Author Archives: John Koetsier

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My fireside chat on adtech, martech, IoT, automation, AI, and smart rings with Oath (AOL+Yahoo)

Oath (former AOL+Yahoo) runs a regular fireside chat series with “leaders from across the ad industry” sharing their vision for the future.

I was super-pumped to visit Oath’s amazing offices in Los Angeles to do the chat in their unbelievably well-equipped studios. (And yes, it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten my makeup done, professionally or otherwise.)

I had a great conversation with Missy Schnurstein, who runs part of Oath’s ad business. We chatted about adtech, martech, IoT, automation, AI, and smart rings, and a lot more.

Check out the blog post here, and I’ve embedded the video below:

Oath Ad Platforms Fireside Chat with John Koetsier, Singular from Oath on Vimeo.

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$31B, 1B orders, 180K Brands: Alibaba’s Epic 11.11 ‘Single’s Day’ Shopping Festival in China

180,000 brands sold more than $31 billion in product for the Chinese 11/11 shopping festival, often known as “single sticks day.” According to Alibaba, that totals more than one billion separate orders, all processed in less than 24 hours, and the total sold is up 27 percent from last year.

237 of those brands sold more than RMB100 million, or $14 million USD.

Single’s Day is November 11, because the date 11/11 is all ones, or singles. It’s a popular day to celebrate being single, but also a big day for weddings. In e-commerce, it’s also become the biggest shopping day in the world.

Get the full details in my post at Forbes …

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300B ads and 400M app installs say you just might be doing holiday marketing completely wrong

App marketers might be missing some of their best chances to acquire new users and customers by advertising at suboptimal times. Especially during peak holiday marketing seasons.

The cost?

Hundreds of millions in wasted ad dollars. And even more in lost potential revenue.

Singular analyzed over a billion dollars in ad spend to learn when mobile marketers spend the most to acquire users. But we also looked at the results of that advertising to understand when consumers, including gamers, shoppers, and travelers are most receptive.

One example: games.

Get the full story in my post at Singular …

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257 Billion Ads, 58 Million Installs Say the Mobile Subscription Economy Is Booming as Costs Drop 50 Percent

It’s getting easier and cheaper to acquire new customers to your mobile subscription-based apps, according to a new study by Liftoff and Leanplum.

How much cheaper?

Think half price. And it’s not even a Black Friday sale.

Last year the average cost of acquiring a new paying subscriber for your mobile-app-driven service was $162.22. Now it’s just $86.99, according to the study, which looked at 257 billion ad impressions, 58.4 million app installs, and 47.4 million post-install events.

“The year-over-year data showcases major momentum for subscriptions,” says Mark Ellis, Liftoff co-founder and CEO. “Now pair that with Apple’s recent report that revenue from subscription-monetized apps is up 95 percent since 2017 … there’s no question that the long-term benefits of the subscription model, in the form of loyal users and stable cash flow, are worth the investment in service quality and marketing spend.”

The biggest opportunity?

Get the full story in my post at Inc …


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Thank you, Ad Age

Ad Age just did a great print feature on marketers’ biggest fears: “WHAT SCARES ME RIGHT NOW … industry insiders on a world of rapid change, false moves, major hype, fake news and more … much more. Welcome to your nightmares.”

It recently hit the website. Here’s what I said:

What if we’re all idiots? What if everything the ad-tech industry has been doing for the past decade has been a cultural Manhattan Project? We’ve fallen in love with an intoxicating meme: that personalization is better than association. This belief has driven advertising from contextual relevance to personal relevance. And that evolution unleashed the biggest data-gathering free-for-all in history.

That’s led to uncounted privacy breaches, sure. But worse, the globe-spanning empires we’ve built on this idea have fueled reality bubbles that isolate us in small groups and provide fertile fields for thought-terrorism: the power of unknown and anonymous people, organizations and countries to change what we collectively hold as true, without accountability. Personalization is here to stay. But the cost has not yet been counted.

Super-pumped that they put a big visual together for a piece of the quote!

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Facebook Launches Attribution Tool For Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger (Finally)

This week Facebook finally launched Facebook Attribution after the tool had been in public beta for over a year.

The new solution aggregates measurement across all your Facebook ecosystem ad campaigns: on Facebook itself, on Facebook’s hottest “new” ad platform, Instagram, on Messenger, and across Audience Network, Facebook’s infrastructure for extending your ad campaigns off of Facebook properties.

Facebook is pitching its attribution tool as a way to give marketers “a more holistic view of the customer journey.”

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Banned Scanner App Back On App Store, Now Charging Instantly For ‘Free Trial’

You gotta give TinyLabs points for trying.

