That’s the Tea on Mobile Growth: The Mobile Marketing Conference 2020 Recap

Our first virtual conference was a huge success, with over 950 experienced colleagues sharing the latest trends, challenges and opportunities in the mobile growth realm. Missed anything? Take a tour through all the sessions

Let’s play a game. Every time you see the words ‘IDFA deprecation’ in this post, or hear it in one of our conference videos, give yourself a point! No, seriously, all jokes aside, the iOS 14 changes are on their way, and if we weren’t talking about the impact those changes would have on the industry, we’d be doing wrong as experts in the field. Like I always say: failing to plan is planning to fail, so for such a meaningful discussion, of course it was a theme running through our ‘That’s the Tea: on Mobile Growth’ conference. 

We had fourteen excellent speakers at the conference from Apptweak, Wooga, Playtika, Jagex, Tilting Point, Shipt, Soundcloud, Activision, Appsflyer, and Storemaven spread over seven sessions plus about 1,000 attendees (thanks for joining us if you were one of them) – it was quite a day! A lot was going on, from stage to booths to questions, so if you missed anything or weren’t able to be there (where were you?!), we’ve dropped here our main takeaways. Read on to catch up on the day’s events. The video clips – the uncut versions – can be found along with the decks at the end of each session.


Session 1: The Future of the Mobile Growth Stack

By Gad Maor, Storemaven’s CEO 

Like every speaker at the conference, Gad knows mobile growth past and present, but, as the CEO of a disruptive, innovative company that never stands still, it makes sense that he’s looking to the future. Gad says that the IDFA depreciation isn’t a coincidence, it’s just another step towards a new era of user privacy that was always on the horizon (remember GDPR?), and his session explores how marketers must think about switching their mindsets to be better aligned with the winter that’s coming. Mobile growth will no longer be about delivering segmented user data at a campaign-level; Gad predicts the future will be the industry returning to the human roots of marketing and using the tech around us (that maybe we have to build?) to analyze and measure an aggregated view of a business. Watch the full video (highly recommended!) to get the full picture as opposed to the written version that doesn’t do Gad’s presentation justice:

  • Change starts with personal growth and begins in you. How can you pause and be critical to think about being a better professional to exist in the future of mobile growth? As you plan for the future of privacy, you’ll need to rethink and change your mindsets to turn this time into an opportunity because, in five years, the industry won’t look as it does now. This means going back to the human roots of marketing.  
  • Do you have the talent in your team and is there the technology that will support a Macro Analyst Vision? A ‘big-picture’ view will help you see which overall forces impact the business, whether you generated them or they’re in the environment.
  • Ask yourself: Do I have a team for a macro analyst view? Do I have creative critical thinkers in my team? How well do I know my users? (You need to go beyond the numbers by understanding who your users are, what messages they expect or don’t expect to see that will make them act accordingly.
  • Testing will still exist but it will need to be updated; you’ll need to run more and more experiments and measure the results in an aggregated way to tell a coherent story. 
  • The way we’ve used creatives will need to change. Think about creatives and messages that will make your users take action towards your brand.
  • Plan for the future with terms of the future. Ad creative experimentations, app store testing, user research & surveys, macro analyst work (measurement and analysis side of the business), time series analysis, incrementality & lift studies, and cannibalization studies. 

Download the deck here.

Watch Gad’s session:


Session 2: Demystifying the connection between paid and organic installs

By Adam Rakib, Storemaven’s president, and Sagi Dekel, ASO & Marketing CI Lead, Playtika

Anyone in the industry can tell you how challenging it is to understand the relationship between paid and organic installs. Still, in a post IDFA world, marketers will need to understand the connection better to figure out why they’re seeing or not seeing great install rates. If they’re not already, organic and paid teams will have to work more closely together. In their session, Adam and Sagi talk about the connection between paid & organic installs, how to measure it, and best practices. Catch up on the main takeaways:

