Episode #53: The Future of Mobile Gaming Distribution With Piyush Mishra

Product Madness' Head of Growth Marketing join us for this episode, to talk about performance marketing in gaming and app-based companies, how iOS 14.5 impacted gaming distribution and more.

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Jonathan Fishman is joined by Piyush Mishra, Head of Growth Marketing at Product Madness, to discuss the differences between app-based and gaming companies, changes in the gaming industry, and the future of mobile gaming distribution.

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“I think gaming relies very heavily on performance marketing. While an app-based company is dependent on how you create a brand along with performance marketing”

Piyush Mishra

Key takeaways:

  • The notable difference between gaming and app-based companies relies on how they approach performance marketing and brand building. Most game companies take a more scientific and pragmatic approach to brand, thinking about how to drive quantifiable value. But app-based companies are more creative to brand building than the more data-oriented gaming companies.
  • Regarding gaming distribution, most companies upload their games on AppStore, Google Play, and other app stores and advertise through Facebook or Google. But iOS 14.5 changed everything, making the future uncertain.
  • There is a rise in discovering mobile games through the community-driven gaming experience. Instead of searching directly, users lean towards platforms like Reddit, Twitch, or Discord to find which apps are becoming popular in the community. The other method to take into account is Apple Arcade.
  • There is a trend from leading companies like Amazon, TikTok, Netflix, or Facebook to get into gaming. Though creating and scaling games is extremely hard, these companies could stand out with the strong brands most people know.
  • The future winning strategy for mobile gaming companies is trying to own their audience and invest in business consolidation.The future of app stores is unsure. However, because of new legislation like the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act in the EU, more genre app stores might appear, like a gaming app store.

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    Full transcript:

    Jonathan: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes. I’m your host, Jonathan Fishman. I’m really excited to be here today with Piyush Mishra. Who’s Head of Growth Marketing at Product Madness?

    Piyush: Hello, everyone. Hello, Jonathan. How are you doing?

    Jonathan: I’m doing pretty good. It’s really hot everywhere. It seems like it’s everywhere. [laughs]

    Piyush: Not in London. I think luckily today is one of the better days, although we did hit 40 degrees last week. [laughs]

    Jonathan: I heard. I’m based in Tel Aviv and I’m trying to stay well within air-conditioned, the spaces it’s really hot.

    Piyush: [laughs] I can imagine.

    Jonathan: Today we want to talk a bit about the future of mobile game distribution, and there’s a lot to talk about there, but before that, do you want to introduce yourself? The path that you went through until you got to where you are today?

    Piyush: Sure thing. I’m Piyush Mishra, Head of Growth Marketing at Product Madness. Mostly looking at the platforms and we call it platform innovation team because we look after the platforms that we are using, the ad tech tools that we are using, and stuff. Also, the future, because we are the team that needs to be prepared for all the bigger changes that are coming in, including Google Privacy, sandbox, and Scan 4.0. Facebook making its own [laughs] data model and stuff.

    Everything that is out there that will redefine how we do growth is something that we need to look into. I started my journey into this industry with InMobi back in 2015. I started at a very low level as a campaign manager. That’s I think doing the groundwork of setting up the campaign and uploading 500 creatives in a day and stuff. [laughs] That used to be my days when I started working with bigger clients like Uber, Facebook, Pandora, and Hulu, mostly catering to any market.

    Uber was an interesting journey because Uber became one of my major clients. I started looking into Uber globally as an accountant. We were spending quite a lot of money because InMobi was pretty big in China and China does not have Google or Facebook. InMobi was automatically big as ad tech over there. Worked there for two and a half years. Uber guys were impressed with my work over there and they called me over. I switched to the client side and I started looking into performance marketing for Uber and slowly for Uber Eats, where I got overall exposure beyond an ad network. I started looking after UAC, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and every single channel that was out there.

