Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre talks emerging markets and rising UA costs

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When it comes to mobile game marketing San Francisco-based Chartboost has been one of the sector’s major success stories. The company, which claims to now be the largest revenue platform for mobile games, helped pioneer the idea of direct cross-promotion, which lets game publishers strike deals with each other in order to acquire users for free (for more info on how cross promotion works check out our guide right here). Chartboost is now taking its platform and expertise into China – one of the fastest growing  app markets on the planet – via a partnership with Chinese mobile ad tech company Chukong.

We exchanged a few questions with CEO Maria Alegre to find out more on the Chukong partnership and Chartboost’s plans for other emerging app markets. Read on for the full Q&A.

Q&A Chartboost CEO Maria Alegre

What does Chartboost’s partnership with Chukong bring to the Chinese market? What’s it offering that local game devs don’t already have?

maria chartboostChartboost has been an international revenue platform since we were founded in 2011, so we’ve been working closely with game developers in China like ElexTech, Tap4Fun, and Locojoy for a while. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our role in helping game developers be successful with their international expansion strategies.

That said, our presence in the Chinese domestic market was limited, so by partnering with a successful game technology company like Chukong, we’re able to join forces to serve the needs of local developers. Together, we will deliver great mobile products that empower Chinese game developers to find new players and monetize their games through increased advertising revenue, and greater transparency and control of their campaigns.

Does the partnership allow US/EU publishers to do direct deals with Chinese publishers? If not will you be making this available?

We have never limited cross-border relationships in our Direct Deal Marketplace – we’ve seen hundreds over the years. The Supercell and GungHo acquisition was one example of how our Direct Deal Marketplace helped facilitate a larger cross border relationship. As we intensify our efforts in the Asian domestic markets, we expect to see an increase in the number of deals, going from West to East, or vice versa. It’s not easy for mobile game companies to generate traction in markets that are vastly different from their own, so we’re thrilled to be the platform that can facilitate a more seamless transition and adoption experience.

Are you looking at bringing your platform to other emerging markets, such as LatAm?

The App Stores are global which means we’ll always entertain opportunities that will enhance our current offering into a truly localized experience in various regions. We pay close attention to emerging regions like South East Asia, Russia and Latin America. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are among the top 20 countries on our platform by number of impressions delivered, and we’re confident that the monetization levels will surge in this region as local payment methods (like the Boleto Bancario in Brazil)  increasingly become more accepted.

Regarding LatAm specifically, we’ve visited the region several times and work closely with local companies like Vostu, Tapps, Top Free Games, Voon Games, Red Katana, and Mother Gaia. The indie community in Brazil and Argentina is growing rapidly, bringing new and creative titles to the games ecosystem, which is always exciting to see.

User acquisition costs are rising and rising for game developers. Do you think targeting emerging markets will soon be the only way smaller US/EU devs can build a user base?

Player acquisition costs are rising but this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a negative. This can (partially) be attributed to game developers having a better understanding of their players’ behavior and ultimately shifting levers within their campaigns to influence profitability levels.

Targeting emerging regions to expand your user base can be an effective strategy, but there are also cost-effective ways of acquiring valuable players in the western markets with a positive ROI. It’s all about maximizing performance by leveraging transparency and focusing on the appropriate sources of players. Our Direct Deals Marketplace, where developers can partner on their own terms, is a great example of a cost-effective method.

There’s been a lot of consolidation the last six months in the mobile marketing sector. Is Chartboost considering any mergers/acquisitions itself?

There are a lot of offerings in the market and developers are having a hard time selecting trusted partners. We will undoubtedly see more consolidation–it’s inevitable. Chartboost’s mission is to be the world’s best revenue platform for mobile game developers and because of that, we’re open to opportunities that will benefit the mobile game community–we’re always looking for interesting companies and technologies to join the Chartboost Family.