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Chartboost: giving developers what they want


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Discovery and monetisation are the two big priorities for app developers as they set their sights on growth.

This has created an opportunity for a number of companies that have moved in to help them achieve this, by providing tools to attract users who then spend money on apps.

One such company, Chartboost, differentiates itself by allowing developers to work directly with each other to promote their titles across its network.

Its cross promotion platform reaches 300 million unique devices and is driving eight billion game sessions per month. Nearly 18 months after launch, there are more than 16,000 games in its network.

“Making games isn’t just a job; for most developers it’s their passion. The really tough part after you’ve created a quality game is turning that into a successful business,” said Clay Kellogg, chief revenue officer of the company (pictured).

Kellogg spoke to Mobile World Live about why the company’s approach appeals to developers and the future of app discovery.

The future of user acquisition

Kellogg said game developers are now realising that they can’t just spend money to tackle the issue of app discovery, saying that it’s about “being strategic about how and where you’re presenting your game in this global marketplace”.

“Spending a ton of cash might get you volume, but what you really want as a game developer is to acquire users that will play your game for a long time and spend money in it,” he said.

Balancing quality and quantity of users an important factor: “Developers need to smartly target users with data-driven decisions to bring in users that are going to love their games, not those that will download it because they want some in-game currency,” Kellogg said.

“The tools that can help developers reach those high-value users are the ones that are going to rule the future of mobile gaming.”

Knowing what makes developers tick

Chartboost was founded by former employees of mobile game maker Tapulous, which has helped it appeal to developers. “Being able to speak from that perspective is powerful,” Kellogg said.

“We can look developers in the eye and say that we want what’s best for their game because we really, truly do. At the end of the day this approach has enabled us to not have customers, but have true partners that love what we provide,” he continued.

This collaboration has also helped the company in the ongoing evolution of its product and technology strategy, according to Kellogg

“Game developers drive not only our business, but also our product roadmap. [This] year you’re going to see big growth from us internationally while also creating a much deeper product,” he said.

Cutting out the middlemen

Chartboost said it cuts out additional steps in the chain for developers, allowing them to deal directly with each other in a transparent way. Its philosophy is to help developers to “take control and drive their distribution and monetisation strategies – without paying a middleman”, according to Kellogg.

It offers promotional tools that allow developers with a portfolio of games to advertise titles to their own existing user base, while its Direct Deals Marketplace allows developers to connect with others to cross-promote apps.

Developers need to have 20,000 app starts per day to enter the marketplace, ensuring a level of quality. Participants can also negotiate any price they want for an exchange of audience.

Chartboost also has an interstitial ad network in which developers can buy promotional space. They can then filter where their titles are promoted based on performance.

According to Kellogg, the company’s services generate more money for fewer overall impressions compared to rivals, while at the same time preserving user experience.

“Developers can see exactly how users are responding to their promotions and can tune the user experience accordingly. Being ex-game developers ourselves, we place a premium on delivering the highest quality user experience possible,” he said.

Innovative partnerships

Chartboost works closely with a number of partner developers on its Kiosk programme. Developers apply to promote apps for one of the partner companies, and are then matched to the most suitable ads.

Participation from the likes Gree, Booyah, Kabam and Crowdstar is one of the reasons why the programme has worked, according to Kellogg. “Having such big names with big budgets makes it an attractive offering for smaller developers,” he said.

Last summer Chartboost also partnered with games developer TinyCo to boost revenue opportunities for developers on Amazon’s Appstore.

TinyCo offers developers $2.50 per installation driven by Chartboost interstitial ads in the US and UK and $2 in other countries. Publishers who generate more than 20,000 installs are then in line for additional incentives.

Kellogg said the company is always looking for strategic partnerships similar to the one with TinyCo.

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