    Slowly started looking into brand marketing as well. I did offline marketing, TV, radio, OH, and everything. Obviously, coming from a digital world when you do TV and OH, it’s quite a difficult journey, but it was interesting. From there on, I shifted, I wanted to change the city. I shifted to London. I took over this role at Product Madness and entered gaming for the first time. Now it’s been almost two and a half years, and here I am at this podcast.

    Jonathan: That’s a pretty awesome path. How do you find the difference between coming in from app performance marketing to game performance marketing? Is it very different? How was it?

    Piyush: The fundamental differences, I think gaming relies very heavily on performance marketing while an app-based company is very much dependent on how you create a brand along with performance marketing. I think that’s a very fundamental difference because brand marketing was pretty big back at Uber. I joined during the startup day. It was really fun also, we’re trying to expand to new cities, every week, we’re launching new cities, and you had to do the marketing plan, everything from digital to branding space.

    The weird thing is with the iOS 14 changes, I’m seeing a lot of companies, and gaming companies going back to doing branding. I don’t know if that difference exists any longer, but that was quite a change for me when I switched here.

    Jonathan: I definitely see the same thing. We work with some of the biggest game companies in the world and a lot of apps, and a lot of other brands. I definitely see that, but the one thing that is really interesting is that a lot of game companies take a more scientific approach or more pragmatic approach to brands of thinking about what kind of activities they can run, be it TV, billboards, or whatever, and how that actually drives quantifiable value.

    It’s really hard to measure. You can get a good grasp of the value that it creates, but it does actually increase branded search in the app store, and there are a lot of things that you can measure. It’s fun to see it. In my view, a lot of game companies are always one step ahead of brands in terms of how scientific or how pragmatic are they when thinking about marketing.

    Piyush: For sure. I agree with you on that, but there is one difference though. I think when you are working for a company like Uber or any eCommerce or FinTech when they’re trying to create a brand as well. I think they are more creative to brand building as compared to a gaming company, while a gaming company is much more data-oriented when it comes to brand building. I don’t know how to say this because the brand is definitely a mix of both because tracking is not always a big part of the brand side.

    Although you can do the guesswork of it, at the end of the day, I feel that when you’re trying to create a brand, sometimes you have to take that leap of faith in there. It’s not just purely data-backed research that would make sure that you have a very good output. You have to also couple that with the performance very heavily on the gaming side.

    Jonathan: Let’s start talking about the future of distribution. I think this topic was, if you would go a few years ago, it wasn’t even a topic. Nobody thought that anything would break the distribution paradigm of having the App Store on the iOS side, having the Google Play Store on the Android side. Of course, in Southeast Asia, and China, specifically, there were a lot of other stores on the Android side, but that was it. If you were a game developer or marketer, these were the stores’ distribution, as you said, mostly on the game side, but it heavily depended on paid advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Google that controlled that part of the market.

    With iOS 14.5, everything changed. It gave rise to this type of conversation about what mobile game distribution is going to look like in the future. I think in order to unpack this, there are two sides to this conversation or two parts to it. There are first the changes in how players find and discover new games. We’ll talk about this in a second. The second one is what’s going to happen to the App Stores because there are a lot of things happening specifically in the European Union. With some new pieces of legislation that were approved extremely fast. It really surprised everybody on the legal side of things, but they already passed.

    They have a lot of implications for Apple and for Google regarding how much control they have around the App Store and giving rise to other alternative app stores in the west as well.

    We’ll touch on that after the first point, but to begin with, I would like to understand your thoughts on how players discover games these days. In the past, it was really dependent on Facebook. Folks were on Facebook and other social networks, and they saw ads that were extremely targeted based on the Facebook user graph. That was how folks discovered mobile games. It wasn’t really just based on going to the App Store and browsing. How did that change?

    Piyush: The change that I’m seeing at least on our end, basically, I’ll break this into two different approaches, I’ll say. One is that there’s a huge rise in community-driven gaming experiences. Instead of just going and searching for games, I think there’s a lot of community building that is happening, especially with Reddit, Discord, and YouTube. Twitch was already there, right? There’s a huge rise in the number of people who are going on those platforms trying to figure out which is the app that is becoming popular in the community and playing as a community altogether over there.

