Lead generation is one of the most lucrative business models imaginable for publishers. Ask one of the legends -- 50-year-old Publishers Clearing House. Through mailers, sweepstakes, Web contests and now a large range of apps, the company built a household name off of gathering eyeballs with chances to win and then flipping that audience into subscriptions, form fills and sign-ups. Its portfolio of apps and mobile sites touches over 10 million monthly users. They were doing data when data used to be called “lists.” But one thing this data-driven company has learned: don’t alienate that invaluable list with irrelevant offers. Stick a car insurance form in front of a blackjack app player and you may get a strong initial return on the ad, but the poorly targeted intrusion on their play could send that user away for good.
“It is easier to optimize for a session,” says Jason Cianchette, GM of PCH’s ad network Liquid Wireless. “Optimizing for years is harder.” That is the thinking behind PCH’s strategic partnership with app recommendation platform AppTap. The initial payout for an app recommendation and download from within a PCH app may be lower than some lead-gen opportunities. But focus groups have shown that aggressive pitches in the casual entertainment context of PCH apps can turn users off and perhaps make them leave. Apps targeted to both the context and the user profile are both relevant to the user and the environment and are proven to keep the player happy to return.
AppTap and PCH will combine the recommendation engine of the former with the first-party data of the latter to drive the relevance that retains users over time for a longer-term revenue yield per user, the companies argue. AppTap’s recommendation algorithms are driven by data gleaned from a network of apps it serves on iOS and Android. It also considers the context the user is in. “For PCH contextually these are consumers inclined to entertainment, casual gaming, casino-style games, so we narrow the focus of what apps we deliver,” says Matt Calloway, CEO of AppTap. “On the user side we take engagement data, so we see how that user across the network engaged with apps and installs and take the learning from the property and the user.” The company works with Time Warner Cable and AOL Search to present recommendations in a range of banner ads, offer walls and search ads.
In early campaigns combining AppTap’s recommendation engine and PCH’s first-party data, the publisher saw click-to-install rates of 25%. The revenue per click for PCH rose 55%. The companies say that the higher relevance is designed ultimately to give app developer/advertiser higher-quality installs as well.