How Creative Innovation Drives Mobile Growth

In the mobile app world, innovation and creativity is required in order to grow and survive. Unique concepts, stunning artwork, and addictive gameplay have all contributed to breakout successes for many apps. However, in the recent GamesBeat Summit, Nexon’s CEO Owen Mahoney pointed out how acquiring new players these days is difficult because so many mobile games are all alike.

With that said, innovation does not necessarily mean you have to have a completely new idea. You don’t have to be first, you just have to be better. The following are a few examples of good ideas being taken to the next level. – ing to Success:

MobileAction recently studied how has driven over 16 million downloads since its recent release, breaking through the App Store clutter of classic Snake game clones. With a nod towards, the developers created an updated visual appeal with vivid colors. The simple controls ensure a quick “pick up and play immediately” experience. They also kept an eye on the most requested features and improvements by listening to players feedback.

2. The Evolution of Emojis:

Bitmoji innovation

Bitmoji innovation

With mobile devices becoming a primary mode of communication amongst teens, emoji is quickly evolving into a new shorthand language that is innovating the UX design of classic functions that can transcend language barriers. As the CEO of emoji app Riffsy pointed out at the Grow MAU conference, emoji’s are the most used apps on iOS. This is no doubt why Snapchat recently paid a whopping $100 million for personal emoji app, Bitmoji.


Other brands are using emoji’s in unusual ways as well. Domino’s now even let’s their users tweet their pizza order with an emoji. The system is a product of Domino’s AnyWare suite of mobile ordering technology, which is developing software to allow customers to order food from multiple devices, such as smart televisions to smartwatches.

3. Deck Building Clash:

Through the years, physical deck building card games like Magic and Dominion have gained a dedicated fan base. So it was only natural for developers to create a mobile app that utilized the best of that gameplay.

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is an example of a free-to-play online collectable card game which has had great success with both its theming (using the lore of the Warcraft series) as well as successfully monetizing through tempting in-app purchases giving the advantage of more powerful cards.)

SuperCell has previous found great success with Hay Day, which offered a FarmVille-type of experience without needing Facebook and many other user-friendly improvements to the experience. With just 3 games, Supercell made $924M in profits on $2.3B in revenue in 2015.


Their newest release, Clash Royale, injects the massively profitable Clash of Clans brand DNA into their own version of a deck-builder game. Instead of feeling like a copy-cat clone, the combination of genres and gameplay mechanics in Clash Royale actually works incredibly well for a mobile game. And according to CEO Ilkka Paananen, SuperCell killed over 14 game titles in their quest to find their next hit with Clash Royale. The game has been No 1 in 44 countries and now boasts over 100 Million Daily active users. This success will most likely lead to a flood of clones. The challenge for those developers will be to find how to do it better and with their own distinct twist.

4. New Growth Campaigns that Tap into the Power of App Store Search:

Innovations don’t only come from the creation of the apps, but also in marketing them. Hundreds of mobile ad networks compete for advertising dollars. We have noticed that there is a lot of copying of best practices, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of innovation in how to give advertisers the best value for their campaigns.

With 67 percent of mobile users reporting that the last app downloaded was found through an app store search, ranking at the top of searches for relevant keywords has become a critical part of the success for mobile apps and games. Yet, almost all mobile adveritising campaigns have ignored the impact of ranking high in search results which can keep an app visible and can drive organic installs from users in the critical moment when they are actually searching apps in the store with the intent of downloading.


NativeX launched Search Spike specifically built to drive major increase to your keyword rank. It impacts factors off-page factors like downloads and CTR. Search Spike is driving measurable increases in offer wall performance for both publishers and advertisers alike from real, engaged users.

In summary, the winners in mobile growth will be those who are innovative with original projects as well as those creative and savvy enough to recognize golden opportunities found in new twists on the familiar and who can make good ideas into great success.

Will Apple’s paid search product level the playing field for game publishers?

Following Google’s efforts in 2015 to launch paid search on Google Play, there are now rumors that Apple will be coming out with paid search for iPhone and iPad.

There are mixed opinions on how paid search will impact mobile app developers. Several of the opinions can be found on this VentureBeat post.

My belief is paid search does have the potential to create better opportunities for mobile app developers versus pure organic app store search distribution or display advertising. There are so many keywords which can drive meaningful traffic, that it is unlikely the top grossing developers would be able to design apps which would be suitable for all of them. Mobile app developers are less likely to be squeezed as much in paid search as they are in display advertising.

