Being close to both indie developers and corporations who are active in the mobile space, I come across many varied and interesting questions. If you have a question similar to the below, then read on – I might be able to offer you some advice;
“Mobile ad networks seem to be pretty fragmented. What are the top five most effective ad networks for iOS and Android to drive app downloads and/or installs in the US?”
“What is the best ad network for advertising iOS apps and generating downloads cost-effectively?”
“What are the various ad platforms (avenues) to drive app downloads?”
Due to the very clear problems that developers face with app discoverability, there are a number of entrepreneurs and companies trying to solve these issues, and to be honest it’s a bit of a jungle out there in the race to give developers of all sizes a platform to gain awareness and traction for the products they work so hard to create.
I wanted to write this post to give companies of all sizes, as well as individuals a clear understanding of the platforms that are available and more importantly, what they should expect from them.
I wanted to write a brief synopsis on the App Store’s top performers of late.
Who are they? Let’s name a few. To start with, there’s Supercell, a Finnish start-up company that gave us two chart-topping games, Hay Day and Clash of Clans. The top grossing game, Clash of Clans, outperformed its competitors in the strategy games department. And its opponents, so to speak, were not exactly all amateurs. What was the game plan?
Video, banner and interstitial ads are display marketing strategies which are all intended to persuade users to take action be it in the form of a sale or a request for more information. Marketing objectives have a lot to do with the selection of which type of ad to employ. But all types must be carefully crafted so as not to be ruled out as irrelevant by the target audience. It also helps to align your online advertising strategies toward the direction of your targeted visitor’s eyeballs.
In the language of Internet marketing, conversion translates to the action initiated by a visitor’s interaction with the ad in question. Online ads may come in the form of video, banner or interstitial presentations of a product, service or offer. They may be subtle or direct requests aimed at target audiences who are persuaded to convert into buyers or visitors. Conversion success is relative among content creators, marketers and advertisers.
As with everything I do, there’s always an element of risk attached. That risk comes in many forms; financial, emotional and also in the form of sacrificed pride.
I genuinely believe that every business or product I create has the potential to become the next big thing and perhaps it’s the adrenaline that comes with it which continues to fuel my drive for an entrepreneurial lifestyle.
As regular readers will know, I usually write about the three things I like to think I have some expertise in; mobile, social media and some weird s^%!…
Recently though, I have spoken at a number of different venues in a relatively short period of time so I wanted to tailor this post to highlight these experiences.
I absolutely love meeting people from all over the world because it gives me the opportunity to understand, and listen to so many different perspectives on a variety of topics that are of interest to me.
Working in publishing appears to be a very hostile environment, especially as data and logic has created a worldwide acceptance that print circulation is naturally declining. Every single news publisher (and I speak for everyone who is in publishing) has a ticking time bomb.
Since the App Store launched, I have been working hard in the industry to make an impact – I’ve met incredible people and I have heard about some unbelievable achievements from people who don’t want the limelight.
It’s been fascinating to watch the growth and tactics used by both indie developers and well established corporations to gain traction throughout the last few years. The only commonality that has remained is the fact that absolutely no one, big or small is playing by the rules.
New, lucrative markets will always be exploited.
Mobile Mafia is an exclusive community where only hand-picked individuals are granted access. The group contains the world’s most successful mobile entrepreneurs and hackers, who maintain their anonymity.
These people are very happy to remain in the grey area. They’re content with working behind the scenes because it allows them to create influence and opportunity in an industry which has grown from $0 to an expected $25bn in 2013.
If you want to become successful on any App Store, these are the people you need to get to know.
For the people reading this who have seen the title and wondering what ‘lean‘ is, let me give you a quick introduction, in fact read the below, which are the words from the man who invented the lean methodology.
“The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers’ hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development.
Too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want. They then spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very rudimentary form, to the prospective customer. When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. When customers ultimately communicate, through their indifference, that they don’t care about the idea, the startup fails.”
The process looks like this;
I believe ‘The Lean Startup’ should actually be rephrased or reinvented as just ‘The Lean ???’. For the remainder of this post, I’ll tell you why lean isn’t just applicable for start ups and entrepreneurs pursuing a dream, it’s adaptable and it can be used very effectively in a corporation.
For the last year, I have been working with NewsInternational, specifically with the product team which has been rebuilt from the ground up, led by Nick Bell (Director of Digital Consumer Products), Xen Lategan (Ex CTO) and Paul Cheesbrough (Now CTO at NewsCorp). Three others who have been part of the cataclysmic shift who have been instrumental in the change of direction and formation of the team are, Chris Lewis (Head of Product Management for The Sun), Paul Jackson (Head of Product Management for The Times) & Cat Smith (Head of Digital Products).
No one in my team has been in their role at the company for more than a year, there are a few exceptions but even then their role has changed significantly since day one. Needless to say, it’s vibrant, it’s been difficult at times but it’s also been rewarding to see a structure that you helped create become formalized into a working process.
When I first joined, it was all very new and a bit of a blur – Having been involved in start ups (see my timeline) from a young age I felt like it was important for me to experience life in a corporation because ultimately, when a start up becomes successful, it turns into a corporation. To be able to say I have experienced corporate life at one of the biggest companies in the world is invaluable. Personally for me I believe the biggest positive for me has been the network effect. I have met some truly remarkable and talented people who are determined and focussed on making a difference. The reality though is that it’s just as hard to make a significant difference or create a revolution in a corporation as it is launching and building a successful start up. I’m in a position to say this because I have tried both.
