Sven Lubek

Defining ‘hyper-casual’ as a genre and exploring its long-term viability

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Managing editor of WeQ Studios, Sven Lubek, lays out what hyper-casual is, explores its long-term viability, and addresses the monetization concerns surrounding hyper-casual games.

Hyper-casual games jumped onto the mobile gaming scene in 2017 as lightweight games with simple mechanics that offered low barrier to entry and instant gameplay – a “tap to play” experience. Due to their fundamental simplicity, hyper-casual games are not only instantly playable, but infinitely replayable.

In just under two years, based on data from IronSource’s platform on user level revenue, it’s estimated that the approximate market for hyper-casual games is in the realm of $2 billion to $2.5 billion in annual revenue.

At the same time, while “Hyper-Casual” is not an official category in the App Store, many developers have taken note on how this particular genre has shaken up the App Store’s Top Free charts consistently, due to its addictive nature and effective cross-promotion model.

It has also raised some controversy among the mobile game development community for concerns about cannibalization of other genres and impact on monetization models – prevalence of ad-focused games, rather than in-app purchases (IAP) and other models. One upset developer has even claimed that “hyper-casual games are the clickbait of mobile games.”

We decided to take a further look at the hyper-casual genre, and ask: is there room for another genre, and does this genre have staying power? Or is it a marketing tactic for acquiring mobile players quickly and efficiently, and will phase out or transition to something new over time?

What Fueled the Growth of Hyper-Casual Games?

Mobile Market Maturity

The way people like to play mobile games today has changed since the launch of the app stores. Consistently, mobile game genres have been broken into casual, mid-core and hardcore. While casual games have mass appeal, like Candy Crush, mid-core games are identified as having more adaptable controls and metagaming (for the slightly more skilled). With hardcore games, this is a smaller category of users, but monetization can be very high through up-front payment or IAP.

Interesting to note is that around the time that mid-core mobile gaming emerged in late 2016/early 2017, user acquisition (UA) managers started using cross-promotion between games and working with mobile advertising companies to acquire players, a trend which we now largely see within hyper-casual games today. Cross-promotion among games in an app portfolio is such an effective acquisition tactic because players are already engaged, and they’re already familiar with the brand and therefore have trust, so they’re more likely to convert as well as drive a higher value.

Compared to its counterparts, hyper-casual games are by far the most lightweight in mechanics and user interface. They’re more minimalistic, but very enticing and reminiscent of simple arcade games from the game industry’s early days.

According to an EEDAR report on mobile and tablet gaming, how and when people play has changed over the years. The most popular time that people play mobile games nowadays is when they’re multitasking at home; followed by when waiting for someone; while traveling, taking a break; and then when in the bathroom. In these scenarios, players want easy-to-access entertainment that they can enjoy in short sprints. Hyper-casual games fit perfectly with this trend.

Appeal and Accessibility

The wide appeal and accessibility of hyper-casual games is another factor in the fast rise of hyper-casual games. It has enabled developers to keep a low cost per install (CPI) for acquiring players. Additionally, the rapid monetization from ads has created a scenario where the lifetime value (LTV) of a player can exceed the CPI and scale.

Top Hyper-Casual Game Mechanics

In the traditional sense of why people play games, the hyper-casual genre fills that need for entertainment or escapism, and all within a very simple framed experience. The following are three of the top hyper-casual game mechanics that players can find in the app stores today, which illustrates how a simple, yet talently designed hyper-casual game can draw millions of users to become repeat players:

  • Idle Mechanics: at its core, they don’t require any input from a player in order to progress. Most of the time, idle mechanics form a secondary mechanic attached to a soft currency. This works well because over time players earn more money, which they can spend in their core game experience. Adventure Capitalist by Hyper Hippo made the idle mechanic the core focus of the gameplay and built a game around repeating the mechanic with different growth rates. It became successful because of the interplay between the rates and the addition of ascension mechanics which force a player to lose all of their progress in the current game for increase speed of progress in the next game.
  • Puzzle Mechanics: while a genre in itself, hyper-casual puzzle games focus on simplicity rather than complexity. A good hyper-casual puzzle game usually has no end. Good examples are 1010! from Gram Games or 2048 from Ketchapp. In both cases, the puzzle rules are set at the beginning and the board develops as you play. Unlike other board games such as Chess or Chequers which have clear end goals, hyper-casual puzzle games usually have no clear end and it’s simply a case of lasting as long as you can.
  • Dexterity Mechanics: these games typically have players continue a very simple and repeatable action that they must perform quickly and hundreds of times. Timberman from Digital Melody is a great example of taking a player’s full attention, timing and dexterity to create a challenging points based challenge.

Undoubtedly, we find that hyper-casual games include a variety of mechanics that challenge and entertain players, and thus, can be considered “real games”.

