How to promote your app in Russia
Alexey Pisarevsky has more than 6 years experience in the mobile industry. A marketer with a mathematical education, Alexy graduated from the faculty of applied mathematics in MIPT, Russia. From the beginning of 2013 he became the CEO of Mobio, a full-service mobile app marketing platform which was Russia’s first.
We are here with Alexey Pisarevsky, a RU market app promotion veteran and CEO of Mobio, a mobile advertising agency that outgrew the borders of the country and boasts dozens of customers served worldwide. Alexey explains the app promotion routines, methods and procedures currently working for the Russian-speaking market, touches upon traffic sources and shares valuable insights and advice.
Recently, we at Mobio have compiled a comprehensive guide covering traffic buying and assessment of effectiveness of app promotion efforts. You can find it here. But the guide is only half of the story: the traffic bought has to be generated somewhere, and this is the topic I will cover today.
First off, there is myTarget. It is a Russian mobile app promotion system that can pump ads to the largest Russian social networks: VK.com, OK.com, My.Mail.ru. Today, myTarget drives the largest volumes of traffic on the RU market, enabling the majority of downloads in the Russian-speaking segment. Developers and publishers can work with myTarget directly or diversify campaigns by hiring agencies and driving traffic from CPI-networks, which anyway get installs from myTarget.
Now, the volumes of downloads myTarget can give you vary greatly depending on the specifics of the app promoted and, of course, the cost you are ready to pay for an install. In general, a hardcore game or a niche app can enjoy up to a 1,000 downloads from the App Store and up to 2,000 from Google Play. Casual games or mass-market apps can get up to 3,000 downloads for iOS and up to 10,000 downloads for Android if the campaign is at its high.
You can say that in terms of app promotion, myTarget for the RU segment is the same as Facebook for the EN segment. We shall cover the ways to use myTarget in your app marketing campaign below.
Google AdWords (ex AdMob)
A source well-known to many. Typically, developers get their own accounts and work directly with the network, but there are not that many professionals on the RU market that can really unleash the AdWords potential in their campaigns. Generally, CPI traffic that can be supplied by this network costs more than that provided by myTarget, the ultimate price a developer/publisher pays for a download is higher, but the quality is typically better.
Everyone has seen banners served by Google AdWords. Take, for example, the Game of War banner. It feels like this game has already found its way to the devices wielded by its target audience, and yet you still see its banners in heavy rotation.
Overall, at the same price point Google can supply smaller volumes of downloads than myTarget on the RU market, but it really depends on the app in question.
Public pages and groups in VK.com, OK.com
This is another source of traffic peculiar to the Russian-speaking segment. The pages and groups do drive traffic, but the volumes they are capable of are an order of magnitude lower than what myTarget has to offer. These sources offer no targeting tools, buying traffic there literally implies manual labour, optimization opportunities are very limited. And the quality of traffic often leaves muc to be desired compared to targeting-enabled sources. Doing everything about promotion through public pages and groups is very laboursome, so typically traffic driven by those sources gets redirected to CPI networks.
Here is an example of a UC Browser ad placed on a public page:
It is very hard to assess the volumes of mobile traffic public pages and groups can generate. It will be safe to state that a mass-market app can get up to a 1,000 downloads a day from that source.
This is another traffic source developers and publishers prefer direct contact with. Facebook does not allow redirects so there is no chance to land users on a CPI campaign page. Well, this is not entirely true: you can squeeze in a redirecting link, but the download price grows higher in this case and compared to myTarget the effort is economically unsound.
Facebook is not the most popular social network in the RU region, but it has got some good quality to its audience, which is good for a certain set of apps. 500-1,000 downloads a day at a good price is the result you can expect from Facebook.
Working with myTarget
So, there is a number of mobile traffic sources worthy of attention in the RU segment, but the undisputed king of the mountain – at least today – is myTarget. You can add a number CPI networks and hire an agency or two for your app promo campaign, but ultimately the result will be the same: you will get traffic from myTarget. Thus, at least considering ways to use this source directly is a viable option.
- Buy traffic yourself;
- Work with CPI networks;
- Hire performance agencies (CPI again).
No option is perfect, there are pros and cons, but they are not mutually exclusive. myTarget drives really great volumes of traffic, it is pretty hard to manage it all yourself, so adding CPI networks and agencies to the campaign’s mix – at a price you find right, of course – is the way to gain more downloads without bearing great costs.
Let’s consider pros and cons of each option.
Buying traffic through myTarget yourself
If you think of buying traffic through myTarget yourself, you need to consider the following.
