MADV 004 - The one with Audio, Chess & adtech communism, but no Xmas for UA managers

SKAdNetwork is broken, the MAI Ads inventory is shrinking but keep Calm: “When terrible things happen, our numbers go up”

🤓 Must reads!


🤳 First-party content


🔥 What’s hot

  • Facebook has discretely updated its guidance for SKAdNetwork. Lots of changes since early Sept., highlighted in Eric’s thread: no new account, more than 9 campaigns, VO might survive (?) and MMPs back into the game. The big question remains at which date will the new SDK be released so we can start testing and gauge the measurement/performance loss?

  • IDFA deprecation postponed to 2021? It’s already happening, but silently. The proportion of users without IDFA has risen from 25% on iOS13 to 45% on iOS14 (in average, US is higher) according to Appsflyer detailed research. With iOS14 adoption increasing, that’s over a third of users without IDFA, and growing.

  • But why is it increasing? Apple seems to be forcing the LAT-on setting by default on some device as spotted on Reddit… More details on Appsflyer link above.

  • Talking about Facebook, I’ll drop a bomb I’m surprised nobody is talking about. Afaik, Facebook isn’t showing MAI ads to user without IDFA (this isn’t new or related to iOS14). A growing rate of IDFA-less users means FB MAI Ads inventory is shrinking! Combined with heavy pressure from advertisers this quarter, the most premium inventory for mobile UA is at all-times high. How are your web campaigns testing going?

  • Another bomb related to the topic: Apple admitted SKAdNetwork isn’t working!! Reported by John Koetsier.

  • If you’re aren’t fed up by IDFA content, RocketShipHQ is releasing a free guide with 70+ pages and 500min of content from friends in the industry.

  • Brilliant ad placement for Calm on 3/11/👏

  • Chess is cool again”: As I hinted on the ASO Stack slack, Netflix’s The Queen Gambit is affecting chess apps positively. Surprisingly, “search popularity” index is flat, while downloads are soaring: is search discovery overrated?

  • If you work with subs apps, you might have noticed a cohort of users cancelling their trial immediately after starting it, not to get charged. This is particularly popular among younger audiences, and a nightmare for growth practitioners trying to figure out how to create habits & convert. A debate I’m happy to extend in private, or in the related SubClub thread.

  • ASO & search ads, part1: Google has killed the legacy Play Console and its useful insights on organic vs paid, for a new version I’m yet to hear anyone likes.

  • The obvious goal of that new console is to hide behind a weird-colored UI the obfuscation of critical ASO data: paid vs organic. It’s always been a nightmare to reconcile UAC data with the console and @nadir did a great job at unveiling how to to guesstimate Play Store Ads installs from the Console.

  • ASO & search ads, part2, with an exclusive for MADV readers: Google is rolling out a slight iteration of the reports in the Ads UI. Besides moving metrics & dimension from left to right - surely took months of user interviews to make a decision on this -, there’s a small change that should attract all ASO practionners’ attention: filter network=search, and list “keyword/placement”: Google is (accidentally?) revealing a small subtract of the search ads keywords! The sample is small (single digit %) but shows a high proportion of brand terms, and hints at the organic cannibalization potential of running UAC campaigns.

  • If 2020 had only one hot topic in UA, I’d choose cannibalization vs incrementality. In the aforementioned post, Nadir shows (again) how UAC can be eating up your organics. Deterministic attribution made it easy to fool oneself. I believe marketers are about to get a lot more aware of this next year, and many smart people are working hard on changing the attribution perspective. Follow @maorsa for instance, like in this fun “adtech communism” conversation.


🎧 Audio everywhere! “Straight to your ears from the world’s greatest minds”

The rise of audio is nothing new. Sure, Spotify has now 144m subscribers (+27% yoy!). But there’s a lot more happening around audio & voice than the revenue of the oligopoly controlling the music industry. After the first wave of 100% audio apps such as Blinkist or Aaptiv, there’s a whole new shift towards audio in many areas. Maybe the SV elitist discord Clubhouse and its $100m pre-launch is onto something after all.

  • One space I see exciting early stage startups is the “micro-learning” one, or “learning on the go”. Blinkist released an exciting new format called ShortCast. A friend of mine jumped on the promising project at Himalaya, another way of becoming a “better you”. Welcome to the Jungle launched another microlearning format dubbed “Welcome Originals”.

  • Speechify, which turns any text (pdf, URL, scan..) into an audiobook, is seeing tremendous growth. I’m bullish on its founder, which moving story I recommend you to experience it in-app, right after the onboarding.

  • For makers, a startup to follow: Rapchat. Headlines coming up in 3, 2, 1…

  • I had a few more cool examples, but I lost my notes :( If you saw more in the audio space, send over!

I just can’t catch up with my long podcast queue, but here are a few I enjoyed lately:

  • The MobileUAshow is on fire. For an amazing perspective of monetization in the early days of the AppStore, the episode with @DrBarnard was fun and insightful.

  • David finally started the SubClub Podcast, with the first episodes featuring must-follows of the subscription economy Jacob Eitling (RevenueCat CEO) and Nico Wittenborn (Adjacent founder).

  • The Mobile Growth Nightmare (MGN) podcast is back for a new season, starting strong with the always interesting Simon Lejeune (soundcloud, itunes)

  • StoreMaven publishes a new podcast series dubbed “Mobile growth & pancakes”, featuring MADV friends Claire & Nadir.

