By Michael Oiknine, Chief Revenue and Strategy Officer, Singular
Over the past couple weeks, I have had the good fortune of traveling around the world with Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv and International GM Dayton Keane. The purpose of our trip was to take our merger and unified marketing analytics platform story out to the marketers at many of our clients and prospects.
I thought I’d take a few minutes to outline some observations from the more than 40 external meetings we’ve held in the past three weeks. Because so many of the themes in those discussions with marketers were consistent across clients and prospects, they appear to provide a sort of microcosm of marketer thinking on how marketing analytics can serve as a critical engine for app business growth.
1) Focus on Maximizing ROI
I’ve discussed this digital marketing trend in a variety of online venues before — that the app business has experienced an incredible sea change over the past couple of years. Specifically, we’ve transitioned from being an industry primarily focused on vanity install accounts to one where the overarching goal across app publishers is to maximize revenue and ROI. As a company whose raison d’etre is ROI analytics and data-driven decision-making, Singular has been both predicting and enabling this trend, and we are gratified to see how much the focus on ROI is transforming app marketing strategies and plans.
2) Passion for Customer Knowledge
Data-driven marketing relies, first and foremost, on the deepest possible understanding of the user, their customer experience, and what motivates them to transact. As we discussed the broad range of capabilities of our unified platform, Gadi, Dayton and I were delighted to hear the number of very detailed questions we were fielding. A big driver of this thorough client scrutiny is the desire for more and richer insights. But part also seems to be a reaction to companies in our space that talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. One of the reasons why I was so excited about merging with Singular is this company’s focus on straight talk. That we actually develop each robust data and analytics capability before we start talking about it. For us, specific data questions are great because it allows us to point out differences between what we are able to do and what others can only promise.
3) Desire for Media Diversification
It’s no secret that a large percentage of app install and re-engagement media dollars go to just a few companies. The data show that just a handful of media companies dominate with many marketing campaigns. While this is a long-term trend, clients tell us that they are working hard to keep their digital marketing investments diversified across many partners. Part of the reason for this is because media costs on some large platforms have been climbing. But part also seems to be rooted in a desire to hedge bets. Marketers need to be sure that they are getting the most bang for their buck. That they have alternative places to focus dollars as the performance metrics of individual partners and programs waxes and wanes.
4) Need for Simplified Reporting and Workflows
Many UA teams will tell you that too much of their time is spent with manual data assembly — cutting and pasting data from multiple platforms in order to provide a macro view of their businesses. As companies place more and more pressure for ROI on these teams, it’s clear that time-savings are an important goal for most brand leaders. Given this, it’s great to be able to tell people about how we bring together data from all platforms and partners in a single place.
5) Passion for New Knowledge
App marketers are never satisfied with the level of knowledge they have into their businesses. They want insights that no one has ever seen or considered before. Answering that need is a big part of what Singular excels at. By uniting spend, performance and revenue insights and making them available for granular analysis — all the way down to the user level — we enable people to get unprecedented visibility into their businesses.
6) Growing Appreciation for the Power of Creative Optimization
As marketers explore every avenue to grow ROI for their marketing investments, a growing number want to do a deep dive into “what works” from a creative perspective.
Insights by Region
The five themes outlined above were evident wherever we went. But we also saw some market-by-market trends that I thought I would share as well.
Europe and the Middle East
We heard from so many leading brands in this region that they are even more focused on driving maximum return for every dollar spent on marketing. In the past 18 months or so, there have been a number of app mergers and acquisitions in the EU, particularly in retail/commerce, and the associated consolidation is creating a demand for more sophisticated, data-driven marketing — both before and after the install.
On the gaming side, we are seeing strong investment from a broad range of companies, as this vertical continues to deliver the lion’s share of the engagement and profit in the app sector. We’re also seeing more post-install spending from the gaming companies as they work to coax every IAP dollar they can. It’s about getting the golden geese to lay more eggs via well-orchestrated and optimized customer journeys.
I’ve always been impressed with how much gaming companies know about their customers. This vertical has been the most aggressive and innovative in the space. We love being a valued part of the means through which they do that data-driven decision-making.
This massive region is a fascinating mix of fully developed as well as fast-emerging markets. What so exciting here is that developed markets continue to show strong marketing investment levels, while fast-changing markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines and others show remarkable growth trends as smartphone penetration climbs and market size expands.
The already developed markets in the region have long been major sources of installs and revenue for global brands. As marketers in those regions are tasked with delivering against even more aggressive ROI and other metrics, we’re seeing growing demand for advanced analytics capabilities. It’s a natural progression, and a very welcome one for Singular. That’s true across business sectors, from casual gaming to retail, utilities, commerce, and on-demand businesses.
Retail continues to be an exciting area in the region. The biggest app players are massively increasing investment, driving all companies in the sector to spend more carefully based on data-driven business and marketing analytics insights.
A couple of years ago, some members of our marketing analytics sales team got on a plane to India to see if there was some good potential marketing analytics business there. What they found was arguably the most dynamic and fast-growing app market in the world. There was a wild rush for HUGE install counts and big money pouring into the ad networks to drive them.
These days, the song is a little different, though it’s still a bull market. There continues to be a great deal of investment activity in the market, making the need for great marketing analytics even more apparent.. But instead of racking up colossal install counts, many of the brands have shifted their primary focus to monetizing users after the install. Installs still matter, of course, but marketers are also laser-focused on driving revenue, whether their business is gaming, retail, on-demand services, or any of dozens of other vertical we serve. By leveraging data-driven insights from marketing analytics, smart marketers continue to win every day.
App install spending continues to climb at double digit rates, but re-engagement spend for post-install marketing objectives is skyrocketing. In addition, typical marketing mixes are rapidly evolving. On the install side, interest in video is booming as more companies evaluate, test and implement video programs, especially in the gaming space. Video is such a natural in gaming and adoption continues to grow across our client and prospect bases.
In retail, aggressive moves by both brick-and-mortar leaders and pure play internet businesses are creating a profoundly competitive space. Apps are playing both a critical role in driving mcommerce revenue metrics and in enabling additional purchases — both in stores and via multi-channel marketing. Companies are hiring data scientists and marketing analysts to uncover business-changer insights to power current and future growth. Investment in marketing automation continues to grow at an impressive clip. Marketers tell us that they must deliver higher and higher performance for every marketing effort across all channels.
Going around the world is always exhilarating and exhausting. But this inaugural trip to tell our unified company story was a fantastic opportunity to both listen to the market and solve the biggest problems that app marketers face. It’s grown my already strong passion for helping solve client business issues and opportunities.
I thank everyone that met with us. And my wonderful colleagues Gadi and Dayton, who made the trip doubly exciting and rewarding.