Mobile Beach Conference 2018 Recap

Artyom Dogtiev

In App Events. May 29, 2018

Every year there are dozens of conferences that gather digital advertising and app industry professionals crowd. So the challenge for each to find a way to stand out, to avoid being just another conference in a venue that more or less looks like any other.

This is the challenge right there.

And there is another problem – if a conference takes place on a biz day, some people may not be available to come and attend, if you host a conference on a weekend – people need to sacrifice their precious leisure time. But if you host a conference on a weekend near a seashore, you definitely remove this obstacle – people will have a chance to both do business and relax. To solve these problems back in 2015  Mobile Beach Conference organizers made a bid on the most valuable and memorable local resource – Black Sea.

People decide to commit their time to attend a conference when they know they’ll watch and listen industry professionals who have valuable information to share and help them to understand better how to navigate the field and grow their business. This year MBC team has doubled its efforts to bring a really great lineup of speakers and expand its Startup Alley

First up at the speakers tent to talk was Lars Bognar, mobile specialist of Google. Lars joined the tech giant back in 2011, worked in Ireland, than US and finally become part of the company’s branch in Germany.

How Universal App Marketing Campaigns and Machine Learning can help you maximize LTV

So Lars began with an analogy, comparing an app business with boat racing and how developers efforts to advertise their apps across multiple channels can be seen as a team work inside the boat during a race. Just like with a boat, if developer’s app marketing efforts aren’t well managed and in sync, the boat won’t move as efficiently as it can. It’s that simple.

Of course many of you know that Google has exactly the right tool to help app developers with bringing their app marketing efforts in unison across Google’s multiple assets – search, YouTube, Google Play and Google Display Network. Yes, I’m talking about Google Universal App Campaigns.  On one hand – this solution is extremely simple, it guides an app developer through a several-step interface to drive installs for his app across all above mentioned channels, on the other hand – it’s extremely complicated if we take a look under the hood to see Google’s complex Machine Learning algorithms that make it possible for developers have much more simpler and easy-to-understand app marketing campaign running experience.

Switching the gears to another topic, Lars mentioned some of data points that encapsulate developers app marketing challenges of today. According to multiple researches, as of this year 51% of mobile apps are getting precisely zero installs and within the first three days of an app’s usage 77% of its users just drop it. On top of that, 88% of mobile users are just fine with sticking to 5 apps they spend time on their mobile device.

Now, this is not to say that app developers should abandon their app marketing efforts but to work with a mobile web channel as well. In fact, Google’s Progressive Web Apps technology was developed with that challenge in mind, it provides developers with the tech to deliver an app experience to their end users but on the web. If you ever used Progressive Web Apps from Instagram or BMW, you perfectly see what this technology is capable to deliver. With this tech, app developers can reach much more users and have a chance to make them loyal to their brand than by just going the app store publication route.

If there is a single graph that can give you the best picture for the current state of the app industry and how did it evolve through time it’s this one below. The graph puts together apps Downloads, Usage and Revenue growth over time. It shows that among these three, we see initially Downloads growing really fast, while Usage and Revenue are lagging behind. But as time goes by Downloads hit a plateau, meanwhile Usage continues to grow and at some point Revenue picks up the steam on par with Usage.

Another great highlight from the Lars keynote was about telling app developers about the importance of a holistic approach to app monetization and specifically – indirect revenue streams. For many unexperienced developers even conventional app marketing methods present a challenge, let alone strategic thinking that tells you to brainstorm all possible ways your app can generate revenue.

And finally Lars stressed on Google Universal App Campaigns ad platform ability to adapt to app marketers goals, such as app installs generation, achieving specific actions inside apps and generating value with your mobile app users. Throughout a mobile app life cycle all these goals can be relevant and hence it is important for an app marketing platform such as Google UAC to support them all.

Moving on from Google to Taboola, another tech giant but this time in the world of Content Discovery. If you don’t know what Taboola is you probably didn’t pay much attention to suggestions for further reading you’re getting below an article you’re looking at. So Taboola definitely knows a thing or two about how to match content with an audience that would to read it and now, when the whole world is firing all cylinders to go completely mobile, the company is in a great position to bring quality content in front of people’s eyes on their beloved smartphones and tablets. At MBC Taboola team was presented by Ran Buck, SVP of Global Revenue and Seraphina Davey. So once Lars Bognar of Google finished, Ran took the stage to talk about Taboola and how it connects content publishers with advertisers and why it’s in a perfect position to grow now.

