Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Three Ways To Get Your App Marketing Off the Ground

Three Marketing Strategies AHNow that you’ve developed your app, it’s passed through final testing and it’s ready to be released into the wilds of the app stores, you’ll need to get yourself noticed. In 2015 it’s not enough to rest on the “build it, and they will come” mantra any more. Competition is fierce, and unless your app somehow revolutionizes the way we look at the universe, chances are there are tens of similar apps already in the app store. So, what can you do to get things started, before you go off and explore marketing agencies or android monetization avenues? Well, here are three of the best ways to get your app marketing strategy off the ground.

App Store Optimization

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard of Search Engine Optimization and how vital it can be to an online business, App Store Optimization is much the same. To put it bluntly, you could consider ASO to be gaming the system, to make sure your app is ranked higher than others. There are many factors that can help with this, but changing things regularly and making sure your listing doesn’t just sit stagnant in the Play Store is one of the better ways to keep on top of things. You’ll need to hook onto certain search times and make sure your listing is as it should be right from the get go, too. You could also try the new “Experiments” from Google, these allow developers to play around with different assets and Play Store listings in an A/B test style to see which one brought in the most new users. If your app isn’t ranked highly in the Play Store, then there’s a good chance that you’ll miss out on valuable installs and exposure, so ASO should be a high priority on your list.

Define Your Target Audience

Exploring marketing options and your social media strategies is great and all, but you need to know who to market to. After all, there’s no point in marketing the latest Zombie killing game to a family-orientated user, and vice-versa. The best way to get started with this is to explore focus groups and feedback from small, select groups from different demographics and rate their responses to your app. If the below 30 group responded well, then you can focus on that demographic a little more, for instance. Certain age groups and demographics respond differently to certain marketing. For instance, those below 25 can be reached on pretty much any social media platform ever made, but those over 30 or so are more likely to stick to Facebook, email and of course the native app store. Exploring your options and finding the best group to target will help your money go further, should you decide to invest in further marketing.

Build Up Some Hype

Even if your ASO is great, and you’re ready to flip the switch and unleash your latest and greatest unto the world, when it goes live, things can be a little…quiet. With so many options available to people these days, it’s no wonder that users get excited for something that’s coming. As such, it’s always good to build up some pre-launch hype, getting people talking about your new app or game on social media is akin to free advertising, and the greater the anticipation and buzz before you launch, the better your first wave of installs and results will be. So many apps hit the Play Store without any prior announcement or advertising that they quickly get forgotten, starting off strong before your app has even launched is a great start to a long-lasting and successful app marketing strategy

Smart Technology And The Internet Of Things


The first time I got lost in San Francisco I stood on a street corner for 30 minutes throwing my hands up and talking wildly as bus after bus passed me by, heading the wrong direction. The next day I was still loudly fuming over the woes of public transportation when my roommate said those five little words: “There’s an app for that.” The second time I got lost in San Francisco I was ready. I whipped out my navigation app and found the closest line. It took me a record four minutes to figure out which side of the street to stand on, then I was on it, flying over the slopes of Nob Hill.
Fast-forward 6 months and I had mastered some routes, could navigate a few neighborhoods without relying on Google Maps, and no longer noticed the stench of MUNI, which had become like the familiar scent of a good friend. Everything was easier. “Thank you, app,” I said to myself on my way to the office, the park, the store. I couldn’t comprehend how San Franciscans lived before smartphones. “Are they wizards?” I wondered. (Spoiler: they’re probably not.)
Like many other daily routines, once transportation went mobile, most of us forgot how we did it before. This can be as troubling as it is exciting. Troubling because we wonder where technology is taking us and how it’s affecting our minds as it steadily becomes an extension of us. Exciting because you can do things faster, better, and while juggling several other things in a way that wasn’t possible just 10 years ago. It’s no mystery that big cities welcome new technology before the rest. Chaos begs creative solutions, and with “Internet of Things” becoming our new reality, we’re on the brink of technological advances unlike any in history.
Regardless of your opinions on the tech-ification of society, it’s already inescapable. Giants like Amazon and newer players like Withings are pioneering inventions that help you live smarter. By 2016, 19 billion “things” will be connected to the internet. You can buy in like me and the many other San Franciscans expressing gratitude to their apps each day, or you can take to the backstreets where there are no sensors (yet) detecting road weather conditions or monitoring traffic. Either way, here are some of the “things” that are already among us, and a few you can expect to see soon enough.

