To Win the Ad Game….You Have to Play

Great app advertising panel today at App Nation, San Francisco with myself, David Beauparlant representing the buy side from Microsoft, Orr Orenstein representing the sell side from Photobucket, and Mike Becker the head of the MMA representing the broader industry.

A couple of good takeaways for publishers and advertisers which again taught me that to win the ad game, you have to play it. You cannot phone it in.

First for publishers, Orr at Photobucket is KILLING IT. We’re talking $10-20 CPMs on banners! Why? Because he plans his advertising well and knows his audience. Photobucket is a great example of the New Premium I’ve been recently harping about (see the “New Premium” ) . The first thing he asks when you download his app? Registration which includes age and gender. They also get location through LBS integration. The lesson is simple: If you are an app developer you HAVE to ask for personal data. If you’re a game and you don’t think it fits the game play? Invent a leader board. If you are a utility app and you don’t think people will share that info? What’s stopping you from trying? CPMs too high? You could just ask and provide a skip button if you’re worried about upsetting your users. But ask yourself: would you rather have 100 heavily monetizable users or 1000 that you get bargain CPMs for? Whatever you have to do to get comfortable with asking for personal information: do it. Photobucket is another glaring proof point that the money is there if you program correctly. You cannot phone it in.

On the advertising front David laid out how MS went both fast and deep in creating successful Bing traffic generation campaigns. First on the fast part they bought out the conversion networks (AdMob and Quattro at the time) for a full two weeks. This propelled the Bing app into the top three downloads for that two week period. Expensive (a couple million dollars) but effective. David’s experience makes a strong argument for concentrating your spend to drive downloads. Better to spend $1M in two weeks then spread it out over 12 months.

For long term visibility they went really deep with a few apps whose demographic they coveted, for example, Melodeo. They did a great deal where they gave away free song in exchange for downloading the Bing app.  They also did a co-branded app with Bing branding and Melodeo backend. This not only generated awareness but drove downloads and created a network of new inventory that they were then able to use for other properties. Very smart leverage of short lifecycle apps to drive big business. Publishers and advertisers should take notice.

Peace out…


About Frank Barbieri
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