Getting product, marketing, and analytics teams to work together harmoniously can be difficult. Even though they are all focused on delivering a fantastic app experience, and keeping a lid on churn, the motivation and process for getting there can be distinct for each group. Analytics looks at the data and product teams often dream big. So, how does today’s marketer encourage a more collaborative relationship between team members? In episode #410, our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Amos Adler, Director of UA, SciPlay, a leading developer and publisher of social casino games on mobile and web platforms. Amos, a Mobile Hero recognized for his accomplishments, provides top tips you can follow to rally team members around common goals. He also shares his pick of productivity tools and makes an inspiring case for good old Excel.
Thanks, Ricky, and thank you for joining Mobile Presence. I’m your host, as always, Peggy Anne Salz, mobile analyst, tech consultant and founder of Mobile Groove. And in case you haven’t seen the numbers, mobile gaming apps are experiencing their biggest year yet, revenues slated to surpass a cool $100 billion. So it’s going to be a banner year by all measure but it could also produce the biggest headaches for marketers if they manage campaigns as if it was business as usual because, hey, you’ve noticed it – it is not business as usual.
Covid-19 restrictions may have driven us into games in massive record numbers but they aren’t the only pastimes on our mind, so marketers are going to have to be smart, resilient, resourceful about how they spend money and spend their time to acquire audiences. This means combining data, signals, making certain we are hooked on the value proposition of the app. It also means creating teams, bringing together product, marketing, engineering to get the best results.
So how do you get the best results? Well, it’s a tough question and of course we get the straight answers here on Mobile Presence because this is the bi-weekly feature show where we talk to mobile marketing experts. It’s their daily job, it’s their expertise and it’s earned them the title of Mobile Hero as chosen by Liftoff, a full service mobile app marketing and retargeting platform.
So my guest today is a Mobile Hero, he’s had a long career in marketing, led UA efforts at DGN as Director of Marketing and built a strong UA team, that’s why he’s going to talk about building teams – a seven year mobile veteran in gaming advertising, he now manages UA at SciPlay, one of the leading and largest social gaming developers in the business. So, welcome to Mobile Presence Amos Adler, Director of UA at SciPlay, great to have you.
Hello, hello, happy to be here.
Great, how you feeling today?
I’m feeling great, so it was very formal, the introduction, I’m feeling so important right now.
Well, we have an interesting bio, I left out some of it, it was long, Amos, you’ve been doing a lot and we talked at the top, or rather I talked at the top about how important it is to do UA right, now more than ever – you know, it’s all about getting the user, catching the user, not catching the whale, just catching the user. So, why is it so important?
Hopefully catching whales, first of all. It’s so important because we need to always remember that we are only like a drop in the sea between an ocean of advertisers and huge competition – we need to try to minimise the risk we take, at least leave only calculated risks and the one thing that is super important in my eyes is identifying, playing to your strengths is something, you know, that people do all the time and I think user acquisition doesn’t differ in any other disciplines. In the gaming industry, the best thing to do is focus on what makes your game unique, what makes you stand out compared to the other thousand social casino apps that are out there and that helps us being smarter in targeting, in creatives and of course getting better results.
Now, it always sounds simple, it’s always focus on what makes you unique, what makes you stand out but there’s going to be differences comparing different games, different genres, obviously. Now, you have a strong brand at SciPlay – how would you say you focus on what you do best? There isn’t maybe a recipe for it but you’ve obviously looking at what’s important for a social casino game, what would that be?
So first of all you’re painfully right, it’s very hard to distinguish yourself in social casinos specifically because the core loop is relatively so simple and also that’s the main reason people are coming to play our games, so it’s very hard to distinguish yourself using a very simple core loop. Let’s look at the top ten apps in the industry for social slots – they all have one unique aspect. For SciPlay, our biggest strength is relationship with huge, huge, very successful and very popular brands – Cirque de Soleil, Michael Jackson, James Bond and many, many more. It is essentially a business relationship that helps us being more recognisable and having more people to relate to because we can on top of selling our super fun, super advanced, very rich games, but also advertise strong content.
