Branded entertainment is a form of marketing where companies produce, fund, or license the creation of entertainment media. While the term overlaps slightly with content marketing, the two techniques serve unique purposes. The distinction is that branded content is not promotional in and of itself — instead, branded entertainment generates awareness by creating associations between brand messaging and engaging media content.
In other words:
Branded entertainment has become especially popular in recent years, corresponding with declining engagement rates for traditional advertising methods. Despite these trends, branded content has existed since the earliest days of sponsored broadcasting. In 1951, for example, Hallmark produced the Hall of Fame television program. In 1984, Hasbro licensed a Transformers animated series to generate awareness for its toy line.
Perhaps the most popular branded entertainment line of 2019 is LEGO, which encompasses critically-acclaimed films, television series, and video games. Yet customers can find many examples of branded content today, ranging from short films to newspaper articles. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the development of branded mobile games and apps.
Mobile apps represent an especially promising, if relatively untapped opportunity for branded entertainment — especially in the mobile gaming category. The restaurant chain Chipotle recently sponsored a top-rated mobile game with gameplay mechanics inspired by healthy eating. Meanwhile, Dorito’s sponsored a gaming app that rewarded points to a linked customer loyalty program. Once again, LEGO is also a branded entertainment leader in the mobile space. The company has licensed multiple games and entertainment media tie-ins on Google Play and the App Store, including LEGO Batman, LEGO Star Wars, and LEGO Ninjago.
On their own merits, mobile apps have become one of the highest-performing marketing channels available — and that’s before we account for branded entertainment. Across the developed and developing world, an overwhelming majority of adults own at least one mobile device. Roughly 90% of mobile browsing time is spent engaged with mobile apps. The Google Play storefront alone hosts approximately 1,300 new apps each day. Users clearly enjoy downloading and experiencing apps, making them an ideal branded entertainment channel.
Branded entertainment also gains unique benefits from app ecosystems that are difficult to leverage in other media formats. For example, branded entertainment apps are easier to distribute and monetize compared to media like film or television. Mobile apps also have a significant return on investment compared to other media, partly because they can monetize multiple revenue channels — apps support advertising revenue, in-app purchases, direct app storefront transactions, or any combination of the above.
On top of these benefits, branded entertainment apps:
If creating a branded entertainment app was easy, every single company would have done so by now. Unfortunately, branded entertainment faces the same production challenges as any other entertainment media. Even in 2019, it’s incredibly difficult to know whether a branded entertainment product will succeed or be ignored. In the 1980s, Transformers became a pop culture sensation, but Nintendo’s The Wizard was a critical flop — branded entertainment apps face the same risks.
For a branded entertainment app to succeed, developers must conduct extensive market research and testing to optimize the experience for their chosen market segment. Brands should also seek out app development expertise where possible. If you’re producing a mobile game, consider licensing the project to successful mobile developers. There are many top-tier mobile studios who would be willing to design games for the right brand under a favourable partnership agreement.
Finally, mobile app publishing itself also poses unique risks and challenges. Branded entertainment publishers should be prepared to address the following issues:
Mobile games and apps have immense value for entertainment brands looking to expand their reach. Yet these benefits aren’t just exclusive to entertainment brands — non-entertainment media companies also attract new users by adapting their brands into engaging mobile apps.
For help promoting your branded entertainment apps, contact the mobile experts at Tapjoy today!
If there is a definitive voice on the state of app marketing, it is eMarketer’s. The market research firm’s latest Mobile App Installs annual report is now out, and its findings paint the picture of an industry in flux, making it a must-read for anyone charged with acquiring new installs and driving user acquisition for mobile apps.
According to the report, installs grew nearly 12 percent year-over-year in Q1 2019, driven primarily by developing markets. As in years past, gaming apps are still the most popular downloads, but games now face increasing competition for ad inventory from verticals such as retail, travel, utilities and more, resulting in higher prices across the board.
In response, many app marketers have embraced a “quality over quantity” approach that seeks to generate new users with a higher lifetime value (LTV) and better return on ad spend (ROAS). They rely on downstream metrics and post-install activity — such as levels completed or purchases made — to gauge the effectiveness of their install campaigns and re-allocate budgets accordingly.
As Tapjoy’s senior vice president of global performance, Sarah Chafer, explains, marketers are getting savvier at identifying certain thresholds that serve as a proxy for user engagement and indicate the quality of an install campaign. She tells eMarketer, “Every advertiser has the challenge of finding that point of adoption where once the user gets to this level, they tend to play 10 times more often or become the user who opens the app every day for the next 30 days.”
Identifying that threshold is one thing; finding install sources that drive those types of users is another. Fortunately, the definitive voice in app marketing delivers another seminal report on the state of the industry and how marketers can innovate to land coveted home screen placement.
To learn more about the three major strategies that developers follow to acquire and engage app users, purchase the full report on eMarketer.com.
Mobile advertising is an incredibly high-performing marketing channel, but we often forget how new it actually is. Most attribution standards have only been established in recent years, partly thanks to companies like Singular — an MMP that started life as a mobile analytics platform.
