User feedback is highly beneficial and most valuable to mobile app owners. The range of use cases is very broad. Use cases range from deciding what app features should be improved or dropped to whether an app owner should display ads inside of an app to monetize it or choose another way of making a profit. So how can app owners get reliable feedback from users quickly? In this interview, Art Dogtiev, Head of Branded Content at ComboApp, is talking with Andreas Vourkos, co-founder and COO of Pollfish to find out the answer to that question. Pollfish aims to help businesses acquire valuable information for market research and advertising via an innovative mobile survey platform and, in turn, engage with consumers.
As an example of Pollfish’s capabilities we bring up the developer infographics, the product of the company’s co-operation with Localytics app analytics company. Andreas is a mobile enthusiast seeking entrepreneurial commercialization of knowledge. Actively involved in the mobile world, Andreas is interested in innovative products that can reach massive scale and improve the lives of millions. Vourkos is currently working at Pollfish to help re-define the way mobile surveys are conducted solving one of the biggest problems in the mobile apps world, mobile monetization.
Hi Andreas, welcome to Marketing Tidbits with ComboApp!
Hi Art, thank you for inviting me!
Today we are going to talk about mobile user surveying! My first question – what is the most valuable piece of information for a mobile app owner? I would personally say it’s feedback from its users. The information that allows you to see what is wrong with your app, if you are not aware of every specific problem within your app you’ll spend extra time on your marketing efforts because of that particular issue when you can easily avoid it. So how do you get feedback from your app users?
You can create a survey in Google Docs, launch it on Google+, Facebook or Twitter and after that you’ll need to go through a set of operations to be able to conduct a decent survey to get useful information. Today, we are talking about the Pollfish.com platform with Andreas Vourkos Co-Founder and COO of the company. Before talking about Pollfish could you tell me a little bit about yourself, your professional background?
Yes, actually I am a mobile app engineer. I have been working with several mobile platforms for the past years. I started working on Java then moved to platforms like Blackberry, Android and iOS. I was always exploring possibilities to work with mobile apps on different platforms, so I was looking at ways to monetize these apps. Along with my team here at Pollfish, we figured out a better way for apps to make money and that’s why we introduced Pollfish, a new way to monetize apps with surveys instead of ads.
When did you get the idea to create a service like Pollfish? Did you have any competition? Did you find any existing companies who were performing a similar service or was it kind of a unique moment when you thought “gosh why is nobody else doing it?”
Actually back in 2013 when we initially started Pollfish, we were the pioneers in the area. Since then we have seen some other companies starting similar concepts. Some of them survived over the years, others are still quite new, but we are the pioneers in the area. We have the biggest distribution in terms of survey reach out there.
So how does Pollfish work from the perspective of an app owner?
So for publishers or app owners Pollfish is a SDK that works on both Android and iOS and we are also planning to work with mobile websites. So that app publishers integrate our SDK within their apps in exactly similar ways that they do for other solutions like mobile ad networks or app analytics. So they integrate our SDK and then they call our service to receive surveys. We claim to be one of the fastest integrations out there. It takes less than two minutes. It’s just a simple drive-and-drop within the app and one line of code to start receiving real surveys within the app. So when a survey is received through an app the users are prompted if they would like to take part in a survey to get into a drawing for a prize. And then they are served several questions that comprise the survey and if they win we will prompt them how they will receive gifts through the Pollfish enabled app.
So the developer gets paid for each completed survey through his own app and we have two surveys formats: basic survey format and playful survey format. On the basic survey format, there are usually surveys comprising from 7 to 10 questions and the developers get minimum $0.3 per completed survey and this price can go up to $2 – it’s a shared revenue model. So if you compare what they can get from advertising, the reward is really high. Some of the key value propositions here is that everything is displayed within the app. So the app publishers have to change nothing within their apps, they just throw the SDK in their app and call one line of code and the surveys are displayed. It’s not like banner ads, for example, where you have to change the UI to feed the advertising. Users are prompted with rewards in order to complete a survey, so it’s not like advertising – like you click to go to website here users can actually win something so we have happy users. Additionally we have high payouts, as I mentioned before for the publishers.
