Apps World 2014: Mobile app marketing and existential crises

This week ITProPortal has been hanging out at Apps World 2014. Bringing crazy golf, DeLoreans and a giant inflatable Android to London’s ExCeL centre, Apps World is an exposé of the latest and greatest developments across enterprise apps, mobile payments, advertising apps and more.

Amidst the hubbub, I sat down for a chat with Oliver Clark, director of sales, EMEA, at Fiksu – a provider of mobile marketing products for apps that help app and game marketers reach their user acquisition goals. Fiksu uses different ad networks to see which network is performing best for each app at any given time, meaning marketers can value-optimise their campaigns.

You’re probably well aware of the ads that pepper your precious apps (my Tube/train apps always try to make me take a cab), and maybe you’ve picked up on how these apps strangely attune themselves to your browsing, your tastes and your movements. Like web advertising’s use of cookies, mobile advertisers use big data techniques to target specific user segments with the right products. For marketers looking to engage with consumers though, how does mobile advertising compare to traditional print, billboard or TV advertising?

Apps VS tradition

“Mobile advertising is like any other form of advertising, it’s driven by supply and demand, and it’s a financial market, so being able to see which areas are performing well and which areas aren’t, at a given time, is a big advantage,” Clark told me.

Mobile is cheaper per impression, that’s for sure, but mobile devices are full of sensors, adding an entirely new dimension to the marketer-consumer relationship. Location, heart rate, acceleration – these can all be tracked by the Samsung Galaxy S5, for instance.

“When you combine the fact that you can know a lot more about who you’re advertising to, along with the costability, it becomes very appealing. I’d say the thing that really nails it for mobile though, is the fact that it’s where everybody happens to be,” Clark continued.

“People touch their phones 150 times a day, it’s the first thing people touch in the morning and the last thing they touch at night, apparently.”

Twitter's install products for apps

I wanted to get Clark’s reaction to Twitter’s new mobile app install products. In April 2014, the social network announced new ways for marketers and developers to drive app installs and app engagements with the use of a new mobile app promotion suite. “We have developed a full suite of targeting, creative and measurement tools to enable Twitter advertisers to effectively promote their mobile apps,” Twitter blogged at the time. What’s the significance of this development for marketers?

According to Clark, “Twitter is extraordinarily good for contextual and contemporaneous communication – not just ‘I am a fan of Beyoncé, but I’m a fan of Beyoncé at this very concert, tonight’.”

“The cost of delivering an advertisement to somebody is higher because it’s essentially very high premium traffic, but the conversion rates are significantly greater as well, in terms of people clicking through, because it’s delivered in the right context, at the right time to people who are interested in this sort of thing.”

"Millenials don't know what the hell they're doing"

Earlier in the day, Jason Bradbury of the gadget show had given a bounding keynote about the exponential development of tech, which you should read in our live blog. The amount of mobile data produced in the world has, of course, also grown exponentially. What about Fiksu though? What’s been the shape of the company’s data stream?

“If you look at our data, in terms of the amount of data points that we review on a monthly basis, it’s actually fairly linear, so it’s not been exponential. It’s been fairly linear over the last year and a half.”

“I think that there will be a big privacy concern at some point. I don’t think it’s come yet, but at the moment people are quite willing to share pieces of information. I think though – and this is absolutely opinion – that things are changing, to a degree.

“So, two years ago it would have been fair to say that millennials don’t know what the hell they’re doing. They will give away all of their personal data to Facebook in return for a virtual avatar or something. Do these children have no idea!”

“People are getting more savvy. I think the platforms that capture this data are getting much more sensitive to the way that they capture it as well. I remember seeing permissions on some of the early Android developer phones for apps where people were just trying to swamp and get everything they could. Keyboards and so forth wanted to know what your web browsing history was and what your contact details were – why do they need to know that…? I think consumers are getting better at understanding that.”

“Apple has made some great steps in terms of making it easier for people to disconnect themselves, but ultimately I don’t think there will be a significant slowdown because it’s about value creation from that data.”

“So, for example, I’m prepared to give companies, that I’ve never met, my heart rate, my weight, my fat content, because they return value to me by tracking it and showing it to me in an interesting fashion. I’m comfortable with the level of risk that I’m exposed to and the opportunities to mitigate that if I need to, such as data portability and so forth.”

“I think that there is a maturing in the industry, and this is possibly why we haven’t seen that privacy bombshell yet, but I still think that it’s something that’s going to come because companies own a lot of data on a lot of individuals.”

Bus apps world mobile marketing

A force for good?

Though so often simply pushed to the back of our minds, the fact that we do haemorrhage data on a daily basis into the hands of social networks, mobile providers, and ultimately advertisers, would cause a worried frown across even the least digitally minded individual. How does this tie into wider debates about marketing though? In No Logo, Naomi Klein argued that brands like Nike and Pepsi, in an increasing push to target the youth segment, had “muscled” their presence into the school system, getting ads into schools and gathering information about the students.

That was back in 1999, just before the dot-com bubble burst, and years before the first iPhone hit the shelves. Such brands can now collect far more data on the youth market, so can mobile advertising with its intrusive nature be a force for good?

“I think it’s less about marketing and more about the channels that marketing uses, because marketing uses the same channels that were used during the Arab Spring, for example. It uses the same channels that are being used to advance democracy in places like China.”

“I think, in general, that the last 100 to 150 years have been the most private years that humans have ever lived in, in so far that the industrial revolution created communities of anonymity, where people didn’t necessarily know everything that was going on around the village together with them.”

“But I think that it actually turns out that people are prepared to share a little bit more and it’s almost lost in translation where there’s this sudden loneliness. Or maybe it’s more Fight Club, that there’s this existential vacuum that people want to fill by sharing information, because that information gets shared to other people.”

“So I think that there’s actually a rebalance that’s taking place at the moment and that’s being enabled by technology, and marketers are making use of that enabling technology. So, the enabling technology, like most, is neither a force for good nor evil, it’s how it’s used. I think generally marketers are sensitive enough to the way that it’s used so that it delivers relevant content to people who are likely to be engaged, rather than just annoying them. Our job is to make more efficient the exchange.”

Look out for more from Apps World 2014 in our live blog.

Image credit: Tweakyourbiz.com