Already Here

  1. Wearables that track and analyze your movement, heartbeat, and more.
  2. Smart home technology that learns your behavior and adjusts to your preferences.
  3. Automated lunchrooms at Fortune 500 companies that stock and serve without human help.
  4. Bluetooth health meters that monitor patients’ vitals remotely.
  5. Scales that analyze your BMI and the air quality in your home.
  6. 3D printers that can print in chocolate, magnetic material, and who knows what else.

On The Horizon

  1. Smart fridges & dishes that track expiration dates, build your shopping list, and monitor your diet.
  2. Smart cars that will drive to you and park themselves (already here, just not yet legal).
  3. Smart cities where everything connects to everything, basically.
Now and tomorrow, we prioritize connections. Connecting with your home, with your body, with your city in new ways. The Internet of Things isn’t just about the next invention you probably don’t need—it allows our environment to adapt to us so we can better engage, learn, and live within it. Apps are units of this progress, putting connections in our pockets and paving the way to a tomorrow where you never worry about the bus. There’s an app for that.

What Twitter's New App Data Collection Tactics Mean for Marketers

Social media marketing is a great way to reach out to customers. With the right approach, a brand can reach thousands of consumers with one post. However, many brands have a built-in audience of followers on their social media accounts, which means when they post something, it’s likely going to the same group of customers who already know about their offerings.

Resultado de imagen para twitterTo reach new customers, many businesses have opted for paid advertising on some of the many social media platforms available today. Twitter is one of the most popular of those platforms, but the company has struggled to compete with Facebook’s and Google’s advertising options. However, with a new move, the company hopes to attract new attention from businesses.

Twitter’s Data Collection

Late last year, Twitter reportedly began collecting information on its users’ smartphones in order to arm advertisers with information they can use to successfully target customers. The company is not only studying customer behavior within its own app, but also learning from the apps they download. The social media site earns the majority of its advertising income from direct sales to brands, but the company didn’t meet expectations in its most recent quarter.

Twitter isn’t the first social media site to use customer smartphone data for its advertising efforts. When Facebook users download apps using their Facebook login, the social giant gathers that information and shares it with developers. But Twitter is using the information not only to learn more about its users for improved advertising effectiveness, but also to improve the recommendations it makes to users.

The Brand Connection

This move is designed to improve the experience for brand advertisers, giving them access to information about the site’s users. By knowing the types of apps the site’s users download, advertisers can more accurately target them based on their interests. The move will be especially beneficial for businesses with apps, allowing those businesses to more easily locate users who are likely to be interested in downloading the apps they’re creating.

Twitter users who are concerned about this information being collected can opt out in the settings area of Twitter. However, the good news for businesses is that the feature is turned on by default, which means that most users will leave it untouched. This will generally ensure the integrity of the information being collected.

How It Works

To make this feature work, Twitter is tapping into a feature that is built into iOS and Android devices. This feature allows developers to scan devices for other installed apps. This is a similar feature to spyware installed on a PC. While it’s limited in the information it will deliver back, it does give developers an easy way to generate a list of all of the apps installed on a person’s device. Many smartphone users aren’t aware this collection effort is even possible, much less taking place already. Twitter emphasizes it will only collect information on the apps on a user’s smartphone, not specific activities within those apps.

As awareness of this feature in iOS and Android devices grows, more companies are likely to follow Twitter and Facebook in finding ways to use it. This means advertisers will be able to more directly target customers. Device owners who choose not to opt out could receive ads for apps they’re likely to download, as well as products or services that match apps they’ve recently added.