Engagement vs. monetization on mobile

So every thing we pull our smartphone from a pocket, there is a reason why we’re doing it. If you look at the graph below that Ran was presenting, you see that mobile shopping takes about 5% of all mobile users, multimedia – 13%, communication in chat apps – 19%, conducting information search – 21%, social interaction in general – 22% and consuming content – 20%. The latter is exactly where Taboola comes in, essentially it helps people to feed their curiosity in so many topics what you would expect from several billion people who have smartphones and tables on this planet.

Now if you need some numbers to get the scale of Taboola operations, there are right there for you. There are only several digital platforms that operate on a scale of billions and Taboola is one of them, it have more than 1,3 billion monthly unique users, it gets over 1,5 billion clicks a month, it reaches 87% of US mobile internet users, resulting in more than 3 billion video views a month in US. Wonder where video views come from? Originally Taboola started as a widget for a web page to suggest similar content to read but with a launch of Taboola In-feed Discovery Marketplace that brought both text and video into a single seamless mobile experience. I’m sure you’re pretty familiar with this experience, Facebook started it years ago, introducing the concept of a feed and yes – Taboola is taking a full advantage of how well this concept is adopted by people in masses.

To operate a content discovery platform on that scale, Taboola definitely needs a top class team of user behavior and data researchers to optimize people’s experience and make it useful for a huge number of people. As you can from the slide below, the company uses the HeatMap technology to measure amount of attention people pay to different areas of a smartphone screen as people are reading Taboola powered content in mobile apps.

Also Taboola acknowledges the challenges of keeping control over a vast amount of content in the world with companies like YouTube has been having a number of serious problems with top brands videos being exposed next to the extremists content. The company has a dedicated team to pre-screen every single piece of video and photo content to make sure it doesn’t fail to prevent such occasions.

Switching gears from top media platforms to app developers. One of the interesting cases presented by app startups was Israel-based Gett on-demand mobility company that has been exploring hail-riding model, pioneered by Uber years ago, in Israel and multiple other locations. To talk about Gett the audience welcomed Oded Onn, Global Head of Digital Marketing at Gett.

Competing in the taxi app market: how Gett uses different strategies in each territory

Just as Uber, Gett is much more than just an app. A hint to any app startup founder who has been dreаming to repeat these popular apps success – the app on itself will not make it. Period. It’s about if you can build an ecosystem and this is what Oded was talking about, showing the AV Ecosystem slide you can see below. Since Gett business is build on cooperating with drivers they needed to take care of their insurance and meeting local regulations in all places they’re launching the service at. This is about the sustainability of their business, winning in a long run via building great relationships with drivers, showing them that they really care about them. To compete with the leaders of this business Uber and Lyft, Gett is ought to think about building value added services on top of its core ride-hailing service. All the components you see on the graph are parts of Gett’s business strategy to grow and stay competitive in a long run.

And as with many successful businesses partnership is essential for Gett’s business to flourish. The company got investments from auto-giant Volkswagen and others to be able to push the envelop further aggressively.

The final stroke to the Gett’s business scale picture would be saying that the company’s devision Juno is actually number 3 in New York city, after the famous Uber and Lyft duo. Juno was acquired by Gett last spring for $200 million and it provided Gett the necessary thrust to acquire bigger market share in the United States.

A big part of Mobile Beach Conference is Startup Alley, an exhibition area where multiple app startups have their booth to welcome attendees to introduce to their app project.

Startup competition

These app startup projects included Augmented Reality based app to create virtual objects to augment ads, 3D scanning technology based app to improve people’s apparel shopping experience, social networking app for games to connect people who are into the same kind of games and would love to share each other company, while playing games on their smartphones and more.

Closer to the evening these startups had a chance to pitch their app project to the jury of 14 and get votes from the audience to win the competition. Since Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality were two major topics that the whole conference revolved around, between the two parts of this competition, the jury got to talk about VR and AR and how these two technologies actually fit our daily lives, which one of these two has a potential to have a bigger impact on people’s lives, what are entry barriers for companies to begin exporting these technologies and more. Some of the app projects are in their early stage, when it’s about market research, testing the water to see if an idea will meet an actual demand, some are actually launched and working hard on measuring how well their app is met by people.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, this year Mobile Beach Conference had app startup centric focus, welcomed attendees from more than 50 countries, had top level speakers from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Taboola, HTC, LEAP Motion, Avazu, Samsung are more. The traditional rain, this is an insider baseball joke for people who’ve been multiple times to this conference, touched it only lightly this year and sure thing couldn’t manage to make event a dent in participants mood and attitude towards the event.