Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy co-founder Ian Livingstone will summarize 40 years of game industry trends in a Tapjoy-sponsored event.

Advertising Week Europe starts on Monday, and we have a special guest we can’t wait to show off. On March 19th, Tapjoy will introduce a talk with Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop and a legend among game creators for all platforms.

As part of “The Power of Play”, Livingstone will summarize 40 years within the games industry — from tabletop roleplaying to the growth of mobile platforms. While recounting these experiences, he’ll explore the impact of digital technologies on consumer habits, business models, and interactive narratives.

Livingstone has been referred to as a “Patient Zero” of the UK’s gaming industry, and we’re inclined to agree with that assessment. While living with flatmates Steve Jackson and John Peake, the trio founded Games Workshop and went on to define much of the nation’s gaming culture. In its early years, Games Workshop brought us the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 franchises, each of which remains impressively popular today. Livingstone was also one of the personalities responsible for bringing a little game called Dungeons & Dragons to Europe, proving the skepticism of distributors wrong.

Yet Livingstone’s creative achievements go beyond Games Workshop. He and Steve Jackson partnered once again to create the Fighting Fantasy role-playing gamebooks — a creative reworking of the concepts behind Dungeons & Dragons and the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Livingstone himself personally wrote much of its 59-volume run, the most popular of which have been re-published by Scholastic. Outside of writing, Livingstone transitioned into video games when he became the president and CEO of Eidos Interactive. During his tenure, he secured several major gaming franchises, including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Hitman.

Tapjoy’s “The Power of Play” is just one event taking place at Advertising Week Europe, a marketing convention that highlights trends, challenges, and technologies behind our industry. The event will be located on the By The Numbers Stage at London’s Picturehouse Central on March 19, 2019 at 2:20 pm. We hope to see you there!

Looking for engaging perspectives from mobile influencers? Take a look at our recent conversation with IAB’s Susan Borst.

As the VP of Mobile for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Borst is highly aware that mobile isn’t just the future of online advertising: it has become the industry’s present-day reality. When Tapjoy reached out to discuss her experiences, she offered more insights than we could contain in a single article. Here’s part one of our discussion.

What We Learned:

Thanks so much for chatting with us! Can you tell us about IAB and your role within the organization?

IAB is a digital trade organization with over 700 members that sets standards and guidelines for the digital advertising industry. I lead the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, which is an independent unit that sets the IAB mobile agenda.  We work closely with various committees as well as the Data and Video Centers of Excellence and IAB Tech Lab to ensure that our strategic imperatives answer real industry needs.

How does IAB and IAB Tech Lab work together?

Our shared goal, whether it’s IAB or IAB Tech Lab, is to ensure that the digital industry continues to thrive. For a long time our mission was to help it grow. Growth is not an issue anymore. We know mobile is a significant driver of that.

What we need to do now is address pressing issues, which vary depending on the business needs at-hand. Ad blocking, viewability, measurement, and so on. Today, there’s a lot of focus on public policy and privacy, starting with GDPR and moving into California Consumer Privacy Act. IAB has a dedicated office in DC advocating on behalf of the industry, it’s super important. We have a dedicated website that is a great resource for everything and is up to date.

IAB is constantly publishing compelling, actionable content for mobile marketers. What are some of the most interesting insights you’ve been able to surface?

Ohhh, that’s a big question. Every initiative is important. We lean on our Mobile, Data and Video Centers of Excellence Board members so much because there’s lots we could potentially talk about. We need to focus in on the things that really matter. That’s why member engagement is critically important to us. And the participation in these various Boards, committees, and councils is, in fact, the number one benefit members tell us they get from joining  IAB.

On the topic of Opt-in Value Exchange, an IAB working group came together to develop a comprehensive playbook to help brands and their agencies understand this emerging format that is being used across the digital ecosystem, from games, music and dating apps/sites, and even in OTT.  There is existing research that shows that consumers generally like, and even prefer, these type of ads. What we need to prove is that they’re also paying attention to the ad. On that front, the issues on the research side are:

All these points are going to factor in. After all, if a brand has a 30-second TV commercial, is that really what consumers really want to see while playing a mobile game or while listening to their favorite music streaming service?  We need to think about the consumer experience and what they are expecting in different mobile environments.