For paid advertisers, Twitter’s app data collection means better targeting for their ad dollars. While this information won’t be directly handed over to marketers, it may eventually benefit marketers by recommending Twitter users that match their interests. At the moment, however, the biggest benefit to marketers is through Twitter’s paid advertising services.

Monday, 29 June 2015

3 Types of Mobile Messages Marketers Must Know [Video]

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 5.26.06 PM
I think you’ve probably heard the buzz…mobile marketing is HOT, and that’s true, but instead of convincing you why mobile is important (it is), I want to take a look at how marketers are communicating to their customers via mobile devices. Marketers communicate with their audiences via mobile on virtually every channel and that’s because people spend tons of time on their mobile phones. In fact, according to the Marketo Mobile Benchmark Survey, 72% of people spend two or more hours a day on their mobile devices.
You need to consider creating a mobile experience when you craft your social media messages, develop your responsive website and landing pages, and send emails, but there are three types of messages that are specific to mobile that marketers use to communicate with customers: SMS/MMS, push notifications, and in-app messaging. These three types of messages are similar in that they uniquely exist on mobile devices, but different in the marketing objective they fulfill. Check out our handy video blog here to quickly get up to speed on this topic:

Now, let’s dig deeper into each of these types of messages:


SMS, or short message service, is a mobile text that can be sent peer-to-peer (like a standard text message) or from a mobile messaging service provider (a marketing message). A consumer must opt into this type of messaging either on your website, through an email subscription request, or through your mobile application. SMS can be a great technique to get directly in front of your consumer in a fast, effective, and concise manner. This is because SMS is:
  • A fast and efficient way to engage with your customer
  • Able to be sent at high volumes (they can often be delivered to your customers in less than 15 seconds)
  • One of the simplest forms of mobile marketing (most cell phone carriers accept SMS messages)
  • Short—A standard SMS message can fit up to 160 characters (keep that in mind for messaging)

2. Push Notifications

Push notifications are messages or alerts delivered by your app to the user. A push notification is typically a text that appears on a user’s home screen of her mobile device. This notification appears whether or not the user is engaged with the app or has it open. For a push notification to work, the user needs to have already downloaded your app, and in most cases, agreed to allow push notifications. The text is often an alert about an event, activity, discount, or something actionable that prompts the user to open the app or click on the notification to complete the action. It’s up to the marketer to recognize opportunities for push notifications, compose the message, and measure the impact.

3. In-App Messaging

In-app communications direct your user’s attention to specific actions, messages, and features within the app. They are an important way for you to engage your users and lead them to complete actions that keep them returning to your app. Notifications allow the marketer to communicate and engage with users while they are actually using the app—from introducing new features, to offering coupons, to notifying them of their usage, and more. You can also test features, messages, and promotions within the app to see what does best and then optimize based on user response. In-app messaging enables marketers to be more personal and creative than with SMS or push notifications because they already have the user in-app and are not limited by space constraints or message volume issues.
Here’s a helpful chart from our Definitive Guide to Mobile Marketing that helps define the differences and similarities between the three types of mobile messages:
Marketo_The difference between SMS/MMS, Push and In-app notifications

Five thoughts to help make sense of the Internet of Things

Internet of Things concept drawing © bakhtiarzein - Fotoliadiginomica.com
The Internet of Things is no different from many other concepts in computing that attract a lot of hype in the early days. Everyone has heard of it and most people have an opinion on the topic. But we either have a very vague understanding of the whole or, if we do know something about it, we only know about a specific aspect that we happen to have encountered in more detail.
But there comes a point at which the general excitement about this shiny new concept begins to be tempered by a growing realization that it’s not as polished as it appeared to be at first glance. It becomes apparent that it doesn’t work as well as we thought it would, or that there are significant trade-offs that have to be made to get it to work. We’re fast approaching that point with the Internet of Things.
So I thought it might be helpful at this stage to jot down a few thoughts. First of all about some of the reasons why it’s not working quite so well and then about what might need to happen over the next few years to get it working better.
I’m grateful to Andy Mulholland, former Cap Gemini CTO and now VP and principal analyst with Constellation Research, for leading a roundtable discussion at a Constellation event in London on Thursday that helped me crystallize several of these thoughts.