  • It’s rare to find decent content on UAC tactics. To be fair, there isn’t much to say, especially while respecting their heavy NDA aimed at hiding the best features from indies & early stage advertisers. But Natalie Drodz made a great job at “thinking out of the black box”.


🕹️ Gaming stuff

  • Despite making the bulk of the AppStore revenue, this newsletter isn’t much about games. I just don’t know enough. I’ll make an exception to mention to Playrix’s crazy success story. Gardenscape & Homescapes have pioneered the fake ads tactic and generated each 10-digits in revenue. But so did Playrix’ initial game Township, which launched in 2011 on Google+ (!), with a current yearly run rate of $200m (installs are up 20% this year). My go-to place for gaming content Deconstructor of fun did a fantastic coverage on this title.


📈 Up & to the right

  • My friends at Speechify are killing it, with x15 weekly downloads since summer. I’m not able to use their speed-read feature, but love the UX of the app.

  • Gamified language-learning app Drops reached 25m “users” (and $10m in yearly run rate, x13 since 2017), a third of which this year alone. Impressive figures in a crowded vertical for a bootstrapped company, and a great signal you don’t always need VC fuel to reach 8-digits revenue.

  • Only 3 Android apps have been rated more than 100m times on Google Play. All 3 belong to Facebook (Appfigures data).

  • Insane figures from Genshin Impact with $250m revenue in its first month.

  • In comparison, Pokemon “only” grossed $122m at launch, but racked in $4b since, a quarter of which this year.

  • Among Us! is on fire, with 67.2m new downloads last month, ranking #1 globally

  • Last 3 figures are coming from SensorTower, which released a report I’m very interested about, but can’t afford as an indie :( If anyone from SensorTower is reading this, or a generous MADV reader is willing to share, I’d be thrilled to get a look at their promising State of Food & Drink Apps report. NYT Cooking is an interesting case (+66% active, +50% revenue this year), so is their candid admitting that When terrible things happen, our numbers go up”.


💡 Worth following

  • The Phiture blog updates almost always qualify as must read, and this guest post on pricing is no exception. Among other subs tips, Saket Toshniwal confirmed seeing "several companies combining subs and IAP double their revenue".

  • No Xmas for UA managers: ConsumerAcquisition has another interesting post about Facebook CPM trends in “Q5”: well worth a consideration for Fitness & Education apps in particular.

  • Dirty little secrets of the subs app economy: high churn is normal. A great post from RevenueCat revealing that 5 apps out of 6 see a takeout rate under 75%…

    “The 85/15 split — which Apple is keen to mention anytime developers complain about the App Store rev share — doesn’t have a meaningful impact for most developers.”

  • With 1b iPhone userbase, Apple’s bet on “Services” is paying off: in 2017 they aimed at $50b yearly revenue by 2021: already ahead of schedule with $14.5b last quarter (+16% yoy). A large part from the AppStore, but licensing to Google search is estimated being 17-26% of it (and 1/6 of Apple yearly profits).

  • Apple itself acknowledged Services profit is at risk. Not through the rumors it’s entering the search space, but from regulators (spotted by Ben Bajarin)

  • GameAnalytics shared a benchmark on hypercasual retention: it’s a tough world out there, with a median of day7 under 6%.

  • I often hear questions about the impact of distributing on alternative app stores such as the AppGallery or the Amazon Store (hint: it’s low). Eric shared the fundamental principles of an app store. This Indian perspective from Deepakabbot is also very interesting.

  • A few friends including Andre & Lorenzo shared some of their worst UA nightmares on Bidshake blog.

  • I bet this will sound familiar to most…


👔 Job hunting

If you’re looking for a new challenge, I’m seeing 10 offers for every candidate. Don’t be shy and ping me to jump on top of the resume queue, I can refer you directly to the positions below.

  • Ahead App,"Purpose driven growth director". Berlin or Remote. Early stage, 1.5% equity and one of the most appealing job description I've seen recently

  • A stealth, well-funded, subscription app in Barcelona looking for a full stack marketer to execute the early stage and become a leader over time. Very promising vertical yet to be taken, strong founders

  • Depop, UA/perf. London-ish. Cool stuff to do on Snap & Tiktok in particular, with my friend @goutaste

  • Emjoy, UA/perf. Barcelona. Work directly with me on this one in a vertical which enables exciting creatives

  • Fishbrain, PMM, Stockholm. Half-product, half-CRM, cross-teams function with lots of ownership and a “wonderful boss”. Your goal: "make sure our product marketing does not suck"

  • Bux. UA/Perf. Amsterdam

  • Fabulous. Head of Mkt. Remote or Paris/SF

  • 3 offers at Current to work with Adam Hadi in NYC: offline perf, PMM & Sr PM

  • Also more non-marketing jobs with: Creative Director at Lingokids (Madrid), Engineering Manager for RevenueCat (Remote), BizDev for Ironsource (South Europe/remote), a countless positions for Wildlife in São Paulo, Data Analyst/Brand manager/Community Manager at Curio (London)…


👁️ One more thing…

What kind of UA manager are you? I used to be the archetype of the “complicated virgin”, before UAC & AAA killed the game.