Tapjoy recently met with Singular co-founder and COO Susan Kuo to discuss how her company successfully merged analytics and attribution into a unified solution and what that means for today’s app developers.
I’m the COO and co-founder of Singular. In my day-to-day, I oversee business development with our partner ecosystem that spans across a thousand plus publishers, ad networks and other various marketing automation and analytics providers.
When we first started Singular, the mission of our platform was very simple: To give marketers a single source of truth to understand their ROI at the most granular level. But we quickly realized that in order to deliver on our mission to advertisers, we were beholden to the standards of existing mobile attribution at the time. No one in the industry was taking ownership to connect marketing channels and attribution solutions in a way that supported standardized data governance. In order to improve the industry standard, this meant that we would need to help marketers manage their data at the user level. This is why we decided to become an MMP, so that we have the foundation to build a best in class unified platform that provides both Analytics and Attribution in a single solution. Today, over 50% of the top 100 global app publishers use Singular.
The first three years of our business was dedicated to building our analytics solution. It not only connects to over a thousand ad channels, but the core IP also lays the foundation for understanding the taxonomy and hierarchies within each of these networks. Ultimately, that means that we can standardize marketing data sets across these channels so that marketers can see their ROI at the most granular and accurate level.
Until 2017, when Singular started offering attribution, marketers had to purchase an attribution and analytics solution side-by-side with different vendors. We are the only MMP to integrate all a marketer’s conversion and install data with their overall marketing and campaign data. The result: Context and color around your marketing investments that is essential for optimization and future growth.
One of the things that I noticed when we started Singular five years ago was how male dominated this industry was. Thankfully, there are more women in our industry today, in higher-powered roles than ever before. I’ve been very fortunate to have met some of the most amazing group of women in our industry. I can’t count how many times during off hours where we commented on how we would love to ‘get together more’ and learn from each other.
So, this is really the purpose behind THRIVE.
It is a community that is aimed at connecting and empowering women leaders and influencers in growth marketing. The goal is to learn from each other’s mistakes and accomplishments both in and out of the workplace, and most importantly coming together and forming meaningful friendships. If you think about it, the very definition of THRIVE is growing together, and that’s really the objective for this community.
We launched our first event at MAU in Las Vegas in May and I’m incredibly pleased with how the launch went. Not only was it one of the most well attended events across all of the adjacent events going on at MAU, but the overwhelming amount of interest from inspiring women across the industry who were keen on getting involved in the community. We came out of the event with some great topics for follow on events and will be looking to launch our second THRIVE event later this quarter here in the bay area, and more to come after!
There are three primary trends we’re watching unfold in our space:
There is a common misconception about the mobile advertising industry that there are only a few dominant media sources to work with. And yes, a good portion of spend in the market goes to Facebook and Google. But what some marketers aren’t aware of is that there is a considerable amount of good inventory and innovative ad units across other ad networks.
My advice to app marketers who aren’t doing this already is this: If you have the ability to scale beyond five ad networks, I definitely recommend trying this out. What we’ve seen in our data is that marketers who advertised on more than 5 ad networks — scaling efforts past Facebook, Google, and Instagram — had a 37% lower CPI and 60% higher installs with the same exact ad spend.
We see that there is an estimated 60% growth in mobile apps that will monetize through in-app advertising. Emerging ad-supported genres like hyper-casual are a big part of why in-app advertising revenue is set to triple from $72 billion to $201 billion. Publishers need to make sure that their UA strategy and measurement vendor has a solid solution in place to factor in the in-app advertising revenue into the equation so that you can understand true ROI across your marketing channels.
We expect to see tightening down of consumer privacy from dominant industry players like Apple. There’s been quite a bit of speculation across the industry that one of the likely outcomes can be the potential deprecation of IDFA.
At Singular, we’ve spent considerable time imagining and planning for a world where mobile apps and marketers would have to survive in a privacy-safe environment without a common device identifier like IDFA on devices. We recently launched an industry working group called MAP, which stands for Mobile Attribution Privacy. MAP is focused on defining the new standards around a privacy-first Mobile Attribution ecosystem.
There has been quite of buzz over the past few years about AI. While I think it’s still very much in its infancy, I think we will start to see some initial advancements within our industry this year. For example, we will be looking to launch our Insights product later this year that will be aimed at surfacing benchmarks and predictive models that will enable marketers to automatically uncover insights that they are having to do manually (or worse, not at all). This is an incredibly exciting move for Singular as this has always been the vision for the company since day one, to build the core foundation and standardization of data centrality and data governance.
And only when this has been achieved, can we harness the ability to provide insights on top of this data and become what we consider the next generation marketing analytics providers, a true marketing intelligence platform.
Tapjoy would like to thank Susan Kuo for taking the time to join us. To learn more about how Singular helps developers grow more while paying less, be sure to download their Scaling Mobile Growth Report and learn how you can unlock breakthrough mobile growth for your mobile portfolio.
