For any Founder in Asia who has built an app, and is looking to monetise its services, the company Mobvista probably came across the radar. Not only is Mobvista the largest mobile ad network company in Asia, it also puts heavy emphasis on Southeast Asia.
At the end of February, it bought US-based advertising startup NativeX for US$25 million, a move meant to strengthen Mobvista’s weaknesses in Western markets and mobile gaming.
I sat down with Mobvista CEO Robin Duan to ask about the competition, a spectacular growth rate and what it means to run a publically-listed company.
For those of us that aren’t familiar with Mobvista (which I think may only be a few people), please tell us a little more about your offering and technology.
[We started] operations in March 2013, Mobvista provides comprehensive solutions of global user acquisition and traffic monetisation for advertisers and app developers.
We run a global mobile digital marketing platform covering over 240 countries with more than 10 billion daily impressions, and an overseas mobile game publishing platform.
Thanks to such a large traffic system, our daily amount of clicks and activation reached 300 million and 5 million respectively. Our major customers include some of the world’s leading enterprises such as Baidu, Alibaba, 360, Uber, King and Flipkart.
What Mobvista focuses on is to guarantee the effectiveness of traffic and high conversion rates in every level through technology.
Compared with a single advertising platform, we have higher monetisation efficiency with the overall optimisation of our M System.
For instance, our overall eCPM (effective cost per mille, or advertising revenue generated from every 1,000 impressions) increase is 60 per cent higher than that of Facebook. The second is low cost: it takes only five days on average from connection to monetisation with M System.
On November 25 you went public on the Chinese National Equities Exchange. How does it feel to be a publicly listed company – does that add any additional pressure to expand more quickly to other markets?
Getting listed on NEEQ can bring a great deal of advantages for the company. Firstly, it [creates] the opportunity to improve our brand’s perception, and be an indicator that we are a trustworthy partner.
Secondly, despite [the fact that] market liquidity of NEEQ is not tremendous, the turnover of Mobvista on the first day exceeded RMB5 million, which testifies the great financing capability of Mobvista.
Finally, Mobvista will initiate a new round of fundraising to accelerate business growth and traffic monetisation.
At business level, it will accelerate our coverage in North America, Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia. At technology level, it will further improve the mobile advertising efficiency with SDK and big data.
The global user acquisition market is extremely competitive, with hundreds of mobile networks claiming they can drive thousands of installs at the lowest possible CPIs (cost per impressions). What criteria should a User Acquisition Manager use to evaluate which of these vendors to test with?
To find the right partner for any campaign, a user acquisition manager has to consider the multi-dimensional analysis.
Initially, check the exact statistics of daily impressions and the traffic sources quality the network provides. Partnership with top media platforms is a plus, for example, we established strategic cooperative relations with Google AdWords, Twitter and Facebook, which gives us the option of providing high quality traffic.
Secondly, pay attention to the successful cases the network brought out with and its client base. For example, Mobvista has helped a great deal of apps (360 Security, Clash of Kings, Ali Express, Leo Master, Omni Swipe, etc) to step overseas and acquire high-quality users globally.
The scale of the company and the financing capability are also important, demonstrating that the network has adequate cash flow to support its upstream and downstream business and guarantee the whole process of user acquisition. Also, the client would be more confident in its business if the company has a bunch of professionals stand by.
The last but not least, if you find it hard to evaluate the network by yourself, search for the third-party accreditations such as AppsFlyer, AppIndex, Mobyaffiliates, Thalamus that publish their own rankings.
Mobile advertising is growing at a spectacular rate, accounting for more than 50 per cent of digital ad spending in 2015. However, much of these dollars are spent on acquiring users for apps. What do you think needs to happen before many big brand advertisers make the full transition into mobile?
Big brand advertisers will make a transition into mobile sooner or later. What app developers could do is market apps globally without hesitation, to acquire users and drive engagement — develop people’s loyalty to the certain apps.
What are some key differences for mobile advertising in the Chinese market, as compared to the rest of the world?
In both countries, mobile is set to become the majority of digital ad spending next year. US advertisers are predicted to spend about US$40.24 billion reaching consumers across mobile devices, comparing to US$22.14 billion in China.
One difference is that Chinese Internet companies have grown by leaps and bounds since 2012 with the rapid development of mobile Internet. It’s a fast developing market comparing to the rest of the countries and quite a new market compared to the US.
Also, the mobile advertising power map in China is somewhat different.
As the domestic market became saturated with local giant Internet companies, more companies with technological and capital resources chose to branch out into the global markets. For the rest of the world, mobile advertising power is much more dynamic and decentralised in some way.
Rebrokering of traffic is one of the biggest issues in the mobile user acquisition market currently. How do you think that we as an industry can solve for this?
(Note: Traffic rebrokering is essentially finding a client who values web traffic — lawyers, real estate agents etc. — and building affiliated websites which, if done right, will rank high and drive traffic to the ‘host’ site).
From my personal perspective, in this case, it is a market issue about supply-demand relation.
Traffic demand from advertisers sometimes comes on a large scale, and cannot be easily fulfilled by an ad network’s self-owned media channels. And that is why rebrokering happens occasionally.
With further development of industry technology and policy setting, rebrokering will be naturally replaced with other more transparent and direct ways. The question is when will that happen – in a year or a few years?
What are some suggestions you would have for an app developer looking to expand to the Chinese market? (localisation/culturalisation, partnering with an agency, getting listed in which app stores, etc.)
As Mobvista focusses on global mobile marketing, we might say that it is hard for non-local app developers to expand to the Chinese market, as it has already been saturated between local giant internet companies.
But still, successful marketing would be likely to happen if you partner with a local agency, localise your product and do multi-channel marketing including getting listed in Chinese apps stores.
What are your thoughts on some recent trends like programmatic buying, mobile video, and native ad units?
Programmatic buying is the now and future of mobile advertising.
Big Data is needed in programmatic buying to help traffic demand better target the right users. Also, it will highly improve monetisation efficiency.
Video will consistently impress the industry, and we have already seen more and more branding or gaming apps use video to entertain the audience — getting an emotional feedback. It will become much more popular in e-commerce products, etc. In addition, it provides more opportunities to showcase the product, optimising the ads performance.
Of course, native ads have the higher potential and will outperform other kinds of traditional ads in mobile games. What the advertisers must focus on is the design of the ads, targeting and overall users’ emotional status. As they are designed to be very well-adapted to the product itself, they can drive customer engagement for games and other apps and contribute to high conversion rate.
What do you see as the future of the global mobile advertising market?
It is huge and promising.
The mobile emerging markets (e.g. India or Latin America) will stay in focus of digital marketing companies. Mobvista is not an exception: we have set a new office in New Delhi already, and announced a US$100 million investment for its India business within 2018. [The idea is] to drive breadth and depth of collaboration with Indian businesses.
Based on history, the future of the global mobile advertising market will be tech-oriented and data-driven. Technology innovations will continue improving advertising efficiency with low cost.
Programmatic buying is also a very important joint. Big data processing will help accurately targeting the right group of users.
And, of course, we expect new advertising ways to come, for example, video ads would become more popular for its great performance on ads delivery.
This article originally appeared on the Thalamus Blog on March 7th, 2016.http://www.thalamus.co/blog/wei-duan-mobvista-interview/