Stara Gipson & Brad Puder

Stara and Brad were both formerly Performance Marketing Managers at Pocket Gems.

Q&A with Stara and Brad

Stara Gipson and Brad Puder were formerly both at Pocket Gems. Stara was a Performance Marketing Manager on Episode, an interactive storytelling platform, while Brad was a Performance Marketing Manager for War Dragons. Both of them cut their marketing teeth in startups before joining Pocket Gems.

Read Stara’s blog: “Last Click Attribution Is Dead. Now What?.” Brad covers excellent advice and a question check-list to work from in his blog, “10 Tips for Choosing a Mobile Demand-Side Platform.

In your own words, tell us about the app that you manage?

SG: I started off working in the gaming space on War Dragons, a beautiful 3D, base building game where players can fly dragons, fight for territory, and battle in real-time. I now spend my time on Episode, an interactive storytelling platform that allows readers to choose their own path throughout thousands of stories and escape into the world of Episode.

BP: War Dragons is a beautiful 3D mobile game where players can build a base, breed an army of dragons, and battle other players in real-time. It’s a lot of fun, incredibly strategic, and we’ve got an awesome community of players from across the world.

How did you get started in mobile marketing?

SG: While at Oracle I did a lot of work in email marketing. At the time email had just started becoming a “mobile first” way of communicating. I really enjoyed the challenges it presented, everything from creative challenges to optimizing timing and frequency of communication.

BP: I first worked on the product side for War Dragons before pivoting to focus more on growing our player base.

What do you like most about mobile marketing?

SG: I find the growth potential of mobile marketing extremely exciting. Entering into an industry at its early stages gives me the opportunity to be a key influencer in creating something that shapes the world and changes people’s daily lives.

BP: I like the rapid pace of development in the industry, particularly on the programmatic side. There’s never really a status quo. I have to constantly be innovating and thinking about how to stay two steps ahead.

What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?

SG: It is really important not only to be flexible when change comes (which happens to be all the time), but also to anticipate the coming changes. Being first to market with new, innovative solutions in mobile marketing, for example can meaningfully impact profitability. To take advantage of new opportunities, it’s key to work closely with other teams in a cross-functional manner, be that product, engineering, or analytics. Having the relationships will allow you to be quick and agile when adjusting to changes.

BP: Being proactive, rather than reactive. You need to pursue the right kinds of data, strategies, and partnerships that are going to propel you to where you need to be.


What does a quality mobile user look like to you?

SG + BP: A quality mobile user is an engaged mobile user. Within our titles we put gameplay and experience first. Keeping players engaged with timely updates and new features will keep player sentiment high and keep new players around from initial launch.

We have a philosophy that fun comes first. As part of our acquisition strategy we want to invest in players who are going to enjoy our games the most.

What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged users?

SG: The best thing you can do to continue to find quality users for your app is work closely with your product team. Leveraging data from existing users to define what an engaged user looks like is essential. Marketing can then go out and find more users modeled after the behavior of engaged users.

BP: I think product and marketing are tackling two sides of the same coin. On the marketing side, you want to identify, acquire, and grow an audience that’s the right fit for your app, based on product data (like post-install optimization). On the product side, you want to consistently improve the early-game experience so that our in-app funnel is the strongest it can be, and vice versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and crucial for success.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference with UA or re-engagement of your app?

SG + BP: Test, test, test! Testing gives you data, and data will give you the answers. Whether it’s a question of which DSP to use, what creative to run, or even which audience to target. You can’t make decisions without testing.

Post-install optimization is also an increasingly important part of our strategy. Optimizing towards install isn’t enough, especially with the increasingly competitive UA landscape. Down-funnel metrics are much better signals of quality than install.

How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?

SG: To truly be flexible when it comes to changes in marketing technology, I work closely with other teams within our organization. Again, having the relationships helps me remain agile and stay ahead of the curve.

BP: Networking, constantly pushing our partners for updates on their roadmaps, following the right publications depending on your niche in marketing, attending conferences and learning best practices from other mobile marketers. It’s also helpful to follow trends among publishers. Changes usually start on the supply side before trickling to the demand side.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile app marketing?

SG: Multi-touch attribution has huge growth potential for both advertising platforms as well as advertisers. Being able to track a user from one impression to another and eventually to an install will provide insights into the user journey that is currently not readily available. This will open up many doors not only in terms of attribution but also with targeting and optimizing.

BP: 2018 is becoming the year of the unified auction. All the major players (e.g. Google, MoPub, Oath, Fyber, Unity, Facebook etc.) are launching unified auction / “header” bidding solutions on mobile. As more publishers and networks get onboard, unified auctions will benefit all stakeholders in the ecosystem. In the short-run though, adapting to the new landscape will be challenging. But I think it’ll be THE biggest shake-up in the industry and force media buyers to re-think their buying strategies.

What advice can you offer to help marketers combat mobile ad fraud?

SG + BP: Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and so should the data and tools you use to identify normal user behavior from suspicious user behavior. Fraud hurts everyone in the industry. It hurts the advertisers, DSPs and ad networks.

Partner closely with your key partners like MMPs and large shareholding networks to identify sources of suspicious activity as well as the types of fraud you are seeing to attack fraud from all angles. Savvy advertising networks and MMPs should be thinking one step ahead at the next big type of fraud and how to prevent it. They will work with you to have the best in class tools to fight fraud.


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