Category Archives: Market-insights

Brands and agencies are investing more in in-app advertising @ Business of Apps


The majority of brands (77%) have now asked their agencies to invest in in-app inventory according to a survey by tech company Fyber among ad agencies and brands.

Both UK agencies and advertisers are now spending the majority of their ad budgets on mobile, according to the study.

Among the main reasons for investing in in-app ads, respondents reported the format to be more reliable than mobile web browser ads. A third of respondents also cited improved engagement as a core reason.

At the same time, targeting features are also better for in-app ads and campaign ROI can improve by 41% according to some media agencies and brands.

“Mobile devices are the consumer’s primary means of access to the Internet, and close to 90% of time on mobile devices is spent in apps, so it’s no surprise that the mobile in-app inventory is of growing interest to media buyers and brands,” said Yoni Argaman, SVP for Marketing and Corporate Strategy at Fyber. “It’s gratifying that agencies and brands are reporting better targeting capabilities, an issue that has long stymied ad spend in the channel. And with higher ROI and engagement levels, media buyers now regard in-app inventory as a key conduit to their target audience.”


Gaming apps lead when it comes to investment return with 60% of respondents finding that both scale and reach were preferable, while 59% also mentioned engagement and prime reason for choosing game apps over others.

78% of brands have already placed ads in game apps and that number is predicted to rise over the next 12 months with 91% of media agencies and 87% of brands planning to invest in the category.


However, more than half of agencies are also happy to include fashion and retail apps as part of their in-app targeting strategy.

Furthermore, playable ad formats (32%), rewarded videos and opt-in (28%) formats are seen as the most effective.


The findings also mean that in-app inventory will take a higher share of the overall ad spend with in-app inventory accounting for 43% of digital ads budgets, up from 34% this year.

However, just 22% of UK buyers have invested more than 50% of their ad budgets in in-app ads, whilst just 32% include in-app in 50% of their plans.

Similar to advertisers, buyers are turning to games as their predominant choice for in-app advertising.

Source: Business of Apps

Google+ social network closes for the public, will remain open for businesses @ Business of Apps


Google’s failed Facebook challenger, Google+, has been closed to the public after a security bug left user data open to hackers; but Google will revamp the service for businesses.

Google says around 500,000 users were affected by the bug, while a report from The Wall Street Journal claims the company knew about the bug in March, but chose not to inform the public.

Google says the breach was not serious enough to inform its users, and that none of the none of the data requisites had been met. However, the WSJ report says Google was concerned over a scandal to rival Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica.

In a blog post, Google writes:

“We discovered and immediately patched this bug in March 2018. We believe it occurred after launch as a result of the API’s interaction with a subsequent Google+ code change. We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.”

The task of shutting down Google+ will take 10 months and is scheduled to be complete in August 2019. Google will start letting users know how to download their data soon. However, it will keep the enterprise side of Google+ active for businesses, and will launch new features around this soon.

Source: Business of Apps

App marketers are only slowly adopting in-app header bidding technologies despite proven advantages @ Business of Apps


Just 31% of app marketers are utilizing in-app header bidding solutions, whilst the majority (57%) is still using waterfall-based systems where ad opportunities are presented to advertisers in sequential order.

However, waterfalls tend to come with a range of issues including latency and high costs which render them less effective than in-app header bidding.inmobi1

Indeed, the latest survey by InMobi highlights that by using waterfalls ad revenues tend to remain the same for 32% of respondents, whilst 24% did not even track their performance.


Another 43% said they used real-time bidding strategies, signalling a move away from waterfalls over time.

According to the new InMobi survey, 52% of app marketers said they currently had a mediation partner.

However, among the reasons why waterfalls have survived this long is because app publishers aren’t aware of the alternatives. 40% of marketers said they had a limited or moderate understanding of in-app header bidding. Another 59% of respondents believe that header bidding is not advanced enough just yet to resolve issues related to waterfalls.

