Comment & Opinion

How we enjoy using plenty of mobile SDKs and still keep our app under control

How we enjoy using plenty of mobile SDKs and still keep our app under control

Jesse Hurwitz is Senior Director of Monetisation Products at Jump Ramp Games and Ayala Rudoy is Strategic Customers Director at SafeDK.

Considered one of the fastest growing mobile-first media brands, Lucktastic, a Jump Ramp company, is the leader in delivering innovative promotions, rewards and interactive entertainment experiences to millions of mobile users across the US.

Through turnkey and custom advertising solutions, Lucktastic provides advertisers the unprecedented opportunity to connect with a highly-engaged and valuable audience across multiple platforms.

Lucktastic also delivers compelling content across a variety of categories and serves its audience 24/7/365 – providing an unparalleled user experience and easy access to the features and activities its fans know and love.

Strategically placed advertising opportunities within the user experience are specifically designed to increase brand awareness and activate audiences. These include:

  • Cross-platform opportunities across mobile, social, online and email
  • High impact ad units including interactive display and digital video
  • Large scale live events across social media
  • Seasonal sponsorship opportunities
  • Data-driven audience targeting
  • Custom client solutions

The tech team at Lucktastic has never been shy about using multiple SDKs, because they help improve the app and its revenue without having to spend countless hours on developing solutions in-house.

However, there isn’t gain without pain and using third-party services within an app can take its toll. By integrating foreign code, the app is exposed to multiple risks, which can highly impact user experience and revenue metrics.

First impressions are very important, especially in an environment that focuses heavily on entertaining content.

Additionally, adding “another SDK” is a hassle, but the risks after integration aren’t discussed enough. The Lucktastic team wanted to share their experience in the hopes of helping other developers become more aware of the challenges and possible solutions.

Here are some of the aspects of SDKs the team recommends when using multiple SDKs to avoid back-end technical challenges within an app.

The importance of first impressions

First impressions are very important, especially in an environment that focuses heavily on entertaining content.

In the app world this begins with how long it takes for an app to launch. Integrating multiple SDKs requires an app to not only initialise its own components, but the SDKs as well. And the initialisation of SDKs can slow down the app start time substantially.

Having said that, when the app is dependent on these SDKs working properly, sometimes you have no choice but to keep users waiting a little longer. It is important to understand and take into account how many milliseconds or even seconds each SDK is adding to the launch time of the app.

When mobile SDKs crash the app

Crashes happen and developers try to avoid them as much as possible, because they cause churn and directly impact a user’s LTV.

Using crash reporting SDKs is almost a given, but more often than not crashes in the app are not the app’s fault. Usually, a tech team can figure out that a crash is due to an SDK and if it is that team is dependent on the third-party SDK to fix it. The hope is that support will be responsive and the issue will be resolved quickly.

If a problem persists for too long and affects users, developers are faced with a tough decision. On the one hand, a team has likely gone through the lengths of integrating an SDK and on the other, a positive user experience needs to be maintained.

One option is to release a quick update without the SDK until given a fix and hope the majority of the users will update the app quickly. However removal isn’t always an easy task and neither is reintegration.

Either way, the problem consumes both time, resources and risks user’ retention.

It’s all about the ads

Lucktastic serves an average of 15 ads per session, so it’s crucial to make sure that the experience of watching each and every ad is flawless. Doing so can be challenging at times, because most apps work with third-party ad delivery technologies.

In some cases getting complete transparency on the ads users see and how they experience them is an impossible mission. Some of the issues that many apps deal with are blacklist violations and long latency before the user can watch an ad.

It’s always crucial to understand what lies within and to be able to track, monitor and control the SDKs that have been integrated.

There are many more reasons where transparency on the ads is important, but it all comes down to the fact that without it you lose control over monetisation and user experience.

One dashboard to rule them all

On the hunt to find a solution, the team at Lucktastic wanted to integrate and use several tools, and luckily found a solution that addressed the issues described above and then some.

Lucktastic has been using SafeDK’s SDK management solution for almost a year now and is extremely happy to have made that decision.

In one dashboard you can easily monitor the impact of each SDK on your app, which ads and campaigns are running in the app and how your users saw them. You can even deactivate SDKs in case of a critical bug or privacy issue. SafeDK alerts the team whenever there’s an issue and provides complete transparency on what happens within the app.

Using the solution helped Lucktastic improve in-app metrics such as start time by more than a second, latency issues (discovered and solved a 0.5 second gap), identify blacklist violations and other ad issues, be aware of all private information access by third-parties and quickly solve crashes that were caused by an SDK without having to submit a new version to the stores.

The bottom line is that it helped the team regain control over the app and its entire user experience.

Your app, your control

There are a lot of great advantages to using third-party SDKs, especially in a mobile app like Lucktastic.

They help enrich the app with great capabilities at speed and allow the team to spend the majority of their time improving the product and retention metrics.

But it’s always crucial to understand what lies within and to be able to track, monitor and control the SDKs that have been integrated.

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