Mobaba: Mobile Monetization for Real App Developers

Founded in late 2013 by the people behind Soft32, Mobaba is a mobile advertising platform that helps mobile app developers to reach the right customers at the lowest possible costs, while supporting mobile app publishers to recommend relevant apps to their users.

Supporting both the Android and iOS mobile operating systems and using a cost-per-install model, Mobaba allows advertisers to place a bid for every install, while the publishers can earn money for every install their users make. Mobaba is a great case study on how you can build a great product by having an exceptional understanding of the market and scratching your own itch.

“The decision of building Mobaba was a natural step forward to the mobile monetization solutions, from the Soft32 desktop monetization platform, which has already proven its success. The mobile industry is growing rapidly nowadays, but mobile advertising has still not achieved its full potential. This is why we felt there is room to grow and bring better solutions for the challenges that mobile industry players now face”, said Lucian Todea, CEO.

Mobaba targets both advertisers and publishers, solving an important problem for each of them. The advertisers are those companies that have built mobile apps and are actively looking for ways to promote them to their target audiences. Mobaba addresses both established companies looking to increase their user base beyond the traditional channels, as well as the new players that need real users in order to validate and scale up the use of their service. On the other side of the spectrum there are the publishers: all the mobile app and website owners that have a considerable amount of mobile web traffic and are looking for an additional source of revenue, on top of the more classical options.

“Whether we talk about mobile apps or the mobile web, mobile advertising is complex and developers are always trying to find new ways to monetize. Their biggest challenge is the lack of support and integration in the marketing tools they use every day. And Mobaba offers them a solution for this challenge”, says Mircea.

The mobile ad network ecosystem is very crowded and competitive, but this did not discourage the founders of Mobaba. What sets them apart from their competitors is the attention they give in building a strong relationship with the publishers. And this is not an easy task to do, since the publishers have at their disposal a large pool of ad networks from which to choose and they seldom change this network, once they’re happy with how it solves their problem.

“We dedicate a lot of time in developing a close and strong relationship with all of our publishers, offering each of them a dedicated account manager, besides the already convenient real-time dashboard, so that they can overcome challenges easier and focus on the important thing: developing great apps for the users. And it’s sometimes challenging to find the right publishers, the ones that offer value to the customers through their apps”, explains Constantin Tovisi, Business Developer, their competitive advantage.

With a mere 20% smartphone penetration rate and a mobile advertising market still dominated by the biggest players (Google with AdMob and Apple with iAd), Romania lags behind other European markets. Despite the fact that the founders of Mobaba believe that this gap is going to decrease over time, this does not represent a challenge in itself, since the product targets the global market where there are plenty of opportunities.

The “app-install” ads now dominate every single form of mobile advertising, from in-game interstitial and video ads to Facebook’s Suggested Apps section. This adds up to the fact that publishers focused on native apps instead of the mobile browser, since the numbers showed that consumers spend more time there.

Mircea Gherman, Product Manager, thinks a possible reason for this may be the fact that app developers account for the majority of the mobile advertising market. They are backed by venture capitalists and aim to grow their active users and revenues hoping for a potential exit, thus leading to an artificially inflated trend.

And there are four categories of mobile apps that are profitable for a mobile ad network, each of them coming with their own characteristics and challenges. The important thing here is to understand their specifics and successfully address their pain.

  1. Ecommerce apps. Ecommerce giants are heavily investing in this area, looking for new ways to engage with their users who are primarily using mobile as a “discovery channel” and the desktop to complete their purchase
  2. Game apps. The gaming niche is mature, the users are predictable and the market approach is gradually becoming standardized. Over 75% of successful game apps are now variations of global hits like Clash of Clans, Candy Crush or Casino games.
  3. Utility apps. These are the apps that improve the digital experience of their users and they do have a significant market share. Utility apps are now testing several business models, since only a small part of their users is paying for premium services, and advertising can be a solution as long as it’s not disrupting the overall user experience
  4. Social apps. This category of apps is somehow consolidated, now finding new ways to monetize by offering their data to marketers and creating quite effective advertising

“We don’t know for how long will the app install bubble last, but we do believe that the real growth in the mobile market is yet to come, and the unique value of mobile advertising is still to unveil itself. When we analyzed the behavior of people looking for news and information, we understood that they prefer the browser. Moreover, there is now a greater focus on mobile website optimization and hence the importance of customizing your advertising approach, since people act differently in apps versus browsers.”, explained the Product Manager of Mobaba. 

Google, now pushing towards a mobile optimized web, also supports this trend. Effective this month, the mobile-friendly websites will score higher in the search engines. We cannot know for sure when will the mobile app bubble burst, but the Mobaba team believes that mobile video is the next big thing, with an ad spending estimated to increase from $1.54 billion in 2014 to $12.82 billion in 2018. And they are ready to tackle this new challenge and take advantage of new market opportunities that will arise in the years to come. Their plans for the future?

“First and foremost, we want to use Mobaba to maximize monetization for our own portfolio of apps and web assets. Only after achieving this phase we will consider investing more in acquiring new publishers and finding new ways of distribution and leveraging other marketing channels. As this business matures, mobile ad networks will have a more important role in the relationship between publishers and advertisers, helping them to work closely, providing them support with user data, analytics, monetization strategies, all of this so that they can adjust real-time to the users’ feedback”, concluded Lucian Todea.

 

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