Top three takeaways from Mobile Spree San Francisco 2019

Anne Verhoeven

Oct 24, 2019

In a complex, competitive industry with ever-changing rules, events like Mobile Spree help lift the lid on growth hacks, best practices and real learnings to help mobile marketers succeed. Our latest Mobile Spree in San Francisco was one of our most successful yet, with almost 300 attendees gathering together to learn from inspiring marketers and digital thought leaders from around the globe.

Hot topics crossed every vertical and ranged from incrementality to LTV, rebranding to app redesign, diversity in the workplace to the power of community. Standout speakers included Will Cady, Head of Brand Strategy at Reddit, and Matthew Sadofsky, Chief Growth Officer at Studio, with highlight chats from Emily Nassif, Senior Marketing Specialist at Zillow and Jessica Osorio, Mobile Growth Lead at Mozilla. If you didn’t make it this year, we’ve rounded up some of the top takeaways from the day below.

The potential of automation

Our Gaming Panel — lead by Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer at GamesBeat, with Robert Garfinkle, Senior UA Manager at Big Huge Games and Kim Bhatha, Senior UA Manager at Zynga — covered topics from the rise of hyper-casual games to retaining and rewarding whales. But it was the hot topic of automation that set the tone for the discussion; specifically how machine learning has changed games marketing in this lucrative yet volatile vertical. Kim was positive about the move towards automation and machine learning, as it gives marketers more time to focus on post-install events, rather than spending a hefty amount of time “grinding and segmenting my campaigns just for an app install.” In response to the big question “Will we be automated out of our jobs?” Kim was optimistic: “There will always be a big need for the human element of creativity and strategic thinking.” Robert was also positive about the benefits of automation: “UA managers won’t be able to rest on their laurels...but integrating with the product side of things will give UA managers leverage to grow further in their roles and remain integral.”

The Fintech Panel — with Vishal Korlipara, Growth Marketing Manager at Credit Karma, Mike Van Kempen, COO at U-Nest and Mark Powlen, VP of Growth at Tally — focused on challenges and strategies for the modern finance app. When it came to automation, panelists agreed that automating the creative process would be a game-changer — Mike revealing that U-Nest’s long term vision is to “automate as much as possible.” Mike shared that during his time at Acorns, they saw around 95% of ads failing, which meant they had to double down and push out “around 50 new creatives per week, at a high volume for testing.” Automating a creative process like this, he explained, would free up a lot of time, which Vishal seconded: “If you could automate in a smart, dynamic way, it would benefit everyone.”

Localization is key

When it comes to getting localization right, Winnie Wen, Director of UA at Jam City knows a thing or two. Taking us on the journey from concept to market expansion with Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, which achieved 45 million downloads and over 100 million in revenue in its first year, Winnie stressed that a careful and strategic approach to launching internationally is key — with or without an iconic IP attached. “Even with the iconic brand power of Harry Potter, we still focused on localization, translation, and culturalization whenever we expanded to key international markets, which definitely showed results” Winnie explained. At Jam City, they treated localization “in terms of culturalization — we don’t want to just translate the creative, we want to make sure that we’re really speaking to the locals in their everyday language, and treated geo expansions as new game launches.”

Chuck Nguyen, Director of Growth Marketing at Hired.com, gave us his need-to-knows before going global. He pointed out that with each market’s unique behavioral patterns, cultural sensitivities and channel preferences, what may work in the U.S. may need a total rethink before launching in SEA. Taking the example of product design — in the West we may generally lean towards a clean, minimalist aesthetic, while in China audiences love a busier interface with more visual stimuli. Color-schemes, numbers, animals and symbols may have different meanings across cultures, and the sight of one unlucky sign in an app might have users in that market uninstalling at a rapid rate. To avoid these kinds of mis-steps, Chuck recommended: “do your research into each market”, “consult with local experts” and “keep up to date with cultural changes.”

Success through collaboration

Collaboration was another strong theme of the day, both in terms of breaking down the barriers internally, and strengthening partner relationships to increase growth. Rose Miller, Technical Ad Operations Lead, Programmatic and Display at Yelp discussed Yelp’s B2B and B2C performance marketing teams merging to achieve KPIs and increase the customer base of their business owner app. Leaving team silos and coming together, Rose explained, helped Yelp accelerate growth and give business owners more control and ownership of their page, which drove positive results for Yelp. Working closely with the data engineering and product teams also allowed marketing to leverage Yelp’s collective intelligence on their path to increasing the LTV of their business app users.

Turning to the topic of collaboration in external partnerships, Andrew Blachman, President of Strategy and Partnerships at Tophatter, shared how he and his team pushed the envelope to bring new value to the app through partner relationships — which sometimes meant working with “competitors”. On Tophatter’s partnership with Rakuten, Andrew explained: “Our idea was to partner with other large consumer brands to drive larger user acquisition. The ecosystem has evolved that funnels ad money into big players, so partnerships is a way to find users without paying high CPIs.” He elaborated: “It’s not a complicated pitch to partner for UA. We all have the same metrics, the same concerns about scale, and the same concerns about cost. Let’s make it easier for each other.”

Keep an eye on our blog and Adjust Video in the coming weeks, for a range of highlights, interviews and more.

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