It’s hard to convince people to pay for something they’re used to getting for free. And with hundreds of thousands of free apps on the App Store and Google Play, competition for mobile users’ attention is stiff enough before even considering in-app purchases (IAP). There are tons of developers succeeding off ad revenue alone, but many rely on IAP revenue as well, which requires convincing free users to make a purchase in your game or app.
It’s easier said than done, of course, but if increasing your IAP conversion rate is the goal, there are some strategic ways to do so. From types of paid content to best practices, here’s what you need to know.
IAP conversion rate refers to the percentage of users who complete an in-app purchase within an otherwise free game or app. For example, if you had 100 people using your free app and 3 of them made some sort of purchase within the app, your IAP conversion rate would be 3%.
As far as what counts as an in-app purchase, that’s when things get a little varied. It could be a one-time transaction, such as buying a weapon or skin for a small price in a mobile game. It could mean going from a free version of an app to a premium version, again requiring a one-time fee. This might grant the user access to special content or an ad-free version of the experience.
IAP conversion rates also refer to those who go from free or trial versions on an app to paid subscriptions. This is a little different in that it can be a bigger or longer commitment than a one-time purchase, but subscriptions are becoming more and more popular among app developers. And users have shown they’re willing to commit to a recurring fee if the content warrants it; just look at the success of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify.
Sources vary on average purchase conversion rate, but most put it at around 2% to 3%. There are a lot of other factors to consider as well, such as smartphone vs. tablet, App Store vs. Google Play, and so forth; for example, according to Business Insider, iOS users are 80% more likely to make an in-app purchase than Android users.
The bottom line is, your IAP conversion rate may look low on paper, but that doesn’t mean you’re not successful. It only takes a small percentage of paying users to drive a large amount of revenue.
Naturally, there’s still plenty of money to be made incorporating clever, creative, and engaging ads into your app experience. That said, why limit yourself to just one revenue source when you have the potential to earn more? A healthy blend of ad sales and IAPs can make an app profitable even in today’s crowded marketplace.
And if you’re still thinking IAPs aren’t worth the effort, think again. Just look at Candy Crush Saga, an ostensibly free game that’s earned over a billion dollars on in-app purchases. In the current app economy, not considering IAP conversion rate is leaving money on the table.
While there’s no foolproof formula to turn free users into paying users, there are steps you can take to make your paid offerings more attractive to users.
For busy professionals, paying a dollar or two to unlock more lives or power-ups is preferable to waiting for an arbitrary timer to click down. Remember, time is also a precious commodity, and your IAP options should reflect that.
This also applies to mobile games, which often provide in-game items for a small cost. Often, these are items that could be unlocked after a random loot drop or many hours of play, but even full-priced AAA titles offer gamers shortcuts to buy some items immediately.
As mentioned above, the Candy Crush franchise has built a billion-dollar empire off of this concept. As more and more big developers and publishers bring their games to mobile — as we’ve seen with Fortnite — in-game items are going to be a big source of IAP conversion rates.
At this point, any mobile user understands that ads are part of the process. An occasional marketing message is a small price to pay for a free game, productivity helper, or whatever other service the app might offer. Note that this almost never applies, however, to rewarded ads which are a welcome addition to any robust free-to-play economy as long as they provide consistent value.
While free apps might quickly run low on content, giving users an incentive to keep coming back for more — even if they have to pay for it — can also increase IAP conversion rate. This might mean providing elevated experiences not available in the free version, seasonal events, bonus content; as a developer, it’s up to you to create that drive.
More and more, app developers are using subscriptions as a regular source of IAP revenue. The trade-off is that you’ll have to give users a steady stream of updates to justify the monthly or yearly cost, but gaming, entertainment, travel, and mindfulness apps have been able to do just that, to name just a few.
While IAP conversion might not be the biggest number in your dataset, it’s still an important one. Some users are never going to pay, and that’s okay. What’s important is targeting the potential payers and offering them worthwhile experiences they can’t get for free.
For more information about in-app purchases and mobile marketing, the experts at Tapjoy are ready to help.
At one time, getting your app featured on the front page of the app stores was enough to assure success. Times have changed. Millions of apps saturate today’s mobile market, and even the best made games and apps can have short life cycles without a proper digital marketing and discovery plan in place. Finding a competitive edge is a challenge when so many developers are trying to stand out.
In recent years, mobile developers have noticed that entertainment brands rarely face this problem. Mobile game developers FoxNext released Marvel Strike Force and immediately attracted a material audience thanks to the associated IP’s accrued brand equity. What’s more, every time Marvel Studios releases a new film — such as the hotly anticipated Avengers: Endgame — FoxNext sees completely organic performance boosts as new audiences download the app and those associated with the same IP. This feedback loop allowed Strike Force to generate $150 million in advertising revenue during its first year.