The Controversy Over Monetization

Today, hyper-casual games primarily monetize through advertising (interstitials shown between levels, rewarded videos and more). Occasionally, some hyper-casual games will include IAP, but it’s uncommon. Much of the hyper-casual advertising inventory is sold to other hyper-casual games, or to cross-promo campaigns from the same publisher, with some rising interest among brand marketers. That said, it is mainly hyper-casual advertisers running campaigns on hyper-casual supply.

With the rise of hyper-casual games in the app stores, the cross-promotion advertising model has further popularized, causing concern to other game developers about potential monopolization in the stores. Publishers that bring a lot of hyper-casual games to market and cross-promote are weeding out competition and rising in the rankings. 

The growing concern is that it’s becoming harder for other developers to create games that don’t rely on this ad monetization model with cross-promotion. However, there is potential in IAP (in-app-purchase).

Referring back to the IronSource data, of all players analyzed, 660 million play hyper-casual games, with 520 million out of that 660 million playing both hyper-casual and IAP games. Interestingly though, 101 million out of that 520 million played a hyper-casual game first. This effectively means that 20% of new gamers who play both IAP and hyper-casual games first played a hyper-casual game and only then moved to IAP games. This data suggests that hyper-casual games potentially “warm up” new gamers for IAP-based games.

Taking a look at data from Sensor Tower in 2018, the Arcade category only accounts for 5% of the total IAP revenue for all casual games, yet it brought in half of all the downloads for the genre that year. In fact, 2018 was the year of growth for the category as the year-on-year downloads during 2018 went from 1.8 billion to a whopping 3.5 billion. This growth was found to be mostly driven by hyper-casual games.

The potential here is for IAP games to dig deeper into the data to learn how to effectively buy on hyper-casual inventory and continue to increase budgets. IAP buyers must be data-driven and learn optimization techniques to improve creatives, better understand hyper-casual users and how to monetize them after install.

Conclusion

While downloads are still growing quarter-over-quarter since 2017, the leaps in growth have slowed over the past year, indicating that perhaps the hyper-casual market has matured at a rapid pace and both market entry and staying power is now harder.

Does it mean that the genre is going away? I’d say no. But it will evolve.

Hyper-casual games have brought new players to the market that have proven to monetize with IAP. Just a few years ago, Facebook and Google were the only real viable options for UA, since triple-A, midcore, and casual publishers focused on IAP, rather than ads, as their main source of monetization. This meant that there wasn’t a huge amount of in-game inventory to market on and that the introduction of hyper-casual games has brought a mass of impressions into the market, which has expanded the overall amount of available inventory. It has also created inventory ideally suited for hyper-casual UA campaigns.

Based on the trend, we can expect to see the growth of hybrid monetization models in hyper-casual genre to support ad revenues, and gameplay evolution with light meta system additions, to further boost LTVs.

Additionally, brands are increasingly understanding the value of in-game advertising that results in high-quality and engaged users, and high viewability. So, as brands increase their spend in hyper-casual inventory and as IAP games learn to buy more effectively on hyper-casual, we expect this genre to continue to grow within the casual sub-genre, carving out its own place for the long haul.

First published on https://gamedaily.biz/article/1135/defining-hyper-casual-as-a-genre-and-exploring-its-long-term-viability-industry-contributor

How To Measure A Hyper-Casual Game’s Trajectory to Success

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WeQ Studios’ managing director, Sven Lubek, lays out which data markers hyper-casual game developers should be paying the most attention to.

As you’re building your next hyper-casual game, it’s important to start thinking early on about the metrics that will help you understand how your game is performing against your objectivesin other words, establishing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Determining your game’s value and assessing its performance starts with knowing which KPIs are the right ones that you should care about and track.

There are two key areas to consider grouping these KPIs into: In-App Performance (IAP) and User Acquisition (UA). In-App Performance metrics offer you the day-to-day snapshot of where users are dropping out of the game, so that you can focus on extending the life cycle of players and their Life Time Value (LTV). There are several fundamental KPIs in UA that you should be monitoring every day, as they give you an accurate reflection on the overall success of your game and what areas may need modifying. 

Below are the top KPIs we recommend monitoring in your hyper-casual game, in order to drive ongoing success. We map out the user funnel and guide you through the user journey through the game and into monetization: 

User Acquisition

Cost per Install (CPI)

For your game to get discovered and for your app to stand out stronger, boost your ASO (App Store Optimization). It enables your app to become more relevant for the keywords that represent your game within the algorithms of the App Store and Google Play. As a result, should start getting more organic installs from users that are looking for a game like yours (high-value users). After making the ASO updates, you will also start seeing lower CPI’s, as you are still relevant for what your game is offering. As they are organic installs, the users are more targeted users: so you can get better retention from them, and therefore, more revenue.

