🍷."
You're invited! And you don't want to miss this one.
This isn’t your typical party. There won’t be a sales pitch or awkward silences. You won’t see a dry, pre-made cheese tray. Instead, we’ll have foosball. Boulevard Beer. Joe’s Kansas City. And maybe an appearance from The Funnel Cake Truck -- the hottest thing to come out of KC since sliced bread.
We want to say “THANK YOU!” for your support in KCSourceLink’s #KCBattle2016. It was the camaraderie from you, the KC community, that motivated us to bare it all and take down the competition. So stop by our offices so we can shake your hand, cheers to your votes, and return the favor in the form of food and fun! Make some friends and get a tour of the most beautiful rooftop in downtown KC while you’re here.
Still not sure what Pinsight does? Let us explain by starting out with what YOU do. Do you work for an agency? Then you might be interested in our mobile media solutions and unrivaled target audiences. Do you work in tech? Then it might interest you to know that we have the largest Hadoop cluster in the Midwest. Are you a data nerd? You’ll get a kick out of this: we ingest enough data daily to equate to 15 million songs. That’s a lot of Arcade Fire. We look forward to seeing you there!
Pinsight on Tap Monday, May 2 Pinsight Media 909 Walnut, Suite 400 5:00-7:30 p.m. *Brief remarks at 5:45 p.m. RSVP by grabbing a ticket through Eventbrite
So you developed an app. You started with a kernel of an idea and developed, tested, refined, and tested again to get to this point: a living, breathing application available worldwide in the app store. And kudos for the entrepreneurial success! It is not an easy journey.
But what good is your app unless potential users can find it? That’s where App Store Optimization comes into play. In short, ASO is the process of optimizing your app’s placement in the app store to rank higher in search results. This is a tale of our successes at Pinsight. From developing our own app portfolio - including 1Weather, one of the most popular and highest-rated weather apps on Android and iOS - we’ve learned a few things about driving discoverability.
The top two factors that determine your placement in app store search results are title and keywords. Title is fairly self-explanatory: what is your app? Keep your title short, creative, and unique. It doesn’t hurt to include a keyword or two either (more on that in a moment).
Determining what keywords to use can be a bit trickier, and the number of keywords differs between the Google Play and iTunes App Store. An effective way to determining your best keywords is to brainstorm with your team; share words and phrases that first come to mind. Experiment using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, it can be an essential tool when defining keywords and related phrases. Take a look at the competition. What keywords are highly ranked apps in your category or apps with similar mechanics using?
Do your research and know the game in each app store. The iTunes App Store only provides you with 100 characters for your keywords. For this reason, including keywords in your title can help increase your search ranking significantly in iOS. Google Play doesn’t have dedicated keywords, they are instead drawn from your app description. When naming 1Weather, rather than just using the basic “1Weather,” we included pertinent keywords in the title. For the Google Play Store we used “1Weather: Widget, Forecast, Radar,” and similarly “1Weather: Forecast, Radar, Widgets & Alerts” in the iTunes App Store. Continuous testing and tweaking can reveal the right mix that will get your app found.
The other major factors in ASO are number of downloads and ratings and reviews. This probably comes as no surprise — multiple studies, including those performed by Apptentive and Kissmetrics show that apps with higher downloads and ratings rank first in search results. Easy enough to understand, but how do you get initial downloads and ratings?
First, let users know you’re there to help. Provide easy access to contact information or self-serve resources so customers know they can get help when they need it. Next, invite them to engage with you on social media. Monitoring these channels allows you to have a dialogue with your users, respond quickly, and fix problems. Finally, don’t forget to ask Google Play and the iTunes App Store for feedback during app development and submissions. Establish a good relationship from the get-go as their feedback and resources can be vital.
Ratings are important but they alone won’t make your app thrive. So how do you drive downloads? A few tips:
- Your app store page is you - understand where your audience originates
- Optimize your desktop website to rank higher for app-related keywords
- On mobile, automatically transfer visitors to your app’s download page
- Try your app in multiple categories - make the description short and punchy
- Ensure your app icon is eye-catching yet simple
- Keep your screenshots current, showcase the best of your app
ASO is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a trial and error process; by no means are these the be-all, end-all guidelines on succeeding in the app store. Do your research and use keywords wisely. Monitor how Google Play and the iTunes App Store change search and rating algorithms. Tracking ASO trends and updating accordingly will help you remain discoverable in the app store.
Need help developing your app? Pinsight’s Rollout program is a new service for founders looking to monetize their app. We will develop your app at no cost to you, taking it to market as a revenue engine, helping you acquire new users, drive installs, and make money. Give us a shout to learn more.
I recently clicked on this article from NPR in my Twitter feed. The basic premise is that college students, who used to be the least likely demographic to use a mobile dating app, are now the most likely. What instantly jumped out was the basis for the conclusion: a Pew Research Center survey of 2,000 U.S. adults. There are two highly-correlated reasons why this caught my eye:
- I’m a data/numbers guru
- On a daily basis I analyze mobile profiles and behaviors for tens of millions of people (aggregated and anonymous of course) to extract similar insights
Surveys are great for certain softer questions to either gauge perception or capture what people intend to do in the future. But qualitative research and surveys can be flawed: people often say one thing and do another. To truly understand behaviors and habits on a mobile, why not go straight to the hard data? So for fun (see number 1 above) I decided to give a few of the stats in the article a quick check from our mobile app usage data based on tens of millions of anonymous profiles.
Fact 1: Mobile dating apps are used by 1 in 5 young adults
Make that, at least 1 in 5. Our mobile network data shows that in just the past six months, 23 percent of 18- to 24-year-old smartphone users have used a mobile dating app.
Fact 2: 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile apps
This sounds about right. From our user-generated mobile network data (that's first-party data from multiple mobile carriers), I found that 11 percent of adult smartphone users have used a mobile dating app in the past six months.
Fact 3: There's a socio-economic divide with online dating, with better-off and better-educated Americans more likely to use it.
Here is where it gets interesting. The average income for mobile dating app users is actually 8 percent lower than the average income of smartphone users. Not surprising, since we’ve already established that dating apps are now heavily skewed toward a younger audience, driving the average income down.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to discredit the survey and attribute the lower average income entirely on young age. Up-and-comer mobile dating app Happn has the lowest average age (14 percent below average), yet has the highest average income (13 percent above average) of any dating app. But this app is the outlier as the majority of its user base live in major metro areas where average incomes are higher. To be sure, I analyzed mobile app data for Badoo, the fastest growing dating app. I found that this app is on the other end of the spectrum, with users having a 10 percent below average age and a whopping 18 percent below average income. So I’ll call Pew’s “better-off” claim a draw, as income levels seem to vary by app.
What about better educated? If this definition accounts for the completion of a degree, then Pew’s research is not entirely accurate. The claim is only correct if we count any attempt at college as better educated. As you can see from the graphs below, our mobile app and behavior data shows a significant flaw in the claim that dating app users are “better educated.”
At Pinsight, we use mobile behavior data, which includes browser and app data, to provide a more accurate picture of today’s consumer. From the volume of our data (we ingest 60 terabytes of data daily – that’s equivalent to 15 million songs), we can slice and dice it by hundreds of demographic and behavioral data points. We can see if sports lovers use dating apps or if people in Alaska are more inclined to use them. This can’t be done from a small qualitative survey, nor can it tell you people's actual habits. Our mobile network data removes common assumptions around canned audience segments, allowing us to build Fluid Audiences™ that meet the needs of your brand. Just like they say in the dating world, you never know where you'll find love. For your brand, your audience just might be with highly-educated dating app users who enjoy long walks on the beach and deleted their Facebook app within the last year. Let's chat about how we can find the right audience for your brand or client.
Getting the Most Out of KCSourceLink’s Battle of the Brands
We’re all used to obsessing over brackets in March, but this year we at Pinsight have been focusing on a different kind of bracket (yes, we’ve been watching basketball too). Local entrepreneurial proponent KCSourceLink hosted their annual Battle of the Brands, pitting 64 of KC’s leading brands against one another to find out who Kansas Citians truly think is the city’s best and brightest. And this year, Pinsight Media suited up and entered the bracket in the innovation-led category.
We are huge supporters of the Kansas City startup community, so when the opportunity arose to participate it was a no-brainer. We have a lot of passion for entrepreneurship and are huge supporters of startup resources like KCSourceLink and the Sprint Accelerator. But it would be a daunting challenge! Could our team of Pinsight marketers - all new to Pinsight in the past year - pull off a Cinderella story, playing the social media game while staying true to brand and keeping our day-to-day operations moving at full speed?
We started with the important questions: what do we ultimately want to get out of the battle? What’s the story we tell? It was crucial for us that our battle strategy tied back into our overall goals. Pinsight is a pretty unique company, truly on the cutting edge of adtech innovation. With an employee count of just over 100, we’re a mid-sized KC startup with global ambitions - part of our mission is to be the world leader in mobile data monetization. We want Kansas City - and abroad - to be in tune with what we do. Battle of the Brands was a way for us to spread the word; let the community know what we do and how we can help. Telling our story in this way is also very important to our recruiting efforts, as we continue to seek bright, motivated innovators to join our team.
Exposure and brand awareness are obvious biggies, but what specific goals tie back to our battle efforts? Firing up an Instagram presence had been on our ‘to do’ list for some time. What better way to generate a following and produce meaningful content than for a locally-based audience? Our Twitter and Facebook social game tightened as well. Finding our online voice has been an evolving process and the battle let us scrimmage in a lot of different areas.
Our day-to-day at Pinsight is all about data-driven results, and our social content is no different. What posts had the best engagement? What was helping our reach extend beyond our follower base? We defined metrics and used them to identify where to focus our efforts. We identified key social influencers, integrated relevant hashtags, engaged with brands & friendlies.
By the final few rounds, our social focus was top-notch, increasing not only our reach but efficiency.
