Oliver Clark examined the benefits of using ID-based mobile data to find the right users during his Casual Connect Asia 2015 lecture. Oliver advises developers to “capture information that can lead you to make sensible decisions about targeting. Targeting is key.” For more, see the video below.
Oliver Clark is the senior director of sales, international at Fiksu, overseeing the company’s sales unit across EMEA and APAC. As evangelist, he ensures that developers, publishers and marketers throughout Europe and Asia know about Fiksu’s position in the marketplace and understand the power of mobile marketing as a channel for connecting with consumers. Recently GameSauce asked him about the capabilities and innovations in this form of marketing and also about his career.
The Path to Here
GameSauce: Tell us about the work you do at Fiksu. How did you come to work for them?
Oliver Clark: I took a long route through sales, strategy development and training for a £2.5 billion revenue FTSE 250 provider of IT managed services, then marketing and regional management for a smaller but beautifully formed leader in wireless communication technologies (helping to get 4G up and working on the way) before reaching my long-term goal of joining a startup with a long future and incredible team developing an unmatched solution: Fiksu.
GS: What is your favorite thing about your job?
Oliver: The people, first, and the impact, second. I get to work with people from all over the world who are talented and excited about the way mobile is changing people’s lives. I feel an enormous sense of community with the people within Fiksu, as well as Fiksu’s partners and clients, which is something to be cherished — it doesn’t exist in every industry nor in every role, so I feel very grateful to be able to work alongside these people.
GS: How have your past career experiences been helpful to you in your current position?
Oliver: IT-managed services doesn’t feel very similar to advertising technology, but without experience in the IT field, particularly IT services within the British government, I’d have struggled to understand the critical difference between the ability to do something and the utility of doing something. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should do that thing. The temptation to build your own in-house technology stack or data store can feel impossible to resist, but companies should maintain focus on their core expertise if they’re going to retain their leadership; they need to answer the question “Are we building the best game that we can, or are we building a parallel technology that’s already being perfected by someone else?”
GS: What inspired you to pursue this career?
Oliver: I’ve always been interested in electronic and communication technologies, mostly because of the opportunities they offer to upgrade our human capabilities. I moved from enterprise technologies to mobile technologies to get closer to the everyday people whose lives are enriched by innovation, and I moved from radio protocol conformance to mobile advertising to really get close to people. With the persona groups that Fiksu has created to help advertisers to target their services to people who will be delighted to engage with them, I feel that I’m able to engage the next wave of innovations, to connect with people efficiently, helping us all to upgrade to a more connected future.
Life in the Industry
GS: What’s the most fun part of being in the games industry?
Oliver: The most fun part is that playing games can be categorized as “research” for domestic purposes — I get to play some fantastic games, to share them with my family and friends, as a core part of my day job. Guilt-free fun is a precious commodity these days.
GS: How did you get involved in the industry?
Oliver: I became involved in the games industry through my work at Fiksu — we help developers to battle the competitiveness of today’s mobile games market, so much of our work is focused on getting games to level up to the next n milestone of players. Prior to Fiksu, my involvement had been limited to playing games for pleasure and a little beta testing.
GS: If you were not in this industry, what would you be doing?
Oliver: I’d be wearing a suit and struggling with Outlook, while attempting to maintain compliance with a formal hierarchy as a way of making decisions centrally for an enterprise software or hardware vendor. Translated, that means I’d be doing more to achieve less with negligible pleasure along the way.
GS: What was your dream job as a child?
Oliver: Like many children of the ’70s, my first hero was Elvis (actually it was Gary Glitter, but it’s not appropriate to mention that these days), so I wanted to be a rock star. I made it as far as getting muted applause at a gig in University College London. My total career earnings were around £40, which I received in a single day pretending to be a guitar player in a music video for a popular Italian singer.
The closest I got to living the rock dream was wearing one of Alvin Stardust’s stage costumes (turquoise leather waistcoat and jeans matched to a black flamenco-style silk shirt) while playing the part of Harold Gorringe in Shaffer’s Black Comedy. The rock dream felt very tight, to say the least…
Thankfully, I’d spent a lot of childhood playing games, breaking games (I had a large catalogue of POKEs and the occasional PEEK) and attempting to write games (mostly in BASIC) despite struggling with sprite collisions constantly — these pursuits meant that I had something to fall back on when it turned out that the world of rock was not quite ready for my inconsequential talents.
Free Time Means Family Time
GS: What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
Oliver: I work in my free time. My eldest child is 16 years old and my youngest is 19 months old; like many parents, I spend a lot of time carrying, driving, nursing, encouraging, comforting and feeding each of them. I enjoy my work immensely, I look forward to it and wish I had time to do more, better. If I had any time away from a data connection, I’d be hiking, climbing, playing the guitar or playing Die Siedler II.
GS: What has been the proudest moment in your career so far?
Oliver: Pride usually takes the form of other people’s achievements. I’ve been lucky to have seen many of the people with whom I’ve worked achieve incredible things, big “David and Goliath” successes in which they’ve beaten the odds and have proven that quality and professional dedication can overcome entrenched perceptions.
GS: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your position at Fiksu? How have you overcome these challenges?
Oliver: The biggest challenge is overcoming “Advertising Technology Fatigue” among developer and marketing communities. There are so many statistics bandied about, as the data generated within the industry grows explosively, that many people lose sight of the meaning behind the numbers.