However, a limited understanding (31%) and implementation issues (23%) were the core reasons for preventing publishers from adopting in-app header bidding solutions.

inmobi3Among those who did utilize in-app header bidding solutions, 36% had seen their revenues improve, whilst 49% were expecting to see gains over the coming 12 months.

In addition, 38% said it reduced latency, whilst 37% found the technology to provide better transparency on impressions and bids.


The survey also noted that publishers were now using in-app header bidding for banner ads (67%), interstitial ads (52%) and videos (47%) among other types.

When it comes to finding the right in-app header bidding partner, brand safety ranks as a top priority for 39% of respondents, followed by transparent auction dynamics (19%).

Despite in-app header bidding holding much promise, InMobi expects it may still take a while for the technology to catch on.

Source: Business of Apps

Setting up in Singapore: why you should choose the city state for your APAC base @ The Drum

We find out why creative businesses are choosing to set up base in Singapore, and about the challenges being mounted by Asia’s other creative hubs.

The Asia Pacific market promises the advertising and media industry some of the strongest growth projections globally. On a country-by-country basis however, few provide the scale for truly localized offerings. The hub model is therefore the primary tool for networks, brands, suppliers and even publishers to make the region work for them and to create relevance out of small local teams while scaling this up by using core markets as headquarters.

We speak to leaders of creative businesses in Singapore about how they plot their businesses in Asia Pacific, and how this might change.

Why choose Singapore?

Tobias Wilson, chief executive, APD Singapore

We didn’t choose the Singapore hub, the Singapore hub chose us. In short, the place made it almost impossible not to set up here. Apart from the financial incentives (which anyone can do), proximity is a huge reason to hub out of Singapore. Also, if you need to attract regional talent then you need to go beyond the money… I’m talking about things like safety, convenience, cleanliness and infrastructure. Singapore simply can’t be beaten in those areas.

Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia

Being one of the most modern cities in the world, with amazing support from the government through the Economic Development Board of Singapore and initiatives like Smart Nation, which is a government mandate to be a smart city by 2020, many major brands such as GSK and P&G have located their regional and global teams here. It is therefore necessary for our regional and global teams to be based where our clients are.

Caspar Schlickum, chief executive for Asia Pacific, Wunderman

It wasn’t necessarily a ‘choice’ we made. After extensive analysis of the alternatives, it happened organically over the years. But it’s a logical place to be. Many of our regional clients are here and there is a depth and breadth of talent that is hard to find elsewhere. And, of course, geographically it is easy to get to the rest of the region. Having said that, we wouldn’t be closed to the idea of having people with regional responsibilities based in other parts of the region. We just happen not to right now.

How does having a ‘hub’ office in Singapore help or hinder creativity?

Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia

For many brands, Asia is the growth opportunity, and talent that is constantly exposed to such diverse cultures is more likely to create more considerate and inclusive ideas that will work in key markets around Singapore. Also, with more international talent from various countries in one place, unexpected seeds of ideas emerge, thus lending itself to fresher approaches and executions.

Tobias Wilson, chief executive, APD Singapore

My two business partners, who I’ve worked with here for nearly 10 years, are two of the absolute best creative minds in the business. Sadly, however, they’re the exception and not the rule. The art and culture scene is definitely growing and there are some amazing creatives here, but if you looked at a metric such as ‘creatives per capita’ against a place like Thailand, it wouldn’t be pretty. It’s changing though, and that’s awesome.

Katie Ewer, strategy director for Asia Pacific, JKR

It’s too easy to sit behind a desk and moan about Singapore’s lack of creative talent or characterize its efficiency as sterility. The whole industry needs to spend less time at our desks. We need to get out there and find creativity in unexpected places. All agencies have a responsibility to foster and be part of a creative culture in Singapore. The industry is what we make it.

Caspar Schlickum, chief executive for Asia Pacific, Wunderman

I think creativity is largely local. There is no such thing as a ‘regional’ consumer to the brands we work with, including the regional ones that are ultimately trying to engage with people in local markets. In my view, regional hubs exist for one reason only: to help the markets be as good as they can be. Creative is no different.