    That’s a big shift that is happening. That’s a very specific way of doing marketing as well. I think a lot of gaming companies are getting into that space as well, which is why Discord, for example, they do allow advertising. You can create your own community as well, and you can start propagating more information, and more features about the product. I think product marketing managers and product managers would really love to be part of it. One big change that is happening is towards finding new games through community-based apps or platforms or whatever. The other interesting method is having at the same time, is the rise of Apple Arcade. We did a podcast on that two weeks ago in the sandbox.

    I was speaking to Mobilityware where they had launched a couple of games on Apple Arcade. It’s a very interesting phenomenon because it’s only gaming. At the end of the day, once you get a subscription, it becomes a place where you’re literally playing a game, which is technically top operated and you’re not seeing any ads. There is a rise in Apple Arcade as well happening. I don’t know how successful it’ll be because it’s the subscription-based arena, but let’s see how that goes. The third thing that I want to add, or we here is also what I call the Netflix problem. If I go to the App Store as a gamer, and I don’t know what I want to play, but if I search for, I don’t know ‘slots’, they’re 15 slot-piece games.

    That’s the problem of plenty. It’s the same thing that you go to Netflix and you don’t know what you want to watch. You end up watching Friends again, it’s the same problem. You don’t know which game you want to try. There is no longer that brand that is standing out. There used to be a world where there used to be a king and there used to be when anger burst and everything. We know that, okay, these are the games that we want to play. Now, in any category, there are just so many games and there are so many copies out there that you don’t know what exactly is the game you really want to play.

    I think that’s also an interesting area. I’m not sure what’s the solution there, but the first two options that I said, are the change that I’m seeing for discovery, let’s say discovery of an app.

    Jonathan: Yes, for sure. I think that it’s the kind of situation that was created in the previous era was that folks with a lot of budgets got an unfair share of voice. The folks were browsing Facebook and scrolling through the feeds or Instagram or wherever they were. They also didn’t see the best games, they saw the games with the biggest budgets. Now, they posed the question of whether those games are the best because they’re obviously the biggest businesses in the field, but I’m not sure they’re the best. That’s how it was the push versus pull dynamic.

    It was a push mechanic where the games were pushed into an audience. Facebook knew very well who you were and what kind of games do you play, and where do you spend money, and what are you very likely to want to play next. They pushed that next game to you.

    Piyush: I think Facebook is losing the audience at the same time. They want people to move to Oculus in the future forever. I think TikTok, at the same time, is taking its place in a small by small manner because TikTok, if you look at there’s another trend that’s happening, and I wanted to get your opinion on that as well because I’m seeing the trend. Netflix is getting into gaming. Amazon is already into gaming. TikTok is getting into gaming. They bought a gaming studio. Facebook was always there. All the bigger players are getting into gaming. They would launch big but I just feel that they would stand with their brand because their brand is very strong already.

    Netflix as a brand is very strong. Amazon as a brand is very strong. That’s not the case with any other gaming-specific companies, because their brand is not very strong. It’s the game that speaks for them. Do you see these bigger players coming in and disrupting the market, for instance?

    Jonathan: I do definitely, actually have thought about Netflix for quite some time. It’s a huge challenge for Netflix, by the way, to enter into gaming because as you know creating games and scaling games is extremely hard. It’s a really hard thing to do. Most folks fail, and most studios fail with most of their games. It’s just a hard thing to do and you can’t just be a company that understands streaming and media, and films, and series and just, all of a sudden, understand games and be successful with that.

    I think that that’s their original plan was to actually be way more involved in creating the games, specifically like games of the company, a series, or a certain IP. It was a game for stranger things, and they went back from that. These days, what I see there is that they act as a publishing platform for a lot of different developers. What they’re doing there is a natural evolution because if you think about it, Facebook was the place where folks discovered games because people at least up until recently, and when Facebook was slightly stronger, that’s where they spent time. Most of the world spent a lot of time on the Facebook app every single day.

