We’re big fans here at Smaato of Paul Kemp’s The App Guy podcast, and recently had the good fortune to have our own Ajitpal Pannu interviewed on the show about ad blocking, native advertising and mobile app monetization in the modern age.
Given that readers of this blog are also savvy publishers and advertisers attuned to the world of global app development, we thought we’d turn the tables a bit and interview Mr. Kemp ourselves. He’s a guy who lives and breathes this world, publishing multiple episodes each week with leading market-makers and innovative start-ups within the app economy. Our thought was that he’d be able to shed some strong light on the state of mobile app development and mobile advertising in late 2015, and we were right.
Here’s what we talked about:
Smaato: How would you describe your podcast's mission in a paragraph, and how successful have you been in actually sticking to that mission?
Paul Kemp: The mission of The App Guy Podcast is to go around the world to find, meet and talk to the most inspiring app entrepreneurs, startup founders, app investors and app makers. The beauty of podcasting is that this medium offers the means to introduce motivating and exciting guests to an audience of aspiring appreneurs, app developers and digital nomads. Listeners can tune in to hear when they want, where they want and with a variety of apps and devices to download and stream the content. It transforms what could be a boring commute into an uplifting and engaging ‘fly on the wall’ conversation with stimulating and successful app founders.
The podcast is authentically geared towards learning about the real and, sometimes, struggling entrepreneurial journeys of app startup founders. I try to peel back the onion on app startups and get to the truth about founder journeys. The hope is that my episodes inspire new app entrepreneurs to do something amazing and creative with their lives; such as join a startup, start a new startup, become a location independent app entrepreneur, start a career in app development or start creating app businesses as side projects in their spare time.
I believe that my podcast has successfully stuck to this mission. I now have an extensive library of recorded interviews with over 400 different and successful app founders since first airing episode one about two and a bit years ago.
Smaato: What are some of the biggest shifts you've seen in app development & app marketing over the time you've done the podcast?
Paul Kemp: The industry is becoming bigger, more mature and definitely more sophisticated. It feels less like the wild west, made up of primarily early adopters, and now the app industry feels more like the mainstream with a majority of the public adopting the new technology.
A maturing app industry also means we get many more new tools and software which are created by a dedicated app entrepreneurial community. This makes it much easier to create, develop and market iOS and Android apps, However, it’s also becoming very crowded with now tens of millions of developers trying to get apps discovered in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. What hasn't changed is the desire I see among developers, entrepreneurs and makers to create, disrupt and collaborate to make really awesome apps. We are building an exciting future for a new generation of connected people around the world.
Smaato: When it comes to monetizing apps, what changes have you seen over the past several years with regard to how app developers approach advertising?
Paul Kemp: I've seen a positive shift towards higher earnings being derived from ads. My guests are telling me about bigger payouts and an increasing use of high-converting interstitial video ads. On top of this shift, I believe there is also a shift in the mindset of app users. For example, users of apps are now perhaps more understanding when seeing ads in the apps that they use daily. As a passionate app user myself, I think users hopefully appreciate the importance of ads in apps. As we know, these ads help pay creators to build new apps or continuously update their existing apps. After all, we’ve seen the end of iOS apps being categorised as free when installing them onto our iPhones and iPads.
Smaato: Are there ad units, strategies or programmatic approaches that you see becoming much more prevalent in the coming year, based upon what your guests have been telling you?
Paul Kemp: The ad units that are becoming more prevalent are pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll video ads. These are the video ads you typically can skip after 5 seconds. In any event, guests of The App Guy Podcast have been telling me that over the coming year, these video ads will be much more contextual in the way that we get to see them. What this means is that video ads will be more targeted according to end users specific interests. App publishers will spend more time trying to figure out what type of ads are best suited and then they will use the tools available to deliver the most relevant ads at the most appropriate time.
Smaato: What advice would you provide to any new developers who've decided to monetize their apps through advertising, as opposed to charging for the app or for in-app upgrades?
Paul Kemp: Any developer going down the route of advertising, as opposed to charging for an app or in-app purchases, should consider the type of advertising that is appropriate to their users and their stage of growth with the app. Let me explain a little more. If an app is pretty new, then video ads may be the wrong format. Although video ads are the highest converting in my opinion, they also are the most intrusive and lead to potentially more complaints from end users. A new app is often better sticking with less intrusive ad formats, such as banner ads, in order to maximise the growth and download opportunity. Users are less likely to leave negative ratings and 1-star reviews for apps which have interstitial video ads. However, if a developer is getting around 20,000 downloads or more per day, then video ads are typically going to offer more lucrative payouts and there is less concern around the potential for negative ratings.
Smaato: Finally, your podcast frequently looks at failure as a means to getting app development right the next time around. What mistakes do you see app developers making over and over again?
Paul Kemp: The App Guy Podcast is a genuine attempt at being real and authentic. Too many app developers are misled by the big rewards and opportunities in the app space. There is often a lack of appreciation about the amount of hard work, experience and luck which are involved in the most successful apps. You know the stories we all hear, the press talking about a 19-year-old kid making millions selling his app or the apps that achieve 1 million downloads in a few days of launching.
The biggest mistake I see app developers make is the tendency to get into debt by pursuing unrealistic dreams trying to replicate the apps that have already been successful. I've chatted with unfortunate entrepreneurs that have lost hundreds, thousands and even millions of Dollars pursuing a dream of being the next Instagram, What’s App or Candy Crush. Often, these same app entrepreneurs return to the app world after failure with a renewed focus on the most important aspects of building a successful app startup. I consider these aspects to be: solving a problem, focusing on the user experience, building a real following or partnering with an online celebrity who already has an engaged audience, launching a minimum viable app, extensive beta testing, acting on user feedback and only then, launching the app to the world. I’ve launched a lot of apps for clients over the year using these core basic principles.
Finally, my two biggest challenges with the podcast are meeting awesome app entrepreneurs and startup founders who could make good guests and being introduced to apppreneurs wanting help with an app launch. If you can help with any of these challenges, please email me [email protected] or get me on twitter @paul_s_kemp