ComboApp Talks App Marketing Challenges with Tune

In this interview, Art Dogtiev, Head of Branded Content at ComboApp, talks with Sheila Bhardwaj, Director of Account Management at TUNE. If the company name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, HasOffers and Mobile App Tracking should! 


Let’s talk about marketing challenges and what makes app developer’s lives so tough these days. Let’s start with your background and company. I know you have joined fairly recently, can you please share a bit of your company’s history?

Sure. I have actually been onboard the company for about two years now. I came onboard at the end of December 2012 and at the time we had two products: mobile app tracking, which is a dashboard for mobile marketers to measure ad effectiveness and HasOffers, which measures the success of affiliates on the desktop side of things. What I have noticed is that in addition to just wanting to learn about the success of their paid ad efforts, marketers are also very interested in getting ahead on the app search rankings and MobileDevHQ is the product that we brought onboard in July. We have already taken a lot of steps to integrate MobileDevHQ into the existing dashboards we have.

MobileDevHQ provides insight into your app rank for iTunes and Google play as well as factors that might influence the app rankings. The Tune partner portal stem came out of a need for some of our ad network partners to actually log in and download stats directly for their particular campaigns. We ran into a pain point early on where networks really wanted to have immediate access to that data in order to make optimizations and the partner portal enables ad networks to set up the campaigns independently of the marketer as well as download and take action on campaign metrics.

Great. What about the cultural level? How do you deal with guys from MobileDevHQ?

Definitely. I had actually worked with the MobileDevHQ team on a few projects concurrently before they joined and we have integrated really nicely and really quickly. Their team has been instrumental in teaching us a lot about the organic App Store optimization side of things and we are also starting to work towards showing the trends paid acquisition has on organic so we are working together to really bring the two sides of this ecosystem together because typically people log in to mobile app trafficking and they are looking at organic as a benchmark or a control to show how well or poorly their paid channels are performing.

The piece that MobileDevHQ really fills in is insight into how those organic users are discovering the app and getting towards the app download – which search terms were most favorable and where those search terms need to be placed in the app branding, whether it’s the keyword description or title. It is going to be really interesting for us.

What is the hardest problem today for app developers?

Well, I would say there are a couple of hot topics right now. One of the largest challenges that app marketers face is the cross-device identification – trying to figure out who a user is when they are completing an action on their desktop, mobile phone or another device that they own. You will see lots of companies start tackling as well as the ever-changing nature of the app store rankings.

I think that what we’re providing is some great insight into how your app is changing or fluctuating in the rankings, but ultimately both Google and Apple and all of the app marketplaces completely hold the power when it comes to your app and how it is presented. Those are two very interesting areas that we will see is a hot topic for developers.

From what I can see, read and hear from developers, the problem is that any developer needs to have real users and not just numbers on a spreadsheet for number of downloads. Actually people that will be using the app. Any app development process is a real business that has stages and it should continuously grow. The only way to grow is when the app has loyal users. Without loyal users, you cannot optimize it.

On another note, we are a few weeks away from the holiday season. Many app developers will be thinking “what is the best tactic for launching an app traffic campaign for this holiday season?”. Can you give me a clue on what is good timing for a campaign?

Yes. It is definitely challenging, cost-wise, for any campaign that is launching during the holiday season – it is very competitive. I think every app developer is going to see that there is a rise in their advertising costs just because everyone is getting the word out about their apps and advertising on every channel. Everyone will expect this month to be very saturated. There will be a lot of holiday themes thrown in.

From mobile gaming to retail, there will be a lot of creative holiday themed app experiences, which is always interesting and exciting for app developers. Right now, a lot of folks are getting on their mobile phones and they are going to be doing research about what they are shopping for so I think what we will find in general is an increase in retail app traffic. A lot of people are researching trying to figure out what to shop for, what to buy. A lot of people will want to look at videos – I think that video ads are going to be a huge topic this season. And we have actually recently launched a partnership with YouTube. They have stepped out of their black box a bit when it comes to mobile measurement. It is very exciting, I will send you the article right after this episode.

They issued documentation that allow third parties like us to actually plug in and offer attribution for mobile video ads on YouTube and that’s a big deal because whenever there is a particular video for a product or anything leading into an app download, we’ll be able to tie that back to the original source. I think that is going to exciting. All of the usual campaign habits coming into this holiday season, we’ll see a spike in traffic and we’ll see lots of people running search.

