Q&A with Tyler
Tyler began his career in mobile marketing at Fiksu in 2011. Following Fiksu, he joined the Walt Disney Company, promoting top grossing mobile games including Where’s My Water, Finding Nemo and Frozen Free Fall. He then returned to the startup world as the head of user acquisition for Betable, an online casino games company, where he worked with an international team to launch Prospect Hall Casino, a real money gaming website and app. Since 2016, Tyler has managed the user acquisition team at TextNow, doubling the app’s user base and expanded TextNow’s product offerings.
Read Tyler’s blog: “Strategies for Combating Ad Fraud From Day 1”
In your own words, tell us about the apps that you manage?
TextNow is a calling and messaging platform that allows anyone to call anyone with a real phone number from any device. TextNow helps people stay connected with their friends and family regardless of their budget.
How did you get started in mobile marketing?
My first job out of college was as a client performance manager for a small mobile app marketing startup called Fiksu. Fiksu was founded by a professor of mathematics from the University of Massachusetts, with a data-focused approach to marketing. The company had developed some algorithms for optimizing campaigns on AdMob and other CPC ad networks.
Fiksu was trying to predict click-to-install conversion rates while also trying to onboard new clients to test out these algorithms. My job was to test new ad products and see where we could profitably invest marketing budgets. I was fortunate that one of my early clients, Groupon, essentially gave Fiksu a free hand to test new channels to see if we could find networks that worked well for them. In less than a year, we managed to onboard dozens of new marketing channels which provided not only profitably ad traffic for Groupon, but important learnings that helped all of our other clients as well.
What do you like most about mobile marketing?
In the pre-digital era, a common saying was that, “half of all marketing spend is wasted, we just don’t know which half”. A marketer would spend a small fortune on TV advertisements and hope that someone in a relevant market might see the ad. Today, that’s no longer the case. If a new ad banner is working well and driving high quality users to our app, we can get validation of our success in real time.
What does it take to succeed in mobile marketing?
One of the most important things to remember in mobile marketing is that networks will always try to optimize towards the specific KPIs that you provide them. That sounds intuitive and simple but it has enormous implications as it relates to ad optimizations and the incentives involved for marketing agencies.
If your app has a typical lifetime value of $2 for a new mobile app install and half of your new downloads complete a registration event, it might make sense to set a bid of $4 for a new registration. However, by introducing a CPA bid into your marketing mix, you change the incentive structure for the supply partner. An ad network will start shifting their traffic mix towards publishers that drive higher registration rates at the cost of other KPIs that a you might care about. The average number of registrations per day might increase but in-app purchase activity could decline.
What does a quality mobile user look like to you?
TextNow monetizes primarily through in-app advertising. We have premium features including an ad-free experience that is available as an in-app purchase but the majority of our revenue comes from in-app advertising. As such, the KPIs that we care most about are retention rates and time spent in app.
A high quality user is someone who downloads the TextNow app and uses our communication platform regularly. We want customers to treat their TextNow phone number as their main phone number, and have their friends use that number to connect with them.
What strategies work best to convert installs into engaged app users?
We optimize our first time user experience and signup flow extensively over the years. We look at the FTUE (first time use experience) of our peer group and compare them to our own to test out new variations which might lead to 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?
With the help of our new fraud detection tool, Scalarr, we were able to identify and eliminate publishers which were using click spamming to poach installs from our other marketing channels. This saved us tens of thousands of dollars a month in media spend and improved conversion rates from our legitimate ad network partners.
How do you stay ahead of changes in technology?
I am a member of several mobile industry Slack groups, such as the Mobile Heroes Slack Community, where we discuss everything new and exciting that’s happening in the mobile marketing industry. I also regularly attend important conferences such as the App Growth Summit, the Mobile Growth Summit and Adjust’s Mobile Spree.
I’m also a big fan of the more informal meetup groups for mobile marketers that are hosted occasionally in San Francisco. One of the best things about living in the Bay Area is that it’s a global hub for information technology.
What do you see as the next big thing in mobile marketing?
I believe that the next big thing in mobile app marketing is a coming wave of consolidation in the affiliate space.
There are simply too many companies with identical names selling identical ad products which mostly consist of adding layers of middlemen between buyers and sellers of ad inventory. If a CPI-based affiliate marketing partner is going to survive long term, they need to offer some additional services that help to differentiate them from the rest of the pack.
In particular, I think mobile marketing agencies need to consider developing stronger in-house creative teams which can focus exclusively on optimizing the design assets of their particular clients.
What advice can you offer to help marketers combat mobile ad fraud?
Every marketer needs to establish a baseline for “normal” behavior. Pick the networks that you trust most and run a small test. Look at the impression-to-click rates and the click-to-install rates. Look at retention rates and the amount of time the typical customer spends inside an app.
It’s only once you’ve determined normal behavior can you start to properly identify the abnormal or fraudulent behavior.