With each passing round more and more people got caught up in the battle madness. Office camaraderie was on the rise, and as the battle became more fierce, we were finding new and innovative ways to find votes. We quite enjoyed interacting with our competition, perhaps even a bit too much at times. “Have you talked to your mom lately? Call your grandparents and ask them to vote!” Pinsighters were reaching out to their kids’ Scout troop parents and sports leagues to get votes. With each new person we told, it became an opportunity to practice our elevator pitch. All Pinsighters got better at talking about who we are and what we do.
We were surprised to find synergies in allies we didn’t know we had. The community rallied to support us as we reached out to innovators, entrepreneurs, and others in advertising and technology. It created a fun way to remind our audience that we’re located in Kansas City, Missouri, we’re plugged in at a global level, and we’re dealing in very innovative ways of using data. We also realized grassroots efforts are still a thing! Some of our most effective efforts came from visiting local businesses downtown and in the Crossroads district, spreading the gospel of #KCBattle2016 and asking for their vote.
Battle of the Brands ended up being a lot more work than any of us ever anticipated, but it was well worth the investment. Championing the innovation-led category was a huge win for us. Still, we realized early that by just participating in the battle, you win, regardless of how far you get in the voting. The benefits are communal and endless. We were fortunate enough to battle, discover, and interact with some great KC brands. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for being part of a mutually beneficial experience.
And then - we won the battle! Thank you to everyone, far and wide, who voted for us. Would we do it again? You bet. In fact, our championship-round opponent, Joe's KC - our personal favorite - is continuing in two other battle brackets for "best bbq" titles. Clearly, they also see the benefit in continuing to battle, whether at a local or national level. KCSourceLink, the host of the battle, also reaped PR benefits by being the presenting sponsor. You don't have to battle yourself, you can host a battle to gain brand recognition.
While we may have won Kansas City, we continue on our mission to be the world leader in unlocking the value of network data. Contact us today to start a conversation and learn more about how we make data matter with our advertising, distribution, intelligence, and analytics capabilities.
Modern Media Planning for Modern Advertisers
Media planning is something of an art. Though the practice has evolved along with the multitude of media types, a solid strategy is always at the core of a great media plan. Starting with well-defined objectives, planners delve into the tenets of their trade with their own formulas around reach and frequency and the right media mix, working to achieve an ever-more-optimal media buy. Measure, analyze, optimize, repeat. These are the makings of modern media success.
If you're a planner, you already know this. You have your way, your processes and templates. Here at Pinsight we just want to remind you to always balance your buys, because media consumption is ever-changing. Consumption should help determine how you allocate media budget for any campaign. Read on to learn why at least 25 percent of your buy should be based in mobile media.
When you buy mobile from Pinsight, we work with you to define your best audience.
Serving ads only to that Fluid Audience™ means you can achieve more efficient and effective ad buys. A well-targeted ad looks and feels less like advertising and more like a convenient service. John Wanamaker, a department store owner in the last 1800s, said, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half." Thankfully, our analytics solve that problem at Pinsight!
We average nearly 3 hours a day (not talking) on our smartphones.
According to eMarketer, 2015 saw non-voice usage of smartphones reach 2 hours and 54 minutes per day, on average. How does Pinsight get to know these consumers so we can target them? We check our phones 150 times per day on average, making purchases, using apps, getting directions, making reservations, even reloading spending cards. Each of these activities is a glimpse into the personal life of each consumer. At Pinsight, our relationship with the customer begins in the store when they buy their phone and it extends into every aspect of their mobile usage. We don't track individuals, but instead we obfuscate user data from activity and group customers by what they do, what they love and what they buy. We call these Fluid Audiences™ because they are ever-changing. We have the ability to optimize them on the fly to suit your brand and campaign goals.
171.5 million Americans own a smartphone.
Statistics from Nielsen and Pew Research estimate that anywhere from 67-71 percent of Americans own a smartphone and they are using it to consume just as much content as they do on desktop devices, with one key difference: mobile is much more personal than any other channel. For many Americans, the smartphone now is their primary computer.
We use our phones in two primarily personal ways: the first is obvious - mobile is a two-way channel that allows you to tailor your content. You literally only see the content you go looking for by way of a browser or app. It's the most personal media channel available. The second personal way we use our phones is the implied privacy of using a device screen that is exclusive to you. Your search history won't show up on a conference room screen while you're presenting. And think about buying holiday gifts - maybe even as you're standing in store - or to occasionally read that link your friend sent that's definitely NSFW. Additionally, wherever your phone is, it's sending a signal that identifies your location - a valuable piece of information that can lead to even more targeted ads as well as closing the loop on attribution.
How do you harness the power of this two-way channel? To start, balance your buy by including a line item for mobile media of at least 25 percent, because that is the share of consumption for the majority of consumers (and actually, most of the desired consumers are now spending more time with mobile than with TV). Media buyers are now quite adept at seeking out the very best time and place to advertise: "moments." Brands want to be able to locate and identify THEIR customers – the ones who are primed to buy from them right now. Modern media planning requires a focus on behavioral targeting. We're not talking about zip code segments, we're talking first-party data and actual observed customer behavior. Get beyond GRPs! Your brand's need is personal.
5 steps to a kick*** media plan:
- A quarter of your campaign should be mobile media. Reduce your budget in areas that are declining in consumption, including TV and radio. Oh yes - and desktop web.
- State a goal and work towards achieving it, whether it's getting customers to redeem a coupon, complete a shopping cart purchase, or like you on Facebook. You can't succeed if you don't have a way to measure success, which means you should make sure your goal can be measured.
- Target a unique Fluid Audience™. Right message + right place + right time = advertising that doesn't feel like advertising. The more specific you can be, the more each impression will count. The CPM for a targeted campaign will be higher than one that's non-targeted, but you'll also buy fewer ads and see better returns, which means a more efficient buy. At Pinsight we can create a custom audience on request.
- Get as close to the data source as possible. Our customer data is first-party, meaning that it's been verified by a real person in a retail store. Better than just demographics, we have the ability to observe actual customer behavior on-device, which allows us to accurately place them in a Fluid Audience.
- Learn from post-campaign analytics. ROI and attribution? You won't get those when you're buying television and radio. Ask about advanced campaign insights. Pinsight has as much, if not more analytics to share than the other media channels you've been spending in. It's an easy win for your next campaign: shift your dollars to mobile media.
Being a startup founder is really hard work. The hours are endless because you work all day and then typically work all night. Even if you have fellow founders, it can still be a lonely world when you're bootstrapping, doing everything you can to get an idea up and running while likely having very little money to spend on supplementing your small team with additional staff or tools to help.
I get it, I've been there. I had a unique advantage from the beginning, because I started as a developer. In fact, the vast majority of startup founders since the early nineties have been developers. You might be a founder, or you might be thinking about becoming a founder. But if you aren't a developer, you can't create your product alone. And worse, it's really hard to find a good developer if you don't know what a good developer actually looks like.
When interviewing developers, there's one question that I find can really open the door to the next chapter in the conversation, which is, "On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the very best dev you can possibly imagine, where you do rate yourself?" I've interviewed a lot of developers and received every answer possible to this question. It's a tricky one though, because, how does anyone know what a 10 looks like? Is a 10 someone else that a dev has worked with before? Or is it a figurehead on Twitter or YouTube? Did they write a book? Was the person your mentor? These people all have different skillsets. Bottom line: it's hard to know when you're hiring a good dev, a great dev, or a bad dev. And remember, a bad dev may write code that works, but could unwittingly leave you open to a host of security risks.
I have participated, placed, judged and mentored at several Startup Weekend events. Here's a short list of founders' lessons, not unique to my experience:
- Do what you're best at and hire the skills you need. If you need a good dev and you aren't one, it's unlikely that you can ever put in enough effort to become one. The same is true if you need a great designer, the right manufacturer, or a salesperson. Whatever you're good at, pursue it and work to get better at it. You won't be what you're not.
- Spend your money wisely. Whether it's your credit card, Grandma's investment, or VC dollars, don't just accept "it's expensive" as a reason for why certain things come with a high price tag. Get involved, understand the process and be willing to ask lots of questions and call bull* if needed. After all, it would really suck to lose all of Grandma's money and have nothing to show for it.
- Partner with extreme and unapologetic caution. This begins with your co-founders and extends to everyone who wants a piece of what you're doing and anyone who might be a vendor looking to trade. One hundred percent of a company is still 100 percent, regardless of how you split it all up into tiny chunks. If you're going to share a piece of that pie, be certain that it's worth it and that it's being shared with someone you are very comfortable doing business with. As a founder you probably know that your gut is often right. If a partnership of any sort feels wrong, start the due diligence over again and don't be afraid to say no. The flip side of this is also, don't use your 100 percent to buy everything you need. Remember, you can't get back those shares you've given away. Protect your company, outsource for the pieces you need.
This weekend an awesome event for founders kicked off in Boulder, Colorado. Techstars is holding their annual FounderCon conference right now, and our friends from the Sprint Accelerator (home to a Techstars base in Kansas City) headed out to announce a new service that we're offering here at Pinsight: Rollout.
One of the key parts of our business at Pinsight is that we are a development shop. We have over 30 mobile apps in our portfolio for both iOS and Android. We're good at several other things as well, including monetizing apps (yes, with advertisements) and distributing apps on brand new Android devices, which means that we can drive significant numbers of downloads of any given app.
So it was a natural fit when we started working with the Sprint Accelerator to create a service for founders. In short, we'll build your app for you and then we'll help you make money with the app. This revenue allows Pinsight to recoup our costs for the development, and you as a founder still have app monetization rolling in. It's a pretty slick model because you can get your app built and you don't even have to worry about finding and hiring developers. You focus on what you're good at, and we'll focus on what we're good at.
You can learn more right here. Fill out the form to start the conversation, no skate laces attached.