What is the future of Singapore as a regional hub?

John Hadfield, chief executive, BBH Asia Pacific

For Singapore to continue to be an Asian, even global, hub, it needs to provide the conditions for continued industry growth: continued client-side demand for world-class strategy, creativity and origination, and the availability of fantastic talent and associated creative services. There are, of course, pressures on all of these factors. Also, Singapore is acting as a global ‘petri dish’ through its publicly stated objective to be the world’s first smart city. And the most exciting thing is the emergence of a new generation of creative talent that are pursuing their passions, rather than conforming to generational norms.

Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia

While most countries have a rich history that gives a strong identity, Singapore is extremely young in comparison, with no historical ‘baggage’ to hold it back. In fact, if there were an image of Singapore, I would liken it to a highly successful startup company. The pace and energy to constantly move forward is reflected in people’s work ethic and mindset. It has a ‘never-good-enough’ approach to life and business that naturally forces it to progress. If the government and company leaders continue to champion new thinking and provide the right training for its people, it will remain a perfect place for businesses to call home.

Caspar Schlickum, chief executive for Asia Pacific, Wunderman

In many ways Singapore is going through a difficult time, but, for all the reasons already mentioned, it is still the best place to base a regional business in Asia Pacific. Singapore has always been very business-friendly, with a very open and welcoming outlook to the world. As China opens up there is some threat that Singapore may be under pressure, especially given the sheer scale of the Chinese market.

Shufen Goh, principal, R3

I see a future where creativity and technology merge. Singapore has a strong foundation in STEM education and should be able to leverage that to its advantage. Primary-school kids are learning to code and AI and machine learning is already being used. We need people who know how to apply them to drive creativity at scale.

What other markets are challenging the city’s hub status, in Particular when it comes to creativity?

Valerie Cheng, chief creative officer, Havas Southeast Asia

As it proves to be the beacon of innovation with the likes of Alibaba, Tencent and WeChat, China could be the one to watch if it gets a few other factors in place. Japan and Australia meanwhile have always been lighthouses for creativity. If global businesses start to base themselves in Australia, it will be a tough competitor to match with the quality of creative thinking and production capability it has. We are also seeing interesting work from Thailand and the Philippines, but with their strong local heritage and their choice of first language being more native, it makes for amazing locally relevant work that does not travel beyond its shores.

Shufen Goh, principal, R3

We believe China to be the most creative market – not in terms of awards won or creativity judged in the traditional sense, but the sheer creativity in its approach to solving and circumventing problems and riding on opportunities, ethically or not. But it’s in an ecosystem of its own. Small can be powerful in today’s world, where speed and agility sometimes matter more than scale. Singapore should be thinking about unseating London or New York as hubs, and not just other Asian threats.

Tobias Wilson, chief executive, APD Singapore

Thailand has some phenomenal creatives and just a really cool approach to creativity. As far as challenging as a hub, I can’t see anyone in the near future coming close to Singapore. When design and dental graduates here get the same applause and encouragement from their families, we’ll know we’ve made it.

Source: The Drum

Consumers are now using twice as many retail apps as they did a year ago @ Business of Apps


App installations appear to be picking up as smartphone users now have double the number of apps installed than they did in the previous year. According to data from financial services firm Synchrony, the average user installed four apps over the last 12 months.

Many of these apps were shopping-related or eCommerce apps, according to the report. Indeed, 67% of consumers downloaded a retailer’s app, with over half of consumers opting for retail apps because of a coupon or discount code. Almost 50% of consumers who downloaded a retailer’s app used it to make a purchase.

“In today’s competitive landscape, a mobile application is not just another piece of technology for retailers, it is a vital tool to engage shoppers with their brand. Done well, retail apps engage both in and out of stores with personalized experiences and easy credit solutions,” said Maya Mikhailov, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer, GPShopper, a developer of mobile apps acquired by Synchrony in 2017. “Consumers that use retail mobile applications are a retailer’s top shoppers. As such, they want their apps to be tailored to their unique shopping experiences and preferences.”