And that’s just Marvel. Branded IP apps for Star Wars or Harry Potter have seen similar success because when it comes to the mobile app world, brand recognition increases the number of organic acquired users, who are easier to retain over the long term with engaging gameplay. Developers are then free to direct the time and attention of these users towards more of their own branded content or monetize it through other means. It’s a powerful feedback loop that cultivates engagement before, during, and after a piece of entertainment content is released — and it all starts with partnerships between entertainment studios and mobile developers.
Entertainment studios and mobile game developers each have distinct goals:
At a content output level, these are completely different types of organizations working on entirely different projects. Entertainment studios don’t have experience creating mobile apps, and developers likely haven’t produced a feature film. What each party can do, however, is forge a partnership that amplifies a brand’s power through strategic release schedules and harmonious collaborations. The existence of Marvel Strike Force is itself an advertisement for Avengers: Endgame, for example, while Endgame cultivates interest in superhero games like Strike Force.
These partnerships can be forged and leveraged in countless ways. In most cases, an entertainment studio owns a promising IP, and licenses that IP to a game developer. Many developers can also pitch game ideas to entertainment studios that they feel might harmonize particularly well with a beloved brand.
Sometimes licenses aren’t based in entertainment IP — video games themselves can become the basis of such partnerships. Rovio’s Angry Birds was a hugely successful mobile gaming franchise with multiple popular SKUs to its name. That attracted the attention of Colombia Pictures, who developed a full-length animated film that became the second-highest grossing motion picture of all time. (And while we’re on the subject, the highest-grossing film in the world is itself a video game adaptation.)
It’s a track record that proves studios and developers can work together to enhance brands in ways that would be challenging alone. Studios gain a broader reach for their brand while focusing internal development on a single film project. App developers can experiment with characters and storylines that might not fit within a theatrical release’s scope. The possibilities are endless, if you can manage the relationship and effectively time your app launches.
Just as there are countless reasons to form a partnership, there are a myriad of ways to structure a licensing agreement. There is currently no industry standard relationship between studios and developers, so license terms can take many forms. Some studios might give developers free reign to produce any type of game they wish, while others carefully approve each project to ensure it matches the branded experience.
Most large-scale entertainment studios like Universal of Disney carefully decide who licenses are granted to. As IP holders, they typically have the final say on which games are produced, how marketing is deployed, and how associated content like live streams are managed. In these instances, studios offer a fixed-term license that either covers a single game, or grants exclusive rights for an entire IP on specific platforms. Licenses also formalize how revenue will ultimately be divided between each party. If the license is not renewed, games and apps produced under its terms will be delisted from official storefronts.
In yet another possible outcome, entertainment studios might opt to acquire a development team outright. This usually occurs when a studio is interested in owning a developer’s IP, but doesn’t have the expertise to produce it. With acquisition, studios have effectively hired an experienced creative team as employees for an IP’s future development. As a bonus, no license agreement is required because all decisions are internalized, which means apps won’t need to be delisted from mobile platforms.
At Tapjoy, we monitor and analyze ad performance on branded apps, and we’ve noticed a clear pattern. If an app is available to download prior to a film’s release, every performance metric across the board benefits. You can imagine how well the Marvel portfolio is performing right about now.
Launching a mobile gaming app prior to a film’s release is the best strategy for everyone involved. It lets studios market upcoming movies, while developers can craft thematic game content audiences can enjoy and tap into. Players become far more engaged before the theatrical main event, and have a similar experience to enjoy after the credits roll. Studios and developers benefit financially as well, thanks to the value proposition of marketing services like playable ads or interstitial videos.
That’s not to say developers should rush to finish an app before release date — a poorly planned game can still risk negative consumer perception of an entertainment brand. It just means that coordinating a strategy in advance will maximize the benefits of studio/developer partnerships. Film and game companies are increasingly aware of this fact, prompting them to account for such details in the earliest planning stages.
As entertainment studios continue to push for larger-scale experiences for their IPs, partnerships with app developers will become even more common. Some teams will license brands for limited-time projects, while others will be acquired entirely. But in 2019, these mutual benefits are crystal clear, so these unions will become the norm — if they haven’t already.
Jeff Weinroth is Senior Director of Sales at Tapjoy, the mobile advertising and monetization platform.
Whether your goal is to build brand awareness or acquire customers, mobile ads are a vital part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. Smartphones are now more common than desktop computers, and audiences use them to play games, post on social media, or browse the internet. Meanwhile, app usage has surpassed that of the mobile web, prompting many advertisers to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.
Furthermore, in-app marketing is a vastly different discipline compared traditional web advertising. To succeed, advertisers and developers must work together to come up with creative ways of leveraging new and compelling mobile ad formats to engage audiences.
The good news is that advertisers and developers alike have a variety mobile ad formats to choose from. Here are some of the core formats to help you get started.
Offerwalls are interactive in-app ad units that give users the opportunity to earn relevant rewards through incentivized actions. This allows developers and publishers to monetize their apps through contextually relevant offers while letting advertisers foster engagement with new audiences. In most cases, offerwalls take the form of in-app storefronts where users can complete objectives for virtual rewards like in-game currency.