We’ve all seen the stats about mobile utilization growing at an astronomical pace. And while lagging, mobile advertising is rapidly catching up as budget continues to shift into that bucket. But this vast new audience brings a big question – how do advertisers reach the right target?
The short answer: Apps.
Apps are addictive.
Look at your phone and think about your day so far.
How many apps do you have on your phone?
I have 90; 41 of those I personally downloaded. And I like to keep a tidy phone so that is a recently purged figure. We do love our apps – without them, how exciting would our mobile devices be? You can do a few things without them, but practically everything fun, functional or productive is an app.
How many times a day do you open those apps?
Here’s where it gets interesting. Globally we are really starting to ramp up our app usage. The number of people who launched mobile apps more than 60 times per day increased an astounding 123% last year. (Flurry) Note that 60 plus daily app launches is the official crossover into app addiction - heads up Super Users.
I don’t mean to indicate that we have an “App Problem” because I think it’s great. As noted above, apps can be fun, functional and productive. But from an Advertiser and Publisher perspective, there is so much more that apps can do; we are just beginning to unleash that potential.
How can publishers better harness the power of apps?
A recent study indicated that 20% of apps are only used once after being downloaded. (Localytics) Apps are getting lost in the app crowd and app publishers are leaving a significant amount of revenue on the table by not re-activating those users.
Below is an illustration of my personal mobile app usage. As a member of the mobile advertising community I may be more active than the average user, but am still significantly under-utilizing my apps.
|All Apps||Downloaded Apps||Daily/Weekly Use||Periodic Use||Never Use|
By accessing non-private app data, publishers are empowered with a wealth of information that can help them recognize an app’s full value by increasing engagement rates and download counts.
- Find dormant users and target them with direct re-engagement messaging
- Use aggregate data about current and dormant users to target new users
- Access mobile device app data to target new users
Once app publishers have a solid user-base, they can monetize their app by incorporating advertising or other incentive-based activities.
How can advertisers tap into this insight?
There can be a huge amount of traffic and data generated by every mobile app user, which advertisers can utilize in three extremely effective ways.
- Direct placement in an appropriate mobile app. This can be done either directly through the app publisher or through an ad network.
- Precision audience targeting. An ad network or ad exchange can use app usage data to help build advanced behavioral profiles for purchasing targeted inventory across many apps.
- Develop your own app. By developing a branded app, advertisers really get to the heart of understanding the habits of their own mobile audience. The app can be used for both direct advertising and to gather audience profiling data.
The real potential of this secret weapon
Apps give us diverse audience access, scale, and the ability to precisely pinpoint within a jumble of mobile data. We can also re-message to app users based on multiple criteria, much like a desktop cookie.
As we just saw at CES, the exciting growth potential for apps lies in their future unknown capabilities. What possibilities will new wearables bring to the world of mobile advertising? Or the rest of IoT? There will always be some new technology, and that technology will always need an app.
The Rise of the Mobile Addict – Flurry
I just returned from the Prepaid Press and Financial Mobility Summit in Las Vegas and I was excited to see the increased awareness, curiosity and interest in Direct Carrier Billing (DCB as us industry-folk call it). During the Summit, it was shared that the 2019 DCB Market is estimated to reach $24.7 billion by 2019, a 41.3 percent increase from 2014.
With such large numbers tied to this new payment method, it’s time we provide an explanation on, well…what Direct Carrier Billing is, how it works and its impact on conversion rates.
What is Direct Carrier Billing and How Does it Work?
DCB is a payment method that allows mobile subscribers to place certain charges onto their mobile phone plans. Typically, products and services like digital games and content are used with DCB. It allows for easy smartphone navigation, clear and conspicuous terms disclosures, and the ability to setup recurring billing.
Most importantly, DCB can be linked to most mobile advertising campaigns and tactics, allowing for minimal clicks and fast conversions toward purchases – a win for brands, merchants and consumers. There are a few different access points for DCB, but the most frequent models include direct integration with carriers or integration with DCB-aggregator service providers.
Who Can Use Direct Carrier Billing?
For a long time, the U.S. has been a primarily postpaid-mobile market, meaning the monthly mobile services are placed on a bill and the subscribers are invoiced. But in the past eight to 10 years, we have seen intense growth and competition in the prepaid space as brands like Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile USA and MetroPCS hit the market and rose in popularity. In fact, 30 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers now have prepaid telecom accounts. The beauty of DCB is that it can be offered to both postpaid and prepaid subscribers, with the primary difference in billing mechanisms. So here’s the breakdown:
- Postpaid: Third-party charges are included in the monthly service bill sent to the mobile subscriber. So, for example, a subscriber would see the standard telecom charges in one section and all DCB third-party charges in another section. All of the products and services purchased via DCB would be placed on the monthly bill, and then paid for altogether.
- Prepaid: Third-party charges would be decremented from the prepaid telecom account balance. If a subscriber has $80 in his or her account and purchased $5 worth of games and content from a digital storefront, than the $5 would be decremented immediately.
Is Direct Carrier Billing Used Anywhere Else in the World?
Absolutely! DCB adoption is huge in many countries across the world and is especially popular in Europe and Asia. The U.S. is actually one of the last countries in the world to embrace DCB. As brands, merchants and developers understand the growing significance and impact DCB has on the U.S. mobile market, its availability and use continues to grow. Take, for example, this recent stat from eMarketer: mobile game spending in the U.S. is expected to reach $3.31 billion by the end of 2016 – an 8.9 percent increase from 2015. That's not consoles or desktop – it's all mobile! And out of all digital buyers in the U.S., 76.2 percent will use a mobile device in 2016.
How Can DCB Enhance Conversion Rates?
Needless to say, as subscriber eyes shift from print, TV and desktop to mobile, the opportunity to close the conversion loop increases every day. Plus, targeting capabilities like ours let us identify who is interested in purchasing via DCB and who is not. This gives us a connected view of the consumer journey that increases conversion rates and delivers relevant advertisements based on purchasing behavior, driving results for brands and merchants. It’s frictionless. It’s streamlined. It’s simple.
Direct Carrier Billing completes the customer’s mobile experience by reducing clicks and providing a secure payment that requires no sharing of personal credit card information. Mobile Commerce at Pinsight is about more than just payments. It's about creating a cohesive digital journey for consumers and improving their overall experiences, which will be key as DCB-adoption continues to rise in the U.S.
About Kaan Kilik
Kaan Kilik manages Mobile Commerce at Pinsight, overseeing direct carrier billing, A2P messaging, mobile wallets and financial services. Currently he is responsible for product development, partner engagement, operations and compliance, and has P&L responsibilities. Kaan has over 10 years of experience in the mobile industry and was instrumental in the launch of the first PIN-less topup program for Boost Mobile in 2007, as well as led several other mobile commerce initiatives at Sprint. He has a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from California State University and a Project Management Certification from George Washington University.
Last night I attended the AAF-KC event, KC Ad Men: Kansas City's Rich History in the Advertising Business. It was exactly the opposite of what I had expected. No, it wasn’t the Mad Men-like stereotype of whiskey and cigarettes, though who doesn’t love a good Old Fashioned? When I registered for the event, I thought, “Here we go...an opportunity to shake hands and break into an industry in which we (Pinsight) are considered a newcomer. It’s time to turn up the charm.” While I did meet new people and see some familiar faces, I experienced so much more: I was immersed in Kansas City’s rich history in the advertising industry. For a moment, I felt as if I was in Bob Bernstein’s office helping him craft the pitch for The Happy Meal, which Bernstein is credited with inventing in 1977.
As I learned about Kansas City’s advertising heritage and its impact in the global industry, it got me thinking: how does the work we do at Pinsight fit into the next chapter of Kansas City’s advertising story? Fifty years from now, how will Pinsight’s mobile data story be woven into the fabric of our advertising ecosystem? I thought through this on my drive home and it led me to think about what’s next for our industry and for our city: advertising, creativity and technology are crossing paths, creating a new beginning for the industry. And mobile is at the forefront of it all.
On the surface, mobile advertising is all about the content being delivered to the consumer. But truly, the power of mobile advertising is fueled by what happens behind the screen - data.
How can we make this data matter?
Most third-party data is based from some type of inferred or panel data, which means that because you live in a certain zip code, your household income is X, or your ethnicity is Y. Historically purchasing a host of media types based on this type of data has been the norm, because it's what was available to marketers. We at Pinsight believe there is a better way - a more relevant and impactful way: mobile data. It provides a new way of understanding your existing and potential customers. Mobile data is what is referred to as “first-party data.” It is created by the user and presents patterns of how the user behaves and intends to behave. If, for example, four guys live in an apartment, they are not all “18-24 year old males who like sports” as some third-party data may infer. Rather, each user has individual behaviors and preferences. They are individuals and it’s time we stop treating them all the same.
Mobile data allows us to move away from a shotgun approach with advertising and move toward a more surgical approach to targeting the right users, at the right time, giving them personalized experiences on their devices.
Retail store data, another piece of the big data puzzle, allows us to know our customers through yet another lens - but only after they leave the store. In fact, this is one of the biggest concerns in the retail marketing space. We believe that by combining data capabilities like ours with other components, we can paint a much more accurate picture of “who” the customer is, thereby effectively customizing messaging for each individual consumer. It’s about brands creating a connection with the mobile user.
This is the next chapter for Kansas City’s advertising industry. As the ad community writes another decade of history, we at Pinsight are ready to include the power of mobile data in the next chapter of our industry's story.
About Brian Smith
Brian is the head of product and partnerships and oversees the end-to-end management of the advertising, analytics, and distribution product portfolios. He is an industry expert on all things product and data monetization within the mobile media industry. Brian has more than 14 years of telecom experience and is knowledgeable in product lifecycle management, development and strategy. He holds a Master and Bachelor of Business Administration.
There’s no arguing that viewability is one of the hottest topics in the media industry right now. But is the industry really ready for the 100 percent viewability guarantee? Or, is this a way to simply appease FOMO* and join the “in crowd? *FOMO is the fear of missing out, made popular by the Millennial generation.