    Netflix is also taking up a lot of that time, a lot of people are spending time on the Netflix app, whether it’s on their TV, on their phone, or on their computer, they spend a lot of time there. They accumulated hundreds of millions of people, that go into a certain place. They have a way to divert demand for things through ads in a very good way. They also know a lot of things about these users. They know what you watch and that tells you a lot of things about what kind of gamer or player or what kind of games can interest you. They can craft that mechanic where they have a huge asset that gets a lot of people like a magnet to come to them and then they divert it to games.

    It makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. They can get even more eyeballs than the App Store at some point. If you compare the number of people that go into the App Store each and every week. I think we’re going to see a lot of companies that have a huge entertainment aspect like Netflix, that get that scale of an audience and then try to layer on top of that games.

    Piyush: It’s the IP. It’s at the end of the day, it’s the IP that they have, but we have seen a lot of big companies having an IP and still fail at gaming.

    Jonathan: It’s just hard because the expertise to do this, you need to have a company that is at the same time an expert in making games, scaling games, and creating that entertainment asset as they call it like that platform, such as Facebook or Netflix. It’s not that easy to have one company that does it all. Facebook Games is not a huge success. They tried it a lot. It’s just really hard, but what I think I see that is a bit more interesting from the gaming side is a lot of game companies, at least the biggest game companies, or I should say entertainment companies in the world building a huge portfolio of games.

    If you add up all the MAUS of all these games, you get to, again, hundreds of millions of users, and then they own a huge audience, that they own. They learn a lot of things about this audience. They don’t need to share this data with any ad network. They can start cross-promoting new games to an existing audience because it’s so big. It represents a big chunk of the world gamers’ audience at least.

    Piyush: It goes back to your original point. This is when you own the app and when you own the distribution channel, you have a lot of data to pay on with, and you don’t want people to get out of that space. It’s interesting. Let’s see how this evolves.

    Jonathan: I think that the most futureproof strategy and they see in the mobile game spaces, mobile game companies trying to own their audience. You see this all around, you see the consolidation happening. I don’t know when you were listening to this, but last week it was announced that Unity is merging/acquiring ironSource which created a lot of backlashes that were interesting to follow. How do you see that? There’s a lot of consolidation where each party has some piece of the pie in terms of data, but they can’t make good use of it because they don’t have the other side.

    For example, a game engine becoming a network, an ironSource, of course, own Supersonic, which is a pretty successful hyper-casual studio. Now they have games. This vertical integration happening, what do you think about that?

    Piyush: Look do happen. I think the base of mergers, since iOS 14.5 release, that’s what I think that’s been a worrisome trend because at the core its finances. You know that Unity and ironSource would have a similar background from one of the major investors is common. That’s one of the major reasons why they went ahead with it, but the problem is in a world where there is no personalized data, let’s say three years or four years down the line. You have to lock the amount of data that you have. You have to use that data to create an engine where you’re able to find users for any gaming company to work.

    If you look at how the mergers have happened, for example, with as well, the max merger. Similarly, with Liftoff and Vungle merger and with Unity and ironSource merger, these used to be independent platforms altogether, but, all of a sudden, they’ve realized that they can’t be segregated because, at the end of the day, if you think very strategically about this. Let’s say I’m running with Liftoff as an advertiser. I’m running with Vungle I’m running with Unity, and I am running with ironSource, all four, I’m essentially buying the same user.

    I’m bidding against my own inventory. For example, in the social customer space, I know I’m buying against other social casino companies in a social casino space in the apps.

    For example, I’m more or less competing against. From an advertiser standpoint, I like that as an ad or DSP, there is less number of options out there because I just believe that there’s an overlap of inventory happening in there, but the problem is that consolidation also leads to a lot of anywhere. I don’t see a monopoly happening anyway. Consolidation is nice to a level that it doesn’t become a monopoly. That’s my bigger point.