  • Engineer luck to science for your organic installs. ASO was an advantage years ago but since the rest of the industry has caught up, staying ahead of the game now involves being more sophisticated in your practices. With overall decreasing margins, organic installs become one of the clear frontiers for seeking higher efficiency. You can do this through your app store pages or using insights of users and the dynamics of your online marketing etc.
  • Algorithmic factors (chart and search ranking) + Human Behavior factors (view-through and word of mouth = Organic discoverability. But you need to take both factors into account to try and reveal the mystery that is organic growth. 
  • The challenges in understanding the relationship include having lots of data sources and figuring out which is relevant for what, what the relevant data points are, how you ‘clean the noise’ (extract the data according to the relevant business question we are trying to solve), and each scenario requires a different interpretable model to find actionable insights.
  • Remember, there’s a difference between correlation and causation when it comes to data analysis: think about Opportunity (paid installs impact organic), Fraud (organic installs impact paid), and Search (Where option c – the unknown – impacts paid and organic).
  • What’s your K-factor? It’s a basic formula to explain the growth of an app (organic installs over paid installs), and unlocking it allows you to become more effective in your overall strategy. But though it’s a powerful KPI to monitor, if you don’t understand the nature of why this metric fluctuates, you miss out on the holistic story you need that influences your decisions. Your ability to rationalize why a change occurs is crucial. 
  • You can do lots to influence organic installs: look at both algorithmic and human behavior factors such as SEO, community management, offline advertising, replying to reviews, influencers, live ops, retention, in-app events etc.

Watch Adam and Sagi’s session and download the deck:


Session 3: How to measure the impact of your mobile marketing

By Ben Sack, Head of Polarbeam’s customer org and Jason Conger, Head of UA at Wooga

Even now with all our access to data, it’s a tricky business understanding the outcome of our mobile marketing efforts and if campaigns are performing well, but figuring out how you’re going to measure ROI once we lose the ability to target as we do now, is a whole different kettle of fish. Like other facets of the industry, user acquisition experts’ mindsets will soon have to change to stay ahead of the curve and a top tip that came out of this session is knowledge sharing between teams will become vital. Luckily for you, Jason and Ben in their session unpack three strategy model options you can consider implementing in the future, plus Jason spills the tea on how Wooga measured organic installs from a TV Campaign – really useful stuff. Here are the main takeaways:

  • Some channels are easier to measure with MMPs and looking at direct ROAS, but to measure the impact of lots of your mobile marketing, you’ll need to work closely with your data science team to isolate different variables. According to Jason, your DS team will be your new best friends.
  • After the changes from iOS 14 set in and targeting is broader, the mindset of UA teams will have to change to become more experimentative. The direction the UA teams are headed towards is one where other teams already are – they’ll have to learn from what organic teams had to prove. Knowledge sharing between teams will be vital and you’ll need to take the data you know and look at it at an aggregate level.
  • When it comes to measuring organic installs from a TV campaign, Jason acknowledges there are a number of challenges to overcome; it’s not possible to perform a standard A/B test, it’s too optimistic to attribute all organic installs to the TV campaign and you can’t remove the average level of organic installs due to seasonality & user acquisition efforts that impact installs. But you can use your data science team to predict the future baseline organic installs by using the past data to break apart the paid portion from the organic.
  • When we lose the IDFA, decision making will become very difficult for the day to day operations of the UA manager and for sorting out the ROI of paid UA efforts to allocate monthly budgets and manage the growth of your business. When your targeting becomes very broad you lose the ability to do LALs, custom audiences, ROAS targeting, exclusion lists, etc so you will have to use (with difficulty!) your creatives as a lever for finding different types of users. You’ll have to condense your campaign structure using country/language in LTV buckets or by Region/Language and communicate to the networks with the Conversion Values which combinations are successful. Lots to think about but a creative tip is changing your design approach – don’t create thirty iterations, create with a target in mind. 
  • The three main strategy models you can think about to analyze/action/measure your ROI and marketing decisions in the post IDFA world are Aggregative (likely to be the most popular using aggregated data – analyze performance based on time series, user-agnostic performance using data that’s available rather than assigning individual trackers), Deterministic (based off of actual data – Use opted-in users, whose full data you have access to, to make decisions and predict ROI) and Probabilistic (logic/algorithmic-based – Use logic and proprietary algorithms to create predicted return on ad spend (pROAS). 