Let’s talk about what’s right, what’s best, and what’s feasible. We at Pinsight love the concept of 100 percent viewability. Our director of product even got in on the Twitter conversation during MediaPost’s OMMA in NYC a few months ago, tweeting his support for 100 percent viewability because it instinctively makes sense. After all, doesn’t it feel right to pay only for ads that are seen?
Viewability is more complicated than gut feelings and instincts. The fact is that technology has yet to catch up with the preferences of us media folks, making guarantees more elusive than they are practical. The lack of industry standardization also shows how unrealistic this expectation is within the industry. Let’s face it: 100 percent viewability could certainly be the best practice and the right solution, but it’s not yet technically feasible.
The Fine Print
One hundred percent viewability can often come with fine print. There are a few companies that have stepped up to make the claim of offering that very guarantee. A word of caution is to always read the fine print. These are typically for in-app ads and only apply to banners and interstitials. These ad units generally have high viewability rates anyway. Does this mean that advertisers are really getting more than they were before? Unlikely.
The Technical Challenges
People move fast. It takes, on average, six seconds to scroll from top to the bottom of the phone. So if a user is scrolling at lightning-fast speed, the ad may not have time to properly load; it will be off the page before it hits the one-second measurement. A similar result occurs with ad placements between photos or content in either a carousel or slideshow. Wireless connectivity can also impact the display of rich media ad units. When users browse through a largely text-based app or site, the streaming video or rich media content may not load when a user browses past the ad placement.
Tips to Improve Viewability
Media buyers, I encourage you to work with publishers and supply-side partners (SSPs) that have a quality assurance team who carefully inspects ad placement during integration. Otherwise, you run the risk of having slightly off-screen placements or ads that are not optimized for viewability.
Publishers, carefully think through your user flow or work with a monetization partner who will help you do this. App design can influence user behavior and time spent on the page. If, for example, the design encourages users to quickly navigate between tabs or sections, reassess the ad placement strategy. Consider implementing a persistent banner that recycles across activities. What does this mean? In simple terms, it means the same banner would appear in the homepage and the change section without initiating a new ad request. This improves CTR and viewability rates without impacting the experience.
Viewability will no doubt continue to be a hot item as we near peak buying season. Enter with caution: if 100 percent viewability seems too good to be true, it probably is at this time. The allure of it is gaining more momentum than the rate at which the technology can evolve. So remember to read the fine print, think practically and ask the right questions about integrations and user flow.
About Brooke Bobe
Brooke leads our ad operations team. With more than 12 years of experience in mobile product development, Brooke has deep experience on both the advertising and publisher sides of the business. This hybrid knowledge gives Brooke unique insight to develop relationships with our publishers and demand partners. She is also responsible for publisher sales and publisher integration. Brooke holds a BS from the University of Colorado in Boulder and MBA from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
In our increasingly mobile world your global ad dollars are rapidly shifting to reach viewers on their mobile devices. eMarketer projects an 83% increase in mobile ad spend this year, totaling nearly 10% of all media ad spending.
Mobile is no longer just a test market; real dollars are on the table and real results are required. While many of the same tactics that work in television and digital desktop translate to mobile, if you’re not vigilant your engagement rates can lag behind your expectations.
Here are three gut-check questions to help you hone your mobile advertising instincts:
- Am I targeting my best audience?
A mass banner campaign may be exactly right for what you are advertising. But one of the biggest differentiators in mobile is the volume of data available that allows you to very specifically pinpoint your audience. Do some testing to see if transferring spend to highly targeted geographic, interest, social, or contextual campaigns might make sense.
Reaching a tighter “best audience” instead of throwing away extra impressions on a larger but only “accurate audience” can make a huge difference in increasing your engagement numbers.
- Did I choose the right ad unit?
While some argue that the mobile banner is dead, it is actually just pretty far down in the pecking order of user engagement. Special placements like direct user notifications are definitely at the top. But for standard mobile media buys, high impact units like native video, followed by just native or video should bring your highest impact. After those, any sort of interactive banners are a step up from the standard banner.
The right ad unit selection is based on the goals of the campaign. Do you want clicks? Awareness? Downloads? Start there first, and then look at what ad unit will drive the best engagement.
- Was I thinking mobile…the whole time?
This may all seem like Advertising 101, but mobile requires a different perspective: smaller screen size, shorter user attention span, increasing competition for time, etc.
Creative needs to bold and clear, copy should be concise – but think for the small screen.
Be careful that offer buttons are not tiny; they should still jump off of the screen and be easy to tap. Any form fields should be minimal (pre-fill as many as you can).
Re-use elements from other mediums when it makes sense. But a 30 second television spot will likely not be as effective as 15 second mobile video, and a desktop banner will probably not size down well to mobile.
Above all, keep the mobile user experience in mind – if you wouldn’t take action, they won’t either.
Whether you are just beginning a mobile campaign or are reviewing a mobile campaign in progress, step back and think through these three core advertising principles that are distinct for mobile. Minor modifications could make major differences in your engagement rates and campaign success.
Are you even on the shopping list?
According to eMarketer, “in 2013, Black Friday was the season’s biggest mobile sales day.” In fact, “people even bought with their phones and tablets while they were waiting in line.” (eMarketer)
It’s clearly critical for advertisers to break through the holiday shopping noise to get their message front and center, but consumers are growing impervious as the season starts earlier each year. It takes a powerful ad at the right place at the right time with the right message to make sure you are part of consumers’ shopping short list.
How do you make the short list?
While combining social and behavioral targeting with strong ad units like native, video and rich media is ideal to reach your target audience for the bulk of the holiday season, peak shopping days like Black Friday deserve extra attention. For those days, even more immediacy and urgency are indispensable.
Mobile carriers like Sprint® have unique opportunities to reach their audience directly, like this direct notification ad unit. Whether shopping on a mobile device or at a bricks and mortar location (or both simultaneously), it is virtually impossible for a Sprint user to miss this ad.
- Displays as a notification directly on the user’s mobile device
- Stays on the screen until it is expanded or dismissed
- Exclusive, extremely limited inventory
- Averages an astounding 15% CTR*
This is just one excellent way to ensure that you make the short list while your customers are in their hardcore shopping zone. Think outside the box for these big shopping days – don’t get locked into your typical ad planning concepts. Your customers are not in typical shopping mode, so you may need to go over and above to stand out.
Holiday Shopping 2014 – Online Trends and Forecast (eMarketer)
* Based on actual results
Mobile device usage is ubiquitous. It is arguably the best way for brands to reach their target audience, whether it is considered the first or second screen. But as consumers are becoming increasingly more selective with their ad engagement this means the ad arsenal needs a game changer.
Very recently, the mobile advertising landscape changed dramatically when both Facebook and Twitter launched native mobile in-feed video ad capabilities. These ads appear within the regular content stream (“in-line”) of both apps. Like any “native” ad formats, these are also designed to look non-promotional.
These native mobile video ads deliver the trifecta of user engagement: they are streamlined and non-invasive, users love how they clearly the convey information, and they are easily shareable.
Why is the launch of native mobile video ads more important than any other ad?
The mobile advertising industry is all about speed and fluidity. Ads must grab attention quickly in an extremely noisy, competitive environment. Consumers tire quickly of novel new approaches and messaging. To combat this fatigue, new features and formats are constantly developing.
Why is this particular format a game changer?
#1 – Engagement Is King, and These Rule Engagement
#2 – Brands Are Thinking Like Consumers
Users have extremely short (and getting shorter) attention spans; it continues to take more to gain their interest. Research on standard mobile banner engagement, which can essentially only be measured in CTR (.35%), versus standard mobile video banner engagement (15.6%) shows that video works better. Engagement rates go up even more when you start looking at standard mobile native ads (39.1%).(1)
While mobile native video is certainly an extension of standard native advertising, and possibly even an outgrowth of the Content Marketing movement, the important thing is that ADVERTISERS ARE THINKING LIKE CONSUMERS. And this will, ultimately, help boost engagement through the roof.
Native mobile video ads have the power to change the advertising game for brands. In the first quarter of 2014 video completion rates for the format were 81.6%.(2) Media plans and budgets need to change. So far 32% of CMOs say they have bought or are planning to buy native video advertising in the next 6 months.(3) They need to ensure that a good portion of that is for mobile.
So, Facebook or Twitter?
The Facebook or Twitter choice really depends on your mobile advertising goals and budget. Both have robust targeting capabilities, large scale, and over time have developed unique audiences. Ideally as part of a comprehensive mobile marketing plan you should start with a mix of both, then test and adjust spend as needed.
There are some of the very major differences between the two:
|Facebook Premium Video Ads||Facebook Traditional Video Ads||Twitter Promoted Videos|
|Functionality||Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
|Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
|Play motion and sound with one click|
|Pricing Model||Targeted Gross Ratings Points (based on television standard)||Cost Per Click (CPC) OR Impressions (CPM)||Cost Per View (CPV) (based on video start of play)|
Facebook: Facebook Premium Video Ads are functionally a winner. They silently roll as soon as you scroll to them in your feed, making them immediately eye-catching. They are not intrusive since you simply scroll past them to ignore, just like any other content. To engage, click to turn on the sound and expand to full screen.
However, from a pricing and availability perspective these ads are not for everyone. They are reported to cost as much as $1 million per day(4) and only a limited number of advertisers are being accepted. While you can audience target, the ads are filtered by a user’s historical affinity for video content, so not everyone in your intended audience may see them.
Facebook just announced that it is expanding the auto-play functionality to its traditional video ads as well with a more approachable CPM or CPC pricing model.
Twitter: Twitter Promoted Videos are accessible to all advertisers. Like Facebook, these ads are included in the user content feed. However, they are completely unobtrusive, not playing in any way until the user interacts with the still video. Once the user taps on it, motion and audio begin. At that time it is also counted as a view for billing.