    Jonathan: That’s true. Obviously, the market is so big that it’s hard on the in-app advertising space outside of the self-attributing networks, it’s hard to create a monopoly. Although we can see the market share pretty much, what’s its shape of it? Then it’s becoming, I don’t know to it’s not a monopoly, but it’s like an oligopoly. [laughs] It’s like, there are a few players there, but it’s really hard to get that, but I think part of what you’re seeing in the attic space is the mediation where it’s a lot about that.

    Piyush: It is, but in the end idea, fundamentally why it’s happening is because in a world where you’re buying users, because you had user-level data, every single algorithm can experiment, succeed better, they can compete with each other. In a world where there is no user-level data, you’re actually buying an audience. When you’re buying an audience or an inventory at one pace or a pocket of inventory, essentially you are trying to buy a similar inventory across three or four different places.

    That’s the fundamental reason why consolidations are happening because they’re starting to see that, “Okay, if we are separate right now, we are not going to see a lot of advertising money come our way.” Because right now, if I have to choose iOS, I’d rather work with one of these four or two of these four. I won’t work with all four, but in a world where there were user-level data because I knew we were buying specific users with a specific history of how they have played the game. What kind of credit card they have, what kind of user-level data, whatever we had at that point in time, we knew we were buying specific users.

    One of them would turn out to be a whale and the campaign would perform better for us. It’s that change also that is happening. With iOS 14 happening, and also Google Privacy sandbox, which we don’t know a lot about, but it’s happening in that world. Look at how SRNs have reacted. Self Reporting Networks used to be completely independent like MMPs. Obviously, they were reporting to MMPs, but they had their own way of doing the attribution. The reason I like Scan, I have a lot of issues with Scan, but the reason I like Scan is that it created a level playing field for everybody except Apple Store ads, but [laughs] we’ll keep that separate.

    It created a level playing field at least for every single platform out there, including Facebook, Google, Snapchat, and Lyft app, everybody was on the same level playing field. Then you start seeing the true numbers, then you realize some of these data points are not making sense. In the previous world, it used to make sense, but now they’re not. The change that is happening is, that Facebook, for example, started not sending user-level data on Androids OS. They post it. They’re saying, “I’m not going to send it directly to the advertiser. I can share it with the MMP, but I’m not going to share it with the advertiser.”

    Why? Because it’s reactionary. Instead of being reactive, they’re being proactive in this case with the changes that are about to come on the Android side. The changes that are happening is all triggered by every single company out there trying to say, “Okay, we are privacy-focused.” Although for advertising to work at a personal level, you need to have more data. It’s an exciting time in that sense. Going back to your merger point, it’s basically happening because of what I said, the shift from a user buying to an audience buying and also the big shift that happened with iOS 14 changes.

    Jonathan: I also think about it from a developer perspective, especially small to mid developers. It seems like what is forming is a few different entities that would act as publishing platforms. You come to us to publish and they have everything from the game engine to a lot of different game services that you need in order to develop a game, to everything around creatives and growth. If you think about what Unity has now from end to end, it’s the entire package. A developer would have to basically choose which publishing partner they want because it’s going to be impossible to get that advantage on your own unless you’re joining forces with them.

    Piyush: True, Jonathan, but wouldn’t you say that the base of growth marketing actually dictates that you need to put your eggs in multiple baskets? It can’t be just one basket. Because from one place you’re getting quality, from one place you’re getting scale, and you always try to balance it all the time. Would you prefer that work with just one partner, or would you rather have five, or six partners where we are trying to balance which one is giving you ROIs? Which one is giving you quality, which one is giving you scale as a developer, I’m saying?

    Jonathan: 100%. I agree with you. I prefer the previous era, if I was a game developer, it’s not good for small developers at the moment, it is going to lock them into something. I don’t know exactly how these companies would want to engage with them in terms of joining our platform and you get access to a game engine. I don’t know, a service to build your game economy, PVP type of mechanic.