Watch Jason and Ben’s discussion and download the deck:


Session 4: How to nail creative optimization in the app stores

By Esther Shatz, Storemaven’s VP Consultancy, Ben Clarke, Senior Director of Marketing at Jagex and Rocio Morales, Senior Product Manager, Growth, at Tilting Point

Three heads are better than one! The fourth session of our mobile growth conference sees three great experts discuss the importance of segmenting audiences in order to deliver them more targeted creatives / messaging (with a really interesting case study from Tilting Point). Ben talks about Jagex’s experience using incrementality testing to validate the effectiveness of channels and manage to spend accordingly, and of course, there’s a discussion on what the creative testing landscape will look like post IDFA when the audience will be much broader. Bonus points if you can find Esther’s sneeze in the video! Here are the session takeaways:

  • To understand what messages drive different audiences, you need to get to know your audience and define who you’re most interested in. Be selective! 
  • Rocio discusses Tilting Point’s case study and goes into interesting detail on their process of creative optimization including knowing your IP, understanding your motivations, rocking the market and creating powerful creatives before testing them.
  • TEST TEST TEST to discover which creatives and messages work best for which audience. For example existing IP fans and new users should see different messaging on an app store product page otherwise users won’t be driven to take action if they’re seeing something that doesn’t relate to them and different audiences react to different view orientations. The only way to understand what works for your audience is to, yep you guessed it, TEST TEST TEST!
  • Ben addresses how important it is to validate the accuracy of data from Ad networks by running incrementality tests which allows you to pull downstream the data you have from the top of the funnel. He talks about a recent test Jagex conducted that surfaced an OSRS Ad to 75% of the audience and 25% saw the charity Ad. They were able to conclude with 95% confidence that the exposed audiences performed better than their control audiences.. 
  • Changes to your app store metadata, even small tweaks, and Live Ops, are great tools for introducing new content and seasonality to dormant players without implementing a messaging shift. 

Download the deck here.

Watch Esther, Rocio and Ben’s full session:


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    Session 5: Optimizing the app stores search funnel

    By Laurie Galazzo, CMO at AppTweak, Dora Trostanetsky, Senior Manager, Growth, at SoundCloud and Kalee Fambrough, Growth Marketing Manager at Shipt

    This session was like watching three friends talk shop! The trio tackled some interesting topics around optimizing the search funnels including keyword methodology (spoiler: it’s a case of trial and error, sorry!), how to approach A/B testing of creatives, and what smaller companies can do to grow their brand without a known IP supporting them in an industry that serves the big brands. 

    • Keyword methodology is a case of trial and error. Though it’s possible to try to rank for keyword volume if you’re a larger company, for smaller companies it might be beneficial to focus on long-tail keywords. Tip: if you don’t rank for keywords though they’re relevant to your company, let them go, instead try multiple keyword combinations that are more niche to find little treasures.
    • A/B Test test test! And test again! Don’t trust your gut – trust the data. Tip: talk to your designers and show them your phone so they can see how your metadata displays in-situ to avoid impossible to read copy. In terms of test frequency, Kalee tests once to twice a month for the duration of two weeks to see how effective her creatives were and recommends looking at A/B/B if you’re using the Google console to help dismiss false positives.
    • The girls bounce around ideas for optimizing your keywords/creatives like taking keywords from user reviews/emojis and putting them in your long description and trying vertical orientation videos.
    • Paid UA and ASO teams need to work closely together. Tip: See what happens when you implement messaging used in paid and translate it into your ASO screenshots. Turning off ASA is one way to measure organic installs. 
    • For small companies with less brand recognition compared to competitors, they may benefit from pursuing paid traffic in order to build their brand through increased installs, reviews, etc, before keyword optimization as it is much more challenging for your app or game to be found organically. 