While Twitter says this less intrusive model is better, it is unclear yet how engagement rates will compare. Also somewhat fuzzy is pricing based on the initial video play. While it is definitely more accessible for most than the Facebook model, there is still some room for improvement. If the video isn’t engaging, play time is extremely short, or it is an accidental play; then the ROI may be better with a static native ad that conveys the message immediately.
A third option
There is only one other provider of native mobile video ads. Pinsight Media+ incorporates elements of both social media giants, with perhaps an even more effective pricing model.
|Pinsight Native Mobile Video Ads|
|Functionality||Auto-play without sound
Turn on sound and full screen with one click
|Pricing Model||Cost Per Completed View (based on video completion)|
Functionally, Pinsight Media’s native mobile video is very similar to Facebook. Ads are included in Pinsight’s extensive network of owned and operated properties. The ad auto-plays when the user scrolls to it and audio engagement happens with a single click. Audience targeting, reporting, streaming, quality, and scale are all top tier.
Pinsight’s pricing model is much like Twitter’s or Facebook’s standard ads with one major difference: Pinsight’s advertisers pay only for completed video views. Pinsight’s model assures there are no wasted views due to false starts, short views, or mass purchased views.
Change your game NOW
Mobile media changes fast; it is increasingly pervasive and constantly transforming. But as audience engagement becomes more challenging it is clear that native mobile video is the best weapon in an advertiser’s arsenal today. Right now Facebook and Twitter offer two dramatically different options, while Pinsight Media offers a third with strong elements of both. Try testing all three in your media plan to see which mix works best for your audience.
It’s finally Spring and this means the 2014 car buying season is shifting into gear (hopefully with some warmer temperatures for many of us). New models are gaining attention and will soon begin rolling onto the lots over the next few months.
Whether it’s researching new cars or sourcing parts and accessories, mobile continues to play an increasing role across the Automotive industry. As a mobile advertising and analytics company with access to a large audience of mobile user data, we were interested to dig in and see what some of those key trends trends are.
Today, we’re excited to share some of our findings to give a snapshot into what mobile users are most interested in as it relates to Automotive brands and information.
74% of app developers make less than $1,000 a month. With one million apps in the App store (1) and over 1 million apps in the Play store (2), this means an enormous number of developers aren't getting paid for their work. It’s a theme we at Pinsight Media+ hear about every day. Developers tell us constantly that app monetization and discovery are the top two things that they need help with. Let’s state the obvious: Monetization is hard. Let’s talk through the two main drivers of monetization: revenues and discovery.
Here’s the good news - global mobile advertising spending is forecast to reach $18.0 billion in 2014, up from the estimated $13.1 billion in 2013, according to Gartner, Inc. (3) And even better? The market is expected to grow to $41.9 billion by 2017. But, the only way we get there…is to pair actionable data with relevant targeting. Developers need to begin thinking like advertisers! To an advertiser, an “ad impression” is only so valuable. Without context, without data, the value diminishes. If, however, a developer can provide context to that impression (think demographics, geolocation…what audience segment is this impression a part of?), its value increases. If a developer can also target an impression based upon data? Its value increases. Actionable data paired with relevant targeting will lead to stronger revenues.
App discovery, the other part of monetization, is just as challenging for developers. With over 1 million apps in each store, users are less willing to scroll through app after app to find what they are looking for. In fact, Gartner found that “most individuals are turning to recommendation engines, friends, social networks or advertising for app discovery, rather than sorting through the thousands of mobile apps available.” (3) The distribution model landscape is seismically shifting. Simply loading apps in to their respective stores is no longer enough for discoverability. There are too many apps!
App discovery maturing. And we, as developers, must adapt. We must begin to engage with potential users in the social space and yes…even through advertising.
Pinsight Media+ was formed by Sprint to tackle mobile data; we apply this data to enhance mobile advertising, commerce and analytics. Through our app monetization engine, we help developers drive revenue and distribution. Today, we’re excited to roll out a new Pinsight App Monetization Program to help developers succeed on both fronts.
Brian Arbuckle - Pinsight Media+ Manager, Developer Partnerships
I am addicted to a game on my phone – it is not Flappy Birds so no need to email me a cash offer. I am unashamed to admit that I play solitaire nearly every night after the day’s tasks are done, sometimes a few dozen games. I used to do the same thing in college with a super tricked out card deck, which probably explains a couple of GPA-killing grades.
Let’s contrast this to my teenaged nephew. The last time he visited me he only looked up from the game on his phone for food and to narrate the very complicated survival technique he had going on in whatever the game was. But this was a holiday scenario – normally he plays at home on his console and his parents limit his phone time.
When I visited their house this weekend he had his new Xbox One set up in his bedroom with a major kid-style command center. There was a TV tray and chair pushed up close, littered with empty PowerAde bottles and yogurt containers which his mother kept asking him to clean up. He responded with my classic line – IN.A.MINUTE. My mother is still waiting, and I’m pretty sure his is, too.
So advertisers, here’s the question – if you want to reach a “mobile gamer” audience, which one of us do you target, and how do you get your advertising dollar focused?
#1 Target your audience based on their self-proclaimed interests and mobile activity
#2 Engage them – and only them – when you know they are actually engageable
You Are Your Interests
In this case, neither scenario is perfect if you want to reach the “mobile gamer” crowd. It will take some work to serve those ads to your target audience, but you can definitely get there with interest graph targeting.
- Me, the Solitaire On the Phone Addict: While I frequently access a mobile game, it is only that single game. I have no propensity to access another game and am often served ads to download other games. While I can guarantee I will keep playing solitaire, I am most likely not going to click on your ad if you’re targeting mobile gamers. But if you serve me an ad I am interested in while I’m playing solitaire, my tapping finger is primed.
- My Nephew, the Phone Gamer On Restriction: He is a for sure a gamer, and will download games, buy farm animals, build stockades, trade for cannons, purchase points, whatever you throw at him that he thinks he might need to stay ahead of SpaceBob5914 – no idea who that is, but they are neck and neck on points. But, he isn’t playing on his phone very often; without some very specific targeting capabilities you will not catch him on his phone.
The ability to very precisely target your audience is a big part of what separates mobile media from the rest of the advertising heap. You can build a compilation profile of a user - like me or my nephew - based on who we are, what we do, and what we say as we wander around the mobile universe in social media, apps, browsing, etc.
A user’s profile is based on these key metrics:
- Demographics: These are the basics, and there are a lot of them – age, gender, ethnicity, income, etc. Note that Pinsight Media takes this deeper than anyone else by adding Sprint carrier data into the mix.
- Social Media: Who are you connected to socially and what does that say about you?
- Interest Graph: What groups do you follow? What mobile apps do you use? What sites do you visit? What do you talk about?
Each user’s profile is then bucketed into as many audience segments as they qualify. A few that my user profile adds me to are the News Junkies, Business, and Shopaholics segments. My nephew fits into the Mobile Gamers, Music Lovers, and Millennials segments.
It’s very turn key for an advertiser to pick the segments where they want to run an ad – like the Mobile Gamers segment. They can also easily create a custom segment based on very specific criteria they want to target against, like keywords, a complementary or conquest brand, or even extend a TV advertising buy to the second screen.
Putting Interest Graph Targeting In Action
Reaching the right audience also means reaching them at right time. Think about teaching a preschooler the basics of a knock-knock joke. Someone has to be on the other side of that imaginary door to say “who’s there,” right?
The same goes for buying media – doesn’t it seem like you should serve your impressions based on when the audience you want is really on the other side of that mobile device looking, not just when there is a high probability based on a number of various filters for which you have paid extra?
So, going back to me and my gaming nephew….we are not in the same segments and our gaming habits are distinctly different. He is a Mobile Gamer and Pinsight has a Mobile Gamer segment. Here’s how Pinsight’s Interest Graph targeting connects him to advertisers who want to reach him:
- Advertiser Chooses the Mobile Gamer Segment: People in the Mobile Gamer segment might follow various gaming tipsters, use popular game apps, go to tech and game websites, and talk about things like specific game names, tools, icons, or characters.
- The User Gets Tagged: A user (like my nephew) tweets “Just killed about a billion zombies. I rock. I am the Dead Trigger 2 king!!!” Or he can use a number of popular mobile gaming apps. Either of these tags him for the Mobile Gamer segment.
- Pinsight Targets the User with the Advertiser’s Ad: Because he is identified as a Mobile Gamer, he is served the advertiser’s ad anywhere he is in the vast Pinsight media network anytime in the future.
So, our advertiser successfully served an ad to a self-proclaimed mobile gaming king who is extremely difficult to reach. And they didn’t waste impressions on people like me, the solitaire queen, while they were trying to reach him. And if they served an extremely engaging ad with an offer for free zombie annihilation points or an exciting new fortress game, I have no doubt he downloaded it.
Why Does This Matter? Because It’s Easy, And Are You Doing It Yet?
So this really doesn’t seem like rocket science, it seems like such common sense. But we advertisers get caught in a rut, admit it. We have been doing things the same way for so long that we just keep doing it that way – we look at demographics, psychographics, we look at CTRs, CPMs, CPDs, we think: Yes that is the way to go, the metrics make sense. This is a bit of a paradigm shift and not everyone is there yet. It really is precision targeting. And when you are better targeted and you have better CTR, it is going to trickle through to better overall campaign performance. Better information in, better results out.
And, you can still layer additional filtering on top of interest graph targeting – for instance location targeting, something very specific and effective that can only be done on mobile. The important thing to remember is to get out of the box and start thinking about how to precisely target and engage your mobile audience. According to a recent Nielsen study the average American spends 60 hours per week using their digital device to consume content. Think very mobile, and watch your KPIs continue move up.
Super exciting! (And we wonder why I’m not a football fan.)
