As part of their Mobile Ad Insider series, we caught up with App Annie to discuss the state of mobile advertising and to provide tips for optimizing mobile ad campaigns. This interview was originally published on App Annie’s blog.
App Annie (AA): Thanks for agreeing to speak with us today about mobile ads. We — and the publishers reading this article — were hoping to get your insights on optimizing ad performance, as well as other industry tips and tricks. To kick off this interview, what kinds of advertisers use your platform and how does it specifically benefit them?
Ythan Pratt (YP): NativeX primarily works with advertisers who are looking for new users to try their apps, acquiring them through a variety of different ad formats. We have global reach serving impressions in 178 countries. We recognize each user is unique, so we have invested heavily in data science. We also use statistical models to select the best ad, offer, format and moment for each specific user.
AA: There are many kinds of advertising platforms — networks, exchanges, mediators, DSPs and other ad tech providers. What’s unique about your platform and how does it benefit app developers who are buying ads or monetizing through ads?
YP: The biggest reason we’re able to hold long-standing relationships with our publisher partners is because of our holistic and scientific approach to native monetization. We have an ad exchange that is designed for games and freemium apps. It’s the only exchange that supports multiple native ad formats, both reward and non-reward. We support video, rich media, interstitials, multi-offer and expandable banners, all in one SDK. We put a lot of thought into preserving the user experience of our publishers’ apps, because we’re users, too. Formats are controlled server-side so publishers can test out different ad formats and access new ones the moment they’re released, without SDK updates or app submissions.
Advertisers come to us for our quality, global reach and our compelling native ad frames. We have a specialty in gaming, so we can really target gamers. Our game developer advertisers tell us the users they acquire through NativeX are higher-quality customers who stick with them longer than users acquired on other ad platforms.
AA: What new features or innovations are you bringing to the market now or in the near future?
YP: We recently announced the first and only global native ad exchange designed specifically for free-to-play mobile games. Using predictive analytics, the NativeX Exchange maximizes ad revenue for reward and non-reward mobile ad campaigns, regardless of conversion type — such as CPM, CPC, CPI, CPE or CPV. This includes video, interstitials and multi-offer ads — reward and non-reward — as well as featured offer alerts, which are reward-only.
We’re constantly working on creative new native ad formats, like playable ads. We’re also really excited about deep-linking ad formats that will help app developers increase their revenue beyond ads by driving in-app purchases. We actually just went live with our first customer.
AA: What kinds of mobile app ad campaigns are most successful? And what are the top mistakes that mobile advertisers make?
YP: We are learning that getting the ad placement right is critical to driving response rate. By “placement,” I mean where and when the ad appears in the app, and what is happening to the user at the point that ad appears. Did he just lose or advance to the next level? Did he just run out of currency? All of these things play into his emotional state and how he might respond to various types of ads.
Common mistakes made by advertisers include not understanding lifetime value, or how much a quality user is worth, not knowing who your core audience is, and tracking unnecessary metrics. If you take the time to understand who your users are, you can save your business a lot of money.
AA: What kinds of data and metrics do you see as being the most critical for advertisers to access and optimize towards?
YP: It really depends on the goal of the advertiser. In general, it’s important for advertisers to watch the metrics that tell them the quality of the user and where the user came from. Industry professionals usually do this by measuring Day X retention, daily active users or monthly active users, average revenue per daily active user, average revenue per paying user, cost per install, and source. The key is that you figure out which specific metrics work for your app and then stick with them.
AA: How will mobile advertising for the user acquisition manager look different 12-18 months from now?
YP: In 12-18 months, user acquisition managers are going to have more efficient processes that will allow them to focus less on manual work and more on driving quality installs for their apps. Just this year, three major events have contributed to the livelihood of future user acquisition managers: top tier ad platforms are working hard to improve attribution, platform providers like Google and Apple are cracking down on spammy ad formats, and services like App Annie Advertising Analytics are automating processes for monitoring and comparing the performance of campaigns across multiple ad platforms. When it’s all said and done, user acquisition managers of the future will work with fewer ad platforms that have greater reach, better tools and a variety of ad formats to choose from.
AA: What are your thoughts on the shift towards programmatic buying on mobile, and what — if any — initiatives are you pursuing in the realm of real-time bidding (RTB)?
YP: We are huge fans of this shift, and that’s why we were the first company to deliver programmatically designed native ads. Our new native ad exchange supports RTB on a cost-per-install basis. Publishers use pre-defined ad placements based on popular events in games such as winning battles, losing a level or exiting the in-app purchase menu. Our exchange offers a wide variety of ad formats, and advertisers compete with one another regardless of the ad format they want to buy. For example, say three advertisers were bidding to show a consumer an ad after the consumer lost their last life in a mobile game. Advertiser A could make a bid to show a banner ad while Advertisers B and C could make a bid to show a video — all in the same auction. The publishers decide which advertisers and creative assets they allow to compete for different placements.
AA: What is native advertising, and why should mobile game developers pay attention?
YP: We think of native advertising as content that is so well integrated into your app with customized design, optimal placement, relevant ads and rewarding initiatives, it becomes a natural and valued part of the overall user experience. Native advertising can be as simple as bringing in an element of the app — such as a character from the game — into the ad frame, or it can be more akin to product placement. However you define it, because the ad is so integrated into the experience of the app, targeting and relevancy become an essential component for native advertising.
As John Koetsier said in VentureBeat’s 2014 Mobile Monetization report, “despite native (ads) being only used by a very few developers, NativeX actually made the list for top 10 most effective monetization companies,” and even went on to suggest, “for those game developers who haven’t tried them yet, native ads could be a hidden gem.”
AA: What are your thoughts on App Annie’s new Advertising Analytics product, and how does it benefit your users?
YP: I love it. The reason we chose to support Advertising Analytics so early was because we believe in the product and what it does for the industry — especially small indie studios. Now indie developers can free up time that was previously spent compiling reports from multiple dashboards and focus on their jobs. The mobile advertising space needed a service like Advertising Analytics, and there is no better company to deliver such a product than App Annie.
If you’re currently working with NativeX and you’d like to connect your account with App Annie, contact your NativeX representative. For those new to NativeX, register for our Self-Service, install our SDK, and then email our support team to finalize your integration.
That wraps up our Mobile Ad Insider interview with App Annie. If you have additional questions, feel free to share them in the comments below. Otherwise, stay up-to-date with all of our future blog posts by following us on Twitter, Facebook, orLinkedIn.