    Everything out of the box and, “You get access to our creative studio or creative technology or ad network and it’s exclusive. If you use our stuff, you can access it.” I don’t know how they’re going to start navigating that landscape, but definitely, it’s worse for game developers because you will be partnering up or locking yourself in with one such entity. The problem is that most of these entities are basically outside of the Unity game engine, of course. That’s why a lot of the backlash happened in the past couple of weeks of that merger. A lot of these platforms are basically advertising people. They’re ad tech people. Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of trust [laughs] in this market.

    Piyush: It’s the lack of trust also. That’s what people reacted to, just app deal as well. One was an MMP, the other was an ad network and it’s in a similar space, I’ll say.

    Jonathan: Definitely. Cool. I do want to make sure we cover another point here, which is the future of app stores. We have time for one question about that, but basically, in the past few weeks, two pieces of legislation passed in the European Union. One of them is called the digital markets act and the other one is called the digital services act. Long story short, if you read into these pieces of legislation, it says, it’s very clear that if you are a huge platform in the mobile space and you’re offering apps, which is basically the App Store. You can’t ban side-loading, you have to allow side-loading. You have to allow for a landscape, or there are multiple ways to discover and download apps.

    It can’t only be from your app store. That basically opens up the question of, will we see a situation where in the west there’s going to be a lot of different app stores, maybe for, let’s say, I don’t know, different genres, different demographics? There are going to be companies that would rise to the occasion and open up their own app store with competitive prices, and less commission. For every user, I don’t know, you would get a phone, and you would have to choose which app store you want, or to choose to download multiple ones. This is how you discover games.

    Piyush: It’s definitely interesting, Jonathan, how things are shaping up and especially with the Europeans Union forcing it on Apple specifically. I’ll tell you how evolution would be a bit different. It’s allowed on Google. You can have different app stores on Google, for example, and it’s happening in China, India, and other places, they have multiple app stores. Different app stores usually and typically are coming from the device makers. Xiaomi is a device maker, that’s why they have an app store. Samsung is a device maker, that’s why they have an app store.

    In the case of Apple, they’re the only device maker. Apple controls the device, that’s why Apple controls its software. It’s not an open-source system. In Apple’s world, they’re the device maker, they are the owner of the software, they’re the owner of everything. In Google’s world, they are just providing the software. They also have hardware in Google pixel and stuff, but every single device maker out there can build their own app store. When you build your own app store, the reason to do it is that you already have a device. Now you have a lot more data points in that world.

    Then you can do– I used to be in conversation with Samsung at one point in time, we were trying to get the Uber app to be inserted into their Samsung App Store. The kind of deals that we were trying to negotiate was really interesting because they had a lot of data at that point in time. They were saying that I can also do the user because the app already exists, and we can ask them to download the app Uber, Uber eats, install and use it. Or if they’re not taking a ride, we want to send them a push notification also at the same time.

    That’s why I’m a bit skeptical on that front. I like the idea for sure, don’t get me wrong. There needs to be more transparency on this, 30% commission is pretty high for any developer out there. Every single developer is trying to come up with more innovative ways of fixing that. At the end of the day, the evolution, I don’t know if it’ll be similar to how it happened in the east, but it’s definitely interesting. Let’s see how, as you said, maybe the gaming genre will have its own app store or maybe FinTech.

    Jonathan: For sure. I think that we see the first signs of it. At least we start seeing them a couple of years ago with epic games opening, basically leading that battle against Google, Commissions, and everything. The Epic Game Store and you see some things that are pretty odd, like Activision Blizzard. Everybody has their own launcher as they call it but it can easily become their own store. Then again, it goes into my previous point where you’d see these kinds of entities being formed. It could be a game engine or game development tools, it could be all the growth tools and it could also be their own distribution.

    If they’re able to actually accumulate a really interesting variety of high-quality games and create something that is even similar to Apple Arcade, you would see a lot of subscription services that would allow you to access these games. I’m a user of Apple Arcade, by the way, and I think it truly changes the way that you play games or discover games.

