Crisp Insights

a digital agency veteran building his own shop talks successes, lessons learned, and trends to identify



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Instagram Acquisition Failure

In what is certainly a controversial move, Facebook has decided to use some of its stacks of cash to purchase Instagram, the adorable and darling runaway mobile photo-sharing app success story.  Certainly a steal for Facebook, who is looking to be a one-stop photo depository. 

While Instagram is without a doubt the most successful photo app (aside from Apple’s own Camera which comes pre-installed on all of its mobile devices).  However, like most apps, they have failed to really monetize it despite extraordinary growth over the last 18 months.  Will Facebook’s clout and soon-approaching IPO help drive Instagram into a major success story?  Probably.

However, it is our firm belief that Instagram is actually worth a bucket-load more than $1billion.  In fact, we almost had another “history repeats itself moment,” when in 2006, Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook for $1 billion, but was wisely rejected by Facebook. 

Instagram, unlike Facebook, clearly did not believe in itself as much, and accepted the $1 billion offer.  Wise strategy?  Only time will tell.  Perhaps Groupon’s failure to accept Google’s multi-billion dollar offer a few years back was a compelling enough story for Instagram to cave to Facebook.

Mobile Gaming Content: Strategic Monetization

Content.  It’s the Holy Grail that, with just enough of the right scale, can be that ultimate viaduct between marketers and potential consumers.   Yet, it goes way beyond scale.   Any decent marketing guru would tell you that content which has the scalability of a couple million viewers is a good thing.  But what about staleability? Yes, the actual ratio of freshness (or rather refresh rate) of content as it relates to the number of people consuming that content.  And that’s where mobile gaming content and its domination of the mobile content market comes into play.

With the proliferation of such sleek and fast mobile devices becoming commonplace, coupled with the mass adoption of downloading apps (Apple’s App Store is at 25 billion and counting), it should come as no surprise that 90% of apps have a very limited shelf life.  And that’s being conservative.  Think about it: how many apps can you actually identify as engaging with on a regular basis for over three months?  Aside from staples like Facebook and Pandora, they are few and far between.  Sure, there is always going to be an app that’s hot at the moment; many of which happen to be games, which inherently have a short shelf life due to the fact there is always going to be one goal in mind: Winning.  If the developer of a game is smart, they will figure out a way to keep you coming back for more play time; be it special unlocked content through Easter eggs, or simple ways to jump ahead such as buy-ups through social currency.   

The darling game of the moment happens to be called Temple Run.  With over 800,000 positive reviews, and daily downloads well into the six-figures, you’d think they would do anything they could to sustain this traction.  And while they’ve done an excellent job of not only building up a user-base, but a clean gaming experience with zero ads and flawless execution, they haven’t had the foresight to see the monetization opportunities beyond first base.  Is the game addicting? Absolutely.  Is it structured in a way to engage players?  Several built-in challenges would indicate the answer is yes.  However, people get bored in today’s on-demand / always-a-new-app-to-download world.  How do you keep a grip on having players return on a regular basis?

Having come from a large agency before starting up my own, I know first-hand that marketers (especially entertainment and CPG) are always looking for innovative ways to reach their potential customers (or viewers) through engaging ways, and often look to casual games to do so.  They are also willing to plunk down wads of cash to do it, too.  One of the best pieces of free advice I can give to any marketer out there when it comes to jumping into casual games, is if there is already a very successful game out there with legions of players, best to get engaged than trying to have the baby on your own, if you know what I mean.  Players are eager for fresh levels, new characters, and awesome challenges (and having no display banners wouldn’t hurt either).  Marketers want the eyeballs.  The game developer wants to generate more revenue.  Do I need to do the math here?  It’s not that farfetched for whoever is PowerAde’s agency of record to propose to their client an opportunity for a major integration on the hottest mobile game since Angry Birds, is it?   Unique (and of course branded) power-ups can be easily inserted into a new software update download whereby the player is now flicking and swiping his/her avatar in an attempt to collect the coins and the new PowerAde flavor 1-Up.

My point in all of this is that developers of games have to rethink the way they look to monetize their games to reduce and ultimately eliminate their content’s staleability. Content can be easily refreshed using innovative branding integration as a way of satisfying all parties involved: the player, the marketer, and the developer. 

With a new hot game a dime a dozen, it’s critical to think long-term and plan for financial success.  Today’s digital-savvy consumers are not inept when it comes to value exchange.  Agencies should be able to identify trends and position strategic opportunities for the best interest of the client. And in order to do that, we need to rewire the way we think about the customer.

You’re Starting a Digital Agency?

After ten years of working in the digital marketing industry, and seeing my fair share of successes and learnings, I decided to leave my high-profile, cushy, six-figure salary job at an extremely prominent an award-winning agency (2010 AdAge and AdWeek Media Agency of the Year, Horizon Media) for a new and challenging venture.

Did I do what most folks in the industry do, jumping from agency to agency in hopes of a fancier job title and even dreamier salary? Nope. Been there, done that.  I actually decided to put my money where my mouth was and start a digital company from the ground up.  For the last decade, I’ve been conceptualizing, formulating, and activating the finest digital programs on behalf of my clients. 

And while I was extremely successful in making them successful in the digital world (more on that to come over the next few posts), I personally wasn’t seeing any of that success personally.  Rather than being rewarded for innovation and creativity, I would find myself being stifled by folks who just didn’t get the whole “digital thing,” and therefore, productivity suffered.

BlueCrisp Digital was created as a way of capitalizing on all the success I’ve brought clients over the last ten years, identifying (and starting) the hottest digital trends, and putting them into action in a smart and tactful manner.

This is the first of many posts to come which will shed some insight on our ever-loving, ever-fluid, and ever-transformational digital industry that we’ve all come to love.  Some posts will be longer than others, but are guaranteed to include juicy nuggets of digital insights, lessons learned, and phenomenal stories.  It’s my hope to share my insights working for some of the hottest digital brands, life inside a growing digital organization, and news of upcoming and exciting projects.

Adam Davis

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