In the digital landscape, where there are over 4.5 million apps across various app stores, the quest for acquiring leads and customers has transformed into a fierce battleground. Companies of all sizes are tirelessly working to enhance their strategies to capture their target audience's attention. However, navigating this highly competitive terrain is no easy feat.
In this exclusive interview, we had the honor of speaking with Greg Castro, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Mobvista. With a distinguished career spanning over two decades in business development, including a significant role at Yahoo, Greg brings a wealth of expertise to the table. In this conversation, we will gain valuable insights into the ever-evolving realm of app marketing from Greg.
Throughout our discussion, we will delve into the current dynamics of app marketing and explore the innovative approaches that Mobvista is pioneering to revolutionize this fiercely competitive marketplace. So, let's get started...
With over two decades of experience in the tech industry, I've dedicated more than half of my career to digital advertising. My professional journey has led me through diverse landscapes, from large corporations to dynamic startups. My expertise converges into three primary domains: large publishers, programmatic platforms, and SaaS platforms.
To illustrate, I've had the privilege of collaborating with industry giants such as Yahoo and AOL. Additionally, I've spearheaded publisher initiatives at Amobee, a prominent programmatic platform, and led both publisher and programmatic divisions at Celtra, a creative automation platform.
My current role at Mobvista is a recent endeavor involving forming a new team. We engage with industry titans like Google and Amazon regarding our global partnerships.
Mobvista boasts a rich portfolio of products and services. Rather than operating in isolation, our strategy emphasizes a comprehensive global approach when partnering with major tech players. Beyond this, my team's responsibilities include crafting go-to-market strategies for our SaaS products.
Our mission encompasses two pivotal aspects, reflecting our evolution and aspirations. Although our roots trace back to Asia, our journey has propelled us to thrive globally. This success story has unfolded within the fiercely competitive global marketplace. A guiding principle throughout our journey has been the fusion of Eastern and Western perspectives, fueled by deep expertise in AdTech and MarTech. As a global enterprise, our mission serves as a guiding light, shaping our continued evolution and ambitious vision.
The crux of success lies in strategic thinking, and effective strategy hinges on precise tactical execution. In our pursuit of monetization strategies, we’ve embarked on a programmatic journey through Mintegral, Mobvista’s programmatic arm. This strategic move empowers us to deliver competitive demand to our global developer community.
Our commitment to delivering value extends to in-app bidding, facilitated by partnerships with industry leaders like Google AdMob. This initiative enables us to connect premium demand with apps seeking to maximize their global revenue potential.
User acquisition, as you mentioned, is a multifaceted endeavor, with strategies tailored to the unique stages and life cycles of app developers. Our offerings at Mobvista encompass both managed services and self-services, tailored to the specific needs of each developer. We’ve also introduced target ROAS bidding within the Mintegral programmatic platform, empowering app developers to acquire users at scale while maintaining their desired ROAS. These accomplishments are driven by cutting-edge technology and advanced algorithms.
Our assistance has yielded tangible results for app developers, including improved conversion rates, maintained target ROAS, and enhanced overall performance and efficiency. Furthermore, we’ve streamlined the often complex media buying process. Many growth and user acquisition managers are tasked with navigating multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Google, TikTok, or SDK ad networks like Unity, Applovin, and more. To simplify this process, we've created XMP, a one-stop, cross-channel media buying platform, that enhances efficiency and convenience.
When it comes to user acquisition, creativity plays a pivotal role in devising effective strategies. Creative performance is paramount, as it directly influences the overall success of acquisition efforts. Simply put, superior creativity translates to superior performance. Aligning creative assets with user acquisition strategies is the key to maximizing overall ROI, ensuring a harmonious synergy between creative content and user acquisition tactics.
I believe that the most high-performing ad formats will undoubtedly be interactive creatives, with playable ads standing out as a prime example. In fact, it's worth noting that nearly 70% of all installs on Mintegral feature the playable functionality within the ad format.
One often underestimated aspect of creative performance is ad fatigue. Many growth managers, when observing a decline in installs, typically adjust their bids, budgets, and even the networks they use for user acquisition. However, they might overlook the creative elements, which can sometimes remain stagnant for extended periods—three, six, nine months, or even longer.
