Interview

'Even Words With Friends was unknown once': Millennial Media on helping indies get discovered

Gillis on aiding crowdsourcing outfit AppStori

'Even Words With Friends was unknown once': Millennial Media on helping indies get discovered
While many developers view the crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platforms as a marketing exercise in themselves, truth is many of the games that utilise them still struggle to get discovered.

That's the view of ad giant Millennial Media, which recently announced a partnership with crowdfunding site AppStori designed to give the studios working on the platform a much needed leg up come release.

AppStori allows gamers to browse developer projects before deciding which games they'd like to back.

Now, with Millennial on board, eligible games will also be able to pick up $500 in cash and $500 in advertising credit – plus the support of a dedicated mentor from the ad firm – to help garner them a bit of attention after launch.

We caught up with Millennial's global monetisation solutions SVP Matt Gillis to find out what he thinks the ad specialist can bring to the table.

Pocket Gamer: How difficult is it for developers to get discovered in the crowded mobile market these days?

Matt Gillis: Creating a great product is the first challenge developers face. The second challenge is discovery.

In my opinion, with more than 750,000 apps in Apple's App Store and 675,000 in Google Play, I think there are plenty of great apps out there that just haven't been discovered. They get buried in the clutter and there are only so many 'end caps' where developers can merchandise their product.

If you aren't lucky enough to be "featured" by one of the app stores, discovery can be very difficult. Through our partnership with AppStori, we hope to make discovery easier for developers.

Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding were both hailed as the new darlings of the industry earlier in the year, though some developers have recently started to question their effectiveness for smaller outfits. Do you think your partnership with AppStori will make a difference?

Our partnership with AppStori is a catalyst for developers who have great ideas for apps, but need help bringing them to market and building a successful business.

Each eligible AppStori will receive $500 in funding from Millennial Media. This initial funding is designed to help them build momentum and access the resources they need to take their project from idea to reality.

For example, one of the apps that we just funded is Sooligan, an app that will make it fast, easy and fun for users to find and share information about any city in the world with newcomers and locals. Their goal is to raise $2,500 to build and launch their app and our contribution helped them reach 20 percent of their goal on day one.

They are already at 31 percent, and have approximately three more weeks to reach their final funding goal.

We helped them get the ball rolling, and now others have joined us in support of this project. However, it's not just about the funding. We are also providing these developers with a mentor to help them create a successful monetisation plan.

What kind of advice will your mentors give developers?

Through mMedia, developers have the ability to immediately self-administer their entire interaction with us – from signing up a new app to monetising and promoting their apps. This has enabled us to scale to more than 38,000 sites and apps on our platform.

With this scale, we have diverse experience and know what works, and what doesn't.

In the case of AppStori, many developers have not yet launched an app and are seeking guidance and best practices to follow as they monetise their ideas.

Our team is available to help them consider the ad units to integrate - video, full page interstitials, banners - and where to place advertising within the content of their apps to ensure the best engagement for advertisers.

Some developers don't think about monetisation until later in the development cycle. We're here at the early stages of the development process to make sure they set up themselves up for long term success from the very beginning.

What difference can $500 of ad credit on Millennial make?

Most developers are so focused on building the final product that they don't think about how they will acquire users. And, since they are putting their blood, sweat, and tears - and money - into the product, they neglect to set aside marketing dollars to be discovered in the sea of apps that launch in the app stores every day.

Our goal is to help these developers kick start the discovery process.

Developers taking advantage of the AppStori partnership receive $500 in mMedia advertising to promote their apps and drive installs. Through mMedia, they can easily set up a campaign and target their ads to specific devices, operating systems, and countries that matter to them.

There is even a tool to help them design and build their ads. From ad creation, to targeting, to everything in between, we are trying to make the whole process of discovery easier for developers.

How important is it to ad networks like Millennial that the creative ideas such as those seen on AppStori flourish?

Everyone has to start somewhere. Even Words With Friends was once an unknown game developed by a small company started by a few guys in Texas.

It is important for Millennial Media to help developers bring great, new app ideas to market, rise to the top, and become key business partners going forward. We think there are plenty of great ideas out there. They just need a little help to make it big.

Through our partnership with AppStori, our goal is to help developers with the funding, discovery, and monetisation of projects that have the potential of becoming the next great app to make it mainstream.
Thanks to Matt for his time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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