Eric Seufert, Heracles - How to Thrive Despite Apple’s ATT
The Sub Club PodcastDecember 01, 2021
01:03:4387.74 MB

Eric Seufert, Heracles - How to Thrive Despite Apple’s ATT

Hello, I’m your host, David Barnard, and for the first time ever, I’m flying solo. RevenueCat CEO Jacob Eiting is busy doing CEO things and I didn’t want to wait on this fascinating interview. My guest today is Eric Seufert. Eric has deep operating experience, having worked in growth and strategy roles at consumer tech companies such as Wooga and Rovio, but he also founded and sold a marketing business intelligence company, Agamemnon, and is an active investor in the mobile gaming and ad tech categories. Eric has a depth and breadth of experience with mobile apps and games that few can match. Over the past year Eric has written extensively about App Tracking Transparency and the future of mobile advertising on his trade blog, Mobile Dev Memo.

Hello, I’m your host, David Barnard, and for the first time ever, I’m flying solo. RevenueCat CEO Jacob Eiting is busy doing CEO things and I didn’t want to wait on this fascinating interview.

My guest today is Eric Seufert. Eric has deep operating experience, having worked in growth and strategy roles at consumer tech companies such as Wooga and Rovio, but he also founded and sold a marketing business intelligence company, Agamemnon, and is an active investor in the mobile gaming and ad tech categories. Eric has a depth and breadth of experience with mobile apps and games that few can match. Over the past year Eric has written extensively about App Tracking Transparency and the future of mobile advertising on his trade blog, Mobile Dev Memo.

On the podcast I talk with Eric about the value destruction of App Tracking Transparency, the limitations of SKAdNetwork, and how to thrive as an app developer in this new paradigm.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Will Apple’s ATT be a net loss for Apple?
  • Can SKAdNetwork be saved, and does Apple want to save it?
  • Is focusing on organic traffic a flawed strategy?
  • What does the future of app install ads look like?

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Episode Transcript

00:00:00 David:

Hello. I’m your host, David Bernard, and for the first time ever, I’m flying solo today. RevenueCat CEO, Jacob Eiting is busy CEO’ing.

My guest today, is Eric Seufert. Having worked in growth and strategy roles at consumer tech companies such as Wooga and Rovio, Eric has a depth and breadth of experience with mobile apps and games that few can match. He also founded and sold marketing business intelligence company Agamemnon, and is an active investor in the mobile gaming and ad tech categories.

Over the past year, Eric has written extensively about App Tracking Transparency and the future of mobile advertising on his trade blog, Mobile Dev Memo.

On the podcast, I talk with Eric about the value destruction of App Tracking Transparency, the limitations of SKAdNetwork, and how to thrive as an app developer in this new paradigm.

Hey Eric, thanks for being on the podcast.

00:01:09 Eric:

Thank you for having me on the podcast.

00:01:11 David:

So, we’re going to start off with a bit of a dead horse that’s been beaten over and over again. Apple’s motivation in enacting App Tracking Transparency, but I did want to take kind of a different perspective on it. The most interesting thing to me personally about Apple’s motivation with App Tracking Transparency is what it says about what they are going to do in the future.

Did they build SKAdNetwork purposely handicapped, or did they not really understand how handicapped it was? Were they really trying to kill Facebook, or was that a kind of a side benefit? I think that their motivations are important, because it forecasts what changes they may or not make moving forward as they start to see the impact.

So, I think the first thing I wanted to ask you is, how do you see Apple’s reaction and how they perceive ATT to be going, now that we’re seeing snap drop 25% after the quarterly earnings report, and see more of the disruption that you and others were predicting, but maybe Apple didn’t quite see coming? How do you think Apple sees this going currently? And what does that say about the future of privacy on iOS?

00:02:42 Eric:

I think Apple’s primary motivation was not to capture mobile advertising market share. I don’t think that was a primary motivation. I think that’s happened, and I think they expected that to happen, but I don’t think that was the primary driver of this decision.

What I think they wanted to do was, there’s kind of like a big picture idea here, and then an immediate consequence idea. I think what Apple did not like, was that they had kind of lost control over content discovery on the iPhone.

When the App Store was first launched, that was how you discovered apps. It was through going to the App Store, and some small part search, but then in large part just like the editorial curation that Apple exposes there. That changed over the years, and up until the announcement, or the enactment of of ATT, the way that people discovered apps was through advertising, and primarily Facebook advertising.

Apple totally lost control. The content that people interacted with on their phones was not the result of any deliberate decision on Apple’s part or some deliberate consideration. It just happened to be whatever could scale ads the best. Whatever companies could scale their ads the most efficiently, that’s what people interacted with. That’s what became dominant on the platform, and Apple really had no say in that.

Short term, narrow aperture view of this, they just wanted to regain control of that. They wanted to be the kingmakers. They wanted to be the tastemakers; the people that decided—the party that decided—what became popular on the iPhone and how the iPhone was used.

And I mean, that’s, it’s, if you’ve worked in, in gaming, especially, but if you’ve worked in mobile apps at all and you’ve ever had to go and, you know, go, go through the whole process of pitching your app to Apple, and pleading for featuring You know, that that’s what they want.

They, they like to having that control because that allowed them to percolate their new iOS features into the app community through almost horsetrading it’s like, you want featuring, We’d be happy to give you featuring, but you’ve got to integrate X, Y, Z thing into your app.

Once you do that, we’re happy to feature you. that, that was sort of the, that was the, the, the negotiating process. You know, that that process, even that process itself became less important and less prominent in the life of a developer over the last few years, In 2012 to 2015 that’s what you did every time you were launching a new app, or even if you’re doing a major update, you flew, you flew to San Francisco, you went to Cupertino, you went into a, conference room at Apple HQ and you pitch somebody.

That just stopped being something that people did. Like just people realized that, even if we get featuring, it’s not going to be that meaningful for our business, what we really need to be able to nail what we, what we have to do. Our success is dependent on our ability to scale the product with paid advertising, you know, and explicitly, you know, specifically through, through Facebook.

So, I think that was the primary motivation to regain that control right now. I think there’s a bigger picture idea here. There’s a bigger picture motivation or, or like, projection here, which is that, you know, we’re, we’re moving into a paradigm where, you know, the phone you have, the, the device you have that you consume content with is totally unconstrained, in terms of what it accesses, right?

Like, and, and how it accesses content. And that’s what that’s, that’s the sort of, that’s the behavioral, norm that, that people are moving into, they just expect their favorite stuff to be available from whatever device they have in their hand, at that moment, as long as it’s connected to the internet, they expect to be able to connect to Disney to Hulu, to Netflix, to Facebook, to anything, they use every day.

You get to a point where, you know, if you run this gatekeeping platform, like at the App Store or Google play If, if, if users have leapfrogged that paradigm into no, my favorite content is always available. It’s, you know, sort of like, it’s just, just persistent in the cloud and I should be able to access it however I want at any, at any given point in time.