This will also be the first season for the holidays with the Twitter app instal ad products, so I am very interested to see what marketers will do with that coming into the holidays. I think video will be very interesting. A lot of people are getting on their mobile devices, not necessarily to shop sometimes just to find store locators and research and a fair amount of purchasing. That is more along the sides of retail downloads. When it comes to over verticals like gaming, there’s going to be a lot of holiday festivities coming around the corner.

I see. About the YouTube initiative – will they be open to any platform, both iOS and Android?

It is for iOS apps, specifically.

Good idea. In terms of holiday season campaigns, do you see an CPI increase ?

Absolutely. I hear about it from everyone I am speaking with, everyone who is gearing up to launch is trying to be very smart about where they choose to spend because right now CPI is extremely high, is very competitive and there are lots of eyes on the devices so we will definitely see a lot of increase in advertising cost and marketers are going to want to push, but also want to spend intelligently. One of the things that I have noticed is that people are tuning in a lot more on the marketing side where you may optimize a campaign by-weekly, maybe once every week. I am seeing activity really increased on our platform which means people are making more real time decisions and tuning into how their campaigns are going.

I see. There is one thing that just came up in my mind. Recently, working with an app promotion on Facebook and launching two identical campaigns in terms of targeting and duration, the only difference for those campaigns was that in one instance we were using an image and the other instance we were using a video clip. The assumption was that on average CTR for video ad is higher than an image, but in that particular campaign we saw the opposite. That led me to an interesting observation that whenever users are interacting with an ad and are provided with an image or video, a video ad allows the audience to get a way better idea of an application. Basically the audience is more informed before going to the App Store when the audience is watching a video.

To wrap up our interview, I picked up some news about beloved Twitter that in one of the next updates for the iOS app, they are going to release a feature that will allow the company to actually gather the information about what third party apps are being used on people’s devices. People will need to basically say no to allow the company capture this information. What I hear from Twitter is that they are going to capture only a list of apps and nothing else, but still this is a bit controversial. Where should we draw the line between corporate interest and consumer privacy? What do you think?

I think this is another challenge that app developers are facing today. We are one of the few companies that have brought on a chief privacy officer and we have really taken steps to look into this, particularly considering that we are a third party and we are measuring user behavior within mobile apps. I think that, from a practical standpoint, Twitter is trying to improve the quality of their ad product by excluding apps that a user already has. From a practical standpoint, you really don’t need to see an ad for an app if you have already had it installed so you can understand where they are going with that.

However, people are always going to be concerned about which levels of access a business has into your behavior and how it will influence the way you interact with their tools. I think we are just going to have to wait and see. Maybe since it has been so controversial, people will opt out, or maybe it will just blow over. I think it will be very interesting to see how that goes. It’s understandable too.

For the case study that you mentioned, you recognize that video is able to get you more quality users but not necessarily the most downloads. That is what every product is going for when marketing themselves, they want to be as efficient as possible, they don’t want to serve ads to a customer that already has their product so they are trying to improve intent. It makes absolute sense, it also will be tough anytime you release a new feature like that or you mention to the public that you are collecting more information.

Absolutely. I am just picturing corporate meetings in the Twitter headquarters and how they plan on what they should do next and how they should grow. They need to think about certain features that may be a bit controversial with users and tech media. They’re competing with Facebook, which is about 6-7 times bigger in terms of user base.

The amount of information which has been accumulated by Facebook is way ahead of what Twitter is able to accumulate so far. I don’t know for sure whether this is a fortunate or unfortunate update by Twitter. I personally don’t mind whether Twitter knows what apps I have on my device or not though it is a personal thing and people have different standards for their privacy. On one side we want to have better services and apps to improve our lives but on the other side we don’t want to share too much of our private information. This is a very difficult balance to strike for any company, even for Twitter.

I definitely see that becoming a continued topic of conversation as the privacy industry continues within mobile marketing.

Please tell us where we read more about what Tune is up to and you, personally. Do you have a Twitter account for people to follow?

Absolutely. For more insights on what we are up to over at Tune, head right over to My personal Twitter is @Sheila Bhardwaj, please feel free to follow me.

This is an interview from the Marketing TidBits with ComboApp podcast produced by ComboApp Group, a full-cycle communications and app marketing solutions provider for a global mobile marketplace. Listen to this podcast episode or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.