MAU Recap – Retention is on Everyone’s Minds

Having returned from the US after an extended 3-week-trip to explore the ad-tech landscape, and to kick-off RevX’s expansion into North-America, Mukesh Agarwal (Co-founder and CEO, RevX) and I had the opportunity to attend the Mobile Apps Unlocked (MAU) Conference in Vegas.

MAU is a tight-knit conference attended by early-stage, tech-forward companies, most attendees are mid-management with a smattering of C-level folks. Jay Weintraub and the team deliver true to their “three-promise vision” of ‘great content’; ‘controlled vendor participation’; and making everyone ‘feel like a VIP’.

The topics this year revolved around solving and exploring the ecosystem of mobile apps and what it meant for businesses, which were app-focused and app-first in their mindset. Topics ranged from “Tackling Retention during Activation” (which, by the way - is a core proposition offered by RevX) to broader topics like “Segmentation, Personalization, Tool Selection and More”.

Conference veterans told me that while MAU in the past was code for ‘Mobile “Acquisition” Unlocked’ – the underlying theme of the conference has now veered towards retention, rather than acquisition. Most industry watchers have very quickly realised that advertising and marketing tech companies had come up with a slew of solutions to help businesses drive app installs (aka ‘acquire customers’). The reality that most app-based businesses had come face-to-face with over the last couple of years was the fact; that there is a fine distinction between app installs and customer acquisition.

RevX at Mobile Apps Unlocked 2016

RevX Mobile Apps Unlocked 2016 App Install not equal to acquired customer

Just because someone downloaded your app did not make them a customer. In fact, just like in offline stores, if someone walked into your store and ‘window shopped’ your wares, it did not make them a customer. They became customers when they actually liked something enough to buy it. This basic realisation has taken a couple of years to soak into the mobile ecosystem. Many companies did not realise that there were a bunch of ad networks incentivizing installs – by sharing the pay-off with the end consumer, by rewarding them with points, e-wallet credits for games, talk-time etc. This ‘incent’ customer was only downloading apps for his personal pay-off rather than an inherent or intrinsic interest in the downloaded app’s value proposition. The app in question would be ‘un-installed’ the moment the pay-off hit the customer’s account.

The venture capital ecosystem too has wizened up to asking deeper questions around the business’ unit economics and profitability per customer, questions that were unheard of in the VC circuit for early stage companies a few years ago. As funding belts get tightened, the finance folks expect bottom-line metrics to look better before offering follow-on funding rounds. Companies have begun asking “How do we course correct to focus on real customers and build loyalty?” Thus, many other themes at MAU focused on subjects like “How to scale influencers into a major growth channel”, “How to build a scalable, mobile retention program” and “Retention is every app’s game to lose”.

The fact that the conference was small and tight knit, led to much deeper conversations, connections and typically even the “walk-bys” to our stall ended up in follow-on integration propositions.

The RevX team – is happy to have made the foray into North America, with some of the most advanced and nuanced decision-makers taking the most balance approach to their businesses. Online performance marketing is a core part of the arsenal to reach consumers, and RevX is becoming part of that mix!

Sandip Acharyya