At the same time, retailers have adapted their strategies to respond to the trend with 47% saying they placed more focus on a retail app. In response, 83% of customers say they are happy with their app experience.

Additionally, 60% of US consumers now think that the average shopper will be using a mobile wallet by 2025 despite a slow adoption trend of mobile wallets. However, millennials are at the forefront of mobile wallet usage with 61% of them already leaving their wallets at home in favour of other payment methods.

Among the larger retailers, 75% have already integrated mobile wallet technologies.

Credit card features in-app are another area of mobile financing that consumers appear to be predominantly satisfied with. Indeed 53% of consumers are now using app-based credit card features and 77% of them are happy with the service.

The Synchrony 2018 Digital Study, was based on the answers of 1,255 respondents.

Source: Business of Apps 

Instant Coffee, Noodles & Apps: going back to the bright future for 2017.

IN THINKING about the past year in the mobile advertising industry and its impact on the App Ecosystem, I’m struck by how massively positive the data has proven to be. More especially, since some ‘experts’ have thrown out statements to grab our diminishing attention span such as, “The Death of the Smartphone” and “The Death of Apps“.

Happily for all of us though, App Annie’s recent retrospective report gave some genuine grounding to those of us who believe in a more evolutionary approach – and perhaps, that the App Ecosystem itself has a longer way to go, before it iterates into some kind of ethereal interface we can’t touch or even see.

In fact, the view from the App Economy trenches appears to be the polar opposite of the link-baiting doomsayers and futurists who believe that the “tech” has (somehow independently) overtaken the user on a mass scale. Indeed, App Annie further concludes:

“2017 is set to be another banner year for the app ecosystem. As technology and business models continue to evolve, apps will play an even greater role in transforming, disrupting and creating opportunities for companies and industries both old and new.” This year’s report highlighted the key stats:

  • Worldwide downloads exceeded 90 billion, an increase of more than 13 billion across the iOS App Store and Google Play.
  • Publishers were paid over $35 billion in revenue across the iOS App Store and Google Play, with China leading the pack. When we include third-party Android stores and advertising revenue, the 2016 total amount paid to publishers increases to nearly $89 billion.
  • India has surpassed the US as the #1 country by Google Play downloads, indicating that app marketers need to focus increasingly on this and other hyper-growth markets.

Having read the report end-to-end, I tend to conclude that whilst we are living in an Instant World, be it in getting coffee or noodles or more frequently, digital responses – Consumers expect immediacy in everything. Therefore, app-based services that enable such behaviour, will be around for as long as people need their smartphones to engage with them. Which for the year ahead at least, they still seem to require, every minute of every day, in (almost) every country. The proof? “Total time spent in apps worldwide increased by over 150 billion hours’ year over year, reaching nearly 900 billion hours in 2016.”!

So, changing the way people do this, will likely take more time and yes, it won’t be instant. Therefore, App Annie can confidently predict the future for us, in that “the global revenue opportunity for mobile app publishers is forecast to grow to $189 billion by 2020”.

So, anyway, whilst we all begin to play with messenger chat-bots, instant apps and voice-based Artificial Intelligence (AI), let’s also get back to thinking about the bright future for Apps in 2017.


More time spent on Apps


Massive Multiplayer Mobile Madness? Roger that!

