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Users continue to move across platforms and screens. Today, more than half the queries on our platform come from mobile devices, both on mobile web and apps. The balance between monetizing your app and providing a good user experience remains tricky yet essential.

Yesterday, we focused on ways to create a high quality app for your users. Continue reading to gather app monetization recommendations from Mark Wolly, Head of Mobile Publisher Solutions at Google, and find a happy medium between effective monetization and good user experience.

  1. Create ads that respect your UX: Good ad placements ensure reliable revenue without sacrificing user experience. Examine the flow of user engagement within your app to place ads in undisruptive places, such as the transition points in a reading app. You can experiment with the frequency and placements of your ads to ensure you’re delivering the right experience in the right context for the user. Try to avoid sandwiching them between your interactive app content and navigation/menu buttons.

  2. Choose the best ad formats for your app’s content structure: It’s easy for users to get distracted by ads given the limited screen size, especially when they don’t match the look and feel of your app.

    Try using Native ads to create a consistent look and feel across your content and ads. Formatted to fit mobile apps’ content and visual design, Native ads are more likely to be viewed and clicked by users. eBay recently started using our Native Ads on DoubleClick and experienced a 3.6X increase in ad engagement on average, with some campaigns delivering click-through rates up to 5%.

    Mark believes “Native presents an opportunity to reset on building premium quality mobile placements and creatives. Many publishers have already built custom formats for direct sales, but haven’t yet extended their advertiser reach by offering them via programmatic channels.”

  3. Build your programmatic direct strategy: Allowing you high quality creative formats from premium advertisers, programmatic direct introduces your app to new advertiser budgets and makes ad operations easier. As explained by Mark, “Many publishers have built incredible custom mobile formats that command high CPMs from high-quality advertisers. They can massively extend their advertiser reach, while retaining the same cpms and control, by offering these formats to new advertisers via programmatic channels.”

There is a fundamental shift amongst consumers in their use of mobile, making it indisputable that apps play a significant role in a consumer’s mobile experience. In the time that desktop audiences have grown 1%, mobile audiences have grown a staggering 41%1.

Focusing on ways to increase app discoverability, understand user engagement, optimize app quality, and effectively monetize your app, our mobile bootcamp outlines key steps for enhancing your mobile offerings in time for the holiday season of mobile frenzy.

Posted by Danielle Landress
Associate Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Marketing
1 comScore. The 2015 U.S. Mobile App Report.

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At this point, you’ve read our recommendations for growing your app’s audience and keeping users engaged. But there are technical aspects, too, that can make or break your app’s success. Speed, for example, is crucial -- users expect apps to respond in under one second.

Yesterday, we gave recommendations for attracting, engaging, and retaining your users. Continue reading today to learn tips from Dev Gogate, Mobile Solutions Consulting Manager at Google, on providing your users with a high quality app.

  1. The smaller the app size, the better: Users have limited bandwidth and data storage, so a large app runs the risk of losing an install. App stores impose size limits and will only deliver apps under a certain size over cellular connections; Google has a 50MB limit for each APK (but allows 2GB expansion files for supporting media) and Apple limits app size at 100MB. Use the ProGuard tool to optimize your Android code and enable Resource Shrinking to remove unused and unneeded resources from dependency libraries. App Thinning offers a similar solution for decreasing app size on iOS.

  2. Build apps that use device resources optimally: Building apps without taking into account how display interacts with hardware components can drain precious resources, such as battery life. According to Dev, "App performance is critical! A badly designed app can drastically and negatively impact the the user's perception of the app's usability and will surely lead to an uninstall." Dev recommends compiling a list of metrics for your apps to perform against and then running tests. This YouTube Android performance channel and Google+ community offer excellent tips on building high performing apps.

  3. Ensure your app works across devices: Failing to catch a bug or crash that only impacts some devices quickly leads to angry customer feedback and low ratings. Dev recommends using Cloud Test Lab to simultaneously test your app on nearly every brand and model of Android devices and across multiple languages, screen orientations, and Android API versions. Dev’s expert tip: Even if you have not written any instrumentation tests for your app, you can use Robo tests to exercise your app by simulating user actions.

  4. Use A/B testing to get real user feedback: Dogfooding your app provides early insight into how users interact with your app and how it behaves beyond the test lab. Beta testing, on the other hand, gathers feedback from an enthusiastic audience. Since this testing is customer-facing, ensure the process is simple to ensure high user participation. Both of these tests gives you early feedback from users before widely releasing your app.

  5. Launch new app versions in phases and closely monitor: Don’t underestimate the number of users who may adopt a new version of your app and their levels of usage. Dev recommends using staged rollouts, which allow you to beta test different app versions and gradually release app updates with a chosen user group. The Cloud Test Lab provides access to virtual devices that give rapid feedback during development, as well as physical devices that pinpoint issues found on real, physical devices.

Creating a high quality app is essential for building and maintaining a loyal user base. Follow Dev’s recommendations to optimize your app quality and stay posted for our post tomorrow on ways to effectively monetize.

