Pepe Agell leads the international efforts at Chartboost. He oversees the global expansion of the company’s publisher base, strategic partnerships, and customer relationship management (CRM) to ensure the highest standard of service and support. Agell also translates feedback from and interaction with the company’s worldwide publishers to inform the technology development of the company’s leading direct-deal advertising, marketplace.
Agell is passionate about the mobile games industry because of its high-paced changes, with rapidly evolving new revenue streams, new business models and new ways to do distribution. In his work at Chartboost, he has seen a unique approach to their product as a result of having a team made up of experienced game developers. They see the need to give full transparency to their clients. Therefore, they give full access and control to the game developers that work with Chartboost so they can fully understand what is happening with their campaigns.
Agell uses what he calls ‘social intelligence’ to work closely with developers, understanding their needs, and drafting a strategy with them. The company invites the developers to meet with the business team and also the engineers in order to understand how they are using the tools that the developers are being offered. They also host informal ‘happy hours’ to allow developers to connect with other peer ad developers. These connections encourage developers to begin using direct deals.
Why In-App Promotion?
Currently, the overall trend in the industry is freemium, which requires getting more sophisticated with in-app purchases. Agell maintains that “The moment you put your product available for free on the app store you’re lowering the barriers of entry and you get a lot of users. This is why iterating on the items that you offer to make sure that are relevant to your users becomes crucial.” However, Agell tells us that only two to five percent of users actually spend money in the apps they download. So finding ways to monetize the rest of the user base without sacrificing the user experience is essential. Agell feels that the most effective way to promote or distribute an app is through an in-app promotion. A game developer needs to target people who spend their time playing games; therefore, promoting games within games reaches the right audience. He says, “I’d normally recommend our developers to really spend time understanding where their users are, in which kind of apps they are, and really trying to get a way into these apps.” This is the reason why direct deals are so important. Establishing a sound relationship with developers doing similar games permits them to target the best audience.
Agell recommends choosing the direct deal based on previous performance on the network, so it is necessary to first do campaigns on Chartboost’s network of games and CPC or CPI companies. Developers can see the performance at the app level, which apps drove most of the traffic, and the performance of that traffic. They are then in a position to choose the best potential partners for direct deals.
Track Everything; Don’t Pre-Assume!
Agell sees the most success from their partners who are combining several strategies for distribution and user acquisition. He believes these strategies should include internal cross promotion and ad networks or other distribution channels to allow users to get to know you. Then set up a few direct deals with apps that you know will resonate with your apps. It is not necessary or advisable to attempt massive numbers of direct deals; two or three are sufficient. These are the three aspects of the strategy Agell normally recommends to developers.
Agell emphasizes the importance of using cross promotion wisely. If the developer has one success in the portfolio, there is already a network of loyal users. Building on that network with a connected portfolio of games is what grows a successful and powerful business. To make wise decisions about the combination of apps to use, developers must track every PPPI; the click through rates, the install rates, and the lifetime value of users. Developers must be able to compare cross promotion and external promotions to identify where it is best to place their emphasis. Often users will get to know a brand and studio, and will enjoy more games from that studio, so cross promotion can be very effective in building loyal and valuable users. If a studio targets a particular audience with similar types of games, cross promotion can be highly effective. It is very important to AB test different combinations of apps, particularly if a studio has a broad and varied portfolio. But sometimes very different apps resonate well with each other. Agell says, “One thing that I’ve learned is to not pre-assume anything.”
Agell tells us that the traditional network model simply doesn’t work anymore. Developers want to have control over their campaigns, over the cost of their new installs and over the value of the new installs. As in-app purchases become mainstream for developers, how developers effectively use in-app stores will become more important to optimize the revenue model that combines in-app purchases and revenue from advertising. The advantage Chartboost can give the developer comes through helping them understand their traffic.
Chartboost is currently working on new products to help developers maximize their revenues and get better at identifying the flow of users.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.