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PGC Helsinki: Ted Verani from Wappier explains IAP Pricing Optimization: Time & Place

"It is the fastest and most effective way to improve profitability"
PGC Helsinki: Ted Verani from Wappier explains IAP Pricing Optimization: Time & Place

Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2019 will take place on October 1st to October 2nd. To give you a taste of what to expect, we'll regularly be publishing interviews with the speakers at the show.

For more details on PGC Helsinki and to book a ticket, head to the website here.

In this speaker spotlight we caught up with Ted Verani from wappier. A veteran in mobile technology companies, Verani is VP of Business Development at wappier, and responsible for business development and strategic partnerships with game developers, publishers, and platform providers.

Prior to joining wappier, Ted was VP of Business Development for Scientific Revenue, a pioneer of dynamic pricing for mobile games. Ted is experienced in sales, marketing and business development having had leadership roles with mobile technology start-ups, including Trilibis Mobile, Enpocket (acquired by Nokia), Landmat (acquired by Enpocket) and Jumbuck, an ASX listed mobile entertainment company. Earlier in his career, Ted worked in product management for Vodafone, where he was responsible for Content & Applications, and AirTouch Cellular (now Verizon Wireless) where he launched some of the first SMS products in the United States.

Ted is a frequent speaker at industry events like Casual Connect, Pocket Gamer Connects, SXSW, Digiday, Mobile Marketing Forum, Mobile Entertainment Show, SV Mobile Monday, OMMA Global and more.

At Pocket Gamer Connects Helsinki 2019 he'll be leading a session called IAP Pricing Optimization: Time & Place. Knowing the right price in the right location at the right time is the first step towards maximizing revenue from in-app purchases. This tour of factors proven to impact IAP purchasing decisions will offer attendees a collection of low-cost, high-impact techniques for developing profitable mobile gaming environments combined with a case study on Global Pricing (per country optimization) results. Tell us a bit about the company

Ted Verani: wappier is an AI company offering automated loyalty and pricing optimization solutions for mobile games and apps. Using machine learning technology that leverages descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics, we are able to create personalized rewards programs that sit on top of the game to improve engagement and retention, as well as deliver country-specific storefront pricing optimization and targeted offers that boost in-app purchase revenue. Games using our technology see increases of between 30 and 50% in monthly revenues.

What does your role entail?

I am Head of Business Development working with game developers and publishers worldwide. We have a success-based business model, so we are selective in who we work with, so a big part of my job is making sure that the partnership is mutually beneficial for the long term.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

What I like most about the games industry is the people. For the most part people that I work with love their jobs. Why not? If you play games it can be a dream job. This translates into the fact that I get to work with motivated and enthusiastic people that are a pleasure to be with.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

To use a well-worn phrase… Just do it. It is a great industry with amazing people, and a passport to work around the world. Seek out an entry level position in whatever role is aligned with your interests whether it is marketing, engineering, art, etc. Best if you can land a job with a larger publisher since that'll give you the opportunity to learn from experienced folks and work on some larger titles. You may then want to go to a smaller games studio or start your own, but this experience will be valuable.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

Data privacy with GDPR loomed over the industry. Both game developers and service providers needed to put policies in place to ensure compliance to the rules governing control over player data. Some folks even pulled all ad SDKs until they were certain that their partners would be in compliance. In the end, we mostly saw new terms of use put up asking for the user to click consent, and really no great exercise of players’ rights asking to get their data deleted from individual game (at least not yet).

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

The rollout of 5G networks will have a big impact on mobile gaming. The most interesting is the viability of game subscription services that are streamed like Google’s Stadia and Hatch, with more coming. Unlike Apple Arcade, these will be streamed over the network and not require download and without latency. 5G will also mean a treasure trove of user data, thus opening up opportunities for greater personalization of player journeys within mobile games. AI might be a huge buzzword lately but if you are using it effectively it can have a huge impact, from behavioral pattern identification to matching specific players to specific in-app products.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

The first game that I played was built in Java on a Motorola StarTAK way back when I worked for Vodafone. Then, wireless carriers controlled the whole ecosystem and the iPhone did not exist.

Now smartphones and app stores dominate the ecosystem and the F2P business model has resulted in massive downloads and gaming revenues for game developers. That said, more recently it has become harder to stand out from the crowd, and the cost of player acquisition has gone through the roof, so it is becoming harder and harder to compete in the F2P gaming market. The result is that with few exceptions the same publishers dominate the top of the charts and capture the lion’s share of revenues. I like to think that wappier helps to democratize the situation by providing monetization tools and tech so that even smaller developers can compete more effectively.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

My session. Clearly. I get to share some very interesting insights into how just a small, but data-driven, change in IAP pricing can have an outsized impact on the bottom line for a game developer. It is the fastest and most effective way to improve profitability. This additional revenue means that developers can continue to add new features and content, as well as invest in user acquisition. Our team will also have a booth at the event, if you stop by B01, come say hi.