For developers and marketers, what’s important is to find people who will be so delighted with your game that they keep coming back to it and tell all of their friends how brilliant it is. If you can find these people, you’ll find a way to monetize your game. Advertising and advertising technologies play a critical role in helping developers to find the right players, but it’s incredibly difficult to decide which advertiser will help you the most because many advertisers claim to have the same capabilities and support these claims with broadly similar statistics.
We overcome this challenge by moving our client conversations beyond statistics to a deeper level — what does an ideal player look like, what actions will they perform and what will those actions be worth? By understanding our clients’ deeper needs clearly, we’re able to provide them with a service that gives them the best chance of success across any advertising channel by focusing the considerable skills of our acquisition experts on the metrics that matter most for our clients. It is at this stage that the importance of our advertising technology, as an enabling platform, comes to the fore.
GS: What have been some of the most effective tools for mobile marketing at your company?
Oliver: Since the introduction of their mobile app install ads a few years ago, Facebook has been one of the most effective sources we’ve seen for cost-effectively acquiring loyal app users. Their rich user data on everything, from demographics to marital status to interests, has been unmatched and has really provided marketers with a unique way to acquire the right users. While their upfront costs have often been higher as a result of these enhanced capabilities, users acquired through the network have backed out much better in the long term. And, as time has passed, Facebook has continued to innovate with such things as Lookalike and Custom Audiences, Facebook Audience Network and more — all of which have given marketers even more tools to succeed.
Retargeting has also been a highly effective tool. Reaching new users has always been an emphasis on mobile, but more recently a large portion of the focus has shifted back to existing users who provide a great deal of value. These existing users, who can range from lapsed users to highly engaged users, are oftentimes much less expensive to engage and much more likely to take additional actions. Cross-device targeting, a unique form of retargeting that allows markets to migrate existing desktop users to mobile, has also proved highly effective for more traditional brands with an established desktop user base who are just beginning to place an emphasis on mobile.
Finally, video, though much newer, has proven to be a highly effective marketing tool. While it still represents a relatively small portion of available inventory, video ads have proven to be highly effective at converting users. Video is the richest format available on mobile and, used the right way, it can drive extremely high levels of engagement.
GS: How have you handled constantly changing technology? How have you been able to incorporate it into your business?
Oliver: We’ve built our business on being an aggregator of all things mobile. As a result, if a new source becomes available, we are able to quite seamlessly incorporate it into our mix and, using our advanced optimization tools, can monitor its progress and beef it up or dial it back pretty easily depending on how it performs. In addition, because we have such a comprehensive solution, when a new technology or tactic is introduced we are able to find effective ways to incorporate it into our business. While we may have to develop new tools to make it work, the structure needed to support those tools is already in place. As a result, we’ve not only been able to solve the challenges of constantly changing technology for our clients, but we’ve also been able to put our clients front and center to take advantage of these new opportunities as they arise.
Oliver: Because our solution is so comprehensive, we are integrated with hundreds of different sources. This obviously requires a lot of technology as well as numerous business agreements, which can be challenging to put in place. In addition, as a leader in mobile, we have to be equipped to handle an exceptionally large amount of data, which includes everything from bid requests to downloads. To give to an idea of this scale, our systems process 500K bid requests per second, and getting set up to handle that amount of data wasn’t easy. However, by investing in the best engineers and product managers around, we’ve been able to effectively combat these challenges in order to position our company to continue to succeed as a mobile marketing leader and pioneer.
GS: What other kinds of tools would you fear most as competitors?
Oliver: We’re very focused on doing mobile right, so what we’d fear most is other companies doing mobile wrong. What we mean by that is other competitors doing bad advertising, or serving irrelevant and intrusive ads that tend to sour people. We’re very focused on doing highly targeted advertising to the right audiences, and having other companies try to do what we’re doing, but doing it wrong can ultimately have an impact on the effectiveness of the ads we serve.
GS: What do you think will be the next big trend in the industry in the next three to five years? How are you incorporating this trend into your future plans?
Oliver: Mobile offers the opportunity to do things differently and better. So far many of the innovations in mobile have been to port traditional activities to mobile context. Even in advertising, much of the effort has focused, to date, on replicating traditional digital practices in the mobile ecosystem, so that people familiar with digital can understand mobile more easily. The next big trend will come when mobile breaks free from the preconceptions of digital marketing — we’ll see incredibly precise targeting of highly differentiated messages by making full use of mobile devices’ sensors and marketers’ rich data stores. When we look back in 10 years, we’ll find it hard to believe that we one lived in a world where advertisements were “served” because we’ll be too familiar with the superior experience of conversations being initiated.
The biggest trend we’ll see moving forward, which we’re already beginning to get a taste of now, is the increased use of data to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and even in the right place. As a mobile-first company, we’ve spent the last five years collecting an unmatched amount of mobile data, which currently includes over 10 trillion marketing events, 4 billion downloads, and profiles of 60 percent of all the world’s mobile devices ever shipped. We’ve begun to harness that data to create mobile personas that allow for precise audience targeting, a trend we only expect to see grow moving forward. We’ve also developed tools to allow this type of targeting to be done as seamlessly as possible across the mobile ecosystem. More recently, we’ve enhanced our location-targeting capabilities to allow for precise targeting by latitude and longitude.
There’s no way of telling what other types of mobile data will become actionable in the next three to five years, or what other ways marketers will be able to target, but there’s no question that this type of highly precise, data-driven audience targeting will be at the center of all mobile marketing going forward. As these capabilities continue to come into focus, marketers will continue to leverage mobile to deliver the most targeted and non-intrusive ads in a way never before possible on any other advertising medium.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.