Mobile Heroes

Erman Akar by Erman Akar | May 27, 2019

Originally from Turkey, Erman Akar studied Biology in college but fell in love with the science of marketing. Before moving into mobile, Erman managed web search and social campaigns for several online businesses. Erman moved to Berlin in 2016 and now works as a senior marketing manager at StepStone, one of Germany’s leading mobile job boards, matching candidates with companies in over 24 countries.

Learn more from him Mobile Hero profile.


As an app marketer, you probably receive a lot of messages from vendors. Chances are you’ve received the “all important” sales pitch immediately following accepting that LinkedIn request. Most of these pitches promise creatives that convert or a scalable traffic source with the best quality traffic. Few ever deliver.

If you are wondering how to find a good vendor without taking multiple video calls to “clarify if it’s a good fit,” or responding to endless follow-ups via email and Skype to “check in” to see if you have “changed your mind,” from my years of experience in mobile gaming industry, I developed a process to weed out the bad from the good. The caveat: it requires some work upfront, before you take a call from any vendor. The reward, however, is that you will spend less time evaluating vendors and get to the promising ones more quickly. Below, I’ll share my tips and questions that I ask each vendor.

Questions to ask before scheduling a call

Before even considering scheduling a call with a potential traffic partner, send them a list of questions to evaluate their traffic and understand if the partner is potentially a good fit. Here are example questions I like to ask:

  • What bidding options do you offer?
  • What is your average CVR and CTR per ad unit?
  • What percent of your traffic is attributed based on referrer or fingerprinting?
  • Do you support device ID suppression or audience targeting (retargeting)?
  • What are your top publisher app categories? (eg. Utility, Games?)
  • What exchanges do you work with?
  • What type of ad units does your network have?
    • Video: Interstitial, Rewarded, In-Banner
    • Display : Interstitial, Banners, Native
  • Are your ads skippable? In how many seconds is an “X” button shown?
  • Can you share impressions per ad unit?

I usually rank potential partners depending on the depth and clarity of their answers. If the ranking is high, I will schedule a call.

Protect your campaigns against fraud legally

In a perfect world, all your sources have full transparency and every install is “real.” But the truth is, as an industry, we are unfortunately stuck with ad fraud. As fraudsters get more tenacious and sophisticated every year, I’ve found that the best way to combat fraud is to minimize my risks. I will only work with proven platforms that are fully transparent about their traffic sources.

Dealing with non-transparent traffic is a lose-lose game even if you get reimbursed for fraudulent clicks — it’s just not worth your time. So my recommendation is to choose partners you trust, demand transparency, and more importantly, protect yourself legally. Below are examples of clauses to include in your legal agreements.

  • Click Injection – Agency is responsible for providing the CTIT graphs with monthly reports. All publishers that provide at least x% of the provided installs happening within the first y seconds after ad click shall be considered suspicious of having used Fraudulent Actions.
  • Click Spam – Any Publisher with a Conversion Rate (installs/clicks) of less than x% and more than y clicks (as tracked by Advertiser or its third-party tracking partner as the case may be) shall be considered suspicious of having used Fraudulent Actions.

Give your partners the tools to succeed

After you go through your selection process and decide on a partner, make sure you set them up for success. Give your new partner the same treatment as others and allow them to bid competitively.

Also, give them time. If your goal is to get cheap installs while scaling your spend, don’t expect that to happen overnight. The partner will need time to run tests and adjust their bidding strategy.

Lastly, don’t become a victim of the sunk cost fallacy. You might feel very invested (and you are — literally) after you spend a lot of time and money with a partner. But if the traffic you were promised doesn’t get the results you want, cut your losses and test another source.

Conclusion

While my set of rules for finding a traffic vendor will limit your choice of networks significantly, it will also make the process more efficient. In addition, it will give you a framework to proactively approach the partners you want to work with (based on reputation or reviews) instead of remaining a passive target for yet another sales pitch.