In reality, a shift in creative strategy towards fresh and innovative content can lead to more effective results. Additionally, it's essential to consider the time and cost involved in bringing these creatives to the market.
Another avenue to explore is dynamic creative optimization (DCO). DCO allows for real-time optimization of creative elements, including background images, font colors, buttons, logos, and more. This optimization is based on the specific characteristics of the target audience, such as attributes, interests, preferences, and behaviors. Utilizing machine learning and algorithms, one can identify the most effective creatives and rearrange them to discover the optimal combination. All of these elements are integral to Mobvista's two-pronged strategy, encompassing managed services and self-service offerings.
Regarding managed services, Mobvista has two notable entities. First, there's Mindworks, an in-house creative agency specializing in playable ads. Mindworks assists many clients in developing engaging playable ads.
Secondly, there's TopWorks, which merits further attention. In our global strategy, TopWorks serves as a network comprising over 200 diverse creative agencies worldwide. TopWorks is armed with valuable data and insights, allowing it to craft localized and region-specific creative content, with a strong emphasis on video. While technology and efficiency are crucial for entering new markets, cultural relevance is equally important. To address this, we've integrated official marketing partnerships into TopWorks, such as our collaboration with TikTok, enabling deeper connections with audiences, all within a self-service framework.
Additionally, we offer Playturbo, a self-service creative management platform that empowers designers with extensive control. This platform includes features like screen recording, batch video editing, AI dubbing, AI translation, and more, specifically tailored to enhance the playable experience. With a library of over 200 templates and a flexible whiteboard for creative execution, designers can efficiently build their creative vision from the ground up.
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Certainly, in-app advertising and closed media ecosystems, such as social platforms, serve distinct purposes. They strategically target users in various contexts, and when used in tandem, they offer a powerful approach to engaging users across multiple touchpoints.
For both apps and brands, the acquisition of social media users holds paramount importance, particularly when seeking to connect with audiences engrossed in short-form video content. The key to success in these environments lies in crafting unique and compelling creatives tailored explicitly to these formats, as they have been proven to yield substantial increases in user engagement.
One crucial tactic that should not be overlooked is the utilization of influencers, especially micro-influencers, given their ability to connect with highly engaged followers. This approach becomes even more valuable when expanding into overseas markets, especially those classified as emerging markets. When venturing into such regions, the strategy involves identifying and harnessing the potential of micro-influencers on regional platforms, such as Douyin in China or Kwai in Brazil. This not only paves the way for successful campaigns but also enhances overall market penetration, despite the inherent challenges of entering emerging markets.
We've identified a significant need among app developers as they venture into new markets. One of the most substantial challenges they encounter is locating the right tools and services to support their expansion efforts. Mobvista is uniquely positioned to cater to the entire lifecycle of app developers, a journey I'd describe as spanning from infancy to full maturity.
As an app developer is getting started, they wish to know information about how users are using the app. This journey encompasses not only aspects like in-app advertising and purchases but also how app developers envision users progressing from one level to the next. In this context, the diverse designs of app analytics play a pivotal role. GameAnalytics is our user behavior and analytics offering, ranking as the most widely installed SDKs following Google and Meta. This insight is invaluable.
As an app grows, developers seek a deeper understanding of their user base and explore avenues to monetize their app's inventory effectively. In the realm of programmatic solutions, Mobvista's Mintegral stands out as a powerful ally, aiding app developers in monetizing their inventory. As you ascend the value chain, you'll repeatedly encounter Mintegral, particularly in the domain of user acquisition and monetization. We oversee both the supply and demand sides of the programmatic ecosystem, facilitating user acquisition and monetization through fellow app developers and publishers within the Mintegral exchange.
However, alongside user acquisition, you'll notice two other key names. First is Nativex, our in-house media agency, which assists developers in shaping their user acquisition strategy and implementing tactical maneuvers, extending beyond Mintegral and spanning app acquisition across social networks.
The second notable entity is XMP. Considering that users engage across multiple screens, we've developed an internal tool that consolidates the management and optimization of campaigns into a single interface. This tool has proven instrumental in enhancing efficiency and reducing time spent, ultimately boosting ROI for our clients. We've branded this offering as XMP and extended it to the broader market.
