How is Adways Staying Ahead in the Mobile App Advertising Space?
What is Mobile Advertising? Click here to link to a video breakdown and explanation of the mobile ad network landscape.For the last few years, Adways has shown huge growth potential on a global level. Started as a small web ad platform in 2001, the company has grown to become a huge mobile advertising network across Asia in particular, with a presence in Silicon Valley especially for sourcing in bound business. Today, the company has reach in 12 countries, greatly thanks to its overseas business executive, Nobuyoshi Noda who has spearheaded this growth.
Nobuyoshi NodaBoard of Director, Head of Global Business at AdwaysNoda previously worked for Fujifilm before joining the then “small clueless ad firm”, Adways, in 2006. He later did the classic “rejoin” (always a sign of a great company) sandwiching a stint at Dentsu Razorfish. In 2009, when he returned to Adways he helped build the company’s global ad products and oversaw introduction of smartphone ad marketing products in 2010.Following their successful launch of various mobile ad products, he was appointed to oversee the company’s global expansion, a position he has held until to date.Today, Adways is a major player in the mobile ad space and much of its overseas success is attributed to Noda’s efforts and zeal. The firm began as a CPA-based, performance based ad network categorically on the web side but quickly positioned itself in mobile as much of South East Asia had jumped to smartphone consumption.Adways is mainly focused on the Asian market although it also has an office in San Francisco. According to Noda, “Asia is the largest app market in the world and accounts for 50% and 60% app market in Apple’s AppStore and Google’s PlayStore respectively. However, these statistics are not inclusive of Chinese app market. China has its apps marketing platforms including Tencent, 360, Xiaomi among others which have huge fire power.”Since 2010, their main focus has been advertising on mobile game applications on smartphone devices. Wahl & Case can resonate with this given that our business initially launched off the back of the explosive growth of companies like Gree, DeNA and many more both in Japan and globally. Mobile game publishers are aggressive in terms of app marketing spend and thus are more likely to engage mobile marketing service providers such as Adways to capitalize on their opportunity to reach targeted customers. The main goal of Adways is to help the game developer and publisher community to acquire loyal customers by providing them with a reliable ad network. Lifetime gamers and serial gamers spend a huge amount of money and this has lead to the rise of the mobile ad tech space. Also the rise of casual gamers, including demographics like children and housewives have become very valuable to the game publishers. User Acquisition Strategy For Mobile App PublishersThe app market is congested and hyper-competitive. According to Stastica, a leading statistics website on the internet, there are over 3.5 million apps sitting on the two giant app stores – AppStore and GoolePlay. A few thousands are submitted to the stores on a daily basis. The biggest challenge for developers is to drive customers to their app, here are some more technical explanations:
- Targeting DownloadsWith teams getting tasked with challenging goals of generating a million plus users within the shortest time-frame possible, the marketing scene has become intense in the mobile app world. In an effort to rise to the top, app publishers opt to buy as many installs as possible on the major app stores at the lowest cost per install. Later on, they rely on push notifications to convert the installs to active users. This is the point where mobile marketing networks step in to help with user acquisition. Developers are always looking for an efficient network to help with app launch campaigns. To achieve that, Adways helps market their apps on media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or local Ad platforms in each country.
- Turning Downloads to High Value Users.In order to help developers acquire active users, Adways launched a pre-launch media platform as it proved users from pre-launch marketing are more loyal and has higher ROI. This hack makes it easier for the app publishers to inform users about new apps or updates as well. Besides pre-launch marketing, using ad platforms- Facebook, Twitter or i-Mobile, Instagram and Video networks– Adways helps app publishers get quality users. Throughout the process of user acquisition, they employ strong analytics tools to measure the return on investment spent (ROAS).
