Interview

Big publishers have broken user acquisition but ApEngage's intelligent will fix it, says Apsalar's Oiknine

See how costs rise at the end of the quarter

Big publishers have broken user acquisition but ApEngage's intelligent will fix it, says Apsalar's Oiknine
Apsalar CEO Michael Oiknine isn't a man to mince his words.

On the subject of the rising cost of user acquisition, he's very clear.

"It's a big pain point for app marketers and it's becoming acute," he states.

"There are lots of apps fighting for users so while you might have paid 35-40c per user 18 months ago, now it's more like $1.50 per user, and $3 or $4 isn't uncommon.

"This is creating an imbalance in terms of supply and demand, and even once you have installs that doesn't mean people are going to install or use your app."

Squeezed middle

Indeed, with research suggesting most people use less than 10 apps on a daily basis, the huge volume of availability combined with the tiny window of usage seems to be an intractable situation.

But not for Apsalar, argues Oiknine.

Built on the back of a deep understanding of user behaviour, the company has now accumulated 230 million user profiles and 100 billion data points in terms of how they interact with apps.

Combining these two elements, it reckons it can break out audiences for specific types of apps, such as game genre, as well as distinguishing groups in terms of how they use apps, whether that be engagement, social activity or the regularity of buying in-app purchases or other monetisation methods.

Different stroke

Just launched for beta partners under the moniker ApEngage, Apsalar labels its technology as a 'mobile behavioural advertising solution'; something that can solve the current malaise.

"Using our tools, developers can target and acquire the groups of users who like the sort of content they create," says Oiknine.

What's significant about this granularity is that it fragments what would be considered the holy grail - gamers who spend a lot of money on IAP. The reason is that this group is dependent on genre.

Crudely put, those players who spend a lot of money in Zynga Poker aren't the same players who spend a lot of money in DragonVale or CSR Racing.

The right whale

"We look at gaming affinity and gaming behaviour," Oiknine explains. "We're the only tool that does this. We're a marketers' dream."

Still, he concedes that using ApEngage won't necessarily reduce your user acquisition costs in terms of dollars per install. It might even increase it.

But the key thing is if developers have a strong idea of the lifetime value they can expect from players, they will gain control of how much they should spend to gain each user profitably.

Equally, for studios who have confidence in their ability to turn an engaged non-paying user into a paying user once they're playing their game, they should be able to acquire the users they want more cheaply than they currently do.

"You'll have a big advantage compared to companies who aren't using ApEngage and you'll also dramatically increase your retention rates," he says.

A smarter way

As for those companies who rely on the brute strength of their cashflow, Oiknine has more strong words.

"This is not a sustainable business," he comments, pointing out that such is the volume of demand, especially from publicly floated companies that the price of users noticeably rises in the final weeks of their financial quarters.

"The huge inflation you see at the end of quarter is because they're shoring up their numbers," he says.

For that reason, he advises companies to plan their campaigns carefully to avoid these periods, of course, also using ApEngage to ensure they get the type of users they really want.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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