    Piyush: Definitely. I don’t know what is good for consumers though. I don’t know how the market would react in the future because right now you have only one App Store where you go and you can download whatever you want. As a consumer myself. I know I told you about the Netflix-like problem you have a lot of options out there but I still prefer that method as compared to every single App Store from a user standpoint, I’m saying not as a developer. As a developer, I would prefer having multiple app stores but as a user, I’m saying, ‘Would I want activation to have their own in-app store and EA Games to have their own app store and stuff?

    I’m not sure right now, it depends on how the market would react. There is a reason why there’s a single App Store. It’s the ease of use. It’s the ease of access as well. You can have different distribution channels but those distribution channels need to have enough user base for you to actually benefit from the lower commission. At the end of the day, if, for example, Apple App Store is giving you scale and your own distribution channel is not, you’re still paying 30% commission. I don’t know which one would you like to prefer. There are pros and cons but going back to your original point, I think it’s a great idea to open it up and see how the market reacts.

    Jonathan: Yes, I think it’s also going to be a lot about but two things, like what we said around commissions, who’s going to offer the most competitive rate, and obviously, the starting point is really bad for Apple because they were charging a lot for this. The second one is audiences. I don’t know if it’s again, I’m just talking from the developer perspective, not from the consumer perspective. I see your point, but from a developer perspective, if I want to publish on a certain store and then I get to advertise within that platform, similar to search ads I can suddenly have access to, for example, EA audience, the Activision audience.

    These are very different and really high-quality audiences and that could pull me in as well. I get it from the consumer perspective. Probably it won’t say that there are like 100 different stores. It would like everything in economy and capitalism, it would consolidate.

    Piyush: Exactly. That’s why that’s my problem. If you look at, as I said on the Android side, it’s coming from a device space like Samsung, Xiaomi, Hawaii, every single company getting their own, so I don’t know how that would happen on the Apple side because you got only one device maker, so let’s see.

    Jonathan: Sure, cool. Don’t have a lot of time left but I do want to ask you a few questions that we ask all of our guests, so let’s start giving, taking everything we talked about into consideration. What would be a tip for a performance marketer operating in marketing for a mobile game, and how to thrive in this environment? What do you need to do to start finding your audiences by relying on partners that have less data than what they used to, and that’s less capability to get you your audiences and offer you targeting?

    Piyush: I think fundamentally, one suggestion that I would give to all performance marketers is to understand the data that you’re receiving. Right now, we live in a world where the data is not consistent across the board. If you just pick iOS, you have scan 2.0 2.2, and 3.0 4.0 coming in different measurements, and different data points that you’re receiving. You’re receiving at the same time. Snapchat is doing its own thing. Facebook is doing its own thing. TikTok is doing its own thing. Similarly, on the Android side, you have right now with Android no, opt-in, you’re having users who are saying that you’re not going to get personalized data and stuff.

    Understanding what kind of data you are receiving from an individual partner. If you understand what kind of data you’re receiving, then you can understand how the algorithm could work in that space. You can apply your mind and understand, okay, which channel would give you what kind of capacity. For example, one of the very small things that I always mention, this was like two years ago, I realized that apps flyer or any of the MMPs out there or not just any of the MMPs out there would have a retention policy with any of the partners. Technically, they can’t keep the identifiers or the data or whatever for a longer period of time than a certain number of days that they are liable for.

    Even if you’re saying that, well, that your reattribution window is lifetime, it’s not technically lifetime because if you don’t retain the data, you can’t understand when the user was coming back. The definition of a reinstall, in this case, is technically not true. I’m just saying, the reason to give this example is saying that if you understand the fundamentals of data and attribution, and reporting how data is getting reported, how the attribution process is exactly working. You have solved 70% of your problem and then you go into the campaign space, understanding what levers you’re left with, and then you try to maximize from the sort of levers that you worked with.