What are the most impactful mobile trends you’ve seen emerge during your time at IAB? Are there any important trends we’ve only just started to recognize?

I think one of the biggest game changers is the role of storytelling, which manifests itself in things like native advertising, content marketing, and social media in general. Ad spend on social media has exploded in just the past five to six years. Influencer marketing is exploding. So is the use of user-generated content in a host of ways. The emphasis on storytelling is about brands trying to engage with consumers in more authentic and relatable ways. These are all areas that IAB has addressed them in some way, shape, or form with educational pieces designed to help the buy-side understand their options and  best practice considerations.

I think in terms of what’s on the horizon, definitely voice recognition is something that should be on the radar. It’s there. It’s still early in the game from an advertising perspective. But as we see more home device adoption, voice will be a game-changer. We’ll start to see some action this year, but we’re probably looking five, ten years for it to truly realize its potential.

Check in with Tapjoy in the near future for the rest of our conversation with Susan Borst. In the meantime, brush up on your mobile fundamentals with “What Is In-App Marketing?”, a deep dive into strategies and tips for developing your own unique in-app campaigns.

Meet Aaron Thandi, Senior Manager, Performance Sales from our Santa Barbara office.

How does working at Tapjoy challenge and encourage you to do your best at work?

Managing a team of unique personalities, who in turn manage a diverse group of advertisers, presents a variety of challenges, which keeps me on my toes. Fortunately, our offering is very compelling and Tapjoy as a company delivers consistently which grows confidence in our solution, allowing me to continuously raise the bar for the team so we are all on a path of professional and personal growth. Great people make a great company and I’m proud to be apart of this one!

How do you find your work life balance?

Living in Santa Barbara means that everything is only 5 minutes away, including the commute to work! This really helps when it comes to work life balance. In addition, the team is pretty efficient and streamlined so we are able to get a lot done during working hours – but being in sales means offering exceptional client service, so I’m always keeping a close eye on emails after hours to make sure our Tapjoy ship is sailing smoothly.

What is your favorite thing working out of the Santa Barbara office?

The culture, which is defined by the people. We have a small, close-knit team here and definitely operate a “work hard, play hard” mentality, which has proven to be successful over the years. It’s a great place to be – come and visit us!

What is your all time favorite movie and why?

Big fan of the MCU. Hard to pick one, but I’ll go with Avengers Infinity War. Strong backbone to the movie with a 10-year build up. Nerdy, I know… 🙂

If you could have superhero powers what would it be?

Flight – Superman / Neo style.

Interested in learning more about our team? Stay tuned for the next installment of the Tap Into Our Team series!

Mobile marketing is an industry that never stops innovating, and Lomit Patel couldn’t be happier. As IMVU’s VP of Growth, he’s always seeking out new approaches to acquiring and retaining users, knowing that the next technological leap could arrive overnight. From working in new marketing channels to experimenting with AI and machine learning capabilities, Lomit has his eyes on mobile marketing’s next big thing.

Tapjoy recently contacted Patel to discuss his experiences with the industry and where mobile marketing could go in the coming years.

What We Learned:

Tell us about IMVU and your role within the organization.

IMVU is the world’s largest avatar-based social networking app with over 200 Million registered users worldwide. It’s currently rated as a Top 10 social media network and Top #3 Grossing Social Networking App.

I’m the Vice President of Growth at IMVU, responsible for driving user acquisition, retention and monetization across our mobile and desktop platforms.

You’ve worked in online marketing for almost twenty years. What have been the most significant changes you’ve seen take place?