Intranet of things

In the early days of the Internet back in the 1990s, every enterprise wanted an Internet of its own. Huge sums were invested in building private internets that were called intranets. Their purpose was to share enterprise content internally. It all sounds faintly absurd now and younger readers may not even have come across the term unless they happen to work for an enterprise with decades-old content management software still in place.
In the early days of any public network, there are worries about security and control which tend to lead enterprises to build their own private version before they become willing to trust the public one. An obvious present-day example is the preference that many enterprises have for private clouds over cheaper, higher performing and more robust public clouds.
We shouldn’t therefore be surprised to see enterprises preferring to build their own private Internet of Things — or more properly, an intranet of things — while they get comfortable with the technology and practice of IoT. But will these private intranets of things persist? However durable they may seem at present, history suggests the public network will win out in the long term.

Internet of fogs

In meteorology, when the cloud meets the ground you get a fog. So in computing terms, some vendors have advanced the theory that when the cloud descends on a network of physical devices, you end up with a localized cloud surrounding them — what Cisco, for example, calls Fog Computing.
These localized pockets of fog computing have some processing capability on hand which avoids having to send streams of raw data somewhere else for processing. Instead, the data can be analyzed locally and pertinent results or alerts are sent off to the parent cloud.
It makes a lot of sense to move the processing closer to the data where that’s possible. This kind of edge processing and analytics has lower latency and reduces bandwidth consumption and costs. However there is a danger that you end up with an Internet made up of lots of separate, localized fogs that cannot easily talk to each other.
Whether it’s Cisco, Huawei, Intel, Google, Siemens, GE or any of the many others seeking to capture IoT mindshare and market, buyers should be wary. Whatever the tactical arguments in its favor, fog computing is often also a strategy for tying an enterprise’s intranets of things into a proprietary landscape belonging to the vendor. You might just as well call it FUD computing (where FUD stands for the tried-and-tested technology marketing ploy of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about competitors’ offerings).
While edge processing is clearly going to be a very important attribute of the Internet of Things, it would be a mistake to carve up the cloudscape into a collection of localized fog computing islands that make it difficult for individual nodes to interact across the cloud. To understand why, we should drill down into three separate layers that collectively make up the Internet of Things.

Internet of sensors

This is the defining foundation layer of the Internet of Things. It stems from our new-found ability to connect physical devices to the network and instrument them so they can communicate their condition, or to add sensors that monitor the environment around them.
We are seeing very strong adoption of this technology in manufacturing — what companies such as GE call the Industrial Internet. It is rapidly taking hold in manufacturing plants, where many of the machines in use are already computer controlled.
There’s an overlap here with an older, related technology called M2M (machine-to-machine), which is about machines interacting automatically. IoT goes much further than merely automating existing interactions. It’s worth reading my diginomica colleague Derek Du Preez on the differences between M2M and IoT and the importance of innovation on an IoT foundation.
When we look at places like a manufacturing plant, or a domestic home, security of the Internet of Things becomes an important consideration because there are privacy and safety considerations. This is one reason why concepts like intranets and fogs come into the conversation, but it’s important to remember that most intrusion episodes happen because the device maker has assumed the local network is safe. In a connected world, proper security starts from the principle that no network can be fully trusted, and therefore there is little to gain from subdividing the cloud. Every communication must be individually secured and verified.
Sensors and instrumentation, along with Internet connectivity, make up this foundation layer. Thanks to this layer, we have more data than ever before about the machines we use and the environment they and we exist in.