Then you’ve lost control of that sort of, of that gatekeeper positioning. I feel like what Apple wanted to do they, they, know that that’s inevitable. we’ll get there, but they wanted to prolong this dominance and the prominence of the App Store in terms of, you know, the consumer relationship, that’s the first stop you’ve got to go through them to get to the content. because then that also, like that also provides them with some leverage over the, over the developer. And I think w w we’ve I think we’ve probably accelerated. But, but maybe not, maybe this, maybe this, you know, buys two to three more years of, okay, well, I have an iPhone that means I go through the App Store to get content, right.

Or I have an Android. Maybe that means I go through Google play to get to content. And not that like, this is it. Matter what device I’m using, I’m using my Samsung TV or my iPhone and my iPad or my Facebook portal or whatever, or my, my, Amazon, echo. I want to get to the content that I have available to me in a persistent way in the cloud.

Right. And so I think that was, that was also the primary motivation, or that was part of the primary motivation, but that was like, sort of like the bigger picture consequence of it.

00:08:18 David:

Right. I mean, where do you put, Apple’s kind of stated motivation of privacy in this hierarchy of, of motivations and, and outcomes because, you know, a lot of people have said, oh, well, Apple was clearly acting anti competitively to favor their own ad business and crush these other ad businesses. It was, you know, primarily driven by the greed to expand their ad revenue.

And then I think yours is really interesting as far as like the control, but then of course Apple goes and just in the quarter results recently and has stated over and over again. That it was 100% privacy motivated. do you just not buy that

00:08:58 Eric:

No, not at all. And I don’t, I don’t necessarily even think at this moment that consumer privacy, has been benefited or protected as a result of this. Right. And we can get into that in a second, but you know, I’ve been publishing a lot about, they’re still allowing fingerprint and they said they wouldn’t, that’s in the policy.

Right. It’s explicit. Like there’s no ambiguity there and they’re allowing for it. Right. And they’re not policing. And they could, because they’ve done it in the past. And so I think if you want it to be protective of privacy, That would be one of the things that you would prioritize is, preventing that from happening.

00:09:33 David:

And you don’t think that? Not that I mean, diving into fingerprinting real quick, do you think that. It’s potentially that they’re just delaying the enforcement to kind of smooth some of the disruption that tra App Tracking Transparency has already caused it because them not enforcing it immediately doesn’t mean they’re not going to enforce it.

So, but I find it baffling as well. That they’re not. So do you see them enforcing it sooner do you think that this really is an indication that they don’t actually care about privacy and that this is not ever going to be enforced?

00:10:08 Eric:

They can enforce it at some point and like they’re there, there wise, like I think kind of a widespread. That in the developer community, that there was going to be a grace period. Right. They would introduce NTT, but they’re going to allow for fingerprinting for some amount of time, because, you know, if, if you just, you know, made this very radical change and it was like absolute from day one, the impact would have been even more severe than, than what we saw.

So I, there was a belief that there would be a grace period, but you know, we’re going on like four months now. Right. And, and the thing is, you know, my, my sense was when, as soon as they, because they, you know, they talked about private relay at WWDC this year, I was like, oh, okay. That’s how they do it.

Right. Because, and I’ve talked a bunch about how it would be clunky to police fingerprinting through App Store review the store review process. Right. I talked about that in a piece. I just wrote two weeks ago or last week, and it would be clunky, but they could have introduced us in private relay.

I thought that that’s what they were going to do. Or at the very least they would roll private relay out. Cause it applies to, you know, safari traffic now. And they would say, look, well, we have to reach parody. Our treatment of the web and or treatment had been app traffic. And so therefore, you know, maybe for whatever technical reason we can’t, we can’t, obfuscate the IP address of in app traffic, it’d be too expensive or it’s a technical challenge that we haven’t solved yet.

But like, this is the moment, you know, ad tech when you must stop fingerprinting. And I think if they said that, you know, these ad tech companies would, right, because the way that they’ve sort of implemented this in a lot of these solutions is it’s like an option, right? Like they say, you can turn it off if you want.

Right. Cause I think that these ad tech companies are surprised. They thought fingerprinting was going to be. More we’re policed early on, maybe not on day one, but you’d get like two weeks a month. and so they kind of introduced this as like an optional feature. Right. And then, you know, and they, they presented it as like a, Hey, it’s a feature for developers if they want it.

And so, you know, it’s, it’s something that they could switch off and they, they they’re ready to switch off. I think. So I think even if, if Apple just sort of like, you know, kind of pantomime those motions, people would stop doing it because, okay. It’s, it’s actually, you know, it’s sort of like actually against policy now versus just before where it was like ignored, but, you know, I, I thought they were gonna introduce in iOS 15 for that reason, or at least again, like, just make the, go through the motions of saying that, that it’s, it’s not allowed, but, but so just, just back Betsy, it wasn’t about like, where does privacy sit in the, in the sort of list of motivations?

I think it’s probably so my, my, the heart, the hard time that I have with like, reconciling this idea that like, and you hear this a lot, like Apple cares about policy that people say that privacy, Apple cares about product. How could it have Apples on a person Apple. Apple’s a corporate structure.

There’s there’s however many employees at Apple. They don’t all agree on things. Right. Who and Tim cook is not a dictator. He can’t just run the company like that. Apple shareholders, have some control. His board has some control. Right. And so, you know, at least they have influence. And so like, the Apple as a, it can’t have is it doesn’t have a monolithic opinion about stuff.

It’s not an entity in its own. Right. I I just don’t buy this idea that a company can care about some abstract concept. Right? Like, here’s another question for you. Apple makes the Apple watch, It’s a health tracker. Does Apple care about your health Do they, are they really concerned? Are they genuinely, you know, invested in your health Or do they want to sell something. so the idea with privacy is okay. It gives us an opportunity to strike a juxtaposition juxtaposition against Android, which you know, has, is, is perceived, I believe, as less privacy-safe but even Android has gone to great lengths or Google has gone to great lengths to bring privacy to the forefront in Android.

A lot of it is about informing consumers about their data being accessed, but still there. They’ve done some things. Right. So anyway, I just, I don’t believe that a company, a corporate entity can care about an abstract concept. Right. putting that aside, what does privacy buy them It buys them that juxtaposition, and then it buys them cover, It buys them cover to do all this other stuff. Right. And then to, and then they spin up this big narrative that probably helps us sell iPhones. Because you know what I

00:14:07 David:

Or future AR glasses 

00:14:10 Eric:


00:14:10 David:

Some ways,

Positioning themselves, they they care about privacy insofar as it’s an incredible marketing tool for them. it, gives them cover for future devices. They become more and more and more and more private. this thing you wear on your wrist biometric sensors and tracking your sleep and everything else, customers are going to feel more comfortable wearing AR glasses that have cameras on.

When it’s Apple branded, than when it’s Facebook branded, there’s been backlash with the Ray-Ban, glasses from Facebook. So, yeah, I get, you I, you know, the Apple fanboy in me wants to believe that, you know, Apple you know, wants to do good in the world, but I’ve, since lost my Apple religion, but I, but I do think to a certain extent that they care about they do care about privacy whether or not any of that’s motivated by Goodwill or otherwise it’s incredible marketing for them.