The most significant change is how online marketing has become so dominant with the majority of user acquisition budgets being spent there instead of offline marketing. This has lead to consumers becoming both blind to the constant stream of advertising around them and wise to the tips and tricks advertisers use to catch their ever-waning attention. You have to be very data-driven to leverage all the different tech stack tools to better optimize your online marketing efforts across the entire user journey for your acquisition, retention and monetization efforts. I love the rapid pace of innovation in online marketing as it continues to open up so many new opportunities to test, iterate and scale growth across different channels and devices (where users are spending all their attention).

What has stayed the same?

What’s stayed the same is that there is no shortcut to user growth. We continue to run a lot of A/B testing experiments to optimize online marketing spend across a broad diversified media mix, because something that works today is not guaranteed to work tomorrow. Ultimately, it’s about always being focused on your customer and trying to differentiate your value proposition from the competition.

IMVU is a fairly unique product that combines aspects of video games, social networks, and messaging apps. What sort of unique challenges and opportunities does this lead to in your work as a marketer?

The biggest challenge is clearly articulating our value proposition to new users so they get to use the product as soon as possible. Our users don’t have a clear linear path like most games and hence they need more guidance on how to use the product to truly experience the IMVU “Aha!” moments.

The flip side is this challenge is also very exciting for us as marketers to run a lot of experiments across the entire lifecycle of the user journey to help new users be successfully onboarded with personalized user experiences to enable us to better engage, retain and monetize users to increase their LTV.

IMVU is also a multi-channel product with SKUs on desktop and mobile. Does that complicate growth operations?

I see us being a multi-channel product as a benefit because we have more options to acquire and engage cross-platform across desktop and mobile channels. We have a good cross channel attribution system with users with unique CID and emails that enable us to better track the user journey across platforms.

Any complications lie in ensuring our products and engineering team have the resources to manage more platforms and maintain a consistent user experience.

What do you consider to be the biggest untapped opportunities in mobile today?

The biggest opportunities will be leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to develop much better personalization and customer centric user experiences across multiple platforms.

Following closely behind are global developments to expand the footprint for growth and 5G offering opportunities to leverage more AR/VR to improve user experiences

What would you say are the biggest challenges facing mobile marketers today?

The biggest challenges facing mobile marketers today are:

At IMVU, we enable customers to overcome this starting with quantitative and qualitative research data to help run A/B testing across user flows, campaigns and creative, customized re-engagement campaigns, and leveraging AI & ML technology to optimize performance, attribution and reduce fraud.

What new developments in mobile marketing, technological or otherwise, are most exciting to you?

I’m most excited to see more AI/ML driven technologies drive great performance with a far more efficient, hands-off management approach in executing complex user acquisition campaigns, deeper personalization across the entire user lifecycle and an enhanced view of the customer journey for attribution across platforms at scale to get data-driven results far beyond manual capabilities.

Are there any upcoming projects for IMVU that you’re able to share with us?

We are continuing to work on developing the next generation of Avatars as well as richer AR and VR experiences.

Tapjoy would like to thank Lomit Patel 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.

Meet Jia Feng, our Data Science Engineering Manager here at Tapjoy. Jia is largely responsible for anything related to the optimization service, communicating with external teams, and keeping the team productive and motivated.

Tell us something about your role that you wish people understood.

Our data science engineering team is a group of engineers in charge of a high throughput low latency service that provides ad optimizations, targeting, personalization and helps productionize data scientists’ ideas and experiments. We are engineering focused and with essential data analyzing skills at the same time. Most of our projects are data-driven, and rely on proper data feedback loop to keep the algo running and evolving.

What’s the coolest, most interesting thing you’re working on right now?

We are working on a few real time bidding projects (direct integration and programmatic mediation). These projects require shorter response time and need to compete with other ad networks and exchanges to gain a supply. This type of restriction and uncertainty make these projects interesting and challenging.

How do you define success?

It’s a hard question, to me, I think success means setting realistic goals and taking action to achieve them.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

I like traveling and trying out new restaurants.

If you had to delete all but 3 apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?

Slack, Gmail, Instagram.

Interested in learning more about our team? Stay tuned for the next installment of the Tap Into Our Team series!