The company ran a scammy subscription app that was banned by Apple for a sneaky user interface that conned people into purchasing expensive subscriptions to its simple utility app: QR Code Scanner. Now, just a few days later it’s back on the App Store.

Has the leopard changed its spots?

Apparently not, because it is still charging customers immediately for access to a supposedly “free” trial. As you can see below in the application flow, tapping on the yellow “Start” button immediately kicks you into payment mode. That free trial? It’s not actually free.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Why you’re losing 50% of your ad effectiveness if you’re not using creative reporting

What really makes ads work?

This simple question is the billion-dollar puzzle that drives the adtech industry. For marketers, finding the answer unlocks the door to optimizing growth.

– who you send your ads to matters
– where people see them matters
– how often people see your ads matter
– the brand attached to them matters

But creative outweighs them all. And not by a little. Combined.

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog … 

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Apple Pulling High-Grossing Subscription Apps With Scammy Offers Off The App Store

Apple is systematically combing through the App Store’s subscription apps looking for potentially confusing terms of service and pulling apps that look problematic, according to multiple mobile app developers.

The problem?

Scammy subscription apps charging users hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

I broke the story earlier this month and TechCrunch added more fuel to the fire this week.  Many subscription apps had a large “Free Trial” button with tiny print beneath it detailing the subscription terms, which often totaled hundreds of dollars a year in credit-card charges.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes … 

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Apple Pulls Scammy App Making Up To $14.3M/Year, Questions Remain

Apple pulled Scanner App from the App Store today in response to complaints that it was tricking users into expensive subscriptions.

The app was reportedly making almost $15 million each year, according to SensorTower data, in spite of the fact that its functionality — scanning QR codes — is freely available from multiple places, including the built-in iOS-native camera app.

I highlighted a number of scummy subscription apps a week ago.

They typically use fine print, confusing app functionality flows, and users’ forgetfulness to engineer expensive multi-hundred dollar or even thousand-dollar sign-ups.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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The ‘No BS’ mobile attribution webinar: 27 questions answered (plus yours!)

You’ve heard about mobile attribution. You’ve wondered about mobile attribution. Maybe you even use mobile attribution. But you still have questions.

Like: Why?

Or: Who needs that?

And: Aren’t all mobile attribution solutions basically the same?

We get it. It can be confusing, and it can seem pretty detailed and technical sometimes. That’s why we’re hosting a webinar (with friends from Vungle and Liftoff) on November 6. And we’d like you to attend.

Why? Check out my post on Singular’s blog to find out …

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The Motiv Smart Ring Is The Perfect Casual Fitness Tracker … And An Even Better Sleep Tracker

I have an Apple Watch. I love my Apple Watch, and I’m religious about “closing my rings” and ensuring that I hit my move, exercise, and stand goals as many days as possible.

But I can’t sleep with a watch on my wrist.

Enter the Motiv smart ring.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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App Scams: Sneaky ‘Utility’ Apps Are Stealing $260, $2500, or even $4700 Each Year … Per User

An obscure app that reads bar codes is scamming hundreds of App Store users by automatically initiating an expensive $156 per year subscription. And there are dozens more like it, with some charging users thousands of dollars each month for extremely minimal functionality.

App scams are nothing new.

Last summer Apple deleted an app scamming $80,000/month from iOS users. At the time, Apple promised to pay closer attention to subscription apps to prevent similar schemes in the future. Clearly, however, some are still slipping through.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Grow faster: How ‘Dual Integration’ unlocks vastly more value than vanilla mobile attribution

Peanut butter is just peanut butter. And chocolate is just chocolate. But if you have the creativity and insight to combine them, you create a magical mystery confection that makes your mouth cry out for joy and high-five your stomach. You get, perhaps, dual integration.

Imagine the peanut butter is marketing campaign data.

Imagine the chocolate is attribution.

Put them together, and the result is not magical and not mysterious: it’s marketing science that unlocks ever-increasing but previously hidden value. And that’s just one of the secrets revealed in our No Bullsh!t Guide to Mobile Attribution.

But what exactly is dual integration? And how does it work?

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

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Apple’s New iPhone XS, XS Max Driving 45% More Market Share Than Last Year’s Models

Apple’s iPhone XS and XS Max launches have been almost 50% more successful than its introduction of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, according to new data from mobile analytics service Flurry. In addition, the new models are driving 7% more revenue than the 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X combined from last year.

And that’s even without the low-end X phone, the iPhone XR, which will launch on October 26.

Get the full story in my post on Forbes …

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92% Of AI Leaders Now Training Developers In Ethics, But ‘Killer Robots’ Are Already Being Built

The Terminator is not real. Yet.