Offerwalls can be deployed in any app, but are especially effective in free-to-play mobile games, where they provide an alternative method for engaged players to acquire in-game items or currency. Offerwalls can themselves be used as a vehicle for delivering other types of ad units, although rewarded ads tend to be the most popular with users. Other engagement opportunities include surveys or free trials for brand services.
Offerwalls are a form of value-exchange advertising, so their only hard rule is that users choose to engage with them, as opposed to interstitial formats which arrive unprompted. This has the added benefit of generating higher levels of engagement compared to unrequested advertisements, which in turn maximizes ad revenue for publishers. Pop-up reminders and notifications can still direct users to the offerwall if effectively integrated with the app’s native experience.
In the early days of mobile advertising, most ad creative was delivered through largely static mediums like banners or image-based interstitials. Today, advertisers have found great success using modern web technology to feature more engaging experiences and the ability to respond to user input. Modern ad creative can feature video, audio, or any other creative element that enhances the user experience. What’s more, rich media can effectively attract user attention and provides higher engagement than standard creatives.
Facets of rich media advertising can be leveraged in a variety of other formats, most notably as interactive end cards for video advertisements. These are largely web-based interfaces that can include multiple calls-to-action that can direct traffic towards multiple destinations. Alternatively, rich media technology can be used to develop creative that is 100% interaction based, allowing audiences to engage with brands in new and exciting ways.
Mobile video advertisements typically last around 30 seconds and often conclude with an interactive end card that makes use of rich media ad technology. They are an evolution of static interstitial ads which were common in the early days of mobile advertising, reimagined to better support modern device capabilities and advertiser needs.
Mobile video ads are especially effective when deployed as full-screen in-app advertisements, while mobile web deployments are more limited. Mobile video ads can be employed as rewarded placements, or delivered as interstitials. In the case of the ladder, it’s recommended that developers carefully monitor and adjust the frequency of interstitial placements, as studies have shown unprompted ads can damage retention if used to excess. When necessary, interstitial videos are best delivered at natural breaks in user experience. For example, a mobile game should have video ads between levels or gameplay activities, not during gameplay.
Rewarded video ads are among the most popular forms of advertising on modern mobile devices. They go a step beyond traditional video ads by offering users a measurable benefit in exchange for their time and attention. Whether delivered through an offerwall or a standalone placement, rewarded video ads can provide in-app currency, in-game bonuses, or other kinds of premium content that address the vast majority of users who may not be willing to convert on an IAP purchase but are still eager to engage.
Since their inception, multiple studies and in-market examples have emerged to suggest that rewarded ad placements are among the most well-received by users. Many customers know and understand the premise of value-exchange and are happy to engage with rewarded placements knowing that it supports developers and enables further engagement with the products they love.
Playables are short in-app advertisements that offer audiences the chance to experience a sample of a game or app’s core engagement loop. Instead of presenting users with a static interstitial or passive video, playables use touchscreens and other mobile device capabilities to create a small interactive demonstration. Naturally, they are well-suited to mobile gaming categories.
In their most common form, playables highlight a single gameplay mechanic from the advertised app. This gives players the opportunity to sample a game’s experiential value before installing it, usually from a storefront link within the playable itself.
Some common playable deployment examples include:
Today’s mobile ad formats have transformed the way users engage with traditional marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, the emphasis on value-exchange advertising makes it easier to advertisers and developers to maximize performance and revenue.
Mobile ad format expertise is just one way the monetization and advertising experts at Tapjoy help our customers succeed. For more information on mobile ad essentials, contact the Tapjoy team today.
Looking to brush up your mobile marketing fundamentals? Take a look at our strategy article, “Mobile Ad Mediation – What Developers Need To Know”.
The movement to cultivate an equal opportunity workplace takes many forms in 2019. One of the most promising is Fairygodboss, a career development website specifically designed by and for women. Millions of users visit Fairygodboss each month to search for jobs, find leadership advice, or conduct research on how businesses treat female employees.
Tapjoy recently met with Fairygodboss Senior Director of User Acquisition Ngozi Ogbonna to discuss the unique challenges of building a women-focused career community.
Fairygodboss is the largest career community for women. We provide millions of women with career connections, jobs, community advice, and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women. I’m the Senior Director of User Acquisition, so my role is primarily focused on driving growth via paid and organic media channels.
Fairygodboss is really unique in that it’s a platform that not only provides really great content and articles for career-minded women, but where women can also apply to jobs at top companies across the US – companies who care about gender equality and supporting women in their work spaces; where they can read real company reviews by women, for women about what it’s like to work at those companies, what the benefits are like, whether women can grow and get promoted there, whether women are paid fairly, and other hard to get intel; as well as access a community of millions of peers to get advice, have meaningful discussions and connect with. Additionally, Fairygodboss also sponsors and produces virtual and physical events around topics about women in the workplace.
One challenge is that across those different value propositions, we have a lot of competitors who also do some of those things. I believe the unique opportunity for Fairygodboss is our community. Our users are driven and ambitious about developing their own careers, but are also determined to help other women advance as well.