The Ad Network of Choice for Every Game App developerAsia is the largest app market in the world. “Asia commands the highest percentage of total global app market share,” according to Adways head of overseas operation, Noda. However, that market excludes China’s app market business. “If China is added to this equation, Asia will be commanding around an estimated 75% of the total global app market.”That is why there has been a huge scramble for market share in the Asian mobile advertising market by the Western-based ad networks. According to APAC’s mobile ad market forecast, the market is forecasted to be around ¥2 trillion (US $16 billion) in 2016 and its going to grow to grow to at least to ¥5 trillion market by 2020 and beyond. Clearly, this is a huge opportunity every developer would like to take advantage of. However, to stay on top, they need to engage a competent mobile app marketing agency that ensures them of adequate visibility.Adways being a Japanese company has an advantage over many Western companies trying to enter Asian market. The company has partnered with the top ad platforms (LINE co-operation, Facebook and Twitter) and works as an ad agency, ad network, and a top smartphone ad marketing firm.The company has one of the best tracking and analytics platform in the region, Party Track. Furthermore, Adways boasts the largest pre-registration (CPI) platform in Asia and is used by many top tier app development companies. That allows the company to compete favorably with established companies like CyberAgent group. Current Trends in Mobile MarketingThe stiff competition for users forces businesses to be innovative and find better ways of reaching out to their customers. More and more marketing trends are emerging:
- Video Ads. Video ad is the latest mobile marketing trend in Japan and overseas and it has proved yield high ROI. Thus, Video focused networks are coming up to compete with the veteran, Youtube and include Facebook, and Unity among others. The short supply of video related SSPs remain a challenge in Japan.
- Instagram Ads. Instagram has over 400 million users (monthly active users) worldwide and it is poised to be one of the most high yielding ad platforms in the future.
- Mergers and acquisition- Gaming apps marketing has never been more competitive. A lot of businesses are hitting a dead end prompting more mergers, alliances, partnerships and acquisitions to stay on top. Several high-profile mergers and acquisitions are happening everywhere in this industry.
Challenges Hurting Global Expansion Initiatives by Japanese firmsAdways’ rise to a global brand status did not happen by accident or overnight. The company had to circumvent many challenges on the way to its current position. These are challenges faced by many Japanese businesses as they grow globally:
- HQ vs Local hire. Japanese companies have difficulties hiring and developing non-Japanese employees in their global businesses. Sending local talent to navigate new pastures is also a challenge because they lack local language skills and active network.
- Developing a unique product for each market. This was a problem for Adways in terms of their tech platform where they have to develop a customized product for each of their 12 markets in terms of language and usability. This is the source for a significant portion of their costs.
- Employee Retention. Firstly in new markets, for instance in China and other parts of East Asia the loyalty of employees is questionable as they often move for marginal pay rises. Secondly Adways has become a hunting ground for some of the most reputable tech firms who are seeking experienced talent within the mobile ad tech or agency space.
- Difficulty Establishing Business Channels in New Territory. Japanese firms with no prior connections find it hard establishing a business in new territories. The agency landscape varies considerably – for instance agency reliance in Japan is estimated at around 70% of revenue as a sales channel whereas Korea is closer to 90%. Other regions rely more predominantly on direct sales to advertisers.
- Cultural Barriers. In terms of work life balance, working hour efficiency and speed in decision making there are noticeable gaps between Japanese firms and global firms. This feeds into challenges for hiring and retention also.
Noda san recognizes that especially for a business like Adways, talent acquisition is potentially a hazardous process, and it will make or break the outcome. The value of a recruiting agency partner that one, understands your business model and the mobile ad landscape, two understands the cultural challenges of building a global business and three can effectively identify, screen and acquire the best talent in the market is paramount. How do Adways Value their Recruiting Agency Partners?Nobu gave us a quick run down of points that Adways considered when selecting Wahl and Case as a key partner:
- Consider their reputation, practices and recruitment policies
- Avoid the jack- of- all -and a- master of none agencies. Look for agencies that specialize in a particular industry.
- Aim at working with agencies who understand their local market. These are the kind that can find resources that are cultural fit to the business
- Keep them on the toes. Ask for the agencies qualifications. Ask them the number of years they have been in service and then identify their qualifications.
- Engage agencies who can reduce the HR time and the cost of recruitment.