At the start of his career, Noam Yasour, the Managing Director of MoPub at Twitter, UK, would play every game and think how he’d monetize it. Now, in his current role, he actually helps publishers and devs do it. In his Casual Connect Tel Aviv session, Noam examined the recent trend of ads and IAP (traditionally seen as separate strategies) converging, and explained why it is crucial for devs in 2017 to take care of both.
Noam Yasour is Managing Director of MoPub at Twitter, UK where he leads the publisher sales team as well as strategic initiatives for EMEA. His primary focus is building MoPub’s presence in the European market. He brings to this position a wealth of experience in the game industry, particularly in B2C and mobile startups. Recently Casual Connect learned more about his work and his insights into what it takes for publishers and developers to succeed in today’s game environment.
Casual Connect: Tell us about the work you do at MoPub. How did you come to work there?
Noam Yasour: I lead MoPub’s Publisher Sales team and strategic initiatives for EMEA, so my team is responsible for building MoPub’s presence in the European market. MoPub was always a personal story for me. One of my prior roles was at Outfit7, and I was an early MoPub customer and built a close relationship with the team then. At Outfit7, using MoPub helped us tap into new advertising partnerships which drove a lot of success for us. I’ve been focused on the EMEA market for over eight years, and working with publishers and publisher companies for the past six years. When I spoke to the MoPub team about this role (my current role) it was clear that it was a perfect match. It felt like closing a circle.
CC: What is your favorite thing about your job?
Noam: Meeting publishers and understanding what they need to grow strategically. Being able to serve as a trusted advisor to help publishers and developers grow their businesses brings a lot of meaning to my role.
CC: You have worked in a number of high growth B2C and mobile startups. How has this background been helpful to you in your current job?
Noam: It’s helped me gain a 360-degree strategic view across everything that app publishers need to be thinking about: monetization, marketing, user acquisition and product management. My experience in all these different sides of the business helps me, in my current role, to put myself in publishers’ shoes and provide holistic advice on their businesses and where monetization fits in. My background also means that consumer experience is always top priority for me; I understand the importance of maintaining a great experience while also delivering monetization solutions.
CC: What inspired you to pursue this career?
Noam: I’ve always been a gamer and am passionate about games. I never had the initial opportunity to develop games myself so I did the next best thing: working with game companies and helping them build successful businesses.
CC: How did you become involved in the game industry? How did you make your start? What do you find to be the most fun part?
Noam: What could be more fun than playing games? At the start of my career I’d play every game and think how I’d monetize it. While I don’t have the time these days to do that, I still try to steal a few minutes to try all the games and apps that I can. The other most fun part for me is working with super smart people who find amazing ideas to build hugely successful businesses.
CC: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your current position? How have you overcome these challenges?
Noam: One of the biggest challenges is overcoming misconceptions that mobile advertising is poor quality and disruptive. Maybe that was the case six years ago, but that’s not the state of mobile advertising today! We need to overcome this through education, mobile-first ad formats that provide a great experience, and continued innovation. Tailoring ad strategy to the user experience is key.
CC: What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
Noam: Cooking! I love it so much that I built a startup in that space, Silver Bell. Beyond that – reading, traveling and spending time with my family.
CC: If you were not in this industry, what would you be doing?
Noam: I honestly don’t know. I love what I do and can’t see myself doing anything else.
CC: What was your dream job as a child?
Noam: Being a gamer! Creating and designing games, which is why I started as a programmer.
CC: What has been your proudest moment during your career so far? What led to this moment happening?
Noam: Signing and launching the partnership between Outfit7 and Paramount for the launch of Madagascar 3. I really enjoyed connecting the creative and business sides to come up with a really fun interaction between Outfit7 characters and Madagascar 3 characters. The user reaction was extremely positive and that launched a series of successful partnerships with Disney, Sony and Dreamworks.
CC: 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 business?
Noam: Video. Of course video itself isn’t new, but the use of video for discovery, engagement and monetization is taking off and is going to power a lot of growth in the industry. Live, high-quality, streaming video available on the smartphone in everyone’s pocket is becoming a reality, and so that’s certainly an area of excitement. Conversational commerce is also really interesting. It requires us to completely rethink discovery and purchase funnels, and opens up huge opportunities for innovation. I’m excited to see where this goes.
CC: What have been some of the most exciting tools for mobile marketing at your company?
Noam: MoPub has always been focused on powering monetization strategies for mobile app publishers, and we were one of the first to offer a real-time bidding exchange for in-app inventory. Not only does our exchange MoPub Marketplace give publishers access to demand from over 175 DSPs, but it can also be set to compete with any ad networks that publishers choose to mediate through MoPub — which means the highest-paying demand source will be automatically selected for each impression, maximizing publishers’ revenue. Real-time bidding, when combined with the right ad-serving controls, is, in my opinion, certainly the most effective tool for mobile monetization.
CC: Are there particular challenges in working in the European market?
Noam: The main challenge is that the “European market” is not actually just one market. There are huge differences across the different countries from culture, to adoption of technology, to how business is done.
CC: How have you handled constantly changing technology? How have you incorporated it into your business?
Noam: Improvements in technology, specifically to smartphones, have really only been a benefit to our business. Think about how much more time you spend on your phone today compared to five years ago. Phones are now so fast, and data so reliable, that people spend a huge amount of time each day on them – and according to eMarketer’s last estimate, 86% of that time is spent in apps. Apps are the focus of our business, and improved technology means that we’re able to help monetize them using more exciting, rich ad formats like video, native video and playables. Changing tech. Always keeps us on our toes thinking about where ad dollars are going next.
CC: How is effective monetization changing in today’s market?
Noam: User engagement is becoming more and more crucial. Using richer, high-impact ad formats and high quality creative plays a major role here; users are expecting better mobile experiences for both mobile content and ads. Higher user engagement, in turn, drives demand from advertisers, who are looking at metrics that go beyond just impressions and clicks. It all comes down to a continuously improving experience on mobile – for all parties.
CC: Are in-app purchases still an effective way to monetize a game? How can developers best incorporate them to attract users?
Noam: IAP can definitely be effective and have been hugely successful for many publishers, but it shouldn’t be developers’ only monetization strategy. Recent industry-wide states say that only 3-5% of users make in-app purchases – so publishers should look to diversify their monetization strategies to increase the level of monetized users.
CC: How can developers utilize in-game ads while still retaining the interest of users?
Noam: Timing and placement is key. An ad that interrupts users during gameplay will likely cause annoyance; an ad that occurs during natural breaks in the game, such as between levels, is much more likely to be well received. Publishers should also think about what types of formats can best complement their user experience. Newer formats like native, native video and rewarded video can all be great options for gaming apps.
CC: How do you see ads working in conjunction with in-app purchases?
Noam: Ads and IAP used to be implemented as very separate monetization strategies, but that’s no longer the case. Smart app publishers are looking to incorporate both in a complementary fashion. IAP is a great way to monetize, but, as mentioned above, industry stats say that only 3-5% of users actually make in-app purchases. So it’s crucial to monetize the other 95% of your users. Luckily, mobile ad formats have gotten so much better in recent years, and the value of advertising has increased as both performance dollars and brand dollars move into mobile and mobile programmatic. This presents a huge opportunity for publishers. Rewarded video is a perfect example of how ads and IAP can now coexist: users often react positively to rewarded video ads, which provide them with an in-app reward or in-game currency in exchange for watching the video. At the same time, these ads give users a taste of the in-app economy, so they may consider making a purchase later on.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.