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What is the most important metric for any user acquisition campaign according to Roman Garbar (Tenjin, Product Marketing Manager)? What challenges do user acquisition managers encounter when measuring the effectiveness of channels and sources in 2020? How should an acquisition manager approach the differences in store installs (Google Play and App Store), and how should they approach the installations measured on the MMP platform in 2020? You will find answers to all these questions in the following interview.

What is the Tenjin tool?

Roman Garbar: That’s an excellent question to start the interview! Tenjin is not just one tool; it’s a set of tools and training for anyone who does advertising in the mobile space. Usually, the client’s journey starts with them using us as an attribution platform (Mobile Measurement Partner), spend aggregation, and Ad Revenue LTV calculations. But as the companies grow, they find our more advanced tools like DataWarehouse and automation APIs. However, to succeed in 2020, it’s not enough to pocket all of the fancy tools. It’s equally as important to have the ‘know-how’ on using those tools effectively. That’s why we started an initiative where we offer our clients training like LTV predictions, reporting automation, bidding, organic uplifts, impression-level revenue data- just to name a few.

What are you responsible for in the company?

Roman Garbar: Briefly put, I am in charge of all things marketing-related. Starting from preparations of new product launches to creating the Tenjin brand. We have a small marketing team in Tenjin. It consists of a talented Marketing Content Manager and myself. I am not a traditional ‘marketing’ person; my original background is product management. That’s why you see that sometimes our content and positioning are different from what our competitors have.

Does staying home due to COVID-19 affect your work?

Roman Garbar: Not really. Tenjin has always been remote-friendly. We are a lean team of 25 people with offices all over the world – San Francisco, Shanghai, Atlanta, Tokyo, and Berlin. So we don’t face the challenges that 400+ people companies do when they have to switch to the remote. I was working remotely during the full year from Ukraine when I joined the company. One of our Customer Success Managers, who trains indie game developers, did the same from Mongolia. So we already know how to work together, regardless of where we are. There is, of course, a challenge of not having enough human interactions during the day, but we are working on that too. This week, for example, we started playing House Party.

How did your adventure with mobile apps and games start?

Roman Garbar: I’ve been playing video games since I was five years old. That’s why one of my dreams was to be involved in game development. Twenty years later, I started working for one of the leading developers of social games – Plarium. The funny thing was that I got hired into the Marketing BI department. The only department at the studio that is not involved directly in the development of games, but deals with advertising. Eventually, it became a blessing in disguise for me as I was assigned to be in charge of mobile analytics. Advertising analytics became new video games for me.

Are we able to successfully run an advertising campaign for a game or mobile application without the implemented MMP platform?

Roman Garbar: You can run an advertising campaign without MMP, but the results most likely won’t be successful. Mainly for one reason, actually: You need to have an unbiased source of truth. Ad networks don’t know about the activity that is running on other ad networks. Meaning, you won’t have a full picture of what’s going on with your marketing activity and it’s inflated data that you see.

What challenges do user acquisition managers encounter when measuring the effectiveness of channels and sources in 2020?

Roman Garbar: COVID-19 affects every industry in the world and mobile apps are no exception. UA managers’ job is going to become more complicated as they will need to learn how not to react to new false-positive signals. For example, you will see a higher install rate due to people staying at home more. However, the LTV of those users will probably decrease compared to last year’s results as budgets will shift towards more essential household items. We want to touch on this a little bit in our future benchmark report. Outside the COVID-19, the main challenge of upcoming years is that there’s too much data available for UA managers. They don’t know what signals to trust. It’s no longer the question of not having a specific data set like it was three years ago. It’s a question of how to analyze it in the shortest time and take the correct action (preferably automatically).

How should an acquisition manager approach the differences in store installs (Google Play and App Store), and how should they approach the installations measured on the MMP platform in 2020?

Roman Garbar: First and the only rule – there are always discrepancies. However, a user acquisition manager should know what percentage of the discrepancy is ok for a specific ad network. If it goes below the benchmark that you have set, quickly run through the checklist that might look like this: Is everything ok with my URLs? Is everything ok with callbacks? Is everything ok with the app? When the answer is yes, then the next step would be to contact the support of your MMP. Here is the moment where you should trust your MMP support to get to the bottom of this. In the article below, I elaborate more on different types of discrepancies and the reasons behind them. I’ll tell you a secret. This article got me my job in Tenjin 😉

What are the most crucial quality indicators that determine whether the acquisition campaign was a success? Please share your opinion.

Roman Garbar: My answer is very conservative. The metric for any UA campaign is ROAS (Return Of Ad Spend). User Acquisition is an investment. The thing that matters most is whether or not you got your money back and what was your profit.

Should small and medium-sized development studios invest in their infrastructure and data warehouse to collect data from advertising channels and monetization networks?

Roman Garbar: For medium-sized developers, it might be a good idea when they know that developing an internal solution will solve a use-case cheaper (both in terms of money and human resources) and more effectively than using a third-party. Building infrastructure to track in-app subscriptions is an excellent example of that. For the small studios, in most cases, it doesn’t make sense to invest in the infrastructure for UA during the early stages. It could be too expensive. They should focus on their main product. My advice is to make sure you utilize most of what is offered by the third-party that you are using. One of the things that surprised me about small studios, last year, is how many game publishers are using Google Spreadsheets to automate their operations. And I am not talking about banal ‘PIVOT.’ The idea is to hook up an ad network’s bidding API to the spreadsheet and turn it into a ‘bidding center.’ In this case, you don’t spend money on any infrastructure, and you are saving time almost the same way as if you would have internal BI. That is a natural development of spreadsheet analysis posted on the ARPU Brothers blog last year. When we were building our APIs for Reporting and Automation, we made sure to create and include this sort of spreadsheet templates. You can read more about it here.

What trends do you see in 2020 in the Mobile Measurement Partner tool category?

Roman Garbar: MMPs will be empowering small and medium businesses by providing more tools where previously, only enterprise-level developers could benefit. There will be more tools that help automatically optimize UA campaigns. That includes both developing something on their own and having extensive integrations with platforms that are dedicated to automation.

What plans does Tenjin have for 2020?

Roman Garbar: There are big trends that affect our clients in hyper-casual space and we think all the time on how to address them. People in the industry have been writing hyper-casual off for 2 years now, but the market is still growing. What is new is how competition has been playing out in the last 9 months. Profit margins are getting lower therefore it is much harder to be an indie or medium size hyper-casual studio. How do the hyper-casuals respond? Move into new gaming genres. For example, ultra-casual, or to games with longer retention such as Sand Balls from Say Games. Start operating on more granular levels of data such as ad revenue on user/impression level and bidding on apps level. Invest in automation and data science. The role of UA manager is evolving every year. They have to work with data scientists and engineers on a day to day basis. And some of them already learned how to write SQL queries and python scripts. Our plan for 2020 is to build for these scenarios and help our clients to stay ahead of the pack by providing tools and training they can not find elsewhere.

The three mobile games you played in 2020 are?

Roman Garbar: I don’t play a lot on mobile because I don’t commute now. I only play games from our clients. Here are the ones that I’ve played this month: Johnny Trigger from Say Games, Hunter Assasin from Ruby Games Draw it from Kwalee.

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ARPU Brothers Founder, App marketing agency for mobile apps and games

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