Internet of smart devices

It is the addition of intelligence that brings the Internet of Things to life (perhaps all too literally,one day in the future, but let’s not go there today).
Whereas the first layer added sensors and instrumentation, this layer brings processing power to analyze and harness the data being collected. Not every IoT device is smart. But the Internet of Things needs smart devices distributed around it to share the load of data collection, filtering and analysis.
Much of this processing work will be performed collaboratively. For example, a machine will have smarts built in so that it can process the data its instruments collect, but it will receive updates from the cloud to its algorithms and programs that allow it to change or enhance the way it examines and analyzes the data. It will report or log data with aggregation systems in the cloud that look for new patterns or exceptions across multiple devices.
In many cases, there will be smart devices in the IoT ecosystem whose primary role is to process and analyze data. These may be dedicated controller devices that remain in situ or they may be part of a user-facing mobile device such as a wearable, a mobile phone or tablet, or a vehicle. Smart devices will often have permissions to connect to new systems as they make themselves known and contribute different sets of data or results as required by the applications they host. This is a benign version of the ‘fog computing’ we mentioned earlier — localized IoT activity, but using open standards.
The ability to collaborate with new devices or in new ways is a prime reason for keeping the Internet of Things open, or at least for minimizing the number of different standards in play. Of course, intelligence can also play a role in negotiating the idiosyncracies of different protocols and specifications so diversity is not an insurmountable barrier. But one of the other lessons of technology history is that you can do a lot more than you’d think with the basic languages of the Internet such as TCP/IP and HTTP. Keeping things as simple as possible usually wins out in the end.

Internet of mobile apps

The final layer of this three-tier topology is the mobile applications layer. Not mobile in the sense of running on a mobile device, but mobile in the sense of being able to run on multiple devices. Instead of being physically contained within a single device, a truly mobile app can transfer its activity from one device to another, and acts across all the relevant devices and sensors it has access to.
This is the layer where the most innovation is destined to occur, provided it is able to operate within a horizontally integrated stack where a) individual applications can run on the widest possible range of smart devices and b) those smart devices can access the broadest possible array of connected sensors and machines.
In every wave of computing, we’ve seen a battle play out between vertical integration, which individual vendors promote because it gives them proprietary advantage, and horizontal integration, which maximizes participation and therefore yields the most rapid and extensive innovation.
The argument in favor of vertical integration is that a single vendor can deliver better performance when it controls the stack from top to bottom. We hear this argument very strongly at the moment from mobile device makers. It’s an argument that has merit if you know what you’re aiming to optimize for.
But at this early stage in the evolution of the Internet of Things, we have no idea where all of these emerging technologies and connective capabilities will lead us. We need to accelerate evolution, not hold it back, and the only way to do that is to promote a simple, open architecture that allows for rapid, iterative experimentation. Let the applications flourish, and we will ultimately discover what we can achieve in the Internet of Things.

Brands might want to revisit mobile app strategies


Dive Brief:

  • Branded mobile apps tend to fall into one of two categories: either designed to engage with prospects and customers, or designed to improve business processes.
  • Given an overall lack of mobile app development talent, and the difficultly of grabbing consumer’s limited mobile app attention span, using apps to improve business processes might be a better approach to the tech for brands.
  • However, a recent Forrester Research report finds that using mobile apps to improve processes is a better bet for most brands, and the report makes the challenge evident right in the title: "Your Customers Will Not Download Your App."

Dive Insight:

When creating branded mobile apps, companies often have to engage with external talent to develop the apps because of a lack of internal resources, and typically create the app to address two different business issues.
The Forrester research recognizes that most people only engage with a limited number of mobile apps, based on the need to find specific information. Forrester call these interactions "mobile moments," and encourages businesses to make the most of these "moments" based on users' data consumption habits.
Another challenge brands face with mobile apps is that the typical KPI tracking success for the app is number of downloads, while that metric doesn’t really reflect if the app is being used on a regular basis. The metric, thus, doesn't measure for engagement with the desired audience. 
“Owning mobile moments equates to owning at least a part of the customer relationship,” the report reads. “These moments can be monetized or, in the case of e-business professionals, used to serve your customers in their moments of need.”

