Apple Search Ads And Mobile Acquisition: A Primer

An example of how an ad now appears in the Apple App Store

An ad in the Apple App Store

Apple recently launched Apple Search Ads, the first paid advertising channel for the App Store.

The platform has demonstrated notable success to-date. Initial findings show that these types of ads deliver quality users at scale with solid retention.

Bottom line: Apple Search Ads show huge potential.

This is in comparison to other install acquisition channels, for example advertising on mobile ad networks.

As opposed to mobile ad networks, Apple search ads are not display-based. You’re not going to see a random ad when browsing the app store.

Instead, they work a lot like Google’s search network.

You only see an ad when searching the app store for something specific.

It’s intent-driven marketing at its finest. You are offering a solution to a potential customer who is already searching for something related to your product.

You are providing a solution to something they are already looking for.

The meat of a campaign is keyword-driven.  It’s similar to Google’s PPC (pay-per-click) advertising – you bid on specific keywords and only get charged per click (or in this case, tap).

The beauty of this is that you can run tests on various groups of keywords. And your audience consists of potential customers who are already looking for a product or service like yours.

This is perhaps why Apple Search Ads are out-performing other mobile ad networks.

The customer is targeted directly from within the App Store.

They already have the intent to install.

Only time will tell if this channel will be a.) viable in the long term (e.g., most cost-effective) and b.) scalable, particularly with the holidays right around the corner when ad cost tends to go through the roof.

As of now, it’s safe to say that ASA is looking promising as a reliable long-term solution for mobile user acquisition.

You can find a nice preliminary findings report presented by AppsFlyer here.

Going Freelance – 5 Tips For Entering The Freelance Economy

5 tips for entering the freelance economy

Photo Source: Kaboom Pics

A few weeks back I gave a talk at The Alley about my experience in joining the freelance economy. The evening was filled with personal stories and powerful tips for getting started. I learned a lot from the other presenters and had a great time sharing my experience so far. Below are key takeaways from that talk.

1. Establish your value-add.

Before you make the jump, it’s critical to understand the value of what you bring to the marketplace. Speak with business leaders in your circle to understand their needs within your area of expertise. For me, it was an intimidating process because marketing is such a huge vertical. After I understood what people needed the most help with, I was able to establish a framework for how to help.

2. Get organized.

I use Trello to manage action items related to the business itself. For example, I have several lists set up for capturing to-dos and tracking leads.

One thing I wish I did earlier was set up a separate gmail account for business correspondence only. Having a separate account helps keep things streamlined and creates a better work-life balance.

Each client gets a tracking number. This number is added to their Trello board, Google drive folder, and company profile within FreshBooks.

Google drive is key for collecting and sharing project files and documentation. I use Freshbooks for invoicing, Slack and Skype for communication, and countless other services for managing my calendar and keeping inboxes streamlined.

I went to the bank and got a business checking card to separate business expenses from personal ones. In conjunction with Mint, this will make things much easier come tax season.

3. Optimize your environment.

For the first two months as a freelancer I worked from home. I learned that it wasn’t sustainable over time.  I needed to get out of the house in order to work more efficiently in general, and get at least a little amount of socialization in.

One of the hardest parts about going freelance for me, outside of worrying constantly about money, was working alone 100% of the time. I learned that I need to be around other people to get the juices flowing,  so I designed a work environment that worked the best in order to achieve that.

4. Remember that Energy is greater than Time.

As a freelancer it’s important to optimize your time, but it’s equally if not more important to maintain mental energy. If your energy is low, you won’t be able to complete tasks as quickly or with nearly as much focus. It may seem selfish at first to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance. But in the end, it’s critical in order to prevent burn out and keep your energy reserves high over a sustained period of time.

5. Plug-in to like-minded communities.

Go to events hosted by companies that support the freelance economy. Some examples of companies that host great events include:  WorkFrom, Fivver, and Cloudpeeps. Explore co-working places and opportunities to work with others. Co-working communities often host events for socializing and have Slack channels for participating in knowledge share during the work week. These communities are helpful for building friendships, finding resources, and generating leads.  