Once the initial shock wore off that I was trapped in a room with no less than 50 television screens and several hundred Kansas City Chiefs fans I began to notice a few things:
- Approximately three out of four people had a mobile phone within plain sight
- Most interacted with it at least every five minutes
- People continued to filter in and out of the venue throughout the game
- While general conversation seemed to remain constant, when there was either an activity peak or lull in the game (i.e. commercial), phone activity increased
According to the Nielsen Cross-Platform report Q2, 2012, “39% of smartphone users engage their mobile devices while they watch TV every day, and 85% report monthly use." We are a multi-tasking society with a short attention span. It takes a lot to engage us, and honestly, the data flow is simply better on mobile, both for the users and the advertisers. Face it, we are somewhat addicted.
In many ways I was like the rest of the fans in that establishment during the game. I spent my time either reading or posting on social media, although I’m sure our content was quite different. While my posts were about the game, they were certainly not about stats and fantasy leagues. No doubt people were on specific football apps talking about those things, too. And others were directing friends to their favorite meeting spot.
This is where the power of mobile advertising really kicks in. On the traditional television first screen you simply do not have the capability to compile and understand these very specific interests of your audience, and certainly not in real time.
You also don't have the specific location or demographic targeting power that mobile provides, especially from carriers. One use case for combining this extra layer of knowledge lets you focus specific limited time offers to only the best targets who might select your establishment over your next door neighbor:
“Stop by Bob & Tom’s Tavern for a Free Bowl of Cheese Dip While You Watch the Game!!”
And that coupon provides measurable ROI. This is something that broadcast television has not been able to do with traditional advertising. Of course you don’t have to serve a coupon – just serving a super-targeted, well created mobile ad to the right audience can increase your response tremendously.
Pinsight Media Network’s data showed that last year 59% of Super Bowl viewers used their mobile devices more during the game, and 23% of smartphone users engaged with mobile Super Bowl ads. And with a 298% increase in impressions, serving your ad to precisely the right audience can translate to a significant ROI.
Keep in mind this isn’t just for sporting events – you can use the same strategy for something like the Oscar’s, too. Any hot television event that encourages people to create social dialogue and exhibit specific mobile behaviors like downloading or participating in an app should make you consider mobile as your first screen for advertising investment. It will almost certainly be their interchangeable first screen for viewing that event.
It’s no surprise that as smartphone and tablet adoption rates skyrocket, so do usage activities like mobile shopping. Following this year's Black Friday shopping weekend, it was clear that if you didn't have mobile in your advertising mix you were a lot more than fashionably late to the party.
But just swan diving into the mobile punchbowl is probably not your wisest move. There are some strategic ways to maximize your ad spend based on specific data points. Things like demographics and date range are obvious. But precision targeting by specific audience segments – auto, consumer goods, travel, etc. - can allow you to focus your best offers on your best audience and get the highest CTR.
We did our own in-depth analysis of mobile browsing and advertising performance trends across the Sprint and Pinsight Media+ Network over the holiday season to show you what we mean. And guess what – someone (ahem, Electronics) missed a big opportunity. Don’t let it happen to you in 2014.
Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve,
In case you missed it, this is a great tutorial from Google I/O about how to better optimize your Android app to get discovered in Google Play. Hosted by Ankit Jain, Head of Search & Discovery for Google Play.
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
It’s been a busy few weeks for both Google and Apple. Both app store giants have announced major changes that are affecting developers. May’s Google I/O conference and June’s WWDC 2013 were full of revelations, updated APIs, and a few glaring exceptions that were anticipated but not discussed.
What did become clear at these two conferences are how critical developers remain to each company’s business model. For example, a Google VP was noted as saying that more than one million sites currently use the Google Maps API. More than a billion people see the app via these integrations, which is larger than the product’s native audience. Here’s a closer look at what Google and Apple are doing in the year ahead that could affect your work, and what trends we’ll be paying attention to.
Google Enhances Several APIs, Doesn’t Mention Android
Google I/O failed to showcase one area that many developers were expecting: a major update to the Android operating system. The keynote, sessions, and product introductions didn’t disappoint however. The focus this year was offering upgrades to existing products and APIs.
Design changes to Google Maps: One announcement at the event getting a lot of attention were changes to the Google Maps API. These included a streamlined design with the search feature moved to the upper corner, and further integration with Google Earth. A new feature displays photos of specific locations based on what users are searching for.
Google Plus gets a facelift: Two years after its release, Google Plus got a facelift. New photo features “Auto-Awesome” your images. Other technologies scan posts to instantly integrate hashtags based on your content feed.
Search goes conversational: Chrome OS and Chrome Browser now allow users to verbally control searches. Speech operated search is expected to be a powerful trend moving forward.
Google takes on Pandora and Spotify: Google has jumped into the music market with the introduction of Google All Access Play. Users can upload their own music, as well as stream thousands of songs.
Hangout breaks out: Google’s popular Hangout feature got its own app, which allows users to chat and make video calls.
Other APIs of interest: Google’s Autocomplete API simplifies digital wallet payments, while the search giant has introduced support for next generation V9 video compression.
Apple Rocks the Boat With iOS7
While Google made waves for not upgrading Android, Apple was rocking the boat with previews of the new iOS7. Apple is expected to be the major focus for many developers in the months ahead, making critical changes in response to the new operating system’s release.
Apple exclusivity down, but revenues remain high: One big takeaway for Apple recently is that fewer developers are exclusively releasing apps to the iOS platform. Though it’s not the exclusive choice, iOS remains the most profitable. BusinessWeek recently suggested that the average app on the Apple platform nets 3.5 times the revenue, though Android is believed to be rapidly gaining.
Downloads remain high, but monetization methods might be shifting: The stats for the Apple Store are staggering. The company paid out $5 billion dollars to app developers last year. 900,000 apps were available, with more than 50 billion downloads. WWDC 2013 was home to discussions about the best methods for monetization: free with in-app purchases versus starting to embrace higher prices.
Even without a code break, iOS7 will change everything: The jury’s out on whether iOS7 is an aesthetic improvement over the previous version. One thing’s for certain: it’s different. While the operating system doesn’t include any compatibility code breaks, experts are suggesting problems may occur on another level. Apps designed with previous operating systems in mind will be jarring to users on the UX front. Predictions are floating around that if two apps are largely comparable and one is optimized for iOS7, that customers will be willing to pay a switching cost. The fall and winter are promising to be interesting times for developers with apps on the market or scheduled releases.
Long waits anticipated for app approvals: Anecdotally, some developers are already saying that there are longer delays than usual for app approvals (though that hasn’t been the case for us). As companies work to upgrade existing apps and capitalize on the iOS7 release, lag times are expected to increase. Planning for this in your release schedule and marketing efforts will be important.
The next few months promise to be a busy time, whether you’re updating your products to make better use of Google’s improved features or bracing for big changes in the wake of iOS7. It’s an exciting time to be developing for both platforms.
Did you attend I/O and/or WWDC this year? Let us know your thoughts or key learnings in the comments below…
Are all your ad revenue efforts focused on a single channel? This could put you at risk with shift changes in market dynamics.
In a recent post, we explored different business models for monetizing your apps. From paid downloads to in-app advertisements and purchases, developers are finding different ways to cash in and build sustainable businesses. But this raises an important point: If you go the advertising route, for instance, is there an argument for diversifying your revenue sources or even your ad providers?
A closer look at the advertising landscape
According to the Wall Street Journal, the app economy is set to hit $25 billion in revenues annually. It’s hard to find a definitive statistic on how many apps are relying solely on advertisements.
One recent study released by Flurry suggests that in 2012, an estimated 23% of app revenue came from ads. 77% was derived from premium and IAP. Distimo’s March 2013 report suggested that 77% of revenues from purchases in the iPhone store came from in-app purchases – so the numbers trend.
Though advertising accounted for about a quarter of total revenues, it was the fastest growing revenue category.
Changes on the horizon
Some of the specifics of how that ad revenue is being generated had shifted dramatically from the previous year. A new IDC report highlighted that ad networks were being outpaced by independent publisher mobile ad display. The increase went from 39% in 2011 to 52% in 2012. What’s really interesting is that IDC actually failed to predict that swing in the same report just one year earlier.
So what does this mean for you? The realities of apps are simple: the rules are changing constantly. By having a plan that generates revenue from more than one source, you’ll be financially better positioned to weather these changes. Even if you’re focused on a single business model – like advertising – it’s possible to diversify within that framework.
Things to consider regarding diversification
An analysis of Zynga’s 2012 financials, for example, shows their diversification strategy. In one sense, they’re diversifying by lessening their dependence on Facebook, and also by expanding revenue streams. The majority of their revenue came through IAP, but with the addition of games outside of the Facebook platform is helping to manage their risk.
If you’re currently working with one ad network, there are a number of limitations that can be overcome by plugging into multiple networks.
- Fill rate: Many networks operate at much less than 100% fill rate. Working with multiple ad networks can help maximize your profits by making sure that ads are always served.
- Expand your reach: Is your network limited to a specific geography? Are you planning to launch your app in new markets and looking for a local monetization solution? Working with multiple networks gives you the tools and contacts to do this.
- Overcome ad habituation: If your ad network constantly serves up the same types of ads – from visual construction to content – your users can zone out. Too much of the same thing can even cause users to abandon apps they otherwise enjoy. Multiple networks enables you to change what viewers are seeing, from static banner ads to video advertisements. They’re more likely to engage.
- Be well-positioned in case of changes: Business Insider is reporting that Facebook ads can now be hidden. Assuming that the only constant is change, it’s likely that different platform and network policies will impact your apps. Have multiple income sources insulates you from the hit this can deal to your bottom line.
Integrating multiple ad networks into your products takes time and effort. But the chance for increased profit – and the safety net against future industry changes – is worth it.
As an app developer ourselves, we've spent a significant amount of time testing multiple ad networks over the last few years, but still weren't happy with the results. So we invested in building our own ad platform, which has totally transformed our company and other partners we work with. It took our apps from a fun story to a consistent revenue-producing business.