At twenty years old, I was the youngest employee at a relatively senior level in our product group. Making the decision to join a corporate was a very difficult one. I have mentors and more importantly I have investors who backed me in my early teenage years. I’m lucky I have great people who work and help me realize my visions because it’s quite unusual to get that type of flexibility, so when my investors said I would benefit from it time in a corporation, I listened to them and accepted the role. The experience has definitely made me a better person and a more accomplished individual.
I was the only person I know of who can say that at the time of employment I had a foot in both the start up world and the corporate one. This is a massive bonus and the fact I had the opportunity to pursue both made me much more of an asset.
Having adopted the lean methodology for a lot of my start up businesses I was excited when it was announced that the folks from LeanStartUpMachine would be coming to London to teach and guide the team and I at NewsInternational about adopting the lean methodology for product development.
This was a while ago, and I deliberately held off form writing this post because I wanted to see if the effects and lessons that the team and I learnt would be put into place at N.I.
Traditionally, as with any corporation, any new idea takes a painfully long time to reach fruition.
On day one when I joined I had crystal clear deliverables, we had a feature focused roadmap which we had to stick to – if we didn’t deliver, heads roll. (Somehow I survived).
However, after the wider organisation started to understand ‘Lean’, things changed.
It took a while but eventually the roadmap was reworked. Any feature we had originally thought of implementing was now looked at with a completely different perspective; Why are we doing this feature? What’s the problem we are trying to solve?
Our roadmap has fundamentally changed; our vision is very clear but everything else in between is a variable. It’s now all subject to change and many of what we previously thought may work, usually becomes invalidated.this been validated? What are our assumptions?
One of the most important things I believe Lean does for a corporation is dampen and extinguish noise. A major problem I faced in my early days was pushing an idea through to a reality. There was always someone in the corporate chain that disagreed or thought that feature ‘x’ should look different. It was a difficult period for me because it’s product creation that gets me up in the morning. If I don’t launch products or create things, I lost energy and motivation. In the early days, things went round and round until the ‘moment’ had passed or a start up launched something similar. We’d then ditch the idea and move onto the next ‘big’ thing which of course took a very similar approach to the last time – things very rarely materialized.
Now, we’re at a point where everything we do has clear reasoning. There are no more opinions. Opinions are assumptions and unless a stakeholder has validated what they think, their input is invalid.
Not only does the Lean approach stop noise, it saves a huge amount of cost for a corporation. Before this, we launched features, which would take up valuable resource and lots of time. We’d push something having invested heavily in it just to find that no one wants it. If we had been a start up launching that product or feature, we would of fallen flat on our face. Just because we have the funding to make expensive mistakes doesn’t mean we care any less. If there are steps we can take to increase our success rate, we should do it.
Whilst I believe Lean works in a corporation, I would argue that there is a fundamental difference between a start up founder using the theory and a corporate practicing it.
Start Ups are unproven. They haven’t made their mark in the world yet whereas corporations have. For a corporation that needs to explore new avenues in order to increase user acquisition and revenue, taking up a challenger approach, acting like a start up and validating assumptions is without a doubt a worthwhile exercise.
For Start Ups, sometimes you need to take a leap, people sometimes don’t know they have a problem until you discover it for them and as Seth Godin wrote; “Sure you can test the testable, but the real victories come from launching the untestable”.
We are now working on a number of products simultaneously and all of our new feature sets and product direction is scoped by user validation. Our user validation starts from speaking to a commuter on a bus reading on their iPad to someone walking by the office. It’s this type of feedback which you can’t buy. You can go to countless agencies and ask for user panels to test with, but it’s the spontaneous, unbiased validation that’s crucial in proving or disproving a riskiest assumption.
We have some fascinating products in the pipeline which have been born out of the lean program. It’s going to be really interesting from the corporations perspective to see how well these perform. As with everything that is new, people dislike the change but if what we preach becomes successful – it’s going to be interesting to see how this shapes other product teams in publishing.
We recently launched Sun Smile, a very simple application that took two weeks to take from an idea to reality. Rewind one year, that would never have happened.
Sun Smile has not been live long, and it’s only available on a limited basis – but it’s proven to match what we want we had anticipated, and surpass it. We had a nice influx of media coverage around the launch and the public response has been great. The idea stemmed from a wider marketing campaign we were undertaking, but the concept was born from speaking with the public: “How are you feeling?”, “What did you read today?”…the list continues. The pace that idea moved was down to lean.
For the executives and directors reading this, if I were to summarize what Lean has done for me, and what it can do in a corporation in just three main points, it would be this;
- Save Cost
- Erase Noise
- Improve Product Velocity
These three points lead to one thing: An increased success percentage.
Technology is a very fast paced industry, and I believe that costs and company size are proportionate values; the older a company gets, the more expensive it becomes to run.
Corporations who pride themselves on the products they launch need to move fast because individuals and start ups are able to move much faster. Even though most of them lack the resource, they are capable of disruption. As a corporation, you have the resource so if you move fast – you can become just as innovative.
Whilst I believe the lean methodology should be adapted and it’s taken a little while to customize it to suit an already established corporation. I don’t believe others that say lean is just one mans thoughts. I believe, it’s a movement, and it’s a movement that is happening with or without you.
If you want to get educated about Lean Methodology, reach out to Trevor Owens (CEO of TheLeanStartupMachine.com) or Adam Berk (A talented entrepreneur who focuses on lean).
You can’t afford to miss out. Be engaged and start validating.