NativeX Launches New Video Ad Format

Sponsored Post

Introducing a new Mini Multi-Offer ad format “Triad.” Triad combines the latest mobile video ad technology with NativeX’s industry leading selection of native advertising formats to give users the choice of which ads to engage with. Triad joins the NativeX Discovery Suite to give developers the right ad format to optimize strategic placements in their apps for a more native experience with higher impact.

Read the Full Post Here.

See Video:

A New Beginning for the NativeX Team

Being an entrepreneur is very fulfilling but also a grind at the same time. Thankfully, you get to share your pioneering experiences with a tremendous team of employees and board members. You also get to establish commercial partnerships with some pretty amazing people as well.

Yesterday, we announced our plans to merge NativeX with China-based Mobvista. This merger creates a new beginning for our team at NativeX. I’d like to personally thank all of our alumni, our current employees, and all of our current and past business partners for getting on the trail with us.

Here are four posts which offer some different perspectives on the merger announcement-

I look forward to our new beginning with the team at Mobvista.

Inspiring Books for Digital Media Professionals

Often times, people I come across in the digital media and entrepreneurial world ask me for book recommendations. Here are a few of my favorites-

Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Running Lean by Ash Maurya

Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People by Richard Shell

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh & Steve Jamison

Win the Game of Googleopoly by Sean V. Bradley

You can also download my company’s newest free white paper about App Store Optimization (ASO) for best practices and tools to improve your search rankings in app stores.

Top Factors Which Impact Google Play Store’s Search Algorithm

In this recent VentureBeat article you’ll find the following very precise illustration of how the factors for search rankings impact where apps are ranked on Google’s Play Store (Android):

ASO: Off-Page & On-Page Google Play & Android Search Ranking Factors

To expand your knowledge on the subject of app store optimization for an app you are publishing, you should study the above info-graphic.

For more in-depth details on the topic of App Store optimization, check out this free App Store Optimization (ASO) report.

To learn what factors influence Apple’s search ranking algorithm, go factors impacting Apple’s search algorithm.

Secret Factors Behind Apple’s App Store Search Ranking Algorithm Revealed

VentureBeat’s recent post ‘Boosting organic downloads: ASO in 4 simple steps’ has an outstanding image showing how the iPhone and iPad App Store search rankings work:

ASO: Off-Page & On-Page iPhone & iPad Search Ranking Factors

If you are looking into app store optimization for an app you are publishing, you should memorize this image.

For more in-depth details into App Store optimization tips and tricks, check out this free App Store Optimization white paper.

Top Tools for App Store Search Optimization

If an app is published in the App Store, and no one finds it, it is invisible. In order to prevent publishing invisible apps, App Store keyword optimization is key for most publishers. And understanding Apple’s search ranking secrets is no easy task. Fortunately, there are a number of tools out there to help app publishers maximize their App Store search traffic. Here are some of my favorites-

SensorTower– SensorTower provides a very useful free tool for selecting the right keywords to target. Not only do you learn which keywords are the most popular, but also how competitive those keywords are so you can select keywords to optimize for where you have a realistic opportunity to land in the top 3 rankings.
TUNE’s App Store Intelligence Service– One of the biggest challenges while optimizing your app’s search traffic is how to measure what keywords are driving what installs. Following their acquisition of MobileDevHQ, TUNE has a premium offering whereby they will map out your organic installs by different keywords.
Google’s AB Testing for App Store Pages– As part of Google Play, Google now providers a service for app publishers to AB their store pages. This is freaking awesome, as not only can you use this AB testing for the Android version of your app, but you can also take your winning store page and mimic in on your iOS store page.
NativeX Search Spike Keyword Campaigns– I’d also like to mention my innovative new pet project at NativeX called Search Spike. Search Spike is an innovative new ad product launched in early 2016 which has no direct competition at scale. As long as you have a budget of $5,000 per month or more, Search Spike will help you dominate keyword rankings by running keyword optimized ad campaigns proven to positively impact your rankings. Most developers using Search Spike report seeing an over 100 percent increase in their organic keyword traffic!

Got another App Store Optimization tool to recommend? Please leave a comment to expand on this list.