Do you have experience in diversifying your network partnerships? Tell us your experience in the comments below. We'd also be happy to show you what we did to help our app business. Contact us here.
In April, Twitter rolled out the latest version of its Twitter Card feature. Many observers are saying that this is a challenge to Facebook’s mobile app install ads. The program launched in partnership with major brands ranging from Foursquare to Angry Birds.
With functionality like the App Card, the program’s got exciting potential for developers. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of Twitter Cards in getting the word out about your apps.
What Are Twitter Cards?
Twitter Cards are simple: they allow you to imbed a few lines of code on your website, and immediately create a media-rich experience when people share your content on Twitter. Instead of the standard 140-character tweet, Card-generated posts include images, links, product details, and video.
There are a number of different Card types, including images, products, and most excitingly, apps. Posts generated with Twitter App Cards stand out in a sea of text, increasing the chances that your followers will read, share, and engage with your content.
Overview of the Twitter App Card
Twitter’s App Card isn’t widely available as of May 1st, but their site promises that it will be within a few weeks. Currently, using the Cards requires special approval.
App Cards are designed with two purposes in mind: 1) to catch people’s attention by better representing apps in a visual way and 2) to drive app downloads via a link.
When using App Cards, you’re able to highlight a few different things:
- The app name
- An icon
- A description of the app (either the standard app store description or a shorter one you specify yourself)
- Attributes such as rating and price
Currently, the App Card is only available in the iOS and Android mobile clients. It’s not available on the web or mobile web, yet.
How Do I Get the App Card Working?
Technically, setting up an App Card is straightforward. It just requires adding some markup language to your site.
Since the Twitter Card proxies information from the specified app store, all you need to do is select your Card type and provide your app ID. Here’s a quick look at the code:
Image source: dev.twitter.com.
To break this down, the most important parts are as follows.
For the twitter:Card property, ensure that the content type is set to “app.”
Twitter:description allows you to specify a shorter app description than what’s in the store, with a maximum of 200 characters for the field.
In the fields for twitter:app:id:iphone, twitter:app:id:ipad, and twitter:app:id:googleplay, enter the corresponding numeric app ID (for example, 306934135).
Once you’re ready to get started, login to the Cards Validator. It’ll allow you to enter all your details as outlined above and generate your code. Copy the embed code, and install it on your site.
Image source: Twitter.com
Once the install is complete, submit the URL in the “validate and apply” window.
Image source: Twitter.com
If the URL validates, you’ll be asked to fill out more information and your Card will be submitted for approval. There’s no official timeline given for approvals, but a recent discussion on Twitter’s Developer boards suggests that the process typically takes several weeks.
Creative Ideas for Using App Cards
Deciding how to use App Cards most effectively in your content is key. Jason Costa, who wrote the initial blog announcement said Twitter Cards “close the loop between content creation, content discovery and app downloads.” Think about the relationship between your content, your conversion goals, and be strategic about how Twitter Cards can help.
Since Twitter Cards can be used anywhere people would normally be able to share your content on Twitter, start there. Some common places include:
- Your about page
- Individual product pages describing your apps
- Blog posts that discuss topics related to your viewer base
- Thank you pages where people are brought after they download your app
- Your homepage
- Campaign pages and landing pages designed to drive downloads
- Specific branded content experiences, such as videos, stories, and other content marketing forums
- Testimonials or use cases for “function” focused apps
Beyond your existing content, you can also use App Cards as part of initiatives to get traction on social media. For example, consider running a competition that focuses on getting your community to share the content for an incentive.
If an area of your site is already highly shared, focus on driving that traffic through the Twitter platform. There was recently a food app with a large community of people sharing videos and photos of recipes from their site. Right now, the majority of that sharing happens on Pinterest. With the addition of Twitter Cards, you’ll be able to refocus some of that traffic to Twitter. This can be relevant if your demographic tends to focus on one social network over another.
Are you using Twitter Cards to market your apps and products? Let us know your strategies in the comments below.
The annual Google I/O conference kicks off next week (May 15-17) at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
If you’re anything like us you’ve probably been heads down in work and haven’t even had a chance to really think about it since the ticket purchase frenzy last month. So, whether you are attending the conference or not, we thought it would be helpful to summarize a few resources.
Scored a ticket?
1. Bookmark the main event website – https://developers.google.com
- You’ll definitely want to keep this handy for anything and everything related to the event
2. Plan Your Agenda and Sessions Ahead of Time - developers.google.com/io/sessions
- To plan your days, simply click or tap + on each session you just can't miss, then check out My Sessions to view your customized I/O schedule.
- Get Your Ticket Early
- Avoid the lines and pick up your badge at the Moscone Center on Tuesday, May 14th between 2-8 pm.
- What a better city to visit? San Francisco is known for amazing food. Make a plan for the places you want to hit up and try to call ahead or make a reservation with OpenTable.
- TIP: look under the followers list to find other developers like you to follow ahead of time and connect with at the show.
RSVP to Parties and Meet-Up Events–
- Facebook Kick-Off Party – May 14 @ 7:30 PM
- Lookout’s Kick-Off Party – May 14 @ 7:30 PM
- GeoMeetup – May 14 @ 4 PM
- Google I/O After Hours Party – May 15 @ 7 PM, Moscone West (3rd floor)
- Pocket Gamer, Native X, iDream Sky and Immerson Party – May 16 @ 6:00 PM
- I/O Nightcap hosted by Google Engineering – May 16@ 7 PM
Didn’t score a ticket? No biggie.
We live in an amazing world of technology, and thanks to Google they’re offering a number of ways to participate and learn from a far.
Watch the event live on YouTube – youtube.com/googledevelopers
Look for Extended Events - https://developers.google.com/events/io/io-extended
- Developers around the world have set up their own extended events to watch sessions live and connect with other developers. Check out the link above to see what events are happening close to you or register your own event.
Please share any additional information and resources you think would help helpful to others below in the comments.
If you’re an app developer with millions in VC funding you might be lucky enough to simply focus on growing your user base.
But most of us need our apps to produce revenue. We need to pay our bills and get paid – and we need to prove that we have a sustainable business.
Even well-funded developers are much more likely to be trying to monetize their apps these days.
So how should you do it? And which business model is right for you and your app?
This is a critical question that many developers tend to get wrong. Here are the 4 models:
In the advertising model, users pay nothing for your app. Instead, ads are placed (usually banners, but not always – lots of innovative new ad types these days) and the developer gets paid by advertisers when users click the ads (CPC).
Free is the most powerful word in sales. And in the app economy, users have gotten so used to free apps, that even asking for 99 cents scares folks away. So keeping your app free maximizes your chances of broad distribution to thousands and thousands (if not millions) of users.
This model is especially good for apps with frequent usage and long session times – like utility and news/info apps. Daily use apps tend to generate lots of ad impressions and therefore high revenue per user (RPU).
But apps with short session times can also advertise effectively, if they're creative. For example, serving highly targeted interstitial ads early in the user session can be effective in getting the user’s attention before they leave the app.
Running ads might seem complicated, but using a quality ad partner will simplify this process immensely. There are dozens of ad networks you can partner with (Millennial, AdMob, inMobi, etc.). Or you can work with an ad platform like OneLouder that optimizes advertising across all ad networks.
PRO TIP: We recommend that ad-supported apps offer an “upgrade” for users who don’t want to see ads. These are usually your most loyal users, who often spread positive word of mouth. We like the $4.99 price point, as we have seen little difference in take rate when we lower it.
Freemium has taken the app economy by storm, quickly becoming a top choice for apps that aren’t ideal for advertising.
In the Freemium model, you induce users to try a basic version of your app by giving it away for free. The basic version has a reduced feature set or capabilities, but is still compelling enough that users want to try it. Its job is to hook a % of users into upgrading to the full version that unlocks all the features and capabilities. Freemium upgrades can be sold as a one-time charge or as a monthly or annual subscription.
For example, Major League Baseball’s At Bat app is a free download. It has a compelling set of capabilities for free. Scores, news stories, stats, video clips, etc. But the full version – gives you audio and video play-by-play – is available as an upgrade for $19.99. It’s one of the top grossing apps in the App Store.
Freemium is particularly compelling for games. A basic version lets users play a few levels for free. If the user likes the game, they often can’t resist buying the full version. Freemium also works for certain lifestyle and productivity apps. Dropbox offers users a limited amount of storage in its basic version. But heavy users will upgrade to increase their storage capacity.
3. In-app Purchase
In-app purchase (IAP) is a variation on the Freemium model. Like Freemium, you offer a basic version of the app for free. But rather than a single upgrade to the premium version, you offer individual features or add-ons a la carte.
Users often purchase multiple IAPs within a single app, making them potentially very lucrative. It’s no wonder that in-app purchase has become the highest grossing model within the app stores (not including advertising). Distimo reports that 71% of App Store revenue in Feb 2013 came from in-app purchases.
Similar to Freemium, in-app purchase is great for games – especially those that offer virtual goods or in-game enhancements that need to constantly be refreshed. Candy Crush is a great example of a game that offers ten different IAPs – everything from special tools, to extra lives to unlocking new episodes.
Besides games, productivity and utility apps that have compelling features to sell a la carte are candidates for in-app purchase. For example, Versagram is a free download that lets users send graphical text messages to friends via Instagram and iMessage. It’s a free download, but it has multiple theme packs ranging from $0.99 to $3.99. It’s a top grossing app on the App Store.
4. Pay per Download
This is the simplest model. The user pays for the app, and then owns it forever.
This model works best when either (a) the benefit to the user is very clear and valuable (i.e. unique, differentiated content like What’s App Messenger or P90X); or (b) the app comes from a highly recognizable brand (think Angry Birds, Dictionary.com).
But frankly, pay per download is not right for most apps. Particularly on Android, users are resistant to paying even 99 cents. So getting a critical mass of users is a huge challenge.