    Watch the full video:


    Session 6: Leverage customer intent to fuel your ASO strategy

    By Simon Thillay, Head of ASO, AppTweak 

    If you’re going to listen to anyone about leveraging customer intent in your app store optimization strategy, listen to Simon, the head of ASO from our fellow conference hosts AppTweak. They offer their mobile leader clients an app store intelligence tool that improves their apps and games’ app store visibility / increases their organic downloads. In his session, Simon goes into detail on tons of great topics including identifying customer intent that you can target to experiment and grow traffic, leveraging App Store Ads (ASA) data, and learning from customer reviews (aka ASO gold dust!). The main takeaways are:

    • Apps and games offer so much to their users but marketers and developers can only use one app store product page, which means that different ASO strategies, including various metadata and creatives, can be implemented in order to prioritize their messages and address their audiences. 
    • Identify customer intent that you can target to experiment and grow traffic, from crafting multiple semantic lists to word clouds: generic terms (multiplayer/offline etc), or mid & long-tail keywords (that can drive additional traffic).
    • Leverage ASA data but be careful how you evaluate the performance of these ads as the likelihood of your app converting well for a keyword might change depending on how naturally you’re associated with that term.
    • Learn from customer reviews! Your users will tell you everything you need to know about your app.
    • Ideate, experiment & Grow. Adapt your metadata and creatives using an optimization loop and localize them because though the intent in different territories might be the same, the customers in different countries speaking different languages, are not. A/B test creatives to find the right balance (remember, a useful test is not always a winning test, clear conclusions help you scale more than changing everything at once and it’s recommended to use A/B/B tests in Google Play in order to avoid false positives results. Or use dedicated platforms like Storemaven). 😉
    • Adapt your product roadmap. Keep an eye on bugs your users might complain about and other quality metrics as issues may hurt your visibility and conversion, especially on Google Play. 

    Watch Simon’s session:


    Session 7: iOS 14 Readiness – Switching Priorities & Rethinking the Marketing Model

    By Christian LeBienvenu, Solutions Architect, AppsFlyer, and Aamod Walavalkar, Product Manager, Call of Duty, Mobile at Activision

    In our last session, Christian and Aamod talked about the ripples that were sent throughout the industry after Apple announced a few months back that from iOS 14 apps will no longer be able to process and pass tracking data. Hearing how a gaming company is dealing with this new reality with one of the most successful games out there was really inspiring, as many are looking for the right, and new, MO nowadays. Here are the main takeaways from the discussion:   

    • There’s so much speculation going around, we thought we had the responsibility not to overreact or overspeculate, as so much is still uncertain about how the advertising landscape is going to work.

    • This expected change in the industry also holds a lot of opportunities, as organizations have to now think of their marketing models with a little less granularity.

    • Analyzing campaigns from now on will not use user-level metrics to understand results of low performing campaigns, but rather looking at a single updating conversion event – being now the main indicator of success. The conversion event and the conversion values are going to be the most important things.

    • The extra time Apple gave the industry before these changes are implemented gives the opportunity to experiment and adapt your approaches: Everything can be heavily tested before launch, with the time in hand.

    • There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all way to figure out the value of a campaign, each product will have to determine what conversion values and events best suits their purpose, adjust to that, and keep rating and optimizing these events.

    Watch the full video:


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      Summary 

      So there you have it, the top-level summary of our That’s the Tea: on Mobile Growth 2020 virtual conference is done for this year. If you weren’t able to attend don’t worry, we’re hoping to be back next year and who knows, maybe we’ll be able to do it in person by then! I’ll take this opportunity to say thanks again to all of you who are taking this journey with us, to all who attended, and to the talented team that made this possible.

      Did you have any comments? Suggestions? Want to brag about your IDFA deprecation point score? We’d love to hear your feedback on this event. Feel free to reach out to Jonathan, Storemaven’s Director of Marketing, via Linkedin or contact him at jonathan@storemaven.com.

      About Esther Rubin
      Esther has worked in mobile marketing for years, writing for hi-tech companies and game & app developers. She's British but doesn't know Mary Poppins, before you ask.