Fairygodboss is a marketplace where we’re building a community of women who are engaged and interested in developing a career that fits their overall life. And on the other side, we’re partnering with companies that are actively looking to attract and recruit those women.
Fairygodboss wants to create an inclusive community where women feel empowered to speak their minds and give honest reviews about their employers. Like any other review site, we rely on the wisdom of the community to convey the truth about a particular company. And anonymity is important to us. While some reviewers register using their work email addresses, others don’t feel comfortable doing so, and we respect that. We look at other platforms that feature user generated content like Indeed or Glassdoor, who have done this well, to see how they’re managing and enforcing their content guidelines. Our content guidelines were crafted in consultation with Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, so that’s something we take very seriously.
From a user engagement standpoint, I like what digital-first brands like Away and Casper are doing. Luggage and mattresses are infrequent purchases, and they both do a great job of continuing to engage their consumers throughout their lifecycles. For us, whether you’re an active job seeker, are just looking for career development advice or want to support the mission of improving the workplace for women, we want Fairygodboss to become a regular destination for you.
We’re seeing the desire for meaningful diversity and inclusion initiatives across a myriad of industries and company sizes. There have been tons of independent studies confirming that diverse teams and organizations are more profitable and successful. Specific fields that are really striving to make more inroads are the tech and financial industries. Collectively, we still have a long way to go in terms of mitigating gender inequality in all workplaces – especially in historically male-dominated industries.
Yes, both organizations are focused on supporting and elevating the voices of women who are underserved in their respective spaces. Showcasing the huge community of leaders and talent that don’t get the recognition they deserve – despite positively impacting and leading innovation in their industries. Both communities are continuing to challenge and make some process in changing those narratives.
I think inequality is fostered by the lack of access and opportunities. I would love to see more male colleagues support the visibility and voices of their female colleagues in the workplace. We should all be empowered to challenge existing systems and be the change agents to transform workplace cultures.
The conversations around data – data unification, privacy, transparency, and accuracy – are exciting to me. As performance marketers, we want to measure everything. But we have access to so much data, and with continued legislative and platform changes on how we can collect and use that data – the challenge is figuring out how we can best apply the data in an actionable way. AI and machine learning are helping to solve that problem.
Culturally, gender equality and diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives centered around career-minded women are dominating the zeitgeist right now. It’s exciting to see organizations that are focused around that intersection like mBolden, The Wing, Elpha and The Cru continue to expand. The future is female, and I’m excited for all of us to work together to shift the culture and effect lasting change for the next generations.
OTT stands for “over-the-top” and refers to the productized practice of streaming content to customers directly over the web. It represents the future of entertainment — one that is already unfolding.
My name is Meghan McAdams, and I’m the VP of National Brand Sales at Tapjoy. In this blog series, we’ll explore the platforms, opportunities, and challenges that are driving modern online entertainment. We’ll discuss topics like:
But first, it’s important to more clearly define these services and their role in the modern media landscape.
An “over-the-top” media service is any online content provider that offers streaming media as a standalone product. The term is commonly applied to video-on-demand platforms, but also refers to audio streaming, messaging services, or internet-based voice calling solutions.
OTT services circumvent traditional media distribution channels such as telecommunications networks or cable television providers. As long as you have access to an internet connection — either locally or through a mobile network — you can access the complete service at your leisure.
OTT services are typically monetized via paid subscriptions, but there are exceptions. For example, some OTT platforms might offer in-app purchases or advertising.
With over 50% of North Americans maintaining Netflix subscriptions, it’s clear consumers love OTT content. Here are just a few reasons why the format is more appealing than traditional alternatives:
Thanks to its internet-based delivery system, OTT platforms bypass third-party networks that traditionally managed online content. The only things customers need are an internet connection and a compatible hardware device.
While the OTT conversation largely revolves around video-on-demand, the technology actually covers a broad range of web-based content:
Most OTT services are associated with “cord cutting” — the practice of cancelling TV or phone subscriptions to focus on web-based alternatives. While cord cutting has certainly increased OTT consumer adoption, that doesn’t mean traditional networks will disappear entirely. In fact, customers maintain traditional cable services alongside Netflix or Amazon Prime subscriptions.
It’s also worth remembering that OTT services are still fairly new, and could undergo significant changes as best practices are refined. For example, some experts believe OTT platforms could one day be bundled much like traditional cable packages. In fact, some cable companies offer OTT solutions like HBO Go as part of their premium subscriptions.
We no longer live in a world where Netflix is the only OTT game in town. Increased competition will be a major challenge for video OTT solutions in the years ahead:
We’re currently witnessing a new wave of diversification across OTT markets, creating new opportunities and challenges. Recent studies suggest 50% of OTT customers are experiencing “subscription fatigue” from engaging with so many platforms. In time, this could prompt customers to become more selective with their managed subscriptions. Meanwhile, the growth of large-scale platforms like Disney+ could impact the prospects for smaller, niche services.