Another thing that distinguishes us is that our content comes directly from the real casinos around the US and around the world. So, people that go to real casinos can, you know, finish a long day or in Covid, for example, when venues were closed, can enjoy the same content they know and love.
So, I have to ask you, it’s clear – content, well known names, that does it for me – but assuming all things are equal, are there tools or techniques you can recommend that help marketers understand and hone in on what’s going to keep users hooked or shows they’re hooked?
Sure. First of all, it may sound like a cliché but it’s just always the case, you always need to test things because your UVP might not be the best creative you produce and sometimes you need to understand maybe if you want to create an output that would explain your product in the best way possible but sometimes something that is oddly different, let’s take misleading ads for all of the Match 3 and Build games, sometimes you can produce better results by not being true to your product – this is something specifically that me, I know that it’s very successful – I specifically dislike it but you need to test that it does make sense for your funnel.
For us, it has but we tested different, like we’ve said, UVP aspects within our game. We tested features that were unique only for us and we checked what’s the early funnel metrics that we see – CTRs, convergent compared to our store – and we try to combine it with dynamic segmentations to really like colour user journeys based on the starting point which is the creative and to see if there’s any differentiation from cause by the creative to the user journey but it’s something that is a bit more elaborate than just, you know, measuring ROI, retention, cost per retention, ARPU, RPPU – it’s something that really we try to explain what are the steps that these users go inside your game and we couldn’t have done it without being very flexible with a lot of teams together.
Well, you leave us on an interesting note because we’re going to talk about how to build for that and guess what – it’s not just data and modelling, it is teams – I alluded to that before. So we’re going to come back, Amos, we’re going to talk about that, one of your blogs about building great teams, great teamwork, but right now we do have to go to a break so listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And welcome back to Mobile Presence. I’m Peggy Anne Salz. Today we have Amos Adler, Director of UA at SciPlay and right before the break, Amos, we were talking about how you have to have the hook absolutely, but that success requires more than that, that requires a team working together, close collaboration, multi-disciplinary, the full, the whole nine yards and we’d say in the States.
Now you wrote a blog about this topic, we’ll tell our listeners how they can check it out, where they can find it but the topic is an interesting one, you know, bringing together product and marketing, maybe even engineering and a couple of others to the table – what is this? Is the idea that you’ve had to do this in your career and you decided to give us a blueprint or what inspired you to write the blog?
So, when I started thinking about possible topics, I just tried to focus on things that I liked to do at DGN and things that I’m spending a lot of time in my current position trying to hone and trying to improve and that led me to cross functional cooperation. Specifically between product, monetisation, engineering – every company is built in another way so sometimes you have a lot of stakeholders in order to move stuff like that, sometimes you have a few but I remember these kind of projects that we did it in like a fun, out of the box creative way.
So in DGN, I have to say that it came just like top down, it’s something that we were taught to think in that way because we were a medium player and not, you know, a huge player like SciPlay is today, so we needed to come up with ways to squeeze every bit of added value we can out of our platforms, our minds, our tools and really try to have an edge and to bring an added value to an eco system that is very, very crowded and the margins are getting smaller and smaller. So, you really need to try and innovate to have a seat at the table.
And I guess when you have to do that, it’s, you know, bring the best minds together and also keep in mind, you know, it’s a journey now, the app is not just install and dive in, it’s product has to be right, creative has to be right, marketing has to be on the mark literally. You wrote about this of course in your blog and you’ve given some great tips. I’ll challenge you – rather than go through all the tips which I’d love to do, Amos, why don’t you give me the one that you think is outstanding, the one that our listeners, if you can’t do anything else, do this.
