Friday

Finding Elusive App Data. Q&A Interview with Karl Stillner



Karl Stillner, Co-Founder and CEO of PushSpring, has been focused on the app economy for a few years. “I spent time working with apps like MSNBC and FlightTrack, allowing me to experience first-hand the biggest issue facing the app economy: the lack of data.”  It is hard to imagine any part of the media ecosystem that is challenged by a lack of data so I sat down with Karl and asked him the following questions:

Charlene Weisler: Karl, give me a short description of PushSpring and what it does.

Karl Stillner: PushSpring is a mobile app-oriented Audience Management Platform (AMP). We provide large-scale mobile audience data to marketers, agencies and publishers. App publishers have next to no audience data on who is using their application and other related applications. Applications are browser-less; no cookies exist in the ecosystem. So, collecting anonymized audience data and aggregating it into a format that speaks to behaviors, intents, demographics, etc. is very difficult.  

We’ve created a technology to aggregate data at scale. On the demand side, we allow brands and agencies the ability to use high quality data to target ads in mobile applications and to use this high quality data to reach people on other screens as well. Additionally, app publishers use our data to inform their understanding of their customers, and beyond understanding, to reach these customers with relevant messages.

Charlene: What exactly is app advertising?

Karl Stillner: There is a common misconception that in-app advertising is used only for driving installs for other apps.  While this is an extremely popular and effective method for new user acquisition, in-app advertising is also quickly becoming a preferred channel for brand and performance advertisers spanning a broader range of products and services.  Higher engagement rates and stickier user experiences in apps help drive consumer attention to advertising that, when targeted with definitive, app-based data, drives strong ROI and branding objectives for marketers.

Charlene: What data do you currently collect, use and find most important?

Karl: We aggregate anonymized device-level data from smartphones and tablets. This data is incredibly informative and valuable because it originates from the most personal devices a consumer owns. The mobile device is better at reflecting the user’s preferences than any other device, including desktop or point-solution devices like fitness trackers. The data we find most exciting relates to the apps on the device. The signal-strength associated with owning an app is high. For instance, the fact that I have a running app on my phone indicates I am fitness and running enthusiast. If you combine that signal with 15 other disparate apps, you can imagine the possibilities.

Charlene: Who is your competitive set?

Karl: It’s a very good question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Our demand-side customers buy data and media from closed-loop ecosystems, like Facebook, that have very high quality data and excellent media. We provide the same buyers with access to high quality data as well which they can run across whatever media they wish: RTB, mobile video, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Our customers also buy from the providers of mobile location data. For example, Placecast provides excellent carrier-based location data that can be used to target across the ecosystem as well. However, we view that kind of data as a natural complement to our data, and not so much a competitor.

Charlene: Can your data be used to measure TV via TV Everywhere or via a network app? If so how and if not, why not?

Karl: Our data can be used to understand the types of users that are using TV Everywhere services. We can also provide interesting insights into the people using specific mobile applications that stream video.

Charlene: Looking ahead the next 3-5 years, give me some predictions about how the media landscape will look.

Karl: One of the most obvious analogs to what is occurring in the media space occurred 10-15 years ago with financial markets. Open-outcry trading (traditional hand signals used on the stock exchange trading floor) relied on a variety of unique traits that aren’t necessarily valued to the same degree now. For example, athletes were often used on the floors because they were easy to spot and could command good positioning, social connections and trading history were highly valued. In the world of electronic trading much of this has been devalued in exchange for analytical ability and fluency in the technologies that underlie how trades are executed.  Programmatic is the electronic trading of the media space. The media space will be driven less by long-standing relationships and ‘access’ and more by speed and efficacy.

Buyers will be more analytical and agency buying arms will start to reflect hedge funds. Attribution will become much more sophisticated and much of the 50% of waste that John Wannamaker famously indicated will be not only known but trimmed. Ecosystems will continue to meld into one. People won’t target someone on mobile. They will simply target them whether phone, TV, car, fitness device, etc. Hopefully, the ecosystem won’t only be controlled by 2-3 closed tech stacks.

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com
 

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