Concept. You can develop a number of concepts aimed at various aspects that can trigger user’s decision. If you promote a utility app, you can start with a problem, attract users’ attention by asking if the problem is urgent to them. Another concept can bring the solution to the forefront, yet another – highlight a specific feature etc. Each concept will bring different segments of your target audience.
Banners. There should be a number of creatives prepared for each concept. You can rotate them, monitor their performance, weed out the worst. Please note that the longer the campaign runs, the more users turn a blind eye to your banners, so be ready to tweak them every now and then. Change the colors, change the background, change the typeface etc.
Targeting. Naturally, you need to know characteristics of your target audience is you want the campaign to bring you valuable users. First come the audience, next come its segments, then you get down to targeting. Make sure you monitor the results and attribute them properly, you will need the data to tune your targeting settings.
Cost. Bid too low and your banner will never be shown to users. On the contrary, bid high and enjoy great CTR some time into the campaign, and once there, you can lower the bid and still get impressions.
Manpower. Do not try to wear all hats on one head. If you run the campaign yourself, you definitely need a staff member dedicating his or her entire working time to managing the traffic. This is where hired agencies and networks show their competitive edge: in most cases, they are much more experienced than an inhouse app marketer, and within a very short period of time they can come up with a number of great concepts, suggest layouts for the creatives etc. With hundreds and thousands campaigns under their belts, they can eventually cost less than a staff member. This is one of the reasons numerous developers and publishers choose networks and agencies over inhouse app promo campaign management.
Working with CPI networks
CPI networks rely on partners to generate traffic (webmasters, media buyers). There is no network that can give you some exclusive RU traffic. It’s an illusion. Ultimately, they all get it from myTarget, it is the largest and cheapest source.
What are the cons of working with a CPI network?
Little attention to the creatives. No network can fully control everything about the creatives. The only option is to set out strict rules and monitor rotated creatives with the help of spy services like Admobispy and then refuse to pay webmasters that broke the rules.
Difficulties with traffic quality optimization. We have covered the traffic quality control issue extensively in our guide. Know that a rare network does optimization itself. The best they can do for your is to cut off the source you ask them to cut off. All the analytical tasks you have to solve yourself, and the more networks you work with the more time this activity requires. Besides, if you anyway get traffic from myTarget, optimizing by subID makes little sense. subID only defines a partner that can use a dozen creatives and concepts. It is much more interesting to optimize by concepts, banners, targeting, and with CPI networks this level is almost out of your reach.
Same partners in different networks. Quite often traffic partners sign up and drive traffic for a number of CPI networks. For example, a webmaster can generate 300 downloads a day in three different networks, low quality. You can cut that source off in one network and still get the installs from it if you work with the other two networks.
What are the pros of working with a CPI network?
CPI networks can bring you traffic hard to get otherwise: that from public groups, generated by popups, redirects etc.
If quality is not a priority, CPI networks can drive the greatest volumes of traffic for you. Good if you have a utility app or a browser, for example.
Sheer numbers. CPI networks have many, many partners and thus can drive traffic when all other sources have already given you everything they could.
Hiring performance agencies
Performance agencies work much the same as CPI networks, but they do the buying themselves, relying on the experience of traffic managers employed by them.
What are the cons of working with a performance agency?
Better creatives quality control, but still not perfect. There is a human factor involved. Traffic managers tend to experiment with creatives in order to get the greatest volumes they can.
An agency that can deliver results from myTarget is hard to find. Most companies claiming to promote apps simply place their customers’ offers in CPI networks. They will tell you they buy it all themselves, but in reality you’ll get traffic from a CPI network.
What are the pros of working with a performance agency?
Better creatives quality control. Not perfect, but much better than in case of CPI networks.
Optimization capabilities. A good agency can optimize your campaigns by concepts, banners, targeting etc.
Analytics. Agencies provide a wealth of data describing the performance of your campaign.
Greater volumes. A good agency can compete with a CPI network when it comes to the number of downloads a day and drive several thousands of them.
Proprietary technologies. Agencies tend to develop their own proprietary traffic buying systems, as well as ready audience definitions, retargeting lists etc.
Discounts. myTarget may drive traffic for agencies at a discounted price, which means you get it cheaper as well.
All in all, it should be noted that the mobile traffic market in the RU segment develops dynamically, things change here all the time. A year and a half ago neither OK.com nor VK.com served any mobile ads. And it is hard to say now what the situation will be in a year or two: Russian-speaking Facebook develops at a very fast rate, Google adds more and more features to its ad system, messengers will definitely join the mobile app promo market pretty soon. Things will change, but as of today, we have a situation as described above.
Thanks to Alexey for the amazing insights into the RU market. You can check out Mobio’s website here.