So, it’s like picking a favourite son or a favourite kid – it’s a classic Sophie’s choice. I think that specifically for me the most interesting one was like identifying churn reasons, we tried to be – today I focus more, not more, I focus only on user acquisition but at DGN I focused on retargeting as well and as part of our efforts to be more, to stand our more in retargeting, we wanted to distinguish different churn reasons using our data, of course, and with that really offer a different in game experience to these churned users.
For example, people can drop a game for different reasons, some can drop out from technical problems, they had one day that the internet maybe was slow or something – a new version was being uploaded and something was off and it was just like infuriating to them and they decided to churn, it might be bad luck of like a, you know, losing streak that is out of the ordinary and of course in social casino we measure that. It can be on maybe it was a time like a long period of time without a lot of live operations or new events, so maybe they got bored. All these things and aspects are things you can identify if you have the right tracking within your BI.
And that’s something that we took our time identifying and developing in our BI to monitor these user behaviours, let’s call it, so you’re able to build like three, four different churn reasons. So first of all the obvious thing is to offer them with a different creative, a different explanation of why they should come back to your game and that increases CTR, increases conversion and lowers CPC so you’re improving the upper funnel of your targeting operations and for DGN specifically, we had a very flexible back office system that we were able to create different in-game experiences so we gave these users each of these segments, we gave them a different benefit. If it’s the number of features that are open or slots that are unlocked or a bigger, you know, bonus for coming back to the game and we really saw that it made an impact because naturally we tested these user journeys through different segments and we saw a clear result that it had an impact.
I mean, it makes perfect sense to connect product, monetisation and UA, and even maybe a few others need to be sitting at the table but this is something that marketers seem to have a real problem with. What makes it so hard or what is it that you’re thinking maybe marketers do incorrectly or not enough of?
I think that sometimes there’s a tendency, you know, of having an ego that we don’t want people from other departments to put your nose inside our business, like we are doing the best thing in our discipline and analytics are doing the best thing in their discipline but again, like I said, it was a top down thing. In general, something that I might have not elaborated maybe enough in my blog was the benefit that it has for a company, for organisational culture – it made such a different. Like, that everyone is moving together towards one target, one KPI that is so different out of the ordinary that of course people have, and departments have different targets – it only makes sense.
But this created like an environment where we are all, you know, are moving forward together towards one goal, for a short-term profit and like a target, not like revenue for the game but of course is an incentive for everyone but… it’s something that is short sighted. I mean, like, we can see the end of this project, we can see the importance of it and it just improved the relationship between the departments and it brought better results, so why not?
Just wondering, is there a shortcut here? I was talking to one marketer and it was like, well, you know, we just give everyone access to all the data and we sort of, you know, make people start thinking analytical, so even the creative department was here, here’s a spreadsheet, figure this out, you can see how the creatives are doing. It was like democratisation of information as a step to creating one big team, right? Is there something that you’re doing or that you hope to do to get everyone literally on the same page?
So, my premise is the people I work with or I hire or of course are my managers, they have the trust in me and I trust them to not abuse any shared information so I don’t see this, like you said, the democracy of information as a downside. I do think that as a manager, it’s important to give the proper tools to each department, what to do with this information.
Now, I can create a spreadsheet to the marketing arts team to look at best performance but they might not be used to looking at large table of numbers so I need to think what is the best way to present it to them in order to maximise the value for me from that. Of course it’s in my best interests that – and just like going to the marketing arts as an example – like, of course it’s in my best interests for them to be more involved about what works best so I can bequeath my effort in creating storyboards and they will have their freedom and their creativity so of course it’s something that is important to do but we need to do it properly and to make sure that it sits well with them because unless you do that, it will just be a waste of effort and you will gain nothing from it. You will just create empty reports with no recipients.
Makes perfect sense, Amos, and I feel that your first blog is like Volume One, you’re probably going to have to dive a little deeper into that because people are looking at this, marketers are looking at, they’re grappling with this, trying to figure it out because none of us is as smart as all of us, I guess, in a way. But we do have to go to a final break, Amos, so listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. Welcome back, I’m Peggy Anne Salz, your host and we have Amos Adler, Director of UA at SciPlay. And Amos, this is the fun part of the show. You were talking before about how everyone needs to have the right tool for the right job and then of course you’ll get right results, it’s the whole idea of teamwork here so I’m going to start off by asking you your favourite tool. What do you love?