Remember, your desire to be a freelancer is a logical one. It was never explained to us when we were young that this way of living and working is a viable option, therefore the concept can at times appear hazy.

However, the percentage of freelancers is on the rise. Freelancers are part of a larger movement focused on creating a sustainable and independent work economy. With some solid strategy, decent organizational skills and willpower, you can make the transition too.

View the presentation from my talk here.

Becoming Antifragile – How To Gain From Disorder

 

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes via Slideshare: Antifragile: Lessons Learned

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos – you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”

-Nassim Taleb

Last week I gave a talk at the monthly Catalysts Collective event here in San Francisco on the topic of antifragility. The following points are highlights from my talk.

To understand the premise of Antifragile – Things That Gain From Disorder there are three key areas to consider.

We know what it means to be fragile – to be easily broken. Another way to interpret it is to be damaged by disorder. The world’s banking system is a good example – something left vulnerable to chaos, randomness, and uncertainty.

After the state of fragility comes resiliency. Things that are resilient have the ability withstand disorder. Imagine a structure built to withstand earthquakes. When an actual earthquake occurs, the building (hopefully) remains standing. It does not change.

A great story of being resilient is the phoenix. The phoenix may rise from the ashes, but he rises only to become what he once was before. 

The final state Taleb focuses on is the state of being antifragile.

Antifragility is when something benefits from disorder. While startups are known to harbor an improbability of success, when viewed in increments success happens as a result of randomness, chance, volatility and instability. 

When viewed from the macro level, the startup economy benefits society as a whole. It creates room for opportunity and innovation. Things like volatility and instability are required in order for them to achieve the point of contribution at scale. This concept can be applied to the contribution of individuals too – organic things, like muscle mass, require some level of instability or challenge in order to grow.

I believe that being antifragile is essential for personal revolution.

Some benefits of being antifragile include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Welcomeness to change
  • The allowance of discomfort
  • Possessing a growth mindset versus a fixed one.

Here are  ways to become antifragile:

  • Think of perceived failure as opportunity
  • Lean into fear
  • Embrace community
  • Listen to yourself and to others
  • Seek opportunities
  • Build a strong baseline
  • Use the barbell strategy.

The barbell strategy is a method presented by Taleb. Consider the image of a barbell. The maximum amount of risk you’re willing to take goes on one side. It’s balanced by Maslov’s basic needs (food, water, safety) on the opposing end.

This is a very basic introduction to the basic concepts of Antifragility. If you’d like to learn more, I recommend checking out the book itself or visit the following blogs that present nice summaries and applicable tips for becoming antifragile.

Taylor Pearson – Antifragile Book Notes

StartupBros – How You Can Profit From The Unknown: Becoming Antifragile

Buy – Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder (Amazon)

What’s Mamba Mentality? Kobe, Kyrie & The Pursuit Of Greatness

Kyrie Irving with the series-clinching shot

Source: Complex.com

When describing their comeback at the end of Game 5, LeBron James famously said “It’s all about those two magic words. Game 7.”

In the NBA playoffs, each team battles an opponent from their division bracket-style, playing the best out of 7 games with the winning team advancing to the next round. It’s fairly common that each match up won’t make it all the way to Game 7 – sometimes a team will win four straight games, or they’ll battle it out through five. Making it to seven means that each team has given it their all and have an equal chance to advance. It all comes down to the final game. Or in this case, the final few seconds.

In the last minute of Game 7 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, everything came down to a moment in time when either LeBron and crew would win the NBA championship title or lose it all, marking the 56th year that a Cleveland team had once again failed to win a professional sports championship.

In the tense final seconds of Game 7, Kyrie Irving made a three point shot that sealed the deal for the Cavs. “All I was thinking was Mamba Mentality,” he said. The internet lit up with searches. Many NBA fans may be familiar with this philosophy from another all-time NBA great — Kobe Bryant.

“We don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer. That’s mamba mentality.”

-Kobe Bryant

We can draw from this mentality in order to show up as the best version of ourselves in everyday life. It can pick us up when times get rough – when we miss the shot and fall emotionally flat.