That being the case, you know, and this is where maybe our opinions diverge, or at least how we interpret some of, of what’s been going on. I still am of the opinion, as naive as it may be that that privacy was a primary motivation for them, whether they’re altruistic or marketing or, whatever other reasons they have to be to be positioning themselves this way.

I still think that that that was primary and, and that, I don’t know that they even fully understood or expected some of the. the things that have been happening, I think they thought SKAdNetwork was a better solution than it actually is. I don’t know that they expected to see a company like snap that is actually fairly aligned with them, at least, in marketing and public perception as being a more privacy-focused company to see this company that has been reading and talking positively about App Tracking Transparency and see them drop 25% in a single day, because, and then say specifically it’s because SKAdNetwork isn’t delivering.

I still think personally. This has more to do with Apple, not understanding and not listening to the industry, which we’ve seen for decades, Apple doesn’t listen, they’re not good at receiving outside feedback on roadmaps, on, on their APIs, on anything else. They think they know what to do.

And they think as a product company, they can just build this product bring it to the world. And it’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread SKAdNetwork is just another. Yeah. Another example of them trying that approach and then just falling flat on their face. I think this is important because if that is the case and if they really, if the primary motivation really was privacy, then maybe we do see an SKAdNetwork 3.0, that’s way better than this current one.

After they realized they’ve destroyed tens of billions of dollars of value, and also potentially handicapped their own platform because as ad efficiency goes down and as apps struggle to gain traction, they lose too. So, yeah, I mean, I guess just, I’d love to hear your kind of response to that. Cause I know we probably disagree on this a bit.

00:17:37 Eric:

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Like it, you know, if we, I don’t know, at this point it kind of seems like semantics a little bit. Cause it’s like, well, all they care about privacy because privacy is good marketing messages. But my point is like, I don’t think they genuinely care whether people’s data is being accessed by advertising networks.

Right. I don’t think they cared about that to the, to the degree that, it didn’t impact. It was, it was, it was happening sort of unawares, right? Like, or, you know, that these users were like sort of unawares, once it became, like a, like a sort of social rallying cry around, you know, Facebook and, you know, it’s the congressional testimony and you’re listening on our devices.

And then once it became something that I think that they could, you know, exploit the insured, then maybe they care about it because it is a differentiator for the products and they can help them sell more products. Right. But, but I think so, first of all, so we are on a scanner 3.0, they released 3.0 3.0 is just like a minor improvement.

So 3.0 added view through attribution. And I think it added one more thing. And then also with, I was 15, they allowed the post-bacc to be sent directly to the advertiser, not just the networks. I mean, those are improvements, but I don’t see them continuing to do. S K I know work. I just, I just don’t see that, but I think I do. I do agree. I agree with you that, that they didn’t understand how consequential that this would be to the advertising. I think it’s an example of like the left hand, not talking to the right hand.

Apple is like a super secretive organization, not just to the outside world, right. Internally Apple teams are very secretive. Right. And, you know, I, I don’t know that the App Store team was talking to the iTunes team. I, I mean, I don’t even really know how that, how, how this sort of corporate structure separates those two teams.

But my sense is that like the App Store team, the people that work with developers, Aware of this, like, and I I’ve been told that I’ve been told that they learned about it at WWDC two years ago. Right. And then they got up, they had to field a bunch of angry emails and phone calls. Right. you know, I think, there, there wasn’t a whole lot of consensus internally around what the impact of this would be.

I think the impact was underestimated. And to be honest, I don’t think they would have released something if they knew that it was going to wipe out, you know, just a late, a quarter of snaps market cap in a day. Right. I don’t think they would have released something if they knew it was going to annihilate a fifth of Zynga’s market cap in a day last quarter, you know what I mean?

I don’t think they, you know, and what we saw with Facebook was that there’s like this kind of slow erosion of, of, of market cap, you know, from, from like the all time high, a couple months ago. but you know, th the damage hasn’t been just, just in terms of stock price, hasn’t been as, as, as severe to Facebook, as it has to some of these other.

You know, who weren’t really doing the things that Apple wanted, you know, to sort of, to mitigate. Right. So I, I don’t think that they fully, you know, first of all, they didn’t, you know, workshop this with advertisers. Like I know that to be true, or, or I believe that to be true, unless some people did it in like, you know, deep secret and they’ve never revealed it, but I don’t think they, I don’t think that’s true because I’ve talked to a lot of people.

No one, no one was consulted about this that I’ve spoken with. you know, I don’t think that they really truly grasped how sort of like fundamental performance advertising was, or is to a lot of these businesses, right. In terms of, they’re just, they’re, they’re sort of, you know, operational success.

Right. And so I think, because of that sort of differential between. I think what they thought was going to be the result of this and what the actual result was. You know, I, I feel like that does call into question, you know, not only just the wisdom of this, but you know, how well they can defend it, right.

When, you know, against maybe some, some, some lines of inquiry, you know, that, that are, that are sort of like, you know, kind of a more powerful and, sort of socially instrumental than, than ours than mine are then, then app advertisers or app developers. Right.

I think they’ve, they’ve invited a lot of questions about this through, through, through the severity of the impact that we’ve witnessed over the last couple of weeks and months.

00:21:35 David:

And that’s where I totally agree with that. And that’s been my perception as well. And I talk to folks as well, is that Apple didn’t fully understand the implications. And if there were people inside Apple who had a better understanding of what might play out, they didn’t have enough of a seat at the table.

And that a lot of this was just ivory tower thinking was Apple building ski network thinking, oh, this is going to be a great solution with. Like you said, workshopping it with the people who would actually have to use it. And then, you know, coming up with a better solution. So then, then my question for you is, okay.

You know, you were kind of chicken little for a year, the sky is gonna fall. The sky is gonna fall. The sky is gonna fall. I mean, you’ve been really one of the most vocal people about how big these impacts were going to be. And you had a lot of people in the industry saying, oh, it’s not going to be that bad.

It’s not going to be that bad. Well, now the sky fell. I mean, you know, a public company having 25% of its market value wiped out in a day due to one specific policy from a platform like the sky is falling, you were right. But then so now Apple sees it. They can’t, they can’t avoid seeing it. What do they do from here?

You said, they’re not going to make SKAdNetwork better. You know, are they going to not police, fingerprinting to, continue to soften the blow? Like where does it go? That’s that’s, what’s so interesting to me about okay, whatever their motivation, what they do in the future. In reaction to what’s actually happening now that we’re seeing actual results matters, you know, to, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

And, and one of the things I put in the notes to talk about is a lot of this value that’s being destroyed is not accruing to Apple. It’s not as if you know, a hundred billion dollars of market cap wiped out of Facebook and Google and snap and other folks, it’s not like Apple is actually capturing that because they don’t, they don’t have the ad inventory.

