Interview

"Monetisation outside traditional ad formats in the games industry is sometimes received with a lot of scepticism"

Pollfish COO Andres Vourkos discusses his route into games

"Monetisation outside traditional ad formats in the games industry is sometimes received with a lot of scepticism"

The games industry plays host to a colourful cast of diverse individuals, from artists and coders to narrative designers and studio heads.

The skills to pull off these roles, however, are complex and differing, with each position requiring mastery in its field.

To highlight some of the brilliant work that goes on behind the screen, and help others who may be keen to dive in, PocketGamer.biz is reaching out to the individuals who make up the games industry with our Jobs in Games series.

This week we spoke with Pollfish co-founder and COO Andreas Vourkos.

PocketGamer.biz: Can you tell us about your current role and what it entails?

Andreas Vourkos: I am one of the founders and COO of Pollfish, a monetisation network that delivers Rewarded Surveys through mobile apps and games. At Pollfish, I am responsible for expanding the network to more studios around the globe and help them monetise better with Rewarded Surveys.

I studied computer engineering but focused on mobile app and game development since the early days.
Andreas Vourkos

How did you first get into games and how did you progress into this role?

As a mobile engineer on my own, during the early days of my career, I used to develop mobile apps and games. Through the struggle of finding a proper and non-intrusive way to monetise apps, Pollfish was established, where we introduced Rewarded Surveys as a new monetisation format in the space.

While building the Pollfish mobile network over the years we started seeing things in the mobile gaming industry from a different perspective. We started learning more about the limitations and actual pains of game studios with the current ad and mediation platforms, and that drove us in adjusting and optimising Pollfish survey monetisation offering, to address those.

Being the pioneers in market research monetisation, created an extra overhead for our team in trying to train and convince the market of the benefits of using such a format. Through the years, we managed to establish Rewarded Surveys in the mobile gaming industry as a new alternative monetisation solution to ads with high effective cost per miles (eCPMs) and start being used by top gaming studios not only for monetisation but also for gathering insights from users.

Is it something you ever imagined yourself doing?

I've always imagined myself working in the mobile industry. Being on the ad network side has always been challenging, but a lot of the times you might miss the whole picture. By putting yourself in the shoes of the publisher and experiencing both sides and the challenges of the day-to-day business, I believe is something that would be really interesting to experience in the future too.

The Pollfish team on a Zoom call.

What did you study (if anything) to get your role? What courses would you advise for aspiring professionals in the area?

I studied computer engineering but focused on mobile app and game development since the early days. A lot of people I meet have no background or studies in a specific profession relevant to the industry, they just turned their passion for playing apps and games into a job, and this is what I believe makes this industry so unique and special.

What part of your role do you find most fulfilling?

Every day I have to speak to different people from all around the globe. In pre-Covid-19 times, I would also travel a lot, speak at different conferences as well as meet with people from game studios and ad networks. It’s really exciting to be able to meet so many people that love what they do in such an interesting industry such as the mobile gaming one.

Tell us what your typical day look like in a nutshell?

I usually start my day with a workout routine. I am a strong believer in keeping healthy habits and having a proper life-work balance, especially since most of the day is spent in front of a computer.

I usually then have calls with existing or potential partners that are in the APAC region, sync with the network’s product team to organise our priorities and then go into calls with partners in Europe and the US. Over the span of the day, I will meet and talk with people in different time zones and from many different cultures.

Shifting to a fully remote environment was quite smooth for the company and everyone welcomely received this transition.
Andreas Vourkos

What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of your role?

Being responsible for expanding the Pollfish network and forming the Pollfish survey mediation product to fit the needs of the mobile app and gaming industry, provides the advantage of being able to adjust and drive the strategy fast, based on the actual needs of a growing industry.

Since survey monetisation is something new for the mobile gaming industry - and Pollfish is the pioneer in the area - another advantage is the ability to be able to work and lead a great team that is really passionate about providing products that are new, innovative and unique, in a market that is constantly changing.

One of the disadvantages is that since we are shaping a new ground in the industry, failures come along the way, however, the creativity and inspiration of the team to lead the way is one of the core motivations that keep us trying.

Do you think there are any misconceptions, public or professional, surrounding your area of expertise?

Monetisation outside traditional ad formats in the games industry is sometimes received with a lot of scepticism from a lot of publishers. However, there will always be managers in studios that are looking outside the common solutions used, to find alternative ways to monetise their audience aside from ads and this is why new trends arise every couple of years.

What advice do you have for someone looking for a job in this profession?

There is so much information online from webinars, conferences, podcasts and articles that newcomers can use, to learn a lot around the industry. If you are excited around data, games and how they evolve, there will always be a lot of opportunities to start and grow within a role that best fits what you are looking to pursue.

How has remote working impacted the role (if at all)?

As part of my role, I am constantly travelling around the globe to meet existing or potential new partners and attend or present at conferences. My work was always being done remotely from different parts of the world and in different timezones.

Pollfish operates through offices in different countries and timezones and therefore remote working was already in the culture of the company. Shifting to a fully remote environment was quite smooth for the company and everyone welcomely received this transition.

Is there anything about the job/industry you wish you would have known when first joining?

Not really, other than getting into this earlier on, if you are looking to pursue a career there. The games industry is such a fascinating one, where most of the people working are excited about what they do - that is not an easy thing to find. Every day you learn something new and staying up-to-date is always a challenge.

Features Editor

Matthew Forde is the features editor at PocketGamer.biz and also a member of the Pocket Gamer Podcast. You can find him on Twitter @MattForde64 talking about stats, data and everything pop culture related - particularly superheroes.

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