Despite these challenges, OTT technology has immense potential. Video streaming services are on the rise globally, with North America representing the most mature markets at a 51% adoption rate. Europe and Asia-Pacific are seeing impressive growth as brands like Netflix expand internationally.
Beyond global adoption rates, major opportunities exist in non-entertainment markets. One recent survey determined that 50% of OTT subscribers pay for educational content, usually in the form of instructional streaming platforms. Streams that emphasize children’s programming or health-based content might hold immense potential.
OTT platforms should also consider the benefits of tiered monetization. While most solutions are subscription based, 20% of subscribers also made in-app purchases in 2018. Casting a wide net when it comes to monetization methods could help OTT solutions grow in the years ahead.
Performance marketing has proven to be an especially successful method of attracting subscribers to OTT platforms in a way that is scalable and predictable for marketers.
Over-the-top media services have been with us for years, but they clearly have room to grow. Increased diversification and competition suggests the market is healthy and growing, and many opportunities remain untapped. Whether you’re following up-and-coming platforms, or enjoying the latest Netflix original series, OTT clearly represents the future of media. It’s an exciting time to be a part of it.
Looking to brush up your mobile marketing fundamentals? Take a look at our strategy article, “Mobile Advertising – Best Practices For Success in 2019”.
Largely known for social casino games like World Series of Poker, Slotomania, and Bingo Blitz, Playtika is one of the most prolific and successful mobile gaming companies operating today. Having recently acquired top developers like Jelly Button and Wooga, it’s poised to succeed in all corners of the app store.
Tapjoy recently met with World Series of Poker marketing director Jeet Niyogi to discuss the trends that brought Playtika to its unique position in the industry.
Playtika is one of the leading mobile gaming publishers, which started its journey in the social casino space but has now established games across various genres of the gaming space. It has acquired a wide range of studios, most recently Wooga (maker of June’s Journey, Pearl’s Peril), and prior to that Jelly Button (Pirate Kings, Board Kings). Right now we’re exploring opportunities and investing in the entire casual gaming market space.
Playtika has grown exponentially over the last 4-5 years. Founded in 2010, the company was among the first to offer free-to-play social games on social networks and, shortly after, on mobile platforms. We have over 27 million monthly active users. Five of our games are pretty regularly in the top 100 grossing apps on Google Play and the App Store.
At Playtika, I manage the marketing for World Series Poker, which is the #1 poker app and is quite consistently among the top 30 grossing games in the App Store and Google Play store. My team handles user acquisition, re-engagement, app store optimization, industry intelligence, product market planning, and creative marketing. It’s quite busy!
I would not say that there has been a huge direct impact but whenever the industry is disrupted the pressures are felt in the shared ecosystem. For example, getting new players or retargeting can become more expensive… It starts with targeting the relevant people, and making those hard decisions on where to put money and when without taking your eye off of profitability. So, yes there might be a hiccup when something like Fortnite or Pokemon Go comes out, but the quality of your game and data-driven decisions can help create a sustainable niche with a decent active user base.
Let’s use WSOP, our poker game, as an example. Not only do we work hard to give our players an authentic poker experience, but we also go over and beyond with creating innovative special events and live operations. We developed new metagames such as Poker Recall, which can be best described as a combination of memory game, poker hands understanding, and some luck. No one else has done that, and our players like it a lot. Same with Texas Roulette, where you’ll either fold or go all-in, a new game mode. Players have fun with it.
We try to bring in the right people with our continuous campaign optimization and predictive modeling, but also give players new reasons to come back day after day, rewarding their progression and offering new social experiences.
Gaming is more mature in the mobile app space. And within gaming we are in the mid-level maturity, which makes it harder for us to acquire new users at decent costs every passing day. The costs as we know are going only in one direction. So, given this situation you have to orchestrate actions and make decisions that may not look the greatest in the short-term but would pay off in the long term. From building the right team to analyzing data, investing in predictive analysis, testing new formats and networks, and taking actions that justify and balance out short-term and long term profitability.
My team looks at various things such as finding that right balance between bringing players with high ROAS and decent stickiness. Then we have to make decisions about how much to split between user acquisition and retargeting, which is very critical. I have a theory around the split which is somewhat correlated to the lifecycle of a game.
One consideration is that unlike the days of marketing yore, we have a lot more relevant and usable data. You can track the users coming in, analyze what they have done in the game, measure precise returns over the cost, measure engagement with your app, and apply what you’ve learned to improve how you spend your next dollar within a very short time span. The step beyond that is prediction, which a lot of big companies including us are headed towards. That means using data analysis, user behavior analysis, and artificial intelligence to better understand how and where you can create profitable opportunities.
Even with all the information we have on what makes for good creative, there’s no guarantee it will engage users once you throw it up on, say, Facebook. Even with all the constraints, if the analysis is directional, one can test things easily these days. As I say, tests can be quite disheartening as nine out of 15 fail. But sometimes those couple conclusives tests can make a significant difference in moving that proverbial needle.