They don’t they’re, they’re not a big player in the space. So, yeah. W where does Apple go from here if they painted themselves in a corner,

00:23:38 Eric:

Maybe, I mean, I think what I would, you know, if I was an Apple, I’d be worried about, you know, they’ve got a lot of theirs are, they’re already under a lot of scrutiny, right. Like, you know,

00:23:47 David:


00:23:48 Eric:

What did the DOJ, what just three days ago, decided to re reopen the investigation in that, in the Apple, related to, to the way they operate the App Store.

I just think it’s really tough to, to maintain this line on one front while, you know, you’re obviously having to lose ground on, on another front. Right. because as we’ve seen, like there’s just been this steady trickle of them, you know, seeding ground developers or, giving up a lot of, you know, Exclusivity and, and, you know, PR preferential treatment they have with, with apps or operation, right.

Like, it just feels like maybe it’s maybe it’s they felt like, well, that will, it we’ll expand one area of that, that preferential treatment while we’re sort of like forced to abandon other, areas of preferential treatment. But I don’t know that they were, I don’t, but that would only make sense if they actually really understood how dramatic the consequences of, of ADT would be, which I don’t think they did.

You know, I don’t know. Maybe they have painted themselves into a corner. I mean, I don’t know. So that’s the thing about asking, I know work is like the way it was designed. It’s got a lot of features that on their own would be smart, you know, tech, progressive privacy, protective, you know, mechanisms.

Right. But in combination just renders this thing, like totally. Dysfunctional. And that’s the problem because now if they go back and they get rid of any of these given features, so like, or not features, but restrictions, right. So let’s say they say, okay, so first of all, I mean, and I’m assuming most people listening are at least familiar with this.

I don’t want to, I won’t, I won’t go into the whole thing, you know, description of Muscat network from zero, but let’s say they give up on the privacy threshold, which would be weird because there’s a privacy threshold for Apple search ads to be fair, but let’s say they gave that up. Right. then, then, okay.

You move a little bit towards, you know, something that, that is functional and helpful. but you’re, you’ve, you’ve, you’ve made a pretty, sort of like very kind of public facing kind of Mia culpa decision, which I don’t, you know, or announcement. Right.

Which I don’t know, that is an Apple’s DNA to do that kind of thing.

00:25:49 David:

And giving up the privacy threshold would actually allow tracking, which is what they’re saying, they’re trying to prevent. So that’s the other problem with giving much ground on some of these things with SKAdNetwork.

00:26:01 Eric:

Well, it could, it

00:26:03 David:

And that that’s kind of the broader question is like, can S K I network even be saved and, you know, let’s say regulators did come in and say, this was completely anti-competitive what’s the solution.

I mean, if you roll back and give unique identifiers to every app, you’re going to have all the same unintended consequences that came with the IDFA. yeah, I mean, that’s like four questions rolled into a statement, but, can I ask that network actually be saved while maintaining some level of privacy?

00:26:32 Eric:

Maybe, but I don’t know that you do give up. So I don’t, I don’t think you totally Naval tracking. If you’d give up the privacy threshold, what you’d enable would be the advertiser would be able to link the specific campaign to an individual user in their data environment. Now, if they chose to share that with a third party, Platform or as platform, I guess that that would be their decision, I don’t think by default it would sort of instantly, you know, make that trackable. Right. Cause all you’re really doing is adding a little bit more context every post-bacc versus just some, because you already get, I mean, if you get rid of the privacy rest, it, that just means those NOLs go away.

Right. And so you’re able to get a little, you’re able to track, you’re able to sort of observe the less frequent, transactions. Right. Or just tell me what it is. If you tell me what it is that I can design around that. Right. But we don’t even know if it’s dynamic they’ve, they’ve apparently changed it like without telling anybody.

And so all of a sudden the number of Knoll conversion values exploded. Right? I mean, that’s the thing, just make it public because if you do that, then I’m going to say, you know what? Okay, I’m going to design my app, such that like. The people I care about are going to trigger this or not. Right. It’s not something that’s in its early funnel.

It’s something that it’ll happen. You know, I can build my, I can, I can sort of like Intuit, you know, just through like kind of statistical modeling, what, where I need to place this in order for it to trigger the number of people that satisfies the privacy threshold, such that I get the data that I really need to make decisions.

Cause right now you have no idea. And you know, I have no idea where to place that. What, what is that? Unless you just experiment a bunch of times, but, but even then it’s, it’s the, the broader environments to variable because the, the campaign could go up and down in terms of like DAU or DNA every day, you know what I mean?

And then if they change it, then there’s like a totally unknown exhaustion is variable there. Right? So it’s impossible to tune your app such that you, you say, okay, look, I get it. You’re not going to let me have. conversion value if fewer than 25 people did it. Well, I know how much traffic I’m driving through all these campaigns every day.

So, so I need to consolidate my campaign, such that each one drives 400 in new, new installs every day, because I know that, you know, an eighth of the installs will trigger that thing, but those will be the users that really care about. Right. And if you did that, then at least I know, and I can design everything around that, but I don’t even know.

I don’t even know if that changes over time relative to the number of installs I’m driving. I don’t know if you’re changing it on the back end without telling me like, it’s just, you can’t operate in with that kind of opacity. It’s just, it’s just not functional. And then you’ve got the a hundred campaign ID limit, you know, you’ve got no creative, parameters in the post-bacc like, you just can’t do anything with this.

00:29:04 David:

Yeah. I mean, that’s where it does seem like this was designed as an academic exercise. How do we prevent any. Identification of any individual ever from being even remotely possible. And, and it was an academic exercise that they played out. Whereas if they had workshops with the people who actually have to use it and had, thought through the kind of business use cases and you made a valid point earlier, you don’t automatically, enable tracking by, reducing the privacy threshold.

But I think, you know, Apple She kind of rethink some of the priorities around this so that you get better business metrics, even if one or two people can slip through the cracks of being able to be uniquely identified. And I think the argument there is like, it doesn’t matter at scale, like if one person slips through the cracks, Facebook is not going to build technology around finding that person here and there that slips through the cracks because it doesn’t matter to their business to find one or two.

It matters too to have more data on everyone. So the campaign ID limit the creative ID, like all of these seem very ivory tower thinking that just is not going to play out in the real world. So, a few minutes ago you were saying you don’t think Apple will improve SKAdNetwork, but now we’re talking about how they could.

Where does the rubber meet the road what’s going to happen?

00:30:31 Eric:

I mean, I don’t. Cause I mean, the thing is like, you know, we’re just kind of riffing right now. Right? I think like if we sat, we sat down with the chocolate or the whiteboard or something, you know, because we, I wrote an article a couple months back, right. It was, it was like right after this was announced and I kind of like, here’s some suggestions here’s, here’s what you can do to make STI work.

More helpful and you know, some really smart people in the Mobile Dev Memo, slack pointed out holes in my analysis. They know if you do this, I, I, if we, if we had enough, post-tax going, I could sort of encode the idea of V over enough of the post-tax like, event in a post-tax. I could put like one character from the 90 fee and every single one, I could get the users.

