Kelly Kang

Senior Director of Advertising Monetization

Kelly is a Senior Director at Pixel United overseeing advertising strategies and ad monetization. She is a 10+ year mobile and digital advertising industry veteran who held ad monetization leadership positions at Zynga and Glu. Kelly spent the last few years at Pixel United focused on accelerating its ad monetization growth and innovating advertising’s ecosystem.

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In your own words, tell us about the app(s) that you manage?

I oversee all apps within the Pixel United portfolio. Some of our popular games are EverMerge, Cooking Craze and Cashman Casino.

How did you get started in mobile monetization?

I was exploring a career in digital/PC and came across a QA job. I started as a QA and saw how companies earned money from advertising. Before that, I never thought about profit from advertising—I only looked at advertising as “those popups.” As time went on, it became my mission. I wanted to show people that advertising isn’t only “popups.” Ad monetization can be a seamless integration that results in a great user experience. Soon, I landed an ad operations role and worked at various companies, including Viacom, Ad Network, Zynga, Glu and now Pixel United. My mission and goals remain the same. I don’t want ads to be an intrusive experience—I want them to be a positive, user-friendly experience.

If you could start in mobile monetization again, would you do anything differently? Why and what would you do?

I believe in learning from mistakes. If I could go back, I would learn more about the technical side of ad monetization. I focused primarily on the business side and the app itself, but not the technical side. I would learn about the mechanics of ad monetization to help automate processes. This way, I could better understand issues and resolve them quickly.

What do you like most about mobile monetization?

Where do I begin? I like many things about mobile monetization, but here are my top two.

  1. Fast-paced:  I love that this industry is constantly changing. I am always learning and improving. It was hard in the beginning—just when I thought I had mastered something, new things were coming in. I always felt behind. But now, I am eager to learn new things.
  2. It’s a twofer: Mobile monetization is win-win for both publishers and users. Whether monetization is through IAP or ads, companies make money, and users get an in-app currency that enhances their experience.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile app monetization?

I see brands as the next big thing in mobile app monetization, especially gaming. When monetization professionals for mobile games launch a campaign or ad strategy, branding is the last thing on their minds. However, as time goes by, consumers are more glued to their phones than ever before. This is a huge opportunity in mobile advertising that brands have not yet unlocked. It is also a very challenging topic, as brands and mobile performance use different metrics.

How do you balance a positive user experience with the monetization experience in your app(s)?

This is my favorite part! Since starting a career in ad monetization, my goal has been to create a seamless ad experience and a positive user experience. So the question is how? There is no simple answer, sadly. My main advice is to treat every genre and game differently. UX should not be viewed as “one size fits all.” Ingrain these key points:

  • One size does NOT fit all: Every game is unique. Each user has their interests and goals, and the games themselves are different. Develop different strategies for the genre and the game. This includes placements, UI design, ad units, etc.
  • Aim for seamless integration: Your advertising strategy must be part of game development. Placements should be embedded within the game and not inserted as an afterthought or add-on.
  • Embrace A/B tests: A/B tests are key! Ad monetization must not become a set it and forget it approach. As games change, users change as well. Make sure to continue to A/B test so you can tailor ads to users’ needs/wants.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference for your monetization strategy?

Networking is power. Networking with publishers/developers lets us share knowledge and untangle issues together. It can have an outsized impact on performance.

What’s a mistake you see get made all the time with mobile monetization strategies, even by smart people and smart companies?

I often see people treating ad monetization strategy with a set it and forget it approach. Even when we find an optimal point, we revisit the segmentation and A/B test a quarter or two later.  There will be factors you can modify and optimize as users churn and new users arrive. When you find an optimal point, set it for now but always come back to it.

When you advise people on mobile monetization, such as “Do more of this” or “Do less of that,” is there one lesson you share over and over again?

One size does NOT fit all. Do I sound like a broken record? Consider and treat every genre and game differently. This starts from the ad unit, ad placements, user segmentations, network partner and frequency. Each game has its’ own personality and uniqueness.

What are your top 3 go-to resources for keeping up with the mobile ad tech industry?

These are my go-to’s in no particular order as they all cover different parts of the industry.

  • Ad Exchanger: Covers a broad marketing perspective and media (including brands). A go-to for any big media news.
  • TechCrunch: Covers more startups and technical subjects.
  • Private Slacks: Publishers/developers are more vocal on private Slack channels than in a conference or public setting. I like to reference private Slacks for candid feedback.