Most AI-using organizations are working to keep it that way, according to a recent study by SAS, Accenture, and Intel. Almost three quarters of large businesses are now using AI in one way or another, and 92% of the most successful ones are working to ensure their uses of artificial intelligence are pro-social.

Most of them, of course, are not developing weapons systems.

Instead, they’re trying to ensure that their AI systems don’t discriminate against minorities, the disadvantaged, or, frankly, anyone who doesn’t fit the profile of the training data their neural networks are ingesting.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Sexy new campaign analytics: Dynamic totals, drag-and-drop columns, freezing, pinning, and more

Excel is a wonderful tool. But I think we can all agree the less you need to export marketing campaign analytics out of one system, import it into another, and then finally start a deeper analysis, the better.

Especially when, as a digital marketer, you want to make fast but smart decisions.

So Singular released multiple improvements today to our campaign analytics report that automatically collects and standardizes data from all of your sources into one single reporting view for apples-to-apple analysis, says Singular’s senior product marketing manager, Saadi Muslu.

“Asides from having a sleek new look, we’ve added new functionalities for improved viewability,” she says. “Features like freeze/pin columns, drag & drop columns, and edit columns help to customize your reporting view for your needs. One of the most exciting new functionalities is Dynamic Totals, which allow users to filter their table by any attribute, and see the totals recalculated in real-time without needing to run a new query.”

One of my favorites though? Source transparency. (Scroll down to see it.)

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

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12 New Alexa Products Show Amazon’s Massive Power (But Also Reveal Its Biggest Weakness)

Amazon unveiled no fewer than 12 new products yesterday in a AI-fed voice-powered smart home extravaganza. That’s amazing innovation, but it also highlights the company’s huge and pervasive weakness.

And no product exemplifies it more than Echo Auto.

Echo Auto brings Alexa to your car, so you can get weather, directions, and music from Amazon on the go. And add things to your shopping list, of course, solve simple math questions, and ask Alexa silly questions. (We’re all kids at heart.)

Or … “drop in” on friends via Amazon’s phone replacement service.

And there you have it. The phone.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Adobe Unveils AI Assistant So Marketers Can Use 100 Percent of Their Data, Not 1 to 3 Percent

Your data hides secrets that could unlock your growth, Adobe thinks. That’s why the company has unveiled new AI-driven technology to dig deeper into your data, revealing insights in seconds that data scientists would take five weeks to reveal.

“We track hundreds of billions of data points,” Adobe director of product management John Bates told me last week. “Only about 1-3% of the total data being collected is actually being analyzed.”

The result is obvious: some of the largest brands in the world are sitting on a mountain of data … and they’re not using it for growth insights.

According to Adobe, they should be.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Mobile Gaming Entrepreneurs: Paying Players Up 33%, Whales Now Less Important

In the early stages of the mobile gaming explosion, every publisher hunted whales. Only a tiny fraction of gamers actually paid for in-app goodies, and while minnows were OK for ad revenue, big spenders — the whales — drove success.

That’s changing.

Over the past three years, the number of game players who actually pay rose by a third, game monetization platform DeltaDNA says. That’s a massive difference, even though the overall percentage is still very low: 4% in North America, and 2.5% in Europe. And that’s translated to increases of 200% in revenue for strategy games and 42% for casino games.

But the paying percentage is the real news.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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‘The hype is real:’ Lyft Head of Marketing Science Alok Gupta on marketing measurement

Marketing is an art. Marketing is a science. Just maybe, measurement is the Gordian knot that ties them both together.

We’ve certainly seen an increasing understanding of how the science of marketing is critical to unleashing the art of marketing in the last few years. Science — and data — ensure that art has maximum impact. That’s what growth marketers everywhere are learning.

Enabling it all?


“As a scientist, the only thing I believe in is experimentation,” Lyft Head of Marketing Science Alok Gupta said recently at UNIFY, Singular’s experts-only marketing technology conference. “I look at my current system, I perturb it through different creative and different levels of spend, and different bids, and new channels, and new partners, and I look what the effect is on the metric I care about.”

Get the full story in my post on Singular’s blog …

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Tipping Point: 48% of Americans Will Own An Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod By 2019

A third of American consumers own an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod, according to new research by Adobe. But by the end of the upcoming holiday season, that number will hit almost 50%.

Many current smart speaker owners are using voice do shop and do product research. Half also use voice assistants for news, asking questions, and online search.

The number of smart speak owners is up 14% just from January 2018, even though smart speakers are popular Christmas gifts, Adobe says. And that’s changing how we view voice.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes …

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Facebook Exec: How All Of Us Financed The Very Tools That Are Now Undermining Society And Elections

The internet is an amazing creation.