    I keep on telling every performance market here, and out there to understand and I just very quickly with the changes that are happening. Because every two weeks, three weeks, each platform is doing its own thing. The problem with privacy is now Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat. Everybody’s trying to champion that and in the process giving us fewer data. It’s no longer just happening in Google, running the same, the show it’s everybody getting in and saying, “Okay, we are privacy-focused and we want to deliver the data that we’re sending.” Every single week, every single month, some changes are happening that you’re not aware of, that you should be aware of, so that’s my bigger point.

    Jonathan: That’s a great tip and building on top of that it seems like you live in the future a lot. One of your jobs basically is to understand what’s changing and where things are going, so how do you stay up-to-date? Do you have a content recommendation, a newsletter, or podcast stuff that you write?

    Piyush: No. I personally believe if having a lot more connections with people, my source of knowledge becomes people, more or less. Obviously, you read from different places, you do a Google search, you go to the help section of different MMPs and then different blogs or including. You go there, you try to read everything but my main source is talking to different people from different games, different developers, and also in the gaming space. Talking to different experts across the board from DSPs to MMPs, to SRNs talking to the product team. I try and make sure that I’m talking to the product team of Facebook.

    I try and make sure I’m talking to the product team of Liftoff or any other company out there because I learn a lot when I talk to them. I understand where they’re coming from, and what kind of nuances we are not able to understand why exactly a campaign is behaving in this and that way. Whenever I see any change, I try to reach out to the product team and understand that. For me, the major source is talking to people. It’s not any specific blog or resources, although there are a lot out there. Even though I host a podcast in the sandbox, I talk to a lot of people about the future of ad tech and gaming, in general. That’s also very interesting if anybody wants to give it a listen.

    Jonathan: Awesome, will include the link in the description of this episode but I definitely agree with you. Building up your network and having a lot of folks who can reach out and run your ideas and talk a bit about where things are going. It’s definitely the most important thing, in my opinion as well. Having your community or tribe.

    Piyush: Exactly because for example, I live in a space of social casino but I don’t understand what’s happening from a hyper standpoint but understanding that could help me in, I don’t know, creating a conversion scheme, for example. Just giving an example, talking to everybody across the board, not just staying in their own sub-genre of the gaming or anything like that it’s always handy.

    Jonathan: Cool, awesome. One last question. The most important question, obviously, is what is your favorite flavor of pancake?

    Piyush: Yes. I’m an Indian dude. I don’t eat a lot of pancakes but since the show is named Mobile Growth & Pancakes. The one that I really like is the American style which is fluffier and I like the fluffy pancakes so that that’d be my–

    Jonathan: Oh, so you should try Japanese pancakes.

    Piyush: That’s really good?

    Jonathan: Kind of insane, it’s like the fluffiest pancake you can imagine. It’s like this thick, it’s like insane. Next time you’re in Tokyo.

    Piyush: Oh, I’m going for it today.

    Jonathan: Yes. I’ll figure somewhere in London. I’m pretty sure we’ll find it.

    Jonathan: Yes. Look up Japanese pancakes. It’s really good.

    Piyush: For the recommendation.

    Jonathan: Cool. If folks want to reach out to you and talk, how can they reach out to you?

    Piyush: Definitely, LinkedIn I’m very active on LinkedIn and because of having my old podcast because I love to talk to people and talk to them, market with them, debate with them, understand their point of view, everything. I just love talking about advertising space and learning from them, so just anybody feels free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m what was active there.

    Jonathan: Awesome. Cool. That was really fun. I really enjoyed talking with you on the [unintelligible 00:40:01] space. You have a ton of insights and I wish we could continue with this for another hour but we’ll stay in touch. I want to talk with you on a lot of things.

    Piyush: No, definitely. Jonathan, thanks a lot. Thanks for the invitation, and it was really lovely talking to you.

    Jonathan: Awesome. Thank you very much. Bye-bye

    About Ron Gordon
    Ron is Storemaven's Head of Marketing, the one person you would have guessed will know what this mobile growth talk is all about. A misguided law student and journalist, Ron brings to the table some lack of seriousness the Hitech realm is desperately in need of. In his spare time, he's mainly trolling Whatsapp groups.

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