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Reinventing marketing value in an AI-driven world
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Ever been brave enough to remove all the targeting from a marketing campaign? Our guest Will Larcom from Hanapin Marketing did (admittedly "a scary moment"), and the results did not disappoint.

Tune into the first-ever episode of Out of the Box, with our guest Will Larcom, Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing, to hear more about Will's out of the box marketing strategies, or read the edited highlights below. 

Growth Loop and down funnel metrics for agencies

2:25 Melissa - “When we talk about game growth, we often talk about what we call the Growth Loop, which is running growth from a very holistic perspective and looking at monetization and user acquisition or growth from one view as opposed to dividing them up. Obviously, it’s easier to do this for mobile businesses or app businesses. It’s probably easier for games specifically to do this. Do you find that, especially working in an agency model, that clients are good at looping you into the down funnel metrics or post-conversion behavior of users or leads?”

3:18 Will - “That’s something that’s really become a huge focus. I wouldn’t say too recently, but in the last five years or so. The clients that are really succeeding in this marketplace are looking at those metrics. They’re not just looking at the growth side, they’re making sure that we are going after the right users. They’re providing us and we have access to the proper analytics that allow us to see that value down funnel and then that flips us back so that our growth mindset is really cohesive with that aspect.”

The power of growth marketing 

5:35 Melissa - “You talked about coming from a background of analysis and data. Growth dramatizes a tension that is present in all marketing between the art and the science of it. The really successful companies or really successful strategies will merge both of these things. When we are running creatives, we are looking at in-ad data, we are looking at how our users are interacting with these creatives, when did they drop off. And there is a way to merge them, but do you think getting started in a career in growth or in digital, you better have more of one than the other?”

7:05 Will - “It’s just more or less that you definitely need a background on both sides of those in order for it to work in unison there properly.”

7:55 Melissa - “Do you think that growth is going to eat the rest of marketing?”

8:00 Will - “I don’t think so. I think it’s a huge component of it, I think that’s the primary selling point of so much of digital. We are able to tell you that this is your budget, X amount of dollars, and we can exactly tell you how many users did we grow, what was our base increase.”

Market trends towards connectivity and creativity

10:30 Will - “I don’t want to talk too much about the trends that just are happening in relation to the health crisis we’re going through. I think there’s still just a little more out there … I think some of the more sophisticated clients have really started doing a great job of connecting lifetime value into it, into retention, into the overall metrics of actual user quality not so much just growing their base. I also think a trend that has been really interesting in the market is a move towards more sophisticated creative to get really large reach. Looking at different engagement, different playables, different platform diversification across it, just really utilizing a lot more varied tactics instead of just sticking to the best practice obvious platforms out there.” 

11:50 Melissa - “Would you categorize growth marketers as being risk-averse or very ready to try new things?” 

12:18 Will - “I would say you pretty much can’t be risk-averse just because of how quickly the market moves ... If you stay completely risk-averse you are going to stay in the most crowded landscape all the time.” 

Challenges with partnerships

13:20 Will - “The biggest thing that you’re always competing within those partnerships is that proper balance of scale vs. efficiency. There’s always the desire to push higher and get more, and of course, both on my side and the side of the partner, there is benefit in that scale from a revenue standpoint and in terms of what that means for awareness across the market. It’s always that push to stay at the KPI, that level of profitability for you and finding that happy medium.”

14:00 Will - “One other challenge that comes to mind when working with partners is you know we work in an industry where quite frankly turnover can be pretty high. You can have people you know moving on to different new career opportunities - just in general the marketplace gets shook up even when there isn't a major circumstance outside of it like we have now, and then avoiding as much as you can that revolving door of who your team is whether it's internally or even with the partner. There are a couple of companies I've worked with, ironSource included, that I've been working with the same people for 3-4 years now. That sounds low, but in the general scheme of the marketplace, that's a lot of cohesion to really optimize on the platform and just get what we're about and what the partner is about.” 

Automation takeover 

15:45 Melissa - “The machine can learn quite a bit, but at a certain point presumably a human can look at something and potentially see something that a machine would miss. How do you think automation is going to impact the industry and the people working within it?” 

16:00 Will - “A lot of those things that we can totally take away and we’re skilled at bringing, those kinds of data and analytical learnings - those are the kind of things that machine learning and algorithms just smoke us out of the water. They're just so much quicker at addressing those patterns and zeroing in on that. So I think you’re spot on, then it's all about the creative side - it's: what are we feeding this algorithm now in order to properly get that data? That breaks down to the creative elements you're talking about, the platforms that we go after, the messaging that we're trying to utilize that are going to be productive both up funnel and eventually into the actual growth aspect. As that takes on more and more of it, we have to reinvent ourselves and where we provide those contributions.”

Platform diversity for diverse markets

17:47  Will - “I think a big component of why you need platform diversity is because you're hitting people in every different cycle. We can't just stay in those areas where it’s a hot audience all the time. Search, for example, where they're literally telling us ‘hey I want your product right now.’ Yeah, that's great but at a certain point that market runs out, and so that's why all these other platforms whether it's preload social, programmatic display, like you were mentioning, that's where we were able to energize this growth aspect, where we’re now not just going after the demand - we’re creating the demand.”

19:00 Will - “Programmatic display is a huge one. That’s where we can really build awareness but still get really strong users from a lifetime value perspective… If you target well enough in that cold audience, meaning someone who doesn’t necessarily know they need that product yet, the lifetime value of it can still be as good as that person who came in and literally told you, ‘hey I want this app, I want this game.’”

Out of the Box marketing

20:18 Will - “I won’t name the client but I will say that the app is pretty largely utilized, like there's not a person who doesn't have value for essentially the news that they provide. What we determined as we were doing some social tests, is that it didn't really matter what we thought our audience was and it didn't really matter what we zeroed in on. If we were looking at travelers, commuters, fitness buffs, whatever it was, they all seemed to perform relatively the same. What we found actually was that the larger the audience we were going after, the better performance we saw … That was the main correlation I was able to take away, so our team was like, let’s completely remove ourselves from this. Let’s let the machine learning go after it and we just targeted nothing. We removed pretty much everything other than geo and we’re like alright let’s see what happens. And it worked wonderfully! The problem was now I’d removed myself from that targeting piece completely and it circles right back to what you were talking about earlier. Once that component of AI is doing it, how do we reinvent our value? That’s where we really started to zero in on optimizing the creative and that worked really well. That was a scary moment - taking all of those safeguards away and letting it run.”

22:20 Melissa - “Very cool story. Not what I was expecting a growth marketer to say, ‘We just removed all of the targeting and things went really well!’”

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