This is the latest post in our Developer Insights Series, in which we talk to a variety of freemium app developers to get perspective into how Tapjoy’s Marketing Automation and Monetization platform is working to help optimize the lifetime value of every user. You can also read our interviews with PuzzleSocial, Nekki, and NTREEV.
This week, we caught up with Stuart Lewis-Smith, Vice President of Idle Gaming, which was recently acquired by GSN Games. Stuart was the CEO of Idle Gaming before the acquisition and responsible for all aspects of the studio. Below are some highlights from our conversation. Let us know what you think, and what you want to hear about in the comments below, or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
What part of Tapjoy’s product are you currently using? What key insights have you gained, and have you used them to make any changes to the app, flow or currency system?
We are using Tapjoy’s latest product — SDK11, in one of our hottest apps, Fresh Deck Poker. We are using most, if not all, aspects of the platform including the full suite of analytic tools, video products, the offerwall and push notifications.
Which solutions did you evaluate? Why did you select Tapjoy? Please describe the capabilities most important to you.
We have had a long and positive relationship with Tapjoy, and the introduction of SDK11 provided us with a number of new features that were missing from our internal tool set. Specifically, we were looking for delivery of targeted push notifications based on in-game events and the ability to surface advertising (be that third party or internal promotions) in different app locations based on event triggers. We have worked with a lot of SDKs and often hear the classic line that “it only takes a day to integrate,” but in our experience this often means several days or weeks of integration work. We have spent many cycles fixing other third-party SDKs, resolving conflicting technologies and investing too much time on issues that should never have existed. For this project, it was vital that we worked with a partner that had proven technology, a track record of high-quality execution, thorough documentation and a team that we trusted to deal with any issues that arose. Tapjoy met all those criteria.
Please describe the implementation of Tapjoy? How was that process? Any specifics you’d call out?
Overall, Tapjoy was very responsive to supporting our integration process and implementing the Tapjoy SDK was painless. The process began as an email interaction with Tapjoy to obtain the latest SDKs and links to documentation. Then, we worked with a Tapjoy Integration Manager who ensured that we were utilizing the latest APIs correctly. We performed the integration on our end and once it was complete, we worked directly with Tapjoy to ensure things went smoothly.
Is your current solution built in house or are you working with a third party?
All of our games are built in-house, including all of the underlying platform technology. Tapjoy’s solution integrates seamlessly with our internal advertising mediation technology, game platform and enterprise analytics tools.
What specific challenges are facing your company right now? What issues impact your success?
User acquisition costs are always the biggest challenge. This means we need to focus on ways to drive down CPI or increase LTV. Ultimately we’re an ROI-focused operation, so we need to closely monitor the margins, and any tools that can help us do that provide huge value. With Tapjoy, the ability to see the future LTV of our users has been a key benefit. Tapjoy’s Future Value Map helps us use historical behavior of certain groups to predict future behaviors such as LTV or even churn. In turn, we can take measures to drive LTV and retention.
Given the challenges discussed, what were you looking for in an analytics and monetization solution?
The ability to understand player behaviors and curate a personalized experience for those players is essential. We were looking for tools that would allow us to quickly identify player segments and determine what type of experience to surface for them, specifically around their interaction with third-party advertising. Players who are less likely to monetize through IAP could be monetized via offerwalls, interstitials and rewarded video content. Having both the analytics and ability to act on them all from a single dashboard is exactly what we’ve been looking for.
Please talk a bit about the benefits you’ve seen from using Tapjoy.
Since integrating Tapjoy’s latest SDK, we’ve been able to understand a bit more about the future potential of our users. We’re able to gain insights into which groups of users have the most potential, and then serve them either rewarded ads or push notifications. The fact that this is done from a single dashboard and through one SDK has been a huge benefit. At one point, we hit internal compilation limits for Android builds that were only resolved by removing other SDKs and using Proguard to strip out unnecessary code, which lightened our app in the end.
What are the metrics you monitor most?
We’re very tuned into key engagement metrics such as retention, user churn and the overall user flow through our app. You can learn a lot about your app by what these metrics tell you, and you need to be able to take action based on what your engagement and retention looks like. But of course, monitoring the lifetime value and ARPU of users are some of the most important success metrics and ultimately determine whether or not your app is healthy.
Have there been any surprises you’ve learned from using Tapjoy’s analytics or Marketing Automation platform?
The only surprise has been how well the dashboard presents all of the information. Being able to compare user groups side-by-side has been a very valuable and easy-to-use tool for us and has helped us gain additional insights.