New Podcast: The State of the Mobile Industry

Read Time: 5 - 10 min

The state of the mobile industry is a loaded topic, but it’s so important.

Things are evolving quickly, and it can be hard for people to keep up. Apps have become more and more personalized, for example.

In the most recent Appy Hour episode, we interviewed mobile advertising expert Eric Seufert, who runs Platform efforts at N3TWORK. Eric shared his thoughts about the state of the app economy, how to hire a mobile team, and why companies will always need to use multiple channels for marketing.

Here are the highlights from that interview.

The Most Exciting Trends in Mobile

There are a lot of cool trends happening in mobile (location-based marketing and AI, to name a few). We asked Eric what some of his favorites were.

He mentioned two:

1) The massive growth of mobile video as the preferred form of content.

We’re seeing an explosion in investment in proprietary content of a lot of streaming services. Companies are trying to capture market share that way. We’re also seeing every social media platform race to build out their capabilities to serve video on mobile.

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This is interesting because

  1. It’s stealing a lot of advertising budget from TV and shifting it to the mobile ecosystem.
  2. It’s rapidly changing the way we expect to find video content formatted. The long-form, weekly serial content that you see on TV is in some ways giving way to a much shorter form of mass-consumable, bingeable content, not just on mobile but across the board in video production.

2) The shift in mobile to subscription revenues.

The growth of the subscription model has unlocked the ability for non-gaming companies to make money on mobile.

If you think back to what people would call the “First Mobile Cycle,” it was a lot of games making the lion’s share of money. Two years ago, eight of the top ten grossing companies were gaming companies.

Now, it’s not only a lot more volatile: it’s more diversity. The top-grossing chart on any given day probably only has one or two games in the top five. And those positions change frequently.

Some people thought the opportunity to make money on mobile by being early there was over, but now you see a lot of subscription companies making money on mobile with a relatively low amount of competition.

How to Get Into the Mobile Space

We asked Eric: What would you say to companies scratching their heads and trying to figure out how they can get into the mobile space and compete? Where should they begin?

“If you’re in a position right now trying to ascertain an entry point into mobile,” he said, “I would take an even bigger step back and try to understand why that didn’t occur to you earlier than today. There’s potentially a more fundamental problem with the company.”

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With that said, there are a lot of cool companies building mobile products. If you’re a big legacy company with a large balance sheet and steady cash flow, there’s no reason to not buy your way in. That’s the most straightforward way.

It’s hard to take a critical view of your business and understand how that translates onto mobile. It may be more productive to think of an organic way that your business could be extended onto mobile.

So rather than figuring out how to provide the same experience you offer on desktop on mobile, you should figure out what an extension of your company would look like on mobile. Ask yourself: “At a conceptual level, how do I extend what I do to the mobile form factor?”

What Should Companies Be Looking for When Hiring a Mobile Team?

(Note: Eric answered this one from the perspective of doing User Acquisition (UA).)

For mobile advertising, the labor pool is thin. There aren’t a lot of people who have been doing it for a long time.

One mistake Eric sees people making when trying to hire a growth lead or mobile marketing lead is to hire someone into a position no one wants. He’ll see a company saying, “We want to start spending serious money on UA. Let’s hire a head of UA and he or she will do all the work themselves.”

There’s a practical distinction between the work that a UA lead and a campaign manager does. When you’ve defined your new role as doing both of those things, no one will want the job. No one wants to come in without a team to run. There’s too much work, it’s too varied, and it probably won’t even be interesting.

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He also sees plenty of people underfunding these positions. So one, price your positions in a competitive way.

But also, be realistic about what people are going to want to do if they’re experienced. If they are used to being a lead, they won’t want to dive into the nitty-gritty details of campaign management.

The Future of Mobile

We like to ask all of our guests on the Appy Hour podcast this question: Where do you think the future of mobile is headed?

Here was Eric’s answer:

“Since the tech press is primarily designed to inform and commentate on the VC-funded startup scene, you get the sense that [marketing trends] come in waves. Then they totally disappear after that wave of initial excitement and growth. You think, mobile will end, and the next thing is You Name It. VR, or whatever. That’s the lesson you would take from reading the tech press.

“But that’s obviously not true. The desktop internet hasn’t been totally supplanted by mobile: people use both. Some of these connected platforms will rise to prominence and become mass-market, and some of them will die off. I’m not super certain that chat boxes will have a meaningful place in our lives. Or that voice will. It will fill a niche, but it won’t be something that people use every day. All of these make up a technological menagerie that people use for different needs.

“The future is that companies will figure out which platform is the best for acquisition, and which is best for engagement, and try to shuffle users between them when one makes more sense than the other. The future of mobile is fitting into that system of platforms, rather than being totally supplanted by a new one or remaining the exclusive platform that any company uses.”

 

This post is based on a podcast interview with Eric Seufert from N3TWORK. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Appy Hour.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here:

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