Sometimes, it is nice to pause and reflect on events that you have attended, and perhaps think more deeply about the impact certain innovations (in this case) within the game industry, might be having on us all. Yet, there was none of that in Shanghai, infact reliving the event leaves me with only one mental state; that of being smashed over the head with a virtual sledgehammer, like a scene from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’
In all my years of attending conferences, I have rarely seen the kind of consumer fervour witnessed at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). The facility itself covers some 300,000 square meters of indoor and outdoor exhibition space, which is spread across 17 exhibition halls. It actually took me two hours to walk from one end of the show to the other. But believe me, it’s worth the wander!
ChinaJoy‘ is short-form for the China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference and it showcases online and mobile games, hardware products (related to entertainment) and is effectively ‘split’ between consumers and trade visitors.
Each hall opened up a vast treasure trove of giant gaming brand names and their respective crazy character live shows — that focused the mind on the plain fact that the Chinese game companies have a truly massive scale, the likes of which some Western markets might find it hard to comprehend. The China ‘stands’ themselves which dominated the landscape, arose more like mini villages, but were often (not surprisingly) way bigger than their Western counterparts.
This year, according to Official Data just released, the number of ChinaJoy visitors reached 325,452, which exceeds the levels recorded in 2015 (272,900 attendees) an increase of nearly 20 percent! During the exhibition, game companies aggressively showcased more than 400 game products, in which over 50 games were ‘first release’, and importantly, half of those were VR games. On the biggest day, in terms of consumers, Saturday (30th July) hit an incredible 108,000 visitors including nearly 80,000 members of the general (fee paying) public.
As I walked, somewhat agog, through the packed crowds, hall after hall of entertainment unfolded – many bedecked with TV and movie stars, plus hosts of local celebrities – as well as immense multi-screened theatre stages, along with specially constructed e-sports arenas, all of which wonderfully assaulted the senses. Indeed NikoPartners (a provider of market intelligence covering the games industry in Asia) wryly commented: “Chinese gamer’s are enamored with live game platforms to watch eSports online. Some of the larger platforms took part in ChinaJoy, including Longzhu, Douyu, ACFUN, and Bilibili. There were lines of more than 300 people waiting 2 hours, just for the chance to meet a famous online anchor or commentator. Douyu reported that they had 200,000 visitors to their booth, which had 300 anchors & commentators for consumers to meet in person.”
At one point, the relative tranquility of a Minecraft ‘walk through’ on the Xbox stand that featured pagoda’s, ornate waterways, Chinese decorations and even fluttering butterflies; almost made time stand still. Just as, on the other end of the spectrum, I was left squarely transfixed by the Minecraft zombie troupe that managed to knock-out a juddering dance routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Whilst Virtual Reality was everywhere and certainly the main source of excitement for the consumers trying out different hardware, the launch of two mobile games revealed at ChinaJoy also generated some media hype; in particular the Legend of Mir, MMORPG mobile (using the new Unreal Engine 4). Plus Final Fantasy Type-0 which is a MMORPG for mobile devices, and will be released in China first later this year.
It is fair to say, that the Chinese game fan goes ‘all in’ on this one, and the number of character costumes for Cosplay is quite an entertaining sight all by itself. Something wryly noted in this Asiasmack blog when a female Cosplay character turned out to be a convincing male model! At ChinaJoy, ordinary folk can become instant camera magnets for the media (who themselves are there by the thousands each day looking for stories). But no matter, the Cosplayers stride around the auditorium simply pretending to be ‘virtually’ famous.
Attaching your mobile device to a particular VR-worthy headset may well seem overly clunky at this moment in time; but short of installing a massive 360-degree rotating rig in your house, it’s the easiest way for today’s game-playing generation to get thrust into virtual reality, and the appetite was definitely there for all to see in what was, a scorching hot Shanghai.

A booming year, but hey, many more gifts are coming down the Chimney!

The mobile advertising industry continues to evolve at rapid pace — even as we close out 2014; it reflects the relentless pursuit of revenue that publishers and developers need; in order to fire their passion, or sustain their businesses, and ideally both. READ MORE

What the Hack? The rise of fast money for smart code!

I recently had the pleasure of speaking about Minimob to a large crowd of enthusiastic developers, animators and even film producers at the IPCC 2014 (Intellectual Property Creative Contest) event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – and it got me thinking about prize ‘hacking’ as an emerging force in code creation and IP commercialization. READ MORE