So it’s, that’s why you can only have one post-bac per install, right. Because if you did 50 or so, that makes sense. So, I mean, the thing is like, if I’m just ripping, what I do believe though, is like, you can eat, you can either have the privacy threshold or the random. Right because I need so like ramp the privacy threshold up to a million.

I don’t care, but let me have real-time install accounting because without that, I can’t do anything. Right. If you, if I, if you’re off you skating, even the date of installed in that I can’t, I can’t do in Sauk county. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, assess the economics of my campaigns because I don’t even know when the installs are produced and I can’t make changes to campaigns.

Right. Without having to shut the whole thing down and wait, and to reuse that, one precious campaign ID within the, within the sort of like constraint of a hundred. Right. So. my sense is that like, if you just solve for that allow that allow real-time install accounting and then do whatever after that you have to do to prevent me from figuring out who those people are.

Okay, that’s fine. But at least then I know this campaign drove this many installs today. These were the targeting parameters. This was the audience I was reaching. This is how much I spent. Right. And like, even if we just went, cause I don’t think you would lose a lot if you just went back. Cause right.

You know, the, the frontier that we reached was like, we’re in, especially on Facebook, I’m optimizing for value. I’m not demising for ROAS. Right. And that was like the sort of the final form of, of, of mobile advertising measurement is like, I’m telling Facebook, give me 110% ROAS on day seven. If you do that, I don’t care how you target, who you target.

You know, w how much you see CPI is, is irrelevant. I’ve got unlimited. You know, from a, from a sort of like practical standpoint on any given day spend as much as you can, but just make sure we’ll get a hundred times that was the final form. And I think even if we sort of like retreated from there back to just like CPI, the average LTV of this campaign is X and the average, you know, the CPI was Y and so therefore I’m making money.

That would be much less efficient, but still like it’s workable right now. What we have is not workable.

00:33:10 David:

Yeah, well, I think you and I could riff on all this wonky stuff for another couple of hours and, I hope Apple’s listening and actually going to make some changes and, listen better now that they’re starting to see some of this stuff, but I did, I did want to change gears and kind of start talking through.

What this means for developers and specifically, you know, sub club podcasts, what it means for subscription app developers and, and what you were just talking about. I think, I think is actually a really important, topic that not a lot of people fully understand you’ve written about it in the past, but I think it’s still somewhat abstract enough, that I wanted to, to kind of have you describe it in more concrete terms.

And that’s the fact that with these, you know, day seven ROAS campaigns and value optimization and event optimization campaigns, Facebook with all of its data and AI in incredible targeting efficiency has kind of, in some ways been doing the job of developers. It’s been finding. Those unique profiles, user profiles of who’s actually going to spend money.

Who’s actually going to enjoy the app. And, and it’s like, in some ways they, they became this really efficient black box of user profiling and understanding users that developers had kind of in the past done. And then maybe now need to get good at again in the future. know, again, you’ve written about this before, but just describe that process, maybe a little better of, of how amazing Facebook really was at finding the best users for an app.

00:34:51 Eric:

Well, they were very, you know, as you said, very, very good at it. Right. So, you know, it was based on like an approach that is, was very, simplistic, right? I mean, I just gonna, I’m gonna, if I can observe everything, then I know everything about this user and I can just target most relevant ads to them.

Cause I know everything about what they interact with. Right. And I know what they like and you know, it gets to a point where that, that that ability to observe is so pervasive. That I, I do agree like that, that had, gone too far. Like the pendulum has swung too far in that direction.

Like it is not, I find it unsavory to think that like, literally everything I do on my phone is observed and instrumented and ingested as a data point by one company. Right. Like that’s, I’m uncomfortable with that. So, you know, and, but, but like, I think, you know, to your point, like going, you know, if you go back to when, when UAC was introduced, right.

So Google their mobile product UAC is that’s they describe it. I think that they themselves describe it as a black box as like a selling point. Right. Because it’s like, look. Worried about any of that, you will handle all of this difficult analysis for you. We’ll find the best users for you. You don’t have to iterate across audience, definitions, or even creative, you know, and do all that experimentation yourself.

We’ll do that on your behalf with our superior tools. And when they announced it, there was a lot of, you know, disquietude in the, in the developer community. Cause people are like, look, we built this. We want to do it. I don’t trust you to do it. I trust you to do it well, but I also trust it to do it to your advantage.

Right, right. To pursue your best interest. Not necessarily mine, what I think you’ll do. So this is, and this is exactly what these platforms do is they sort of, they take whatever boundary you set or whatever standard you set around efficiency. And they, they reached that. Right. They’ll they’ll get you to exactly what you say is like the sort of quality threshold or the efficiency threshold for your campaigns to keep spending money, but they won’t give you any more than that.

Right. So they could blow out your campaigns and get you 400% real ass. but if you told them you only need 110 by day seven, that’s what, that’s what you’re going to get. And if they get you to that 400, then they’re going to buy you a bunch of crappy traffic that brings the sort of average down until it hits that one 10.

Right. And so, you know, that’s, that’s the power that they had, which, you know, to be fair, it’s like, they were really good at that. And they would probably be, and, and, and them being really good at it. And then, and then present and providing that as a product productizing that and making that available to everyone.

Meant that anyone could spin up a Facebook campaign, you know, any, any Shopify retailer, any Shopify merchant, any small time app developer and spend money and grow their product, grow their audience, right. Versus go back to 2012 and like, you know, the best UAA teams won. And, and a lot of times these were like big teams, big companies that raised a lot of money.

You know, now, you know, it is way more egalitarian to open it up to anybody. And, you know, the small shop owner, in, I don’t know, the middle of Kentucky or whatever could, could have access to this world-class machine learning infrastructure to grow their business. Right. And then they only really had to compete on the quality of their product and not the quality of their user acquisition infrastructure.

So in a way it was, I mean, it was a giant gift to these SMBs and, and if the proof is in the pudding, look at Facebook’s advertiser mix, 10 million advertisers, vast majority SMBs, right? 10 million average. Right. Think about any company that has 10 million customers, that’s just an absurd scale. Right?

And these are people spending, you know, in aggregate tons of money on Facebook. So like, it made sense, but, but, you know, there was a lot of pushback when UAC announced that. Cause developers said, look, we, that was our competitive advantage. Like, well, should it be, if we go back to basics and everybody has access to the same quality of infrastructure and the same quality of like, sort of like, you know, marketing tools and then you can be on the basis of your product.

00:38:49 David:

So then are we kind of going back to that world? I mean, after I think transparency is going to degrade, Facebook’s targeting efficiency because they’re not going to have that pervasive tracking where they know everything that’s going on on your smartphone. So, so where do we go from, from here as far as, you know, what developers need to be thinking about?

And, and I forget exactly when you were at this post, but, but I really appreciated you. You kind of talked through some, some tactics even around. developers needing to get better at capturing intent about potentially kind of bifurcating experience in the app is that we’re we’re developers should be headed of, okay.