As I was mentioning before, we are continuously looking at producing quality content and reducing the time to market for all these new features and events in our game. One very important area is quality assurance. This new centre is part of a partnership with services company Qualitest, which will help establish the office and provide QA and software testing for Playtika’s mobile games.
There are a lot of projects underway to meet our objective of becoming one of the top gaming companies in the world. There are truly many different areas from tackling new genres, driving new features in the existing games, faster turnaround times, better service, investing in new ideas and content, so on and so forth. We are putting a lot of effort into this, and growing in every possible way.
Tapjoy would like to thank Jeet Niyogi for taking the time to join us. If you’d like to brush up on more mobile fundamentals, check out “What Is In-App Marketing?” for a deep dive into strategies and tips on developing your own unique in-app campaigns.
Marvel and Avatar are two of the biggest entertainment IPs on the planet, and FoxNext is developing mobile games for both. That creates a unique set of opportunities and challenges for mobile marketing campaigns, but Vivek Girotra is ready for them. Vivek recently spoke with Tapjoy to discuss the mobile trends he believes will impact his corner of the marketing world.
Vivek: I’m Vivek and currently Director of User Acquisition Marketing at FoxNext. I’ve spent over ten years in performance marketing, both on the agency and the marketer sides. I work very closely with our media buying, creative, BI and data science teams to ensure we are all aligned and focused on driving our business objectives.
Vivek: At FoxNext, we want players to stick around in the game for years together; so our focus is always on the long-term when it comes to making decisions regarding growth and engagement.
As a UA team, we’re very singularly focused on driving ROI, and so we slice and dice our data by all possible dimensions. We are constantly testing different partners, buying models, optimization strategies, and creative formats to figure out what is going to get us the best bang for our buck. We work very closely with our data scientists to build predictive models and find early indicators to make decisions that will affect future revenue and growth.
We also keep a close eye on retention and regularity and ask questions like: How often do people come back to the game? How engaged are the players? How does the revenue stacking look like for cohorts month-on-month? Is the user base growing or shrinking? We strive to seek answers to such questions on a consistent basis.
Vivek: We consider our association with the MARVEL brand to be a great asset. MARVEL has close to 80 years of history and brand goodwill which is a huge advantage when it comes to marketing a game. Users are already familiar with, and have a strong affinity for, many of the characters featured in our games and creatives. In today’s crowded and competitive gaming marketplace, getting over the awareness phase (using the AIDA funnel: Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action) is the biggest hurdle for most new apps. For our game MARVEL Strike Force, our partnership with MARVEL has definitely helped us to establish ourselves quickly and achieve $150 million in revenue during its first year. That’s a testament to the quality of our game, our team’s marketing efforts, and the power of the brand.
On the other hand, our partnership is not exclusive and there are many MARVEL games in the market. That creates a challenge for us to stand out amongst the crowd, create the correct product-market fit and find the right users and monetization strategy.
Vivek: Nowadays we are focusing a lot on culturalization in non-English speaking markets. I am very specific in my choice of words here – I didn’t say localization. By culturalization, I mean making our products appealing and resonant with regional cultures. We are not simply slapping translated ad copy onto creative, but we’re fundamentally changing the creative depending on the region. We conduct research into the popular characters, prevalent color palettes, music etc. in different countries and customize the creative and messaging accordingly. We have seen an encouraging response to these initiatives and plan to continue iterating on this subject. Obviously, it is cost and time prohibitive to conduct this process for a large number of countries and so we restrict testing to higher-volume markets. We are lucky to have a highly competent and prolific marketing art team which has been leading this charge.
I also think the popularity of e-sports and social elements will continue to rise in the near future. For the first anniversary of MARVEL Strike Force, we recently released a new social feature called Alliance Wars. It adds a completely new social dimension to the gameplay by letting players form alliances, design custom Helicarriers and face off against other alliances in intense battles. We’ve been getting some really positive feedback and I can see it becoming an important part of the game experience.
Vivek: Working with established brands is definitely a very different experience versus having your own IP. At my earlier firm, we had our own IP and hence had free rein on taking a lot of creative decisions with our advertising. However, with an established brand, one has to understand the brand history, all the associated elements, and work closely with the brand team to ensure alignment on brand guidelines. We have a strong working relationship with MARVEL and have devised efficient processes for marketing and creative approvals. It is definitely helpful to figure out which characters have more mass appeal as they tend to have stronger performance in direct response advertising. However, it’s important to test everything as sometimes the results can buck conventional wisdom too!
Vivek: I’m really hyped up about our new game Storyscape, which is in soft launch right now. It’s an interactive story app where you choose your own narrative, but it’s quite different from what’s currently on the market. It’s adult-focused with high production values and elaborate storylines from known IP’s such as Titanic and the X-Files. I sit next to the team creating Storyscape at the FogBank studio in San Francisco, and it has been exciting to watch the game come alive from hand-drawn flowcharts on whiteboards to a beautifully designed and fully functional mobile app over the last year. It’s completely unexplored terrain, and the feedback we’ve received from users has been incredible so far.