Having the ability to get back up and endure the struggle with honor and integrity is the source of real power. When we harness it, we create drive. We also take ownership of our lives that, even in incremental steps, points us in the direction of being Great.

One game at a time.

Besides, real Greatness is not defined by others. It’s our ability to become better than who we were yesterday. And set ourselves up to be even better tomorrow.

Kyrie was absent from the NBA finals a year ago when the Cavaliers faced the Warriors for the first time. Instead he was posting to social media from a hospital room where he was being treated for a knee injury. His disappointment was palpable.

Despite the injury — and countless injuries that he suffered all season long — the 24-year old did not let it get him down. He worked hard when he returned to practice, persevered in training, and showed up all season long to do what was necessary in order to bring him back to that arena floor once again.

As part of their three-game comeback (a first for the league) Kyrie scored 42 points alongside four-time NBA MVP and three-time Finals MVP LeBron James. It was the first time two players from the same team scored so many points within a single game.

Irving demonstrated mamba mentality through the critical seconds of that final game to seal the deal for the Cavaliers while marking a major milestone in the history of Cleveland sports.

We have the ability to create a similar story for ourselves. To let nothing stand in our way. To persevere, overcome setbacks and to lean on others for support. To always play to the best of our ability despite unfavorable conditions. Chances are, the odds will wind up in our favor.

Beyond Meditation: Improving Brain Health And Performance

Image Source: Medicalxpress

Brain health is a fascinating topic. We know so little about our brains yet they drive everything we do. Meditation and the concept of mindfulness are popular topics, yet we don’t understand how we arrive at the benefits that everyone talks about. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of us don’t know how our brains actually work.

The good news is that we’re in new period of health and wellness where doctors can accurately see how our brains function, and even pinpoint the specific areas where our brains malfunction. This is very different from the traditional, assumption-based approach to making diagnoses in mental health. We are also learning that in many cases, real treatment doesn’t require the help of chemical drugs in order for us to find balance or heal.

 The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. is an informative read that focuses on brain elasticity. He presents the concept that that we can redesign our brains by understanding how they work from a mechanical perspective.

For example, you know when you have trouble recalling a memory, or a specific word? Blame it on the gradual neglect of the brain’s attentional system. In short, our brains become noisy. When this happens, the signal for a new memory can’t compete against the background electrical activity of the brain. This causes a signal-to-noise problem.

Using practical explanations paired with real-world stories, Doidge covers topics ranging from healing through neuroplastic therapy to everyday practices for preserving our brains.

In Change Your Brain, Change Your LifeDr. Amen calls out the main issue with  mental health today – we are “throwing medication-tipped darts” at issues unproven through science.

He relies on a technology called SPECT  to discover which areas of the brain over or under perform. Unlike an MRI or CAT scan,  a SPECT scan shows the electrical activity happening within your brain as it functions. Based on this, he is able to find the cause of a problem through factual evidence.

A SPECT scan is expensive – it’ll set you back $3,500. In Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, he presents methods for anyone to improve their brain health. Treatment methods are broken into four core areas, or 4 overlapping circles, where we can take a balanced approach to assessment and healing.

  1. Biological – how your body actually functions. This is the physical aspect of how your brain and body work together. Factors include nutrition, exercise, sleep, hormones, genetics, and overall physical health.
  1. Psychological – developmental issues and how you think. This includes how we talk to ourselves, self-concept, body image, traumas, upbringing, and significant developmental events.
  1. Social – social support and your current life. This includes the quality of one’s relationships and current life stressors. For example, depression is often triggered by stressful life events involving others, and the health habits of the people with whom we spend time with have a dramatic impact on habits and well-being.
  1. Spiritual – your sense of meaning and purpose. Having a sense of purpose allows us to reach beyond ourselves to affirm that our lives matter.

Mental health is a topic we tread lightly, as though we are somehow considered “broken” or “weak” when addressed. The irony is that our brains are actually the CEOs of our bodies –  influencing every thought we have, each action we take and the behaviors we choose to express. If we treat mental health in a reactive way rather than a circumstantial one, we can break these taboos and become higher functioning human-beings in the process.