Now Facebook can’t bring me the perfect user for my app as it exists today. and instead developers need to get back to the basics of understanding their user base and kind of building out those user profiles and understanding who they should be going after. Is it, is that where we’re headed?

00:39:48 Eric:

I think so. I mean, I think we talked about this last time I was on this podcast, but like, you know, so when I wrote my book, Freeman, economics, I mean, this was like 2013. Right. And so this AEO didn’t exist yet. You know, VO was didn’t exist yet. This was, you bought installed. Right. And the idea of freemium or my sort of thesis with freemium is that like, it gives you the ultimate power to personalize.

And so you need some minimum scale because you need a minimum amount of people to experiment with in order to make, you know, some small percentage of people that do monetize meaningful to you. but in order to do that, you need like a sort of like very large surface area for experimentation, right?

You need a lot of content to be able to test against people and make sure that, you expose to them the exact perfect thing that they want. And in order to do that, you eat a lot. And so what ended up happening was that idea of flip. And it, and it became less about doing that in the product and more about doing that with the creative, right.

And allowing Facebook to do that with four year on your behalf with the creative, then they found the perfect user and you need to do any personalization in the app because they probably the perfect user just make the app for the perfect user, that individual profile, that one profile. Perfect. You make that app, Facebook will find those people through like mass, you know, wide-scale experimentation with creative.

Well, now it’s flipped again. And so, you know, when someone comes into your app, you don’t know who they are. You don’t know how qualified they are, because the targeting has been degraded to the, to the point where, you know, th th there’s, there’s not a whole lot of, of sort of like operatory, you know, relevancy that you can Intuit there.

And so you’ve got to parse that out from their behavior, show them something, see how they react to it. If they react positively to it, show them more of that. And if they don’t show them more. And, and that kind of personalization though. I mean, it was very powerful and I talked and that’s, I wrote a whole book about it, but it’s hard to do.

You need a big team, you need data infrastructure, you need that’s, that’s the thing. And then you revert back to like, well, only big developers can do this. Right. And so you’ve kind of just edged out the small guy. you know, the developers that are just like a couple of people and they got to just whiff, or they, they got to take a flyer on some idea, and they better hope that it works right.

Versus being able to kind of iterate into that and provide one app that gives like personalized experiences to sort of everybody that comes through.

00:41:56 David:

Yeah. So then those, I mean, what would your advice be today knowing that you can’t just, you know, throw a hundred grand at Facebook and let them figure out your perfect user? How, you know, if you’re, if you’re building an app today from scratch, or let’s say you’re at 20 or $30,000 in MRR and you want to make that leap and really grow, what do you do?

00:42:18 Eric:

Well, I think so. I mean, in that post, I mean the one thing that is, you know, it’s a worthwhile exercise, but it is trying to instrument these, these signals with the conversion values for SKAdNetwork. Now, the problem with that was, you know, going into this before NTT was launched and, you know, I worked, you know, I worked with some companies to do this and it’s like a data science exercise, right?

You just, you, you run these, you know, you go back and you have like, kind of look back models and you find out what the commonality was amongst people that ended up being good users. And you try to surface that in the app and you encode that as a signal for a scanner. The problem is going into that exercise.

You’re thinking that sci network was like a good faith solution. it made sense, but now we realize, well, we don’t even know when they’re going to te when they’re going to, how many of these we need to trigger before they even start reporting them to us. Right. And so like, it’s like, okay, well, that’s not really an option.

You know, I think the other thing is, you know, you approach this as more of like a product marketing, you know, project and just trying to figure out who your audience is right here. And that’s like, going back to basics, that’s saying, okay, like, what are the demo features of the groups that like this type of product and that’s what I have to target against.

Right. And then just, and then trying to get, you know, cause you can’t do mass creative testing anymore, at least on an iOS. And so, you know, trying to work out some pipeline of like, we try concepts on Android where we can still do kind of mass testing and then we promote the, the conceptual winners to iOS, but then we’ve got, you know, fewer, various success there.

So we’ve got to kind of adapt that for the iOS environment. Like it’s just, you lose a lot of, there’s very lossy that each time you, you sort of transfer some sort of component of understanding from a totally separate platform. To iOS and then from iOS to like different environments to, to other environments on iOS, you just, you lose signal there, you lose precision.

So I mean, it’s it’s, but that’s it right. And then, you know, trying to get away. So I think another thing is that, you know, you talk to some of these companies and Facebook had become like kind of a drug for them. I mean, it’s just like they were addicted to it. and it was just so easy to only use Facebook, right?

Because you could accomplish everything you want it to, but you know, that’s a classic, you know, sort of, that, that that’s a classic sort of blunder from, from just a commercial perspective. You never want to be totally dependent on another platform. You know, now Facebook didn’t make this decision.

Apple did, but, you know, nonetheless, you know, your sort of devastated by it, right. Because of that dependency. So I think the other piece of this is just trying to, is doing, doing the work you should’ve done a long time ago, which is diversify your traffic mix. Right. And that’s actually kind of difficult because Facebook, again, they did all that creative exploration for you.

You know, they have such a broad user base that you could find all these different groups in scale, right at to, to scale like these even niche audiences, niche, look, any, any sort of like niche for X strategy game. You find enough people to build out, a big da you base and that’s not true.

I don’t the other platforms. Right. And you got to really nail the form factor for those like snap is totally different. Like the way to approach the app is totally different. The Facebook, the way to approach tick talks to even snap, right? The way to approach Outbrain, Taboola totally different than any of those.

You know, the way to approach YouTube is even different. Like every, all these, these are very, you know, particular, unique, channels and, and, and the way that the ads are are exposed in the products is different across them. And so you’ve to, you’ve got, gotta go through the work and the investment it’s, you’re investing in a data and, and, and sort of institutional knowledge.

And all was never went through that exercise because it’s like, I can just

00:45:46 David:


00:45:46 Eric:

Spend more Facebook.

00:45:47 David:

Yeah. And, where do you think organics fall into this mix? I know, like we talked to all trails on the, on the episode before that I said, not only are they a unicorn app, likely evaluation, but in, in their success with organics, I mean, there are apps that just find incredible success with that, right.

Kind of search optimization or finding that right niche that really drives organic installs. Where do you think the average app should be placing organic and how much focus should they be putting on trying to get some of this free attention and build, you know, user generated content and links and things like that.

00:46:35 Eric:

I mean, do it to the extent that you can. I mean, why not? you know, I, I don’t think you’ve got to choose one of the other, right. I mean, you should be ideally maximizing the effect of both of these strategies, but I will say one thing it’s that you always have to turn on paid UI, right. You’ve always got to turn on paid marketing.

There’s varying, you know, sort of, timelines, you know, over which you have to confront that reality, but it is reality. You’ve always got to turn it on and like, I’ve done enough, like advisory for like private equity funds and just big companies that are looking to buy other companies.

And it’s always, the reason they bring me on is because I’m going to say, we could triple this business. If you did paid UA, right. We could cut Drupal this, like how, how, how much, how much bigger could this get? Right. And you know what I mean? Like, there’s always a point where they’ve capped out. They never developed this, you know, expertise.

