In our Campfire Stories, we spotlight Appi Campers and share their stories in their own words. In times like these where we are adapting to new circumstances every day, we invite you to get to know us and lean on our community- the app marketing experts and your camp friends- as we continue to grow, step forward, and learn together as a community.
Andrew Abrahm's Campfire Story
Andrew Abrahm helps foster BD Partnerships for Branch Metrics. Focused mainly on AdTech ecosystem partnerships, Andrew's expertise is in leveraging mutually beneficial relationships to Branch, the partner, and most importantly mutual customers. With 8+ years of global AdTech experience working across entrepreneurial start-ups and large media company environments, Andrew helps the organization make sense of all the complex moving parts of the ecosystem.
Mobile Stickiness: As Luck Would Have It
Before diving into my story, I want to preface it by saying this story isn’t unique to me. Anyone that has been along for the ride in this mobile industry the past decade likely has a very similar one. Luckily being roommates with the right people in college, luckily graduating before mobile took off, luckily moving to the right city, and luckily doing all of it at the right time was a big part of it. Did I mention luck yet? From there, certain things went right and were combined with sticking with it when others said to hedge or pivot. This is a clunkier version of saying the cliche statement “right place, right time.”
In 2021, it is pretty well known and agreeable that apps are here to stay, users are more active in apps vs web, and digital strategies that don’t include apps as a core focus aren’t tapping into where users spend most of their time. Although it is now clear that the app’s place in a digital marketer’s strategy has a bright future, this wasn’t always the case.
When I started in this industry, the soundtrack of 2013-2014 was a constant “Be careful, mobile is just a bubble”, followed by the tracks of “no one will ever put a credit card in a phone or app”, “Why would someone buy in app when they can buy on desktop in the comfort of their own home?”, “the user experience on the phone is so much worse than desktop”, and “phones are for casual use and desktop is where users do important things.” We know all of this to not be true today as apps are essential. Retail has gone mobile, user experience is much better in-app, and tons of the “important verticals” such as finance, real estate, banking, etc., use mobile as a key growth strategy. Putting that aside for now, when I started in this space 8 years ago it wasn’t what it is today.
In 2013, one of my college friends was working for a tech incubator and I was offered an opportunity to go work part-time for their new “mobile tech startup” called TapRush which had an in-house mobile RTB and was hooked into the major ad exchanges. I somehow convinced them that my experience editing digital videos in college was “tech experience” and when they offered me a job, I didn’t ask any questions. I was the 4th hire and in charge of ad operations. The blueprint back then wasn’t too different than the blueprint today. My main role was running the RTB and buying on top supply exchanges (many of the same top ones today just pre-acquisitions), trying to back CPMs out to CPIs and CPAs. In addition, we had a network side of the business where we worked with the various demand networks and SDK gaming supply sources. Like I mentioned… not that different from today’s setups.
There was a moment I’ll never forget that has stayed with me. On my commute to work one morning, I was standing on a super crowded MUNI heading to our office. I was going through my emails on my phone and looking at the offered budgets for that day when I saw Candy Crush with tons of budget looking for user acquisition solutions. I glanced up from my phone and noticed that everyone else was staring at their phone and playing games. I actually couldn’t believe it. Grown adults on the MUNI playing Candy Crush and Fruit Ninja like their lives depended on it. I texted my boss with something along the lines of “something is definitely going on here. I’m on a bus with 30 people and 95% of them are playing Candy Crush”. This was really the start of massive budgets and an app industry that hasn’t looked back since.
Fast forward a few ad tech jobs, starting my own network/agency in 2015, and for the past 1.5 years being at the leading mobile attribution provider Branch, and things have definitely changed. However, some things that remained the same are the continued massive growth of mobile, apps, and the clear focus on user experience. That 2013 soundtrack of “mobile is just a bubble” is a distant memory. The narrative began to slightly shift to “well users may be active for things like casual games, but they aren’t spending more money or engaging in important verticals on their phones”. That also has turned into a distant memory as it couldn’t be more clear that e-commerce has seen unprecedented massive growth even before lockdowns and the pandemic.
As apps continue to be optimized for better user experience, app usage and user engagement by almost any important metric outshines the web in a big way. Even if you compare mobile web to app, apps continue to shine bright.
Now more than ever apps are fundamentally key to digital marketing and understanding who is engaging with digital properties. Holistically tying all of this together is proving to be the most important decision digital companies can make. Eliminating data silos in favor of using comprehensive user experience instruments such as deep linking to specific locations within the app, and cross channel, cross platform analytics helps digital companies better understand the who, what, and when of consumer touchpoints. This will only continue to increase as more technology is innovated.