All of the world’s knowledge is at your fingertips. Global leaders’ thoughts flow from their fingers to your ears. Anyone can connect with virtually anyone else, and new opportunities for business and culture evolve almost daily.

But there’s a downside.

Fake news influenced the 2016 US election, and is impacting many other elections globally, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said today at Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

It’s also being used to tear our culture apart.


“Our technological capabilities outpace our ability to understand how people will abuse them,” Stamos said.

Get the full story in my story at Inc …

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Former Facebook Chief Security Officer: Election Hacking Still Very Possible

Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos said today that American elections are still hackable by nation-states such as Russia — and others.

“If there is no foreign interference in the midterm elections it’s not because we did a great job,” Stamos said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco today. “It’s because they decided to give us a break … the actual security of the election structure is no better.”

In fact Stamos said that while it’s hard to force a particular outcome in an election, it’s totally possible to throw “any election” into chaos.

Facebook started noticing foreign interference in elections in the spring of 2016, Stamos said. But most of the “fake news” trend on social media is not politically related.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes … 

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This AI Can Recognize Anger, Awe, Desire, Fear, Hate, Grief, Love … By How You Touch Your Phone

Artificially intelligent systems map our journeys, unlock our homes, entertain us, and foretell the weather. But could our electronic assistants also start to learn our emotions and use that knowledge to serve us better?

In other words, does Alexa know when you get mad? Or sad?

In fact, Amazon teams have been working on analyzing your emotions from your vocal intonations for over a year. But what about our phones?

Most of us use touch screens hundreds of times a day, and many of them are force sensitive. One researcher, Alicia Heraz of the Brain Mining Lab in Montreal, trained an algorithm to recognize anger, awe, desire, fear, hate, grief, laughter, love, plus no emotion … simply from the way we use touchscreens.

Get the full story in my post at Forbes … 

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Mobile ad fraud: 6 ways fraudsters win via dirty tricks, nasty scams, illegal tech, and cutting-edge camouflage

Ad fraud is a game where losing can look like winning, our Singular Fraud Index says. That’s why you need the latest intel — and the best fraud protection suite in the attribution industry — to protect you.

And understanding the enemy is the first step in winning the fraud war.

Or at least … not losing it.

At our recent UNIFY conference, IronSource’s Vice President for Growth Yevgeny Peres unpacked the science and data behind how fraudsters win. This was new intel to some of the world’s top digital marketers (not an easy task) and showed attendees how fraud was happening live in their campaigns right from the most innocuous, trustworthy, and high-quality apps.

Check out the full blog post (and video) on Singular’s blog …

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Marketing alignment: How LinkedIn, Lyft, Poshmark, and Calm align exec, finance, tech, creative, and BI teams for maximum ROI

In some fantasy world, growth marketers have all the cash, corporate support, creative assets, and analytics they need, and can do their jobs in splendid isolation. In the real world? No marketer is an island, every team is an integrated component of the overall organization, and marketing alignment is a tough challenge.

Which means that kindergarten lessons still apply.

And marketers need to play nice with others … for their own good.

That’s exactly what we recently discussed with key executives at fast-growing Lyft, LinkedIn, Poshmark, and Calm during our recent UNIFY conference.

Specifically, we asked them how marketers should align internal teams to achieve ROI.

Check out my post at Singular’s blog for the full story …


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Influencer Marketing: Apple v Samsung, Canon v Nikon, Amazon v Google, and Oculus v Vive

Apple Watch gets most of the influencer mentions among wearable products, but Fitbit gets more engagement. Similarly, iPhone drives almost 4X more social mentions than the Samsung Galaxy, but the Galaxy gets more engagment.

Those are just a few of the findings from a recent Traackr report on the state of influencer marketing, covering 500 top global influencers for the first three months of 2018.

When you’re doing influencer marketing, you want to find influencers who resonate with your brand and have followers who will engage with your product. Fail to do so, and you can drive mentions with cold hard cash, but they’ll be expensive and of limited worth, because they won’t generate engagement: likes, retweets, and comments. And that’s where the magic of social virality multiplies your initial investment.

Apparently, there’s a lot of failure.

Because gaps between mentions and engagement seem common.

Get the full story in my post at Inc …

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Spotted in the news >> Machine learning reveals crazy advertising ideas that actually work

I had the pleasure of being on a panel at VentureBeat’s AI-focused Transform event yesterday, and Sean Captain wrote up the session here:

Machine learning reveals crazy advertising ideas that actually work

One of my direct quotes is a bit of a silly one:

“You can do stupid stuff, and sometimes stupid stuff is smart stuff.”