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Here’s why the Internet of Things is going to change everything you do

Google's Nest Thermostat is one example of a normal appliance given smart capabilities, but that's only the beginning.
Google's Nest Thermostat is one example of a normal appliance given smart capabilities, but that's only the beginnin
IF YOU HEARD about the Internet of Things before, it’s understandable if you glossed over it as the term has been around for a while.
It’s a sector that’s been bubbling underneath for a few years now, but this years has seen a huge push from some of the major players in the technology space. Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung are just some of the companies that are muscling their way into the area.
It’s going to impact everyone’s lives sooner or later as more items and industries adapt it and chances are you might own something that has these capabilities.
Ok, so what exactly *is* the internet of things (IoT)?
IoT is where machines and devices can talk to each other to carry out actions without human input. By using WiFi or 3G/4G, sensors and software, they can exchange information with each other improving their usefulness and efficiency.
In layman’s terms, it’s making traditional objects like your thermostat, fridge, oven, and TV smarter by giving them extra functionality, so you can interact with them remotely and they can learn from this so it better suits your needs.
Currently, a number of devices you use in your day-to-day life are designed with smart capabilities in mind. Your smartphone, your PC/Mac, your console, maybe your TV. That number is going to grow and will include items you would never have associated with the web. But these are siloed and at best link to one item (eg: smartphone and smartwatch or fitness tracker).
IoT will give those items, the mundane, everyday ones you use, extra intelligence so they serve you better. It’s not a case of just slapping WiFi connected capabilities to it for the sake of it (although some might feel that way), the end goal is to make them more useful by learning your preferences.
Ok, so why should I be thinking about it now?
If for no other reason, devices you’re going to buy over the next few years will come with this functionality. For now, you have to specifically look for specific devices if you want smart capabilities and for now, the majority of them are controlled through your smartphone.
In the future, items like your smartphone, your TV, thermostat, fridge, washing machine, oven and car could be communicating with each other, and sharing information to make each other more efficient. Your car could tell your thermostat you’re on the way home so it would warm the house up for your arrival for example.
Ok, how about some example of items already available?
Well, to start off with the home itself, you have Nest, a smart thermostat which learns through your own input to get the right temperature for you and help save your heating bill. Then there are others like Philips has a smart lightbulb which adjusts lighting and/or hue from your phone or tablet as well as set preferred settings.