And even though this was once the dominant way to monetize apps, it is rapidly losing ground to Freemium and In-App Purchase models. In February 2013, Distimo reports that only 24% of revenue came from paid apps. And only 27 of the top 250 grossing apps were paid. This is a huge change from as recently as 2 years ago.
Choosing the right business model is critical to your app’s success. The right model can mean maximizing both users and revenue, while the wrong model can mean failure – even for a great app.
To review, when deciding, make sure you think through these questions:
- Is my app high usage, with long session times (advertising)?
- Will my users be willing to pay for my app? Or am I better off keeping it free and monetizing through advertising?
- Is my app compelling enough that users will buy it without trying a free version first (pay per download)?
- Can the value of my app be broken into multiple pieces and sold a la carte (in app purchase)? Or does it need to be packaged all as one upgrade (freemium)?
Let us know in the comments if this helps you. Any other business models you have used?
Congratulations. You’ve created what is possibly the greatest mobile application known to humankind. It’s attractive, it’s useful, it’s sticky, it’s fun, and it’s a must-have.
But what happens when a customer runs into a problem? Let’s face it, no matter how well designed and coded your app is, there’s going to come a time when some of your customers are going to need help.
Here are 5 items you should think about to make sure that you’re keeping in touch with your customers and keeping them happy.
1. How will your customers contact you?
Whether you want to use a support email address or a full-blown Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, it’s important to provide a place where your customers can contact you. It’s hard to establish trust if they think you’re hiding from them.
2. What expectations do you want to set on responses?
If you’re a lone developer, it may not be feasible for you to answer customer support inquiries when you need to be coding. But even if it will take you a few days to get back to your customer, set that expectation. An auto-responder or success page that tells the customer their message has been received and the timeframe they can expect an answer will save you multiple inquiries from the same customer.
3. Will you provide instructions or Frequently Asked Questions?
Providing an easily accessible page in your app that provides Frequently Asked Questions or instructions for your app may save you some customer inquiries and also provides a place to which you can point customers easily.
We maintain a complete Knowledge Base and forum at http://onelouder.com/support. This is where customers can browse our Frequently Asked Questions, see release announcements, discuss problems with other customers on our forums, or submit a support request to us directly. We provide a link to this support resource in all of our apps. We are currently using Zendesk, but there are dozens of CRM providers so it’s a good idea to look around and see which one offers the tools and features you need.
4. How will you handle support requests that come through social media?
Make a plan for answering your customers when they contact you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+ or any other social media. Some inquiries may be appropriate to answer in place. Other times you may wish to move the airing of grievances to a more appropriate forum. Using shortened links to your FAQs is a great way to answer questions where space is at a premium.
We constantly monitor our social media pages to make sure that we are reaching as many customers as possible. We put special emphasis on Twitter since @OneLouderApps has nearly 5 million followers.
We search for customers asking questions about our apps from our TweetCaster Web interface and reach out to those customers directly. We also have a dedicated Twitter Handle, @OneLouderCares for handling customer service.
5. What tone do you want to set for your responses?
Whether you are answering inquiries individually or have a support team, setting a consistent tone for communications from you or your team about your app is helpful. You don’t have to send responses that will get “A” grades in a business-writing course. But being professional, helpful, and yes, willing to accept criticism will go a long way toward building a relationship of trust with your customer. Customers whose problems have been successfully solved often become bigger fans than those who have never had a problem with your app at all.
The answers to the above questions may vary greatly depending on your app, your customers, and your own schedule, but giving some thought to what the answers might be for you will help you take the first steps toward implementing the right solution.
What about you? Is this helpful? Let us know in the comments how you handle Customer Support.
You can do all the marketing in the world to drive downloads for your app. Get a feature story on TechCrunch, buy banner ads, run a contest, throw a party at SXSW, etc. All of which are great and can be influential tactics.
But, nothing will help you get more downloads than being featured on the front of the App Store or Google Play.
I mean, we’re talking 5 - 10 - 20X the number of downloads you normally see!! Umm, yes please!
So what’s the secret? How do you get your app noticed among thousands of others?
First and foremost, Google and Apple like good, quality, unique apps. Ok, we got it…
But - not surprisingly - they also LOVE apps that show off their latest and greatest device or platform features.
Take Flipboard for instance. Good, quality, unique app - yes.
But Flipboard’s timing was what got it so much love from Apple. It was the right app at the right time. Flipboard stepped in with a great idea showing off the slick new “flip” feature of the iPad. And presto, it was the app Apple used to showcase the iPad “cool” factor.
The iPhone accelerometer is another great example. This was huge and something Apple touted heavily around the launch of the first iPhone. I worked with a gaming company at the time that created one of the first games using it. We got featured all over the stores and TV commercials, which spiked downloads through the roof.
So what are the opportunities now? Here’s our list…
1. Build Your App for Tablets
Yes - I recognize it requires extra time, money, resources, etc. But it is almost essential to make sure your app is designed for all screen sizes of phones and tablets. Google and Apple are both very high on this – right now, they look exclusively for apps that have well-designed tablet versions.
2. Highlight the Latest and Greatest
This is probably the single most important thing for differentiating your app. Read up and stay close on the latest developer tools and APIs announced via Apple and Google’s developer websites or conferences like WWDC and Google I/O.
Find opportunities to improve your design and/or build in new features as quickly as possible after they are announced. These are the apps that get PR and featuring attention in the months following big announcements.
Find a feature (even if it’s a small one) to integrate in your app. Last year, we did a few small tweaks to our widgets and notifications and added beaming functionality to a couple of our apps and – boom – we were invited to be part of Google’s booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
It’s frustrating sometimes, because often these things don’t really matter to end users, but they are a BIG DEAL to Google and Apple and will help you get noticed by them in a sea of other apps.
3. Create a Distinct UI
There is nothing Apple hates more than to know an app was initially built for Android and ported over in a half-ass way to iOS. And vice versa.
Take the time to think through the UI and design for each platform separately. It’s the little things that can really add up fast here. Apple and Google both offer resources for design review, which I would recommend taking advantage of. It’s a good way to get in front of their team and get useful ideas and feedback from their UI experts.
4. Support International Merchandising
Google has specifically made a big push on this lately as the Play Store is seeing a spike in traffic from countries outside the US - particularly India.
Offering translated versions of the app itself is ideal. But at a minimum you must update the merchandising information (including screenshots and feature images) with translated versions specific to other major countries.
Google will automatically translate your description, but you will need to manually change out the screenshots and feature images.
If your app is built exclusively for Android or iOS, don’t forget to note that. This is another great selling point to Google or Apple.
6. Timing of release
Google and Apple differ a bit with this. Most of the time, we’ve found that Google likes to wait a bit and see how apps perform in the store before they feature them. Launch an app, get some good reviews, then pitch it to Google.
Apple prefers to feature new apps. They recommend releasing your app on Thursday to increase your odds for featuring – this is when the App Store switches out the featured merchandising.
It’s also important to time your app featuring pitches with certain holidays and events if it makes sense. For instance, if you have a celebrity gossip app look for opportunities the week of the Oscars.
7. Create a Marketing Plan and Get Media Coverage
Google and Apple want to know that they are featuring an app that you are putting marketing effort (and money) behind.
With Apple, make sure to have a Marketing Plan outlining key activities (press release, ad buys, contests, etc.) that you will be doing in conjunction with the launch or update.
As Google likes to feature apps with some time in the market, make sure to tout any positive press coverage along with positive user reviews, ratings, etc.
All this may seem like a lot of work, but I’d argue it’s worth it.
So what do you think? Have you tried these things? Are there other tactics that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments.
Time and money. We all wish we had MORE of both, right?
And if you’re a mobile app developer, these two things take on a whole other meaning…
The stress of tight development timelines, limited resources and little or no marketing budget can be overwhelming. Oh, and that other little piece…how to actually MAKE MONEY from your app.
Well, if this is you, I’m glad you’re reading this.
Starting today with the introduction of this blog, we’re on a mission to help mobile app developers like YOU (big and small) - grow your business.
- Get more users
- And MAKE MORE MONEY.
Who are we and why should you listen to us?
Some of our apps are hits and some aren’t, but we have millions of active users every day and billions of monthly ad impressions that we make REAL MONEY on.
As you well know, in a world of FREE, monetization is a difficult nut to crack.
We’ve climbed through the weeds working with numerous ad networks, ad medication services, and other advertising solutions and built our own business providing ad solutions for developers like you.
Who should read this blog? Why should I care about this blog?
Sure, there’s lots of good content out there to help developers. Forums like Quora or Stackoverflow; analytics companies like Gartner or Business Insider Intelligence; and of course media sites like TechCrunch and GigaOm. But, very few developers actually taking the time to share their own experiences with concrete examples.
That’s why we’ve created this blog. It will be a platform for sharing our learnings and insights. Whether you are a self-funded one-man shop or a multimillion-dollar venture funded app business or anything in-between, we’re confident this blog will provide some value for you.
What can you expect to see posted?
You can expect to see a variety of topics covered here, including:
- How to get your app noticed in the App Store and Google Play
- 3 tips for landing media coverage
- 10 ways to drive more app downloads
- 5 options for monetizing your app
- What is RTB and how does it work
- How to increase your eCPMs
Mobile Industry News
- 4 Mobile advertising trends you need to jump on now
- What new devices do I need to plan for
Mobile Development Tips
- How to impress Google and Apple
- 3 Android features you need to build into your app
- 5 cool iOS design tricks
We’ll do our best to provide insightful posts with concrete example for how these things impact your business and instant steps you can take to apply them.
How you can follow us
We encourage you to sign up for our email list now to make sure you get notifications when we have new posts. You can also follow us on Twitter (@OneLouderDevs). Make sure to send us a note and introduce yourself!
We are really excited to have you and look forward to building a community of new friends. One-way blogs are boring, so PLEASE, PLEASE do us a favor and post comments to let us know what is helpful for you and what is boring. We’re not here to waste our time or yours.
Here’s to scoring more users and cashing phat checks….