Comment & Opinion

Retention is the new UA, reckons Outfit7

Beyond installs

Retention is the new UA, reckons Outfit7

On 15 December 2015, the Mobile Monetization Summit will take place in Tel Aviv.

This year the summit hosts many game publishers who will share their user acquisition and advertising strategies and one of the key speakers is Dilpesh Parmar, Director of Advertising Operations at Outfit7.

The founder of the summit, Ofir Leitner, sat down for a short interview with him.

Hi Dilpesh, can you start by telling us what you do at Outfit7, and what is on your desk these days?

I assist in the management of the day-to-day ad monetization of Outfit7's properties, which means managing our third party ad networks relationships. I'm also heavily involved in the strategy and execution of our ad mediation business.

Currently we are working on a number of new formats but, unsurprisingly, "Video" is dominating our conversations with our partners.

Video presents a unique but challenging medium for both Mobile Developers and Advertisers. I believe as Video budgets starts to flow from TV to Mobile, there will be interesting developments in Mobile in the next 12-18 months.

Outfit7 has recently passed the 3B downloads mark - what do you think is the secret sauce that made it happen?

It's a combination of many factors. The Talking Tom and Friends apps center on fun, slapstick comedy.

The characters are fully interactive, allowing users to engage in two-way conversations, which they can then share on Facebook and YouTube.

Our family-friendly apps have a strong emphasis on entertainment and allow for self-expression, as the user becomes the creator of their own content. The functionality appeals to all ages and demographics while also transcending language barriers.

The strength of the Talking Tom characters themselves has enabled them to travel beyond the second screen.
Dilpesh Parmar

The strength of the characters themselves has enabled them to travel beyond the second screen.

Now a phenomenon on YouTube, all content relating to the franchise's 3D animated series - including full episodes, trailers and minisodes - have drawn in over 300 million online views.

How much of the success of Outfit7, or for that matter any mobile app/game maker would you attribute to the actual product, and how much to smart advertising, user acquisition and discovery?

In order to be successful in the mobile app/game market, you've got to execute product, monetization and user acquisition equally and simultaneously. For example, to have success from the off, you need to ensure that your ad monetization strategy is incorporated into the product at launch, and acquire users smartly.

The simple fact is that the users you have today might be gone by tomorrow, because there are millions of new apps to be discovered. Having a product that can retain users will ultimately prove a recipe for success in the long run.

Last year Bee7 spun out of Outfit7 - what led to that move? Do you see such spinoff as a trend for big publishers in the near future?

The Bee7 technology contributed to Outfit7's success in cross promotion and retention. With this technology, expertise and global network already in place it made perfect sense to offer this solution to other developers.

Retention is the new "UA" for game developers whereby increasing retention is getting more and more important for publishers to make sure they maximise their UA efforts in the long term.

We seem to have gotten the timing right. Developers are shifting their focus to strategies that extend the value of their investment in user acquisition and monetisation. Bee7's native rewarded re-engagement solution is designed to drive retention and re-engagement - both of which are key KPI's for sustaining monetization.

We're already seeing other publishers and service providers in the industry build and expand on their core areas of expertise. I won't be surprised if this continues to be a trend.

I noticed that you do a lot of cross promotion between your games - with what I can only call "extremely native ads" in which a character from another game pops for a visit - what is the uptake you see on that?

Without going into too much detail, using our characters to cross promote other apps has proven really successful; you only have to look at our downloads (3 billion to-date) to see that it's proving a winning formula for us.

We believe our users/consumers trust our brand and recognize our characters; hence whenever there is a new piece of content to be pushed, the uptake is far better than what we see through other channels.

With CPI costs always on the rise, do you see any real alternatives to paid user acquisition?

The cost of user acquisition doesn't always need to be hefty if you invest smartly and look for interesting ways to acquire users.

Build your monetization, both advertising and IAP, right from the start of the app's development.
Dilpesh Parmar

For example, there are a number of companies that offer exchange programmes, whereby a publisher trades their inventory to advertise another publisher's app, and vice-versa. Therefore, you don't always have to spend big money to acquire users.

Is there a golden tip you'd give to publishers that want to advertise the game, but are still not in the big league, and have less budget to spend? How can they get the biggest bang for their buck?

The one tip I always try to advice other publishers/developers is build your monetization, both advertising and in app purchases (IAP), right from the start of the app's development.

This allows a publisher/developer to recycle the money earned from monetization back into user acquisition.

It is also important to find a good app tracking company to help ensure your buck goes a long way. App tracking is not a perfect science, so I'd always recommend that a publisher/developer challenges the app tracking company when things don't look right. But as an industry, we're getting much better at app tracking.

Next month you'll be speaking at the Mobile Monetization Summit in Tel Aviv. Will this be your first trip to Israel? If so - what are your expectations?

Yes, this will be my first trip to Tel Aviv. I'm really looking forward seeing many of the partners we work with from this region, and speaking to potential new ones.

Over the past 3-4 years Israel has seen a huge rise in ad tech companies. In fact, many of our partners are running global operations from Israel, and I wouldn't be surprised if these tech companies are at the forefront of solving some of the challenges currently facing the Mobile industry.

And to sum up, what do you think are the challenges of the industry for the next couple of years?

Even though we have seen seismic growth in Mobile over the past few years, brand advertisers are still not taking the opportunity to invest on Mobile to its full potential.

I constantly get asked from brand advertisers how they can attribute users across devices and platforms. If and when this is resolved, it will certainly unlock a lot more brand dollars. Having said that, there are many cross device companies that are at the cutting edge of technology who are undoubtedly getting closer to this goal.

Video technology - be it in-stream, interstitial, native or rewarded - also needs to converge. Currently the technology needed to run Video is patchy for both advertisers and publishers: publishers have to stitch together different technologies in order to run some of these video formats, while advertisers/agencies also face difficulty buying media, due to the fragmented nature of video supply and technology.

Finally, the consequence of more Brand investment also means that user acquisition could become more expensive in the future. I see this as a crucial balancing act in the future.

Dilpesh Pramar will speak at the Mobile Monetization Summit and participate among the rest in the "Is mobile video the new King?" panel.

You can find out more details at regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.