Apple Dots Its Privacy ‘I’s In iOS 9, While Google Appears To Back Pedal

[Originally posted on AdExchanger, September 1st, 2015]

The debate around privacy – and where Google stands – is kicking up on the eve of Apple’s upcoming September launch of iOS 9.

Why? Because though advertising revenue hardly tickles the bottom line at Apple, its decision to enable content blocking in iOS 9 affects how Google’s developers monetize.

Apple’s content-blocking feature allows developers to create extensions that block cookies, images and trackers. Apple also is implementing a security and encryption provision in iOS 9 called App Transport Security (ATS) that will require developers to use secure communication – known as TLS, or transport layer security, the successor to SSL – between their apps and web services.

Continue to read the full post here

Start-up Marketing Lessons Learned from Cecil the Lion

Since it has been a while since my last entrepreneurial post, I thought I would blend three of my devotions (kids, work, and outdoors), and spout off a few nuggets of entrepreneurial marketing advice.

Advice for Marketing Your Start-up

Marketing your start-up can be scary, just like how this stuffed lion scared my then one-year old son.

What can we learn from the Cecil the Lion story to guide founders on how to market their start-up?

  1. Stay in Your Territory– Cecil the Lion was shot after wandering off protected habitat chasing a hunter’s bait. Many start-ups go out of business because they chase too many potential customer segments. Their founders boast about how lean and nimble they are, and how they are pivoting their start-up at a frenzied pace. Most successful entrepreneurs think deeply about who they are targeting, and they design their products with this specific audience in mind. For example, Matt Hall who created the 2015 App Store breakout hit Crossy Road said in an Unconsoleable podcast interview that he designed an earlier successful horse game with a specific young girl in mind he found in a photo with a pony. When someone suggested to Matt he should add an equestrian feature to his horse game, Matt was able to quickly shoot down this feature because he knew that this girl he was targeting wouldn’t want the equestrian features in her game. Crossy Road also has some great, user friendly monetization practices too.
  2. Be Resourceful When Going after High Probability Prey– Cecil the Lion did not follow his previous successful path when he chose to follow the hunter’s bait. Cecil lived to a mature age because he was successful at killing certain prey (probably antelope, or whatever). Cecil should have stuck with the prey that worked for him and avoided going after whatever flashed in front of him. In the start-up world, founders need to quickly assess which potential customers are closable and then be resourceful in targeting them versus constantly spraying random attempts at all kinds of customers. Usually involved in this process is finding good lists of qualified leads to go after. For example, a start-up friend of mine which is targeting local restaurants told me about some success he had had in getting Groupon sales reps to moonlight reselling his software. These Groupon sales reps already had many local relationships which he coveted, but he didn’t know how he could contact them. This founder looked into Zoominfo’s database and could quickly get contact info for all of the Groupon sales reps which he could market his reseller program to.
  3. Don’t Fall for Big Game Hunter Tricks– As your start-up starts to grow, a lot of “proven” sales managers will contact founders asking for a big salary based on their track record of success, usually at some other, much larger company. I’d highly advise against hiring these types to your start-up. Your initial hires should take a large salary decrease and be motivated by upside in commission and equity-based compensation. Don’t let these pre-madonna sales managers latch on to the lightening in a bottle you have without taking risk just because they have a nice looking resume.
  4. Don’t Believe Everything You Read until it is Verified– It was initially reported that Cecil’s brother lion Jericho was found killed by a hunter, then later retracted as it was then confirmed that Jericho was not Cecil’s brother at all nor was Jericho dead after all. Many blogs are quick to rush out stories about some major policy change which may impact your business. Often times there is some evidence to back up their initial post, but that doesn’t mean it is a wholesale policy change. For example, TechCrunch ran a story on how apps with a certain type of video ad format were getting banned. Over the days and weeks that followed, thousands of apps with this video ad format receive Apple’s approval without any issue. (Not that Apple doesn’t change its mind about what is acceptable, and what isn’t.)

Okay… okay. This whole notion of combining advice for marketing your start-up and Cecil the Lion is a joke. There is no relationship between the two topics but all this Cecil the Lion madness got to me. It is a lion people. Get over it. There are far bigger issues globally than a lion who is accidentally killed by a hunter. As for my specific views on this whole Cecil the Lion madness, the perspective I most agree with was written by a local hunter Dave Orrick here.