Highlights from MAU Vegas 2018

The MAU (Mobile Apps Unlocked) conference in Vegas has established itself as the number one mobile growth conference. It should be on the calendar of all mobile app focused marketers. Last month was my third time attending (this was their fifth year running). The conference seems to have grown exponentially in size.

With over 60 sessions, including three separate tracks focused on Growth, Product, CRM/Retention, I can’t say I covered them all. But I’ll share some of the highlights of what I took away from the two days. (Not to mention it confirmed my dinosaur status in the industry by being tucked in bed by 1:00 am each night).

Facts and Figures

To kick things off, we were treated to some juicy “State of the App Market” facts and figures by App Annie’s CEO and co-founder Bertrand Schmitt. He demonstrated the continuing growth of the market, highlighting huge opportunity but ferocious competition. A few good facts to keep up your sleeve are:

  • There are now over six million apps on the iTunes and Google Play App Stores, a 60% increase over the past two years.
  • More impressive is the fact that consumers spent $86 billion dollars on apps in 2017. This means the mobile app market is now worth 195% more than the global movie box office and 70% more than both the music industry and the gaming market.

If you’re fortunate enough to have an app that has the potential to grow in international markets, then China leads the way by some margin for overall download volume. India is supposedly a sleeping giant with the majority of consumers reliant on smartphones to get online. Vietnam and Turkey received honorable mentions as emerging markets to be watched. Stream the whole session here.

Pinterest and Personalization

The most insightful CRM/Retention session was given by John Egan, the Head of Growth Traffic Engineering at Pinterest. The high-level takeaway is that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” strategy when it comes to a push notifications engagement strategy, so lean into personalization. Pinterest has the benefit of knowing what kind of content boards a specific user is looking at and can customize notifications content based off of that knowledge.

They also segment their users based on frequency of use into the following states: Dormant, Marginal, Casual, and Core. For each segment, they use machine learning and exhaustive testing to determine the best messaging content, channel, and timing for each user segment. You can find a lot more detail on how they tested each variable on these slides.

One content area that Pinterest has spent a huge amount of time testing is copywriting. The recommendation is to start with broad testing. Then get extremely granular by testing virtually every word in the top performing messaging. For example, they discovered that using “Hi” versus “Hey,” or using an exclamation point versus not using one had an impact on overall performance. View a recording of the whole session here.

A Focus on Facebook Ads

The final session I’ll summarize for you is the panel discussion on “Scaling Facebook and Instagram.” If you’ve read this far down the article, you must have advertised on Facebook. Not surprisingly, the discussion was centered around testing strategies for creative. I scribbled down some actionable tips:

  • Identify a pain point that is very relatable to your audience and position your brand as the solution to that problem with an incredible offer. Position your product as something that everyone needs in their life.
  • Focus on testing a variety of different target audiences and finding the optimal creative for each audience.
  • Test horizontal images versus square images. The consensus on the panel was that square was often the top performer.
  • Video is king so double down on your video production resources. One panelist from Freshly said they were testing up to 30-40 videos at any one time.
  • Leverage Facebook Insights to look at downstream engagement. Video and Instagram stories drive the best value in terms of engaged users.
  • Keep taking “big swings” with your creative. Even the very best creative will eventually experience a performance drop.
  • Simplify your campaigns. Unless you have a unique message where you’ll be baiting and switching your audience later on, keep messaging short and simple.

You can view the full panel discussion here.

Fraud and More

It would feel wrong to end without giving a mention to fraud as it was a popular subject at the conference. If you’re like me, you may find the technical workings of fraud difficult to grasp. I recommend watching this session from Liftoff’s Chief Product Officer Paul Crosby. He successfully grabbed my attention with the stat that marketers lost $2.6 billion to mobile ad fraud in 2017.

I’ve barely scraped the surface here but if you’re fortunate enough to have more time, you can view videos of all the sessions here.

About Toby Skinner

Toby Skinner is a brand and growth marketing consultant specializing in the mobile app space. Having worked across many app categories including weather, messaging, photo and travel, he focuses on user acquisition, product marketing and lifecycle management. View all posts by Toby Skinner
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