How app developers can prosper in today's competitive market place
With the first ever InMobi Developer Party set to take place at London’s Grace Bar on April 24th, we caught up with the mobile ad network’s general manager advertising performance, EMEA, Edward Laws to discuss just how developers can benefit from this unique event.
How exactly will developers benefit from the InMobi Developer Party?
Edward Laws: The event will provide mobile application developers with a unique networking opportunity, whilst also giving them a greater understanding of how they can monetise, optimise and acquire new users for their apps, in addition to driving app downloads and increasing app discoverability. We will also be demonstrating some free tools, which developers can take advantage of!
What are some of the current challenges for app developers today, both from a user acquisition and monetisation point of view?
Laws: The app developer ecosystem today is a very competitive marketplace, albeit one where anyone has a chance to succeed; you can’t always pick or predict the winners, which makes for an exciting environment. With over a billion apps available between the Google Play Market and the Apple App Store, it is evident that launching an app is relatively straightforward.
However, achieving desired scale for many developers is not easy. With thousands of apps claiming similar features and utility, differentiation is key; the building of a great app is actually only half the job.
Developers now also need to double up as savvy marketers who can conceive and execute an effective marketing plan that can help them acquire loyal engaged users for their app through both organic and paid marketing channels. This requires a combination of creativity and analytical marketing, with undeterred focus on a product with high quality user experience leading to positive reviews, sharing and “likes” on social media that all drive organic growth.
Monetising apps, on the other hand, is an ever-evolving science in itself with many different models to consider, such as premium/paid for apps, freemium models with in-app purchase or ad supported models or combinations thereof.
Understanding unique user behaviour and user needs is key to crafting the right monetisation strategy for the right user within an app, while ensuring that user experience and loyalty is not sacrificed. Developers need to pick the right tracking tools that drive actionable insights to ensure that they can engage and monetise users effectively over their lifetime – this entails getting your head around a lot of big data and trying and testing different scenarios.
Given many developers have global scale ambitions, what are some of the key considerations when moving from West to East?
Laws: Despite the fact that many markets in the Far East, such as China, Japan and Korea, are as developed as their Western counterparts, the sheer differences in culture, as well as the nature of the app ecosystem in these countries, poses a significant challenge to western developers in replicating their success there.
- Almost all apps need to be localised for Eastern markets. Bear in mind that localisation goes beyond mere translation. There are several cultural nuances to each country that may necessitate customisation of even in-game characters or promotional strategies that you may need to adopt for the app in each country
- App Store fragmentation in markets such as China, where access to the Google Play market is restricted, makes app distribution a huge challenge. Knowing which local app stores to distribute in and partnering with the right OEMs is key to ensuring effective distribution of your apps
- Given the low credit card penetration and evolved user preference to local payment methods, developers need to integrate with operator billing pipes and other payment methods, such as Alipay, to be able to support in-app purchases
- There are also several legal and regulatory nuances to these markets that developers need to be aware of to run a successful app business. For instance, in Korea, the local law mandates that all video, computer/mobile and web-based games sold in South Korea to be reviewed and rated by the government-operated Games Rating Board (GRB)
While western developers’ understanding of the Eastern world is nascent, the vice versa is true as well; developers in China, Japan and Korea are equally overwhelmed by their poor understanding of the western markets. Several independent developers from the Far East have just begun exploring western markets owing to growing competition in their homeland and the large opportunity that the western world presents.
How does InMobi support developers in addressing the challenges you have described?
Laws: InMobi provides comprehensive solutions for app developers across app distribution, user acquisition, monetisation and engagement. Our engineering efforts and developer solutions are geared to realise this vision, and here’s some examples of how:
• InMobi App Publish, was launched at the end of March. It's a free-to-use platform that helps App developers publish their Android apps to over 130 global App Stores, enabling developers to gain free global App distribution and solves the pain of submitting to and managing relations with each App Store on an individual basis (particularly in many of the Eastern markets)
• The InMobi Mobile Advertising Network incorporates unparalleled targeting capabilities, powerful conversion tracking solutions and unique, innovative ad formats to support developers in acquiring high-quality users cost-
effectively and at a large scale across the globe
• The InMobi Ad SDK helps developers monetise effectively through ads by delivering relevant and engaging ads to users from premium advertisers on the InMobi global ad network
• InMobi Ad Tracker is a free to use tracking platform that allows developers to track bespoke conversions across multiple ad networks through one interface
• The InMobi Lifetime Value Platform (LTVP) is an absolutely free-to-use advanced mobile platform that allows developers to better understand their users and engage with them, helping to maximise Lifetime Value (LTV) and ultimately increase app revenues. Mobile developers can access state of the art engagement tracking, user segmenting and targeted response campaign management from the same platform
As a mobile-first technology company, InMobi is committed to innovating in this ecosystem to make it easier for app developers to achieve scale and monetise effectively.
What do you think are the top trends to watch out for in 2013?
• Mobile advertising turned mainstream, growing 148 per cent year-on-year to £526m, up from £203m in 2011. Marketing budgets have had to keep pace with smartphone and tablet adoption. We believe 2013 mobile advertising as a percentage of total media spend will continue to grow and the disparity between time spent and ad spent will reduce further
• As we have seen with the PC and online world, advertisers and publishers are transacting on an RTB basis and we expect to see increasing interest in these buying and selling strategies on mobile
• Tablet as a medium for advertising is likely to attract more attention from advertisers. The InMobi ad network saw a “hockey stick” growth in terms of share of tablet impressions last year and this trend will continue in 2013. With a larger real estate to deliver rich and engaging ads, and tablet consumers typically being higher spenders on app content, it would be key for developers to have a dedicated tablet strategy for user acquisition and monetisation
• While Android and iOS have ruled the roost traditionally, 2013 will be a defining year for the Windows 8 and RIM/BB10 platforms to make their mark amongst the developer community
• We also expect ongoing innovation around ad formats, relevance, optimisation and user conversion.