So basically you carry out basis from the perspective of app developers and for people who will participate in the survey you make it really enjoyable and you actually offer something in return, like sometimes it’s quite hard to convince people to participate in a survey, when they have nothing in return, like why should I spend my time on a survey? But, it’s not the case with your platform, you are actually rewarding them.
The thing here is that we have experimented a lot over the years with Pollfish. We tried to prompt our users with gifts within draws, we tried to prompt them to participate in some philanthropy, for example, we’ll donate some money somewhere, or we even tried to prompt our users with gifts. So, actually what we have realized is that if you make a survey more playful, maybe with an animated graphic or image, users actually want to participate maybe mostly out of curiosity let’s say. But we have seen very high participation, even if we don’t prompt users with a gift. I believe it’s a matter of presenting something appealing to the user. That’s what really counts out there!
Ok Andreas. On top of what you just said, can you provide some hints on what kind of targeting options an app developer has when he’s setting up a survey form?
At Pollfish, we have two kinds of surveys. We have the surveys which market research companies do and we distribute the surveys through app publishers networks and we have also the option for app owners to create internal surveys for free within their own apps just to hear what their users are saying. So, as an app developer, in order to create an internal survey for his own user base, he just needs to login on our website and use our DIY survey tool, start creating questions step-by-step in a very simple and appealing way and then he just has to deploy and start seeing the survey within his app. It’s a pretty straight-forward process and everything is done automatically through the DIY survey tool.
So when the survey for a particular app is done or it’s in progress, what kind of information can an app developer see on his dashboard? Is there any data for location of participants, age, etc.?
Actually this is what we needed to mention before, when an app publisher joins Pollfish and integrates Pollfish surveys within his app, we provide him access to the app developer dashboard. This is actually an analytics tool too because we ask people questions and we know a lot of stuff about them. So we share this information with the developer in real-time right on his dashboard so he is able to see, after integrating the Pollfish surveys, gender, age, demographics and other stuff. This way he is able to know his audience better and make better decisions. Regarding your question, when the developer is delivering a survey he is able to apply a filter and see only what, let’s say, men from Montreal have responded. So he is able to filter every question based on predefined selections, we give him information like the gender, age groups, location, OS type: Android, iOS or Web. And he is able to draw his own conclusions based on the filters he will apply on the results page.
Outstanding. It’s really useful information for launching mobile ad campaigns, where you are able to decide what kind of cohorts you are going to have, launching your campaign, in terms of specific age or geographic settings, knowing from the survey you’ve conducted. Are there any limitations? Are there any minimum or maximum limits on how many people can participate in the survey? Or is it from one to infinity?
Let’s say it’s from one to infinity! There is no technical limitation on how many people can participate. Overall you should always consider user experience. So you want to bother your users, but you want to have a limit on that. This is one of the core value propositions from Pollfish. We treat the user experience very seriously. So we try to design and apply everything with the user in mind. For example, for internal surveys we try to advise the app owner to have a specific limit on how many people he will ask, so we try to keep the balance there. But technically it’s from one to infinity, there is no limit on that!
So it doesn’t make much sense to ask more than ten questions in the survey? Are there any limitations in terms of how many questions are too many in terms of bothering users?
Actually the limitation here is that we have to always keep the user in mind, as I said before. So at Pollfish everything is designed for mobile, so the new guidelines for mobile market research say that you should not bother users with more than 10 questions on the mobile because after that you compromise the user experience. A new mobile market research trends says that you should keep in all the questionnaires up to 10 questions, and this is exactly what we are trying to do here at Pollfish. We try to limit our surveys to less than 10 questions, but in the past we had surveys bigger than that, for example 15 questions. It’s a matter of what the client wants. We try to advise him to keep the questions number less than 10 in order to ensure the user experience and the quality of the results.
