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The Inaugural App Growth Summit SF

The LucentBid team was excited to be part of the inaugural App Growth Summit in San Francisco. A more intimate event, AGS focused on education with in-depth how-to sessions on topics like ASO and market research and expert round tables covering everything from fraud to creative optimization.

Creative is widely seen as one of the last manual levers marketers can pull as programmatic automation takes control of most media buys. One panel even called creatives “the final frontier of marketer-controlled optimizations,” but its questionable how long that last bastion will endure. Google’s UAC is already building creatives for very granular audiences, and Frost Li of Wish described the shopping app’s own automated strategy for creative optimization. With no manual curation, and no 200-person marketing department to set up campaigns for each country, Wish relies on their own machine learning models to serve ads for the right products, using the right verbiage in the right language for individual users. International expansion, she says, requires you to think about campaigns on the user, rather than country level.

Speaking of UAC, attitudes toward this channel have turned decidedly more positive than they were just a year ago. The product may have actually improved since its launch, but I suspect the real difference is marketers are becoming more comfortable with relinquishing control to the machine.

It comes as no surprise that Google and Facebook still dominate the media mix, but much was made of how to get value out of other channels. Marketers from Uber, Twitter and DraftKings joined attribution partner adjust and affiliate network Feedmob to share strategies in spending beyond the duopoly. All agreed on the importance of transparency with vendors and making sure your partners offer something unique as the difference between channels becomes more nuanced. If you pressure them, Uber’s Nathan Dinh said, even partners like Facebook will work with you on incrementality tests.

In another panel about optimizing growth partners, Lyft, Amazon Music, Twitch and WB Games shared very diverse opinions on the matter. Hannah Russin of Lyft cautioned against spending too much time and budget on testing new channels, as only ONE of 27 they had tested in 2017 panned out. Meanwhile Gabriel Goldwasser of WB gave an answer those of us in programmatic much prefer to hear – he argued you can’t afford not to test new partners. Even if player quality and ROAS are lower, he said, it is worth it to spread out your UA spend to avoid the risk of relying too heavily on two channels. Perhaps due to their relationship with the number one contender to the duopoly, both Amazon Music and Twitch wholeheartedly supported a more diverse marketing mix.

Finally, the programmatic companies themselves shared what value they think they bring to the table. An inspiring panel with Motive, Glispa, Headway Digital and Appreciate reached a consensus that smaller programmatic partners like them could test faster, fail faster, pivot easily and customize solutions hand in hand with their advertisers in a way huge partners never will. MoPub’s Jacob Kreimer gave another excellent talk on retrofitting programmatic advertising’s rusty old pipes for the mobile ecosystem. He led by asking who has tried programmatic, and who has made it work. The weak show of hands means we as an industry still have a ways to go to serve our advertisers better.

To continue the conversation about making programmatic work, contact LucentBid!

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