Conversion rates of the App Store for hyper-casual games are:

  • CR: From the store page visitors to installs, the CR benchmark is from 20 to 30%
  • CTR: from an impression to the click, the CTR benchmark goes from 2.5 to 4% for games in general
  • CPI: from 0.02 (tier 3 countries) to 0.5 (tier 1 countries)

Now that your ASO is in place, we can look at CPI. 

CPI is the amount you spend for a paid install (e.g. on Facebook Ads campaigns) and is extremely important to monitor and measure. You pay once the app is installed, rather than the advert being viewed. A low CPI leads to more budget that can be spent on UA to drive more traffic to your game. It can also act as a flag for indicating the overall appeal of your ASO (landing page). A high CPI could be the result of many factors within your campaign set-up. 

For a successful CPI campaign set-up, ensure that you have developed the right creatives and messaging for the right target group and country. All the creatives you have in place and ASO should be tailored to that target group and reflect their needs, from the text (e.g. call-to-actions) down to the design. For example, the style should reflect the target user and remain consistent across the different channels.

Organic Uplift

Organic uplift is a way to measure the relationship between paid and unpaid (organic) app installs, calculated as the number of organic users acquired per each non-organic user. The higher the organic uplift, the more organic installs and, so, the lower effective CPI.

Essentially, it tells you if the market you are targeting actually like the game and whether you will have success with the game in the mid/long term. 

For hyper-casual games, this KPI is really important because if you don’t track your organic installs, once you decrease your UA investment, the keywords you rank for will decrease as well. Your app store ranking will then decrease as a result, organic downloads will decrease and your CPI will be higher. 

Note that if you are ranked for the main keywords your market is interested in, Google and iOS algorithms will give you a lower CPI, resulting in better conditions to keep acquiring users.

Retention Rate

The retention rate of your game is one of the most important KPIs because it shows the overall stickiness of your game and the retention of every user who downloads your game. For hyper-casual games, you’ll want to play close attention to retention rates on Day 1 and Day 7. For all other games, it’s critical to monitor retention rate on Day 14 and Day 30 as well.

This metric can act as a red flag to indicate whether there are areas of your game requiring change. For example, a low rate on Day 1 may mean that your game is not challenging enough for the user and thus the user doesn’t return after the first session. A promising Day 1 retention rate, but low rate on Day 7 may indicate that while your game is engaging at first, it lacks incentive for the user to return after time has passed. As a result, you may want to increase the difficulty of some levels or implement a daily reward in order to encourage players to return.

Benchmarks of good retention for hyper-casual games would be: Day 1 Retention: 40% of the users acquired on Day 0; Day 7 Retention: 15% of the users acquired on Day 0.

Monetization

Average Revenue per User (ARPU)

Also referenced alongside ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user), ARPU is one of the most popular and most important monetization indicators in gaming. It’s the amount of revenue driven from one player on average. It’s calculated by dividing the revenue for a selected time period by the active users from that time period. 

Normally, you would build cohorts of the user, that for example start on the same day and look at their ARPU. It does not make sense to look at overall users because in the early stages of your game, you want to focus on how your game concept is performing, rather than revenue. 

You’ll want to focus on other metrics such as retention, session length, stickiness and number of sessions, because this indicates that your game is fun and engaging for players – which is critical in building up your player base. 

Once you see that your game performs well and it matures in the market, you will have more of a player base, so you can start thinking in the revenue you are getting from your users. Then it’s even more critical to look at ARPU regularly as an indicator of LTV. 

Keep track of the ARPDAU, as it will help determine the limits for your CPIs. It will also give you a better understanding of the daily behaviour of your users and make it easier to know your LTV.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

The LTV gives you the limits of how much you should pay for each user you get into the game (paid installs).

Now that you find yourself at a more advanced stage of the game user acquisition journey, you can consider the LTV. Ensure that you have the ad monetisation networks, conversion rate and retention already optimised. So, to have a game that makes revenue, your CPI should be lower than the LTV.

Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS)

Last but not least, you’ll want to consider ROAS. Similarly to the LTV and CPI explained above, this KPI will gather together the sum of both, acting as a final conclusion and parameter for success: whether the game is generating revenue or not.

Effective Cost per Thousand Ad Impressions (eCPM)

eCPM is the cost that ad networks pay per thousand ad impressions in an ad space within your game. It’s an important metric to measure, as it represents the overall effectiveness of your game and the quality of users that you’re attracting to it. The higher the quality of users are as a result of UA, the better your overall eCPM will be from ad networks, and the higher your overall revenues will be.

Set benchmarks and gain understanding 

While it’s important to keep in mind differences in gameplay style and type that