Ok. At this point, I would like to bring up a specific example of what the platform is capable of doing. It’s the Developer Infographics, which caught my attention a few days ago when I was checking my LinkedIn updates. It was the product of your cooperation with the company Localytics. And I would like to bring up a really useful piece of information that developers might find very useful which is “on what stage of the app experience people prefer to be shown an ad?” It’s for a situation when you are asking this question to yourself as an app developer. Ok, I am gonna include an ad into my app, where should I put it? On which screen or in which part of my app? And basically, without doing any research or survey, there is no any reliable way to decide on that question. And as I am looking into your research, I see 37% people say “never”, but it is the expected result from app users who traditionally aren’t really excited about and welcome ads in their apps. But seriously speaking, it is a metric, it is a number you should know and you should be aware of. There is no good or bad in this information because when you have it you can see the real picture on what people’s expectations are. For example, 16% of people wouldn’t mind seeing an ad on the stage when they are waiting for information to be loaded into the app. Basically they cannot use the app at this moment so they don’t mind seeing an ad and this is just one of the valuable pieces of information that this infographic presents. Can you share a little bit more about this infographic? Who was the originator of the idea to add the animation to this infographic?
Actually the initial concept of the survey was that usually developers and app owners assume what their app users want. So they are making assumptions. One way to solve this problem is to track their behavior within their apps with some sort of analytics tool. But it seems now that we are able to survey these users. We have access to them and we can ask them directly what they want. We don’t have to assume by monitoring behavior, we just need to ask them. So we worked together with Localytics and we joined our knowledge to create a survey with questions we receive everyday from app publishers.
We crafted these survey questions of what developers would like to ask mobile users and we launched this survey to over 5,000 mobile users all over the world in 5 different languages and we gathered these insights. So what is the overall concept of the infographic and why this infographic is interactive and you can apply filters? The concept is the following. If I have an app and the majority of my app users are male users aging from 15 to 34 years old and my main user base is in North America. So I can apply these filters to the infographic and actually have the representative proportion of what my user base and profile looks like in my app and I can see what these people said.
So actually it’s like I have surveyed my own users because I have the similar characteristics. This is a very good tool for any app publisher. With it he can adjust the user base and the filters on this infographic to apply to the profile of his own user base in his own app and see what people actually said who have similar characteristics regarding these interesting questions. That was the original concept of the app and I believe that the eventual results from this infographic help toward this direction. Regarding the question, why is it animated? Because I am also an app developer so I can say that these animations and these geeky gifs that we have embedded in the infographic actually make it more fun and more appealing to the community of app developers.
Yeah, absolutely. Guys, you should really check out this infographics because the difference is really huge between generic boring numbers, stats, and graphs from different researches and whitepapers and this infographic developed by Pollfish and Localytics. Was it a single experiment cooperation with Localytics or do you plan to create more?
Actually this is the second year that we are creating the similar survey. But it was a more static one. This year we’ve decided to create a more interactive infographic. So now you can get more conclusions out of it. But generally speaking at Pollfish we create several infographics from time to time around several hot topics.
By the way, how much time did it take to create this infographic?
You mean to gather the results?
At Pollfish we have the ability to gather this kind of data within a few hours. On the platform we have currently 100 millions users who can take part in our surveys. This specific survey we opened for a specific timeframe and it took us around 4 days.
4 days, not bad. I actually thought that this kind of survey took a couple of weeks or even months.
We can gather 5,000 responses in a few hours.
It just goes to show our listeners how capable the platform is. It can gather that much information and present you on a clear and enjoyable layout. I think that does it for this week’s interview. Andreas, please tell our listeners where they can read more on Pollfish, what it does and what it is up to.
Yes, you can visit our website to get more information about what we do. You can reach me on Twitter too at https://twitter.com/vourkosa. Please feel free to reach me if you have any questions about Pollfish, but I believe that the best way to find information is on our website at Pollfish.com.
Ok, great. Thank you Andreas for this interview.
Thanks a lot for having me! Bye.
This is an interview from the Marketing TidBits with ComboApp podcast produced by ComboApp Group, a full-cycle communications and marketing solutions provider for a global mobile marketplace. Listen to this podcast episode or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.