So, with user acquisition of course we work with a lot of online platforms but for me, you know, the place that gives me a warm vibe in my heart and I can put on music and just work hours on hours is back to basics, Excel, I’m an Excel freak, always were since my first internship, this is what I do best. I always consider, you know, dropping out of my position and just be a freelancer doing Excel tools.
Wow. That is passion and I can now see you sort of like some down-tempo getting into it.
Like in the Matrix when he sees like green numbers, so I see spreadsheets when I talk to people.
I love it, Amos, that is true love. So you’re talking about what you do, you know, what you would do in your spare time, let’s pick up with that. Everyone has something they’re doing in the pandemic – what’s the wildest pastime for you?
Yes, so I have to be honest, in Israel we had a second lockdown a while back and my wife and I decided in the second lockdown because kindergarten was closed so it’s the best opportunity for her to visit her parents in the US so I had the house to myself during the second quarantine which of course the first thing I did was to immerse myself in work so I worked extra hard – but, I also managed to do things that I haven’t, you know, games that I haven’t played for years. I dusted my PlayStation from the cobwebs and bought new games and every spare minute I just played and played and played because there was nothing else to do.
I couldn’t go outside, I couldn’t visit friends, it was the ideal vacation for me – staycation.
Okay. So in that staycation, I’ll bite – favourite game, what was your favourite game while you were bingeing on your games?
Call of Duty, while I’m talking to you I’m thinking about the load-out that I’m going to build for my next session, I wake up, I dream Call of Duty and I go to bed Call of Duty.
We’re talking about wild things, let’s end on a wild prediction for the future of gaming. We’re in November, it’s not that far away that we have to be in 2021 – what could it be?
In general, as a futuristic prediction, because we distinguish ourself as entertainment and not only games, like there was a very interesting article that our competitors are Netflix, not other gaming apps, so I think that games are going to – especially for social casino that it’s harder to distinguish yourself – I think that the borders between entertainment and games are going to be more blurry.
For example, like major apps that you have in APAC region like Line and WeChat that have a lot of different things inside of them, you know, transactions, shopping, chat, everything – so I do see that the big apps are going to be a platform for other things more than the core loop just to increase the time people spend within their app. This is the most important thing, like getting people to be more hooked and spend as much time as possible inside your product.
Makes perfect sense, Amos, and I’ve seen that a couple of times when you look at social mixed with shopping mixed with communications, all coming together – look at eSports, it was in real life, physical and virtual events, so absolutely can buy into that. And absolutely was a pleasure to have you today on Mobile Presence, thanks so much for sharing, Amos.
Thank you, it was a lot of fun.
And so the last question because some people, they want to continue the conversation and you’re talking about social, they want to keep in contact with you or they want to continue a conversation around your blog, for example, what’s the best way to stay in touch with you?
That’s a difficult answer. No, I’m kidding. You can always find me on LinkedIn, even on Facebook, I might not answer, it’s not on purpose, it maybe takes me some time to take notice.
Excel, is what I was going to say, to tear yourself away from Excel!
Or Call of Duty. Mostly Call of Duty, but feel free to reach out and I hope I’ll respond in a prompt manner.
Thanks so much, Amos, and thank you, friends, for tuning in. It’s a wrap of our show but if you want to read up on Amos or any of the other Mobile Heroes in the series, check out their dedicated page over at heroes.liftoff.io.
And if you want to keep up with me throughout the week, find out how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, then email me, email@example.com, mobilegroove.com is where you can find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
And of course you can check out this and all earlier episodes of our show by going to wmr.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify, Amazon as well, iheartRadio of course simply by searching Mobile Presence. So until next time – remember – every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. Keep well, stay safe and we’ll see you soon.