Welcome back to the 11th episode of our Mobile Industry Exposed interview series! This time, we interviewed Ted Nash, co-founder and CEO of Tapdaq, about the importance of app store optimization, discoverability and the trends in mobile marketing for 2015 and beyond.
Ted is a serial entrepreneur who has been creating online companies from the age of 12. Having raised his first round of funding from a group of angel investors in the UK, he became the first teenager in the world to achieve 1,000,000 App Store downloads.Ted has built many businesses, his latest being Tapdaq, a direct mobile advertising marketplace.Ted was recognized in the prestigious Forbes magazine, as one of the 30 Under 30’s for his work on Tapdaq and, in March 2015, became ‘Global Mobile Innovator Of The Year’ at the Mobile World Congress.Read our interview with Ted to learn more about discoverability in the app stores, the future of apps and the mobile trends that will be shaping the industry in 2015.
Can you introduce TapDaq in a few sentences and explain your value proposition?
Tapdaq is a direct mobile advertising marketplace. Developers can grow their apps by trading installs with other developers, or by cross promoting their own network.Tapdaq is a platform built on transparency. In our marketplace, developers can see the estimated number of installs they can generate for one another, as well as which adverts are shown within their applications.Most importantly, Tapdaq fully supports fully native ad units, meaning developers have complete flexibility on how adverts appear within their products.
What were the reasons that led to founding TapDaq?
We as a founding team were trying to generate awareness for our apps, when our own applications died, we believed there had to be a better way. We exist to ensure that developers who work hard to build high quality applications have a fair chance to succeed.
You recently wrote on your blog that the app economy is broken. Can you explain how TapDaq is helping to fix it?
We have added an extremely high level of transparency. As we don’t operate a real time bidding exchange, or a cost-per-install model, developers who could never usually acquire users due to competition, can now find developers directly. It really is making a difference and it’s so rewarding to see more success stories coming from places you’d least expect.
How do you think the main mobile platforms and app stores will evolve in the coming years?
‘Apps’ as we know them today have only been around since 2007, so the future is very much still to be decided and I will be the first to say that I believe apps are still in their infancy.Apple and Google are by far the most dominant forces in mobile, but technology continues to move at an exponential rate. Developers are getting younger, and innovation is speeding up. I don’t believe the current mobile landscape is the end point, there are too many negatives from both a content creator’s perspective and a consumer’s perspective. Apple and Google will naturally continue to robustly defend their positions as driving forces, but over time companies will move swiftly to new areas which start to erode their respective positions.With that said, both Apple and Google have the power to acquire or litigate against any newcomer, so it’s going to take more than just a company to reshape the landscape. The change needs to be driven by a group of incredibly willing and courageous entrepreneurs.Change will happen, it always does, but only time can tell us where it might come from.
Besides discoverability, what are the main challenges facing developers today?
Collaboration channels.Mobile discoverability has been moving so fast, and I don’t believe communication channels specific to developers have grown at the same rate, which has created a chasm of disconnect between developers who could add a lot of value to each other.The reason I mention collaboration is because the majority of mobile advertising is opaque. ASO being a great example of something everyone knows is important, but no one really understands how it functions.If developers had channels to become more collaborative, more transparency would arise and I think developers would have a better chance at understanding some of the unknowns, increasing their likelihood of success.
What can be done from a legislative and regulatory point of view, in the EU and elsewhere, to help app developers thrive?
This is a good question, one that you could write a book on.I think in many different business verticals, first time entrepreneurs have a minefield of legislation to maneuver. Specifically for app developers, though, I’ve always said that I think Apple should waiver their 30% commission, or at least create stages of commision for first time entrepreneurs and developers. That way, independent developers would have more resources to reinvest back into their applications to make better experiences for potential customers. That’s just one of many thoughts I have had, but sadly, I can’t see that happening any time soon.
Which upcoming technologies do you see as potentially helping developers get their apps discovered?
Until the platform owners make significant changes to the way customers can buy and install applications, I think discoverability platforms are always going to be hampered.I think direct mobile advertising and communities of developers within specific niches will rise, having a large impact on the distribution of traffic within applications.I also think social channels have a lot of evolution ahead of them, for example, Whatsapp and Snapchat are yet to really get involved in app discoverability. Considering these applications control some of the largest audiences in the world, these could become huge driving forces in app discoverability.We are already seeing discoverability disintermediation in China and other Eastern markets on applications like Line and WeChat which is proving incredibly effective for applications seeking awareness.I think we’ll see the western markets follow suit, and that will be great for the industry.
Thanks to Ted for his time and insights. Stay tuned for the next instalment of “Industry Exposed"!