What’s in Your [Growth] Stack? Fabien Nicolas, SmartNews

By Fabien-Pierre Nicolas | July 17, 2018

Every mobile marketer uses a range of technologies and services to help them market their apps. We catch up with our Mobile Heroes to learn what’s in their mobile marketing growth stack.

What channels do you use for marketing your app?

In the US, we’re mostly focusing on Android. More specifically, we have a mix of social (Facebook and Twitter), search, and other channels like Liftoff as a DSP.

Why did you choose to work with your attribution partner?

We’re using Adjust in conjunction with what I call a growth accounting system, Acquired.io. Adjust is the company used more specifically for fraud prevention. They built a solution that catches some of the fraud we experience in Japan and locally. First and foremost, they’re a solid player with no conflict of interest like some other vendors in the space who might sell an affiliate solution or other type of data product.

Do you use any tools for app store optimization (ASO)?

The two main tools we use are AppTweak and Mobile Action, in conjunction with Google Play Experiments, which allows us to optimize conversion rates and explore some of the learnings on iOS. I don’t think there is necessarily a perfect tool in the ASO space. Mobile Action has some strengths from a platform and accessibility perspective, while AppTweak allows us to benchmark strategy. That’s essentially why we’re using two tools rather than one currently.

What mobile marketing automation (MMA) tools do you use?

We’re currently using Leanplum on iOS in the US for in-app messages, but the reality is that most of our in-app automation is built in-house, from push notifications to all of our A/B testing. Our core product is machine learning-driven from generating news relevant to the user in news discovery. It’s both historically how we make decisions and an assessment of the fact that it’s relatively specific industry news, so we don’t see the need for an off-the-shelf solution.

Why does A/B testing makes more sense for you in-house?

It’s cheap to build and maintain, and you can build it around your own ID system. Since we don’t have a login or user profile requirement, we have our own in-house ID system that incorporates some of our users’ reading habits and interactions with news. This gives us the ability to do A/B testing for specific parts of the product.

For example, if we want to A/B test sports content, we can do it on people who are actually consuming sports content instead of randomly picking 20,000 people. That’s where having your own A/B testing really shines. You have the ability to have all those parameters in sync around the consumer behavior you’re observing.

What analytics tools do you use?

We use Chartio, which is a data visualization solution comparable to Looker or Tableau. It’s built on top of our own data warehouse.

What monetization tools do you use?

Japan is 100% in-house. We build all the tech, so we’re effectively a publishing partner and used by top apps from both Japan and globally like Wish or Playrix advertising on our platform. We also have premium advertisers like Apple, Google and Amazon buying video inventory. When it comes to the US, we have a mix, including Facebook Audience Network and Admob in terms of demand sources.

Why the difference between Japan and the US?

It comes down to scale. We’re scaled for inventory. The demand in Japan is mediated by agencies. 90% of performance marketing spend is going to agencies like CyberAgent or Septeni. Therefore, you don’t need to put your inventory on exchanges — you just have to create partnerships with agencies, who of course take a cut in the process. It’s just market structure difference.

What mobile marketing conferences do you attend?

Focusing on mobile and across verticals: MAU, Mobile Growth Summit, App Growth Summit, and App Promotion Summit are my four go-to’s. My career has been an adventure and in the beginning conferences were interesting from a networking aspect. The content can be hit or miss and vary over the years, but the question for me is: “Can I connect with some of the peers I know and meet a new key contact I can learn from?” That is really why I value conferences.

Do you attend any events or meetups outside of conferences?

I do from time to time, but I’m pretty selective. I think people mostly tend to do casual meetups just on mobile growth in general, but at this point mobile growth is pretty segmented, especially if you do it in San Francisco.

I would love for people to be a little more focused on what they actually stand for and doing meetups around that. I don’t know the right way to do it, perhaps segmenting, but it’s just a shame when it’s so casual because that means it’s going to be low value for some of the newbies who need the one-on-one time and no value for more experienced attendees who want something more advanced and specific.

What marketing websites, podcasts, books, social media channels, or other publications do you consume?

Andy Carvell and Gessica Bicego just started a podcast called Mobile Growth Nightmares that’s great. I like the concept and tone in general. Mobile Presence from Peggy Salz, that also features interviews with the Liftoff Mobile Heroes, and Appy Hour from Localytics are both interesting, too.

I gravitate towards the Grow.co newsletter, which is my go-to for digesting information. Time to time I to go to Business of Apps (ex Mobyaffiliates) and then finally Mobile Dev Memo as a place for quality content. Finally, the Mobile Marketing Experts group on Facebook is a nice place to exchange with other experts animated by a bunch of the smartest UA/mobile growth folks in Europe.

What’s in your growth stack? Let us know and we might feature you and your company on this very blog!

Fabien-Pierre Nicolas is the head of US Marketing at SmartNews where he is responsible for marketing strategy, UA, product marketing, ASO, creative and ad monetization. Learn more about Fabien from his Mobile Hero profile