Additionally, creativity assumes increasing importance as we progress up the value chain. Mindworks, as mentioned earlier, serves as our in-house creative agency, proficient in building playables on behalf of clients. Furthermore, they've developed a self-service platform, branded as Playturbo, to streamline the process of creating playables at scale.
Lastly, with app developers facing significant cloud costs, often in the millions per month, we've devised a cloud cost optimization platform. This platform aims to reduce the overall expenditure incurred by app developers on cloud services, particularly on platforms like GCP and AWS.
Several current trends are significantly impacting both publishers and advertisers within the digital advertising landscape. Let's break them down:
1. Diversifying Media Channels: A notable trend involves diversifying the media channels used for advertising. This shift recognizes the importance of reaching audiences across various platforms to maximize exposure and engagement.
2. Optimizing for LTV and Retention: There's a heightened emphasis on optimizing for Lifetime Value (LTV), with a strong focus on retaining users. This reflects the understanding that long-term customer relationships are key to sustained success.
3. Focus on Emerging Markets: Emerging markets have garnered significant attention due to their growth potential. This trend acknowledges the opportunities presented by these markets and the need for tailored strategies to tap into them effectively.
4. Privacy Standards Compliance: Upholding stringent privacy standards is paramount in the current landscape. Advertisers and publishers alike must ensure that they adhere to these standards to maintain user trust and comply with regulations.
5. Emphasis on Creativity for Targeting: Creativity plays a vital role in granular targeting strategies. As the advertising landscape becomes increasingly competitive, marketers are placing a higher importance on the quality and execution of creative content to stand out.
In the realm of Connected TV (CTV), we're witnessing the rise of mobile-to-CTV campaigns, encompassing broader cross-device advertising efforts. However, one notable challenge that the industry has yet to fully address in the CTV space is attribution, which remains an area needing further development and improvement.
In the coming five to ten years, two critical areas will be pivotal to our mission. First, as previously mentioned, our focus remains on bridging the gap between the East and West by leveraging our extensive expertise in AdTech and MarTech. This strategic approach addresses a common challenge faced by many companies that attempt to expand from West to East but encounter significant hurdles along the way.
In contrast, as we initially established our presence in the East and are now expanding successfully into Western markets, we believe we are well-positioned for success in achieving our mission.
The second key area we emphasize is what we term "glocalization." This entails adapting to new and local markets by harnessing local expertise while offering global solutions. We empower our clients with analytics optimization tools, monetization strategies, and user acquisition resources, all tailored to specific local or regional nuances. This adaptability allows us to respond swiftly to the unique needs of app developers in diverse markets.
There is an ongoing and critical need to refine both the app development process and advertising strategies. This refinement applies to various aspects, including in-app advertising and in-app purchases, as well as the processes related to user acquisition creatives.
Moreover, app developers face decisions regarding whether to outsource tasks or bring them in-house. My advice to app developers is to seek solutions that align with their perspective and best interests.
When evaluating potential partners or solutions, it's essential to consider whether they truly understand the pain-points and needs of app developers. If someone is solely focused on pushing a product, platform, or solution without a deep understanding of these pain-points and needs, it's advisable to explore other options that prioritize a client-first approach.
Companies, platforms, and products should invest the time to grasp the challenges and requirements from an app developer's perspective. By engaging in collaborative discussions and actively listening to app developers, they can uncover valuable insights into these pain-points.
App developers may not always be aware of the opportunities available to them. For companies like Mobvista, which adopts a client-first approach, this opens the door to providing comprehensive solutions and services that directly address customer needs.
Currently, Mobvista boasts nearly 1,000 employees, with approximately two-thirds dedicated to product development and engineering. Among them, almost 700 individuals are committed to building top-tier, digital advertising technologies. Importantly, we do so with a client-first mindset, addressing today's pain-points while proactively anticipating and preparing for future needs. This approach positions Mobvista as a robust and effective partner well into the future.
Follow Greg's journey by connecting with him on his LinkedIn. To read similar MobileAppDaily interviews in the future, click on the link provided. To get notified of a similar new interview, subscribe to MobileAppDaily.
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