Internally, right. It never became like domain knowledge that they possessed. And for that reason, there been a lot of false starts. Cause it’s like, well, we can always sort of lean back on organic and it’s going to take time to spin up paid and they bring someone in. And within two months they haven’t really materially improve the business and they spend a bunch of money.

So they get fired or, you know, they get the budget cut and they quit. And then they do that three more times and then they realize we’re stalled out in growth. and no one wants to come work to be our CMO because like, it’s pretty obvious that they’re not gonna be. You know, the full freedom and the only way to sort of like break out of that cycle is to have the company get acquired right by a private equity fund is going to say, yeah, we’re going to bring in a CMO and you know, these management’s kind of gone and, or they’re gone, but, or they can stay with it to play ball with the new, you know, the new execs and, and we’re just gonna spin up paid marketing and that’s, and that’s how we grow this asset and that’s how we make our money.

So I’ve just been on enough of those deals where you always turn on page away. If you, even, if you, even, if you think you never will, it happens, you know, outside of your, approval.

00:48:28 David:

Yeah. I didn’t mean to phrase the question anyway, that made it a black or white that you had to choose one over the other. And actually I was, I was trying to, to, to kind of, throw a softball at you, because I think your, your thinking on this, is great in that the sooner you do spin up some level of paid marketing, the sooner you, you can understand the different audiences that are going to be coming into the app.

And, and that’s something that you’ve talked a lot about that I think is really fascinating. Yeah. If you can find a good organic channel, go for it and bring traffic in, but know that when you spin up ads, those that traffic is going to look different. They’re going to convert different. They’re going to be interested in different things.

And if you, yeah, I’m stealing your, your kind of playbook here. So yeah. Tell me why you think. even if you do have a very successful organic channel and maybe that’s the strategy, you kind of get from 10 K a month to a hundred, 300 K a month. But to get from there to the millions a month, you’re going to have to spin it up.

So what’s the playbook for, for kind of building that expertise in house. And when do you start, when do you have to start ramping it up?

00:49:43 Eric:

So thank you for reminding me of my thoughts here. so, so the idea, the idea there is like, organic’s never going to be the ultimate scale channel, right? Like it’s gonna, it’s gonna, it’s, it’s gonna, you’re gonna reach some sort of asymptote with growth there and it’s gonna flatten out and probably at, you know, if you kind of close your eyes and you pictured your app at like the sort of greatest potential, right?

Th this sort of like greatest sort of like intrinsic potential paid is 80% of daily, you know, new users, right. Or 60 or whatever, but it’s a majority. And so if you’ve only. You know, grown via, you know, just sort of like organic traction and organic like magnetism, and you’ve, you’ve gone through like many sort of cycles of app or product iteration to sort of optimize the product for that group of people that do look distinct that will look distinct from people that have responded to some kind of stimulus, right.

And have some sort of intent, sort of like, you know, driving their, their adoption of your product, then you’ve optimized for the group. That’s that at the greatest potential scale of your, of your product is in minority. Right. And what you really want to do is you want to optimize the product for the majority, the, where all the growth, where the growth can be, right.

And so that, you know, if you delay layering in pay traffic and you, and you delay, then you delay understanding what they want out of your product. And the sooner you bring that in the sooner you can sort of, Optimize the product for them, the more efficient your pay traction will be, and you’ll get an organic halo effect from that.

Right. And so like, it’s like, well, the sooner that you do that, the faster that you sort of reach that, that sort of, you reached that potential on the organic side. So it’s more about like, are you thinking about like how, I mean, an exercise that I always love to do is it’s just like pause and think about like, what would success look like?

And for most apps, success looks like, yeah, we’re spending a ton of money on paid you way. And there’s a lot of organic too, because that’s just a function of being a successful app that a lot of people know about, but, but we’re spending a ton on UI. That’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing.

And so, but, but the majority of our users came in through paid UA and so we’ve optimized the app for them. and so we’ve, we’ve, we’ve made the economics better over time. And then the other piece is like in a, talked about this a lot too. It’s like, you’ve got to change it. Over the life cycle of your app.

It, because you know, a lot of times what you see as, you know, you see an app that’s new they’ve got like explosive growth, right? And you look at the, just like a kind of stacked, a bar chart of the cohorts by age. And it’s like, well, on any given day, the vast majority of users are new or they’re less than a month old.

Right. And then like you go, you fast forward two years or three years, and a really good app, that’ll be flipped because you’ve, you’ve retained people. The vast majority of people that use your product every day are old. I mean, in terms of like when they adopted your product, because it’s sticky because it’s retentive, right.

And that’s a, that’s a great place to be. But that, that you’ve got to change the way that you think about product optimization at that point. Like when you’re going through the product iteration process, like, well, you’re not optimizing for the newbies anymore because there’s way fewer than you got to keep the old timers involved and engaged and.

Right. Cause, you know, that’s just where the vast majority of your revenue is coming from. Right. And, and, you know, and, and at that point you’ve probably reached, you know, some proportion of your Tam. And so you might not even be doing new user acquisition as such anymore. You might be doing a lot of retargeting re-engagement.

And so it’s just like, you gotta be very conscious of like the life cycle of the app, what the, what the user base looks like in terms of composition by age and like all that kind of stuff. And it just, it just takes a lot of consideration and it’s it’s, you know, and if you get to any point where like any of those, any of those distributions is skewed to an extreme, to an extreme one direction or the other, you probably got a problem.

Like if you’re all organic, you’re not you leaving money on the table. If you’re all old timers, when you’re not growing anymore, if you’re all 

00:53:39 David:


00:53:39 Eric:

Retaining enough. Right. It’s like all these different levers that you got to pull to make sure that you hit the optimal sort of combination.

00:53:45 David:

Yeah. That’s great stuff. I love the way you put that too. I think there is some level of magical thinking that if I have just the right app, I never have to do marketing, marketing is a dirty word. Spending money on marketing is. It is wasteful or only companies with bad products have to do marketing and that’s just not true.

What’s especially funny. a lot of these folks or indie developers who hold up Apple to be the end, all be-all Apple spends tens of billions of dollars on marketing, Apple measures that marketing while at the same time, you know, enacting ATT. App Tracking Transparency So it is funny that dichotomy of, and the magical thinking of I shouldn’t have to pay for users.

My product should be good enough it, really is just magical thinking. ultimately, spending money on marketing is a good thing. Not a bad thing. I love that perspective.

00:54:39 Eric:

Yeah, my, we had a Halloween party for my son and his classmates he’s, he’s very young and he was, he like, he did this thing where, you know, he wanted to be two things for Halloween. So they had like a, you know, a parade of their school. And then, we had, you know, we just had Halloween day country competing and stuff anyway, so he wanted to be a dinosaur.

And then he decided he wanted to be a vampire for the Halloween day. so we had to get him a second costume. He was a vampire and a, and we’re having this party and someone was like, oh, you look like such a scary vampire. I was like, I work in digital advertising.