A smart lightbulb? How riveting!
Glad you feel that way. But the real potential is what happens beyond the home. For example, one of the major areas looked at right now are vehicles. The majority of cars are left stationary and have enough energy to run different functions while they’re in this state.
Some of the potential uses include using them as WiFi hotspots, or an emergency response service where sensors will activate when it senses an accident or gas leak and alerts the relevant authorities. Other cars could communicate with each other and share this info, giving authorities a better idea of the situation.
In an industrial context, prototyping, manufacturing and development can end up being more efficient since different manufacturing devices, which don’t even have to be in the same area, can communicate with each other.
And even areas you wouldn’t consider like health (think fitness trackers), town policy and planning, and farming. For the latter, keeping track of livestock and crops, analysing conditions like crops, soil, temperature, humidity and other factors to determine the best time to plant and harvest crops as well as improving productivity and reducing waste could help increase output and make the process more efficient.
The real question isn’t what areas it will impact, it’s what areas won’t be affected by this development.
So what are the issues facing IoT?
One problem is most of these devices don’t communicate with each other, only your phone.
For that, there needs to be a common language which allows these devices to communicate with each other. That’s where companies like Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are trying to enter the market.
It’s no good having such functionality if they’re unable to talk, and by acting as the middleman, these companies hope to become the lynchpin for these devices to chat to each other.
Google Androids Next Tricks
Google is one of the companies trying to get into the IoT industry. Its platform Brillo and its common language Weave will connect different devices together.
Great, but I mean real issues like security? More devices must mean more chances for compromise, right? 
It’s a massive problem and to be honest, the likelihood of a major breach happening is high since (a) there’s no such thing as airtight security, especially online, and (b) we won’t truly know what flaws surround IoT devices until they’re exposed. When a major incident occurs, it will cause everyone to reassess their security measures, but until then, we won’t learn much.
Back in March, we spoke to Bitdefender’s senior threat analyst Bogdan Botezatu about this and since we’re still in the very early stages, it means there are a few incidents just waiting to happen.
We’re at version one [with smart devices] and version one is always prone to failure. We’re going to see a lot of incidents in this space from the early adopters [and there's] going to be an incident so massive, it’s going to make everybody do better with their security.
Until then, I don’t think that vendors are going to give too much thought on the security side… I’m looking forward to that mistake to happen sooner rather than later as it’s going to be less data exposed.
This becomes more striking when you consider the words of Misha Glenny, a British journalist who specialises in cybersecurity, back in 2011 which are more relevant now than they were before.
A friend of mine from the security industry told me the other day that there are two types of companies in the world: those that know they’ve been hacked, and those that don’t.
As more connections are added to our devices, this problem is only going to grow.
(sigh) Anything else we need to know?
The other issue that ties into this is privacy. Most people will feel a little creeped out by the idea of numerous devices gathering different information and sharing them with each other (and possibly the companies responsible for said devices). While the initial purpose is to make all items more efficient, they also come with their own concerns, some more legitimate than others.
For example, the controversy surrounding Facebook Messenger on phones and Samsung’s Smart TVs proves that there is a lot of distrust among these services. As these items require data to properly function, it’s more important than ever that consumers know exactly what’s required and how that data is used.
So what you’re really saying is keep as many dumb items as you possibly can?
Maybe not that extreme, but it’s important to note that such a future isn’t as immediate as one might think.
There are smart items but there’s no real ecosystem built around them yet, but over time, more will arrive on the market so it’s worth keeping in mind. It will gradually happen over time so so it’s better to be aware of it at least.

The Science of Mobile Game Marketing

Two years ago, I stepped into the mobile games market when I joined Planeto in Malmö, Sweden. With more than 5 million downloads, Planeto is a leader in knowledge-based mobile gaming. The experience at Planeto has changed me as a product creator and marketer.
Like many of my Scandinavian tech colleagues, I come from the planet where they build mobile phones. One step up the software stack to apps did not seem like a huge leap, especially as Planeto develops games for smartphones. As it turns out, one of the most talented game designers in Southern Scandinavia took me to a planet that was significantly different.
This is part two of a three part series on battle insights by a mobile game CEO.

Living in a World of Algorithms

In my first blog post, I addressed the development of the magical gameplay loop, a process that involves human beings at a very fundamental level working with basic needs like happiness, competition, and the urge to progress. In stark contrast, the marketing of mobile games hardly involves any human beings at all.
The mobile gaming market is at the extreme end of the digital revolution. In other industries, there is an existing physical distribution and marketing channel that gently slows down the product life cycle. There are fashion shows ever so often. There are retailers, who stock up on new items once in a while. In mobile game distribution and marketing, there are no physical inventories. There are just algorithms and a furious pace.
In a world of appfication, anyone involved in product creation and marketing needs to understand the basics of algorithm-driven marketing. That is where we are heading.

Starting with the App Store

Most people find apps by browsing the App Store or Google Play. A close second is recommendations from friends and family. People across the globe discover games in those two ways. It is as simple as that.
Apple and Google have not disclosed how their search algorithms work, but app marketers suggest the following parameters have an impact:
  1. Title
  2. Keywords
  3. Rating value & numbers
  4. Downloads over time
Title and keyword optimization is a topic on its own. Let us instead explore how rating and downloads can be improved.

