Mike Fitzgerald, CTO, AppThis Talks App Discovery
Mike Fitzgerald is an experienced technology executive with expertise using big data analytics for performance marketing and building AdTech product to drive profitable growth. Previously he was at Adknowledge where he served as their COO / CTO. Originally a software engineer, Mike is passionate about building cutting edge products.
Why did you set up AppThis?
We started AppThis because we saw that a large segment of the app developer community was being underserved. There are over 1.5M apps in both iTunes and Play so app discovery is a major problem. The biggest marketplaces like Facebook and Google are so competitive that many developers are priced out. Existing DSPs tend to focus too much on banner inventory. We set out to build a platform tailored specifically for app developers that delivers reach, quality and performance.
What’s been the biggest surprise since the business launched in 2014?
Just how fast the market is expanding – it’s amazing to see so many of our partners growing without having to take market share from each other.
According to a recent report (from ACT | The App Association), the app economy will be worth $150 billion dollars by 2017. To put it in perspective – that’s bigger than Hollywood. As the market matures, however, there will be an increasing need for companies to be technology, rather than service led which may slow growth for some.
Being in a high growth market is a lot of fun too. We have gone to 29 staff since our inception last year.
What’s fuelling that growth?
I think there are two major things:
- Smartphone penetration in emerging markets. As an example, India will overtake the US to become the second-largest global smartphone market by 2017. China is already #1. The ubiquity of mobile phones and the fact that developing markets leapfrog the desktop means mobile is only going to become more important to our lives across the planet.
- It’s never been easier to create and launch an app – even compared to 2 years ago. Now a small business can put an app in market quickly and with minimal costs. They realize it’s a great way to have a sticky interaction with users on the device that’s always within arm’s reach. But app discovery is the real challenge now and developers must rely on paid marketing to acquire an audience.
Which countries interest you in the space?
For the consumer market, India and China, given their populations. We are keen to develop our presence in Asia. Next month we are exhibiting at G Star, South Korea and are looking forward to meeting potential partners and developers there.
In terms of technology, Israel is leading the charge in innovation and product advancement. The concentration of talent in Tel Aviv is very impressive. We will be opening our own office there in the next 3-5 months to complement our Denver headquarters.
What are the significant trends in mobile?
For me, there are three big ones:
- Mobile video is on an explosive adoption curve. By the end of this year, mobile video views will surpass desktop. The opportunity to monetize video inventory with app ads is huge.
- Programmatic buying and machine learning to maximize the efficiency of inventory. Mobile has been a bit behind desktop in sophistication here, partly because of the challenge of user and audience identification on mobile. But the technology is catching up, which is good news for app developers, publishers and the technology platforms that can facilitate intelligent real-time ad serving decisions.
- International growth. We believe the real growth is yet to come in the so-called ‘developing’ markets. 70% of our business is already outside the US and we are excited to work with new partners there.
What has been your main focus in growing?
Heavy investment in data science and our technology platform. It was critical right from the start that the AppThis system was built to scale and leveraged our own data sets.
What does the product roadmap look like for the next six months?
City Targeting – We are live and beta testing clients for city targeting. Over time, we’ll add additional targeting capabilities like geo-fencing.
Video capabilities will be ready in the next 2-3 weeks. This going to be a huge area for us and the ability to show video content pre-install will increase both quality and engagement.
Self-serve platform for developers – Early next year, we’ll release a platform that allows developers of any size to manage their own campaigns across our supply partners over any media type (video, native, banners, etc). A comprehensive range of targeting capabilities and the ability to start with smaller budgets will be features here. Watch out for invites to join the closed beta program later this year.
What are your passions outside of work?
I am a big Boston Red Sox fan having grown up there. They are not doing so well at the moment so watching them is closer to torture than fun! AppThis is based in Denver, Colorado, which is a mecca for outdoor pursuits. Whenever I can, I love to ski with my family.
You can check out the AppThis website here.