I’ll show you what a vampire. looks like, It’s this idea about digital advertising. Oh man. It’s, so disgusting. it’s crass gross. You have to spend money to acquire users That’s that’s that’s that’s so, vulgar, but in reality, you’re leaving money on the table.

If you could be doing it and you’re not

00:55:35 David:


00:55:36 Eric:

That’s not good. 

00:55:37 David:

Yeah, totally. So, so, that, that’s actually a great place to wrap up. Like where, where do we go from here? So ATT App Tracking Transparency is what it is. We don’t know what Apple’s going to do. We hope they make things better, but, what is the future of, of app install ads? What is the future of, of marketing your app successfully?

00:55:57 Eric:

It’s funny because I, have been the biggest, crypto skeptic since day one. I remember people were telling me about Bitcoin in 2011 and I was like, this is a joke. Like, this is a, there’s no need for this. There’s no use case for this. I still feel that way, but it’s gotten to a point where I feel like it’s actually inculcating new behaviors where this is just.

Crypto in general is probably the thing that introduces us to these ideas. it’s like an imperfect way to implement them, but it makes us think about them. then there’s going to be a solution that follows The structure of crypto. that is, is actually the better way to, to, to implement these ideas.

But I’ve worked with a number of web 3.0 gaming companies. Right. And, and their challenge is that they can’t be on the App Store. they’re running like web properties. how do you promote that? And, the thing is if you’re running it on the web, you can access it from your mobile device.

I can access these games from my device It’s just not on the App Store. if you get one of these that blows up, you get the halo of web 3.0 games. You get the, hit game that, creates the space for this category to thrive.

Then. Maybe it just becomes, you know, acknowledged that yeah, we can go through the App Store if we want specific types of games, but if we want these other types of games, we just go straight to the browser. my big question is why did Apple do privacy really in the first place? maybe it was to actually route everything through the App Store, That would be the cynical conspiratorial take. It’s that they want to prevent your access to the open web or they want to gatekeep it. so they’re going to decide what you’re able to access. But anyway, There are a lot of web 3.0 companies thinking about this right now.

They can’t go to the App Store, So there’s no app install ads for them. It’s all web-based. and, and also, you know, they’ve done a great loves Web 3.0 companies have done a great job of fostering community-driven marketing, Getting a discord server with 20,000 or 100,000 people in it.

And That’s where you advertise. you never have to pay for anything. now that’s a first-mover thing. And I think that declines as more people enter the space. There are just, you know, there’s just too many of these, these sort of games to, to sort of rely on that.

But a lot of companies are thinking about that right now. How do we drive people to the web to do acquisition? Right. A lot of, you know, as, you know, a lot of, subscription companies, have been doing that for a long time, There are well-worn strategies for doing this. And they’ve been monetizing that way for a long time too.

They haven’t been screaming about it. But they’ve been doing it. now that, well, okay, now that’s probably, that’s, that’s a policy that’s allowed to, you’re allowed to do that. Apple blesses. Well, they don’t, they, anyway, they say we can’t stop you. Maybe the consequence of this whole thing is that it just moves people into the browser. there’s the web 3.0 piece of it, which, who knows maybe that is a dud. Maybe it’s a gigantic category. I’m not convinced either way yet, but you’ve got people that are saying I’m going to set up web shops I made the point that like, look, I don’t think that, you know, there’s, there’s, there are systematic reasons why that probably doesn’t become a mass-scale solution.

A lot of people are doing that anyway. A lot of games are doing that anyway. That’s the other dirty little. secret A lot of gaming companies were sending emails saying, Hey, you know what, don’t buy these IAPs in the app. Because if you go to our website, it’s 20% off they’re already doing it.

They already had a web shop set up and, you know, but, but anyway, I think maybe a consequence of this is we move in that direction. Now, maybe Apple then clamps down harder. And they say no privacy-related we’re blocking that. maybe they do that for web 3.0 Maybe they do that for whatever to protect people, who knows.

But there’s that idea. let’s just move people to the web. We’ve got more control there. It’s just, it’s just a better storefront, right? Like I talked about that on the, on, on the stretcher podcast, it’s a better storefront. It’s you’re you have way more opportunity to do cool things there, personalization, like real-time optimization and things you just can’t do with the App Store.

Because it’s, limited in the number of sq use and then, but then maybe the other thing is like, well, we just, we fundamentally shift the way we think about measurement. It’s all about incrementality It’s all about media mix models. It’s all about statistical probabilistic thinking.

And that’s probably a good thing too, because like, you know, that’s, you can make that work.

01:00:11 David:

At scale, That just still leaves the smaller folks

Struggling to get to scale.

01:00:16 Eric:

Right it does but you can make that work at scale and there are no privacy concerns, 

01:00:21 David:

Yeah, that’s interesting. I didn’t know where you’re going with the whole web 3.0 thing, but I think you landed that well. I think you’re right there, it does feel like with Apple the tighter you hold onto something, the more it struggles to get free. The more Apple continues clamping down on the App Store, the more they’re pushing developers to think outside of the App Store.

We’ve seen a lot of our RevenueCat customers build-out web onboarding, and experiment with more and more stuff on the web because of this. So, yeah, I think that’s really interesting. Then seeing what the Facebooks of the world can do with this new paradigm, they can still collect a lot of first-party data. Some of their signaling is gone, but it’s going to be interesting to see the solutions they build in the coming years to bridge some of that gap. I think probabilistic incrementality and all that’s going to play big.

Alright, let’s wrap it up then. Anything else you wanted to share? We’re going to link to your LinkedIn and to Mobile Dev Memo, and your Twitter in the show notes, but anything else you wanted to share before we wrap up?

01:01:37 Eric:

No. I’m hoping that in 2022, I don’t talk about ATT at all. I would love it. I would love it if I could get back to just talking about stuff that I think is more evergreen and conceptual, versus specific policy level. I don’t know, we’ll see. Apple, maybe they reel me back in and they do something else that is extreme or egregious.

It (ATT) happened. I wrote a post the other day, and I was like, “Look, this happened, it’s had a massive impact. Probably not going to go away. I don’t think there’s gonna be a reversal. So, you gotta learn to live with it.” Ultimately, I think companies will do that, and it’s also just a really exciting time.

This is probably like the start of a new era of marketing science, and thinking about measurement, and thinking about how to bridge that with product design and product development in really cool ways. So, there’s a lot of work or design stuff that’s going to get changed as a result of this.

I don’t know that you have a standalone marketing team, or a UAA team, as such. If you’re thinking about media mix models, what’s your UAA team? 

It’s just a lot of change, and a lot of exciting change. A lot of opportunity.

There’s always opportunity to change.

01:03:00 David:

That’s a great place to leave it. Opportunity all across the board. There’s opportunity for apps to find new ways to find the users, and opportunities to fill those gaps in the tooling, as well.

Eric, thanks so much for being on the podcast. Hopefully we can have you on in 2022 and not talk about ATT.

01:03:21 Eric:

Fingers crossed.

Alright. Take care, buddy.