Getting Your 4+ Star Rating by Beating the Algorithm

If you have read my first post about the magical gameplay loop, then you already know that perfecting the gameplay loop is crucial to creating a good game. In most cases, a good game does not automatically guarantee a good review. Customers will give you a one star rating for many different reasons: connection errors, strange chat messages from other players, tiny features that they do not like, etc. Often bad reviews do not contain any text – just a single star, a negative impact on your ranking, and a customer that rapidly moves on to the next app.
To avoid the info-less one star review, you need to take the pace out of the rating algorithm by implementing a funnel system that leads customers to the right place. The objective is to get only happy customers, who are willing to spend time on your app, to leave reviews. Unhappy customers, who are also willing to spend time on your app, send you an email with their issues instead. Quite a simple change that actually provides much more valuable info – you may find the details here.
Boom… first small victory against the algorithms. :-)

Cross-promotion is a Friendly Face in the Sea of Algorithms

Once you have your ratings sorted out, the next step is to drive downloads. By far the easiest and cheapest way to drive downloads is to cross-promote in your existing games. This is of course not an option for first-time developers, who instead should be thinking of including mechanisms to cross-promote the next game. Never think of your business as a one game business. We have successfully used Appboy in all our products, and it works wonders for us. Chartboost is another option.
Create your own friendly faces!

Living with the User Acquisition Algorithms

If you do not have a successful app already, then you need to follow the painful path of acquiring new users. No friendly faces here. It all comes down to math. The basic equation you need to be aware of is this:
Average Cost Per Install (CPI) < Average Life-Time-Value (LTV) * k-factor
LTV can be calculated in many different ways, but in simple terms, it can be thought of as Average Revenue Per Daily Active User (ARPDAU) * Average retention in days. K-factor is the number of users invited by each new player. If your CPI is $2, your LTV is $1, and each player invites another player (k-factor = 2), then you are break-even.
As such, the concept is simple, but it explodes rapidly. There are hundreds of different advertising channels to use and hence CPI never stands still. ARPDAU is easy to calculate on a given day for all your users, but as soon as you break it down into segments/cohorts (time, advertising channel, segments, geo, etc.) it becomes very complex fast.
Very few developers win in their fight with the UA algorithms. This is truly a scary beast. Experiment with UA, but do not get carried away, until you have a winning formula. In general, nothing is 100% guaranteed. The formula might work for one geographical area and might be totally inoperative for another.

Apple Recognizes the Challenges with Algorithms

Over the last couple of years, the big game developers and publishers have gotten bigger and customers struggle to find new games – however good they are. Apple has been trying to curb the negative side effects of the App Store algorithms by including more editorial content. The aim is to promote quality games by letting human beings select the games that gets most visibility in the App Store. That has sparked an entirely new set of recommendations on how to get featured by Apple. Google stays true to its roots and is still working to solve the quality versus quantity issue with algorithms.
In a market where there are only two relevant stores, I am not sure I feel completely at ease with the thought that the storeowners decide what goes on the shelves. It drives up the bargaining power of those storeowners to new heights.

Optimizing Your Advertising Revenue by Playing Algorithms Against Each Other

Getting plenty of downloads is only one-half of a successful game. The other half is revenue. Most first-time F2P (Free to Play) game developers make the mistake of implementing their own advertising solution with one or two advertising networks. This does not work and it will hurt you badly, if your game makes it through the noise and becomes successful.
You need an ad mediation layer from the get-go – an algorithm that allows you to fight all the other ad algorithms for you. More about revenue options in the third and final blog post of the series.

…and That is Only the Beginning

I have not touched on keyword optimization, user engagement campaigns (i.e. how do you convert users from free to paying users), user acquisition tracking, k-factor optimization (i.e. how do you get users to invite other users), and retention funnels. For each of these areas, there are plenty of algorithms to learn and speak.
To make your apps successful you need to take on the algorithms that govern the marketing and distribution of games. As a rule of thumb (and to set your developers’ expectations right), it is reasonable to budget with 50% of a quality free-2-play game development project being on components (in-house or 3rd party) that does not relate to the actual gameplay loop.
We all love to work on the magical gameplay loop – it is truly rewarding – but the right infrastructure components allows you to take advantage of the algorithms. Do not underestimate the power of the algorithms.