Elad Natanson is the founder of Appnext – an app monetization and distribution platform, exclusively dedicated to building mobile businesses by promoting apps with 10,000 developers, 6 Billion app requests per month across 230 countries and 300m unique users. The Appnext Self-Serve Platform operates on a cost per install (CPI) bidding basis, allowing advertisers to optimize their bids and focus in on their target audience.
What is Appnext and how are you positioned in the market?
Two years ago when we were starting Appnext, our vision was to create a technologically cutting-edge ad network that would bring the state-of-the-art efficiency to user acquisition and mobile monetization. With time, we’ve realized that the solutions we have built are broader and much more holistic. Today, Appnext is a technology platform exclusively dedicated to building and growing great mobile businesses by promoting apps. Operating on a 100% self-serve basis, we unite over 10,000 mobile publishers, and an unmatched, diverse pool of app advertisers. Our advertisers range from top app brands to indie developers, who finally have a highly attainable and efficient solution for user acquisition on any scale. In this regard, Appnext is a vibrant community of developers and a transparent marketplace that facilitates developer-to-developer communication and collaboration, from exchanging opinions to virtual hand shaking over direct deals.
You recently made a big investment in a cost-per-install based platform – what was the thinking behind that?
Juniper research estimates that the number of – apps will double by 2017, reaching over 160 billion. With the exploding app market, and the number of fascinating apps launched daily, it becomes harder and harder to get discovered in the app store jungle. We believe that app developers, of any size, should be able to cost-effectively acquire high quality users at their own pace. Up until now, this was barely possible, due to high entrance budget barriers, and CPM/CPC model dominance. The Appnext platform is the only CPI self-serve based solution that enables app advertisers, of any size, to get in the driver’s seat, and gain ultimate freedom over user acquisition, management, and optimization.
What technical and operational challenges did you face building the new platform and how did you overcome them?
Bringing the self-serve performance based platform to market, we faced the challenge of making technology-demanding integration smooth and seamless for marketing people. They are typically the individuals in charge of campaign launch, yet, managing CPI-based campaigns, and enabling their proper tracking is a technological process. Based on the above consideration, and the feedback from early users, we have performed substantial UI optimization, crafting an easy and intuitive set up experience.
What’s been the response from the market to the new CPI-based platform?
Within the first 3 weeks of the platform launch, yet prior to its officially being announced, over 100 new advertisers signed up, and more than 230 campaigns were launched. As of today, we have over 700 direct advertisers, with1,600 global and local campaigns live. In the words of one of our good partners, and also a stunning Fabula Football app developer: “In what has become a highly competitive environment for apps, acquisition is an exact science these days. Appnext’s self-serve platform is a game changer, with the control and CPI bidding capability it provides app advertisers,” said Elliot Hool, VP Marketing, Fabula Gaming.
Do you think CPI will become the dominant model in the app advertising economy or is there still room CPM and CPC?
Looking at the Internet industry, an elder sister of mobile, and its evolution, I find it fair to say that all models will remain in place, where it is in the advertisers’ hands to decide when and for which sources each model performs best, building a perfect buying mix.
What types of publishers and advertisers do you work with?
On the advertising side, we are solely focused on app discovery, including both utility apps and games. On the publisher side, we are happy to help publishers of varying types, models and scale, to find the optimal way to recommend relevant apps to their mobile users; our partners include apps, content websites, and media companies that are willing to distribute apps as a part of their monetization strategy.
Which kind of apps are most successful on your platform right now?
We believe that, when implemented right, the programmatic solutions on both the inventory buying and selling sides can bring outstanding results for any app category. The optimization algorithm we are proud of is responsible for matching advertising campaigns with the most relevant media. This, for example, may lead to showing the same campaigns in different GEOs in order to achieve the high standards of install quantity and quality.
What geographies are you working in and where are you seeing the most growth?
We operate in 230 countries and are very strong at global app distribution. The beauty of the app market right now is that its saturation is yet to come. Thus, we see definite growth in all the markets, with the steeper curves in APAC and LATAM, and stable growth in the US and Europe.
What trends in the app advertising and app monetization sector do you think will be big in 2015?
- Automated Inventory Selling – Mobile publishers will prefer automated solutions to working with affiliate links. The industry in rapidly maturing and working with manually uploaded referral links is no longer competitive. Automated solutions deliver higher optimization flexibility, operational efficiency, and, eventually, higher revenue. For more than 40% of Appnext’s partners API integration is a must.
- Reengagement – With the app business reaching maturity, being able to cost-effectively acquire app users is no longer sufficient. App publishers face a growing need for post-install communication with their newly-acquired users, in order to increase app adoption and enhance retention. These solutions implemented on mobile, as well as cross-screen will reshape the industry, adding new campaign goals and KPIs.
- Deep Linking – Similar to reengagement, mobile deep linking is almost on our door-step and will make the apps more user-focused than ever. For example, if your search query is: “Apartments for rent Barcelona”, clicking Airbnb app search result, you’ll be redirected to “Apartment offers in Barcelona” upon app install, instead of landing in the app lobby, and going through general on-boarding and in-app search. Deep linking will bring flexibility to the on-boarding experience, lower churn rates, and higher adoption.
What mobile devices do you use?
Whether due to my work requirements or the fact that I still haven’t decided for myself whether I’m an i-person or an Android devotee, I carry both iPhone and Android.
What’s your favorite app / mobile game?
I’m a heavy user of numerous news apps, and, of course, working in Tel-Aviv with its traffic jungles, I can’t imagine my mornings without Waze.