Mobile Beach Conference 2017, scheduled for May 20-21 in Odessa, will gather the world’s leading mobile marketing companies, and AppfFlyer is one of them. In January 2017, AppsFlyer has raised $56 million in Series C funding to help even more advertisers measure the engagement. We spoke to Alexander Grach, who will represent AppsFlyer at MBC 2017.

Alexander Grach is Head of Sales, Central & Eastern Europe, in AppsFlyer. He was previously in charge of business development at Xplenty, a big data analytics startup. Before that Alexander held various sales and marketing roles at Cisco and Intel being based in the Netherlands, Russia, and Israel.


What do you think are the main trends in mobile marketing?

Without a doubt, the hottest topic in mobile marketing is fraud. With more budgets pouring into mobile advertising, fraudsters are following the money trail, polluting the ecosystem. The good news is that this has also led to an understanding among all players in the industry — advertisers, publishers, networks, agencies and attribution providers — to realize just how important it is to fight back. As a result, more and more tools are being developed to marginalize or at least minimize this phenomenon (more on how we at AppsFlyer are doing it further ahead). The game of cat and mouse is likely to continue but I believe that this goal can be realized if all players, especially on the media side, cooperate to pinpoint their bad sources of inventory.

Another key trend is the shift from a focus on quantity of installs to a focus on post-install quality including engagement, LTV & ROI. Our State of App Engagement report has shown that only 4-5% of users in Eastern Europe continue using an app after 30 days. With these numbers, it is clear why installs are no longer a focus. An important step in the funnel, but not the goal. Instead, the goal is to use data to find quality users who will use the app regularly and over time, and ultimately monetize: via in-app ads and / or in-app purchases.

The organic decline is another key trend. With millions of apps in the stores, the chance of discovery is almost non-existent for the vast majority of apps. As a result, the organic multiplier — the ratio between a paid and organic install — has seen a significant decline, according to many of our advertisers. Having said that, marketers still need every fraction of an organic user to reduce their eCPI and become ROI positive. But since marketers cannot rely on generating organic users at scale, they need to focus on non-organic traffic where they have far more control. Ultimately, success for most is driven by an ability to maximize both organic and non-organic revenue.  


In Game category, 93% of mobile ad dollars in Q4, 2016 were spent on video, compared to 58% for non-gaming categories. How do you think, what is the next most likely candidate to turn to mobile video across non-gaming categories in 2017?

Allow me not to guess but rather to look at our data, which clearly shows that the main non-gaming verticals that run video ads — both in the number of installs and the number of apps — are lifestyle, shopping, and entertainment. This makes sense as these verticals have much to show for from a visual standpoint, which is what video does best.


Google Play has recently made a big step towards the engagement rather than installs when rating apps in Game category. Does that mean the downfall of the incentivized downloads?   

The fact of the matter is that incentivized ads have a bad reputation, and more often than not this is indeed the case because of the generally poor user quality that is associated with these campaigns. However, looking at The AppsFlyer Performance Index which ranks the best media sources in mobile advertising, we see plenty of media sources that list some sort of incentivized ad format in their portfolio. So why are these ads still around?

The reason why incentivized traffic continues to be relevant for some app categories – particularly in gaming — is that there is simply still a lot of inventory available through incentivized ads. Also, even if the traffic quality is poor, the lower price of incent can still make campaigns ROI positive. Last but not least, the use of rewarded video is on the rise, riding on the popularity of video advertising.


What are the latest Appsflyer’s achievements in a battle with fraud?

The last year has seen incredible advances in fraud protection and detection technology. The biggest advances we are seeing in this space is in the ways multi-layered fraud protection and detection solutions can combine their signals to protect against known fraud, and detect likely fraud. Fraudsters now use a wide variety of techniques, and only first-party, big-data-powered multi-layered solutions augmented by AI and machine learning can keep pace.

About a year ago we introduced DeviceRankTM, the industry’s first and most comprehensive device-based protection. Since introducing DeviceRank, we have seen many marketers block massive amounts of in device-based fraud. Just last month we had two large enterprise businesses move their attribution to AppsFlyer, one from a European attribution provider, and the other from a US provider. Both subscribed to their previous provider’s premium fraud protection offerings, and both noticed that their internal fraud solutions had gone quiet since moving to AppsFlyer. In both cases, the automated protection of our Active Fraud Suite caught thousands of fraudulent installs that other “premium” solutions had missed.

While we continue to invest in best-in-class AI and machine learning to improve our ability to actively block fraud in real-time, fraudsters are continuously adapting and we have seen a strong demand for better fraud detection reporting. In other words, advanced marketers are increasingly looking to improve not only their ability to block fraud in real-time, but to detect where fraud is hiding — cutting off problematic SiteIDs, geos and networks quickly and efficiently. For example, using our Active Fraud Insights dashboard, dozens of marketers at major brands have discovered high concentrations of fraud hiding behind DeviceID reset marathons (resetting DeviceIDs between installs) or by enabling Limit Ad Tracking. When marketers find anomalous concentrations of installs from “new” DeviceIDs, devices with Limit Ad Tracking enabled, or installs from devices flagged by DeviceRank as “suspicious” (likely fraud),  they can take timely corrective action — addressing their fraud issues before they get out of hand. These insights are harder deliver because they require a massive database that contains nearly every mobile device in the world. As a provider with this deep-data already in-hand, we have seen these multi-layered, deep insights deliver millions dollars in savings to marketers across nearly every region and vertical.


AppsFlyer’s multi-touch attribution reveals the user’s journey to the app install. Are there any changes in user’s journey over the last year? Does the user need more or less “touches” to download an app?

AppsFlyer’s multi-touch attribution reveals the user’s journey to the app install. Are there any changes in user’s journey over the last year? Does the user need more or less “touches” to download an app?

Preliminary findings from a data study we’re working on shows that between 10-20% of installs have previous touches prior to the last click, depending on vertical. We see that there are fewer touches for games, and more touches for shopping.


What do you think is the main challenge for mobile marketing in 2017?  

More than two out of three mobile marketers, according to Forrester, can’t or don’t measure their ROI. So as far as perception goes, this is a main challenge. However, the reality is that measuring mobile marketing ROI is not a challenge at all!

The chief mobile officer of AOL nailed it, saying “One of the biggest myths in mobile advertising is the perceived lack of data around in-app measurement. This is a misperception, but a growing number of marketers cite attribution transparency as mobile’s biggest challenge. The misunderstanding is born out of the industry’s reliance on cookies. Obviously, mobile is a cookie-less channel. But mobile’s measurement capabilities are as good and even better than those for desktop.”

The real challenge is not mobile measurement, but rather omni-channel tracking. Connecting the dots across mobile, desktop, and especially the offline world is still a very distant reality. The good news is that more and more dots are being connected all the time, helping marketers understand more about the relationship between their activities across channels.


You are speaking at Mobile Beach Conference. But what would you like to listen to?

Mobile Beach Conference has an incredible lineup this year and I’m sure that pretty much every session will be of great value. Personally, I’ll be looking for sessions focused on analytics and data.


What will you take with you to Odessa this May?

Odessa already has everything you need. You just come with the right kind of mid set and enjoy every single moment 🙂