Posted by Danielle Landress
Associate Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Marketing

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Did you know that 52% of all apps lose at least half of their most valuable users after three months?1 In this environment, how can you ensure your app effectively attracts, engages, and retains users?

Yesterday, we kicked off our mobile bootcamp to help get your app in shape for increased traffic and monetization opportunities during the holiday season. Building on mobile expert Cheney Tsai’s recommendations for growing your app’s audience, Jason Rosenblum, Mobile Solutions Consultant at Google, shares tips for effectively engaging users.

  1. Optimize your on-boarding experience: The first-run of your app is critical in selling its value and utility. Jason suggests using A/B testing to experiment with different features, such as adding an app tutorial or custom discount code.

  2. Measure user engagement and understand how it connects to your business: Knowing whether, when, and how frequently users return to your site allows you to strategically send notifications, identify pain points, and launch features. Cohort analysis indicates patterns in user behavior by aligning all metrics by the different days of user experience, regardless of the specific day a user starts using your app.

    While Google Analytics offers standard measurement options -- average session duration, active users, loyalty, recency, audience overview -- consider the nature of your business to pinpoint significant custom metrics. Jason explains, "You need your analytics to make sense for your business. For example, if you're running a hotel booking site, you want to know the number of hotel searches being run and the number of hotel rooms being booked. Customize your analytics for your business so you can drive the right KPIs."

  3. Remind users of your app’s value: 34% of app abandonment is fueled by a loss of interest, so create rich, contextual notifications like latest news, weather, or reminders to re-engage and increase your daily/monthly users. Google Cloud Messaging, for example, allows you to implement and manage notifications across Android and iOS. Jason advises using rich notifications to add quick actions, such as the ability to Archive an email via gMail notifications, and allowing users to control whether and how often they receive notifications.

The total time spent in apps per smartphone user is increasing, yet the total number of apps used has not changed. Users, therefore, are consolidating their time in certain favored apps. Incorporate Jason’s recommendations to keep your users engaged and come back tomorrow to hear from Dev Gogate, Mobile Solutions Consulting Manager at Google, to maximize your app quality.

Posted by Danielle Landress
Associate Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Marketing
Danova, Tom. BI Intelligence: The App Store Marketing Report: User Behavior Trends, And Getting Apps To Stand Out. Business Insider, 2015.

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Users read, watch, listen, and connect with content across multiple screens throughout the day. With every interaction, they expect fast, safe, and relevant experiences regardless of where they are or what device they’re using. In this environment, publishers only have a split second to deliver the most relevant and highest paying ads to maximize their overall yield without increasing latency and potentially losing users.

A few weeks ago at the IAB Ad Operations Summit, I spoke about a new feature we are testing to deliver yield, speed, and control, called DoubleClick for Publishers First Look. Today, I’d like to give you some more details about it.

One of the fastest-growing segments of programmatic advertising has been from high-CPM, low-match-rate buyers, such as remarketers. These buyers are willing to pay a substantial premium to publishers in exchange for a ‘first look’ at all of a publisher’s inventory, but they need to see a lot of impressions to find the ones they value. The standard implementation of this first look has been through a header bidding tag to indicate interest. While this works, unfortunately it has drawbacks. It adds latency to every pageview, gives one buyer preferential access, and gives up the control and protection of an ad exchange. A better solution would reduce or eliminate latency, enable any selected buyer to compete, and allow publishers to manage demand just as they do with other private or open marketplaces.

First Look does just that. It allows publishers to give trusted programmatic buyers the opportunity to bid on 100% of their inventory -- even ahead of sponsorships and reservations. By allowing these buyers to see more inventory, and by putting them in real-time competition with each other, publishers in our Beta test have seen an average 10% lift in revenue. First Look is simple to set up (no added line items), creates zero added latency (no additional ad requests), and works across all channels and formats. And since First Look is part of the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, you don’t lose any of the controls and protections you already rely on like creative review, category blocking, or malware protection.

“First Look has shown strong performance, increasing our revenue by a double digit percentage across all of our properties. There were no added tags and no need to change our page setup. Best of all, there has been no impact to what our users experience when they visit our properties, regardless of the device they’re using."
Jeremy Hlavacek, Vice President, Programmatic, The Weather Company.

We believe that First Look is good for buyers, too. According to Sam Cox, Vice President at MediaMath:

“First Look is an exciting step towards having all demand compete, simultaneously. Access to more users who are typically consumed by guarantees will drive higher ROI, and the high prices of the inventory should dispel any myth that programmatic is not premium."
Sam Cox, Vice President, OPEN Global Media Management, MediaMath

As I mentioned at the IAB Ad Ops Summit, DoubleClick’s mission is to help our publisher partners grow their ad revenues in a healthy long-term market. With First Look we are striving to create a solution that delivers lift for publishers without sacrificing consumer experience or publisher controls.

We’re excited to launch DoubleClick for Publishers First Look to all publishers early in 2016. Space in our beta is limited, but if you’re interested in getting set-up before the holiday rush, contact your account manager today. And in the coming weeks, stay tuned for more tips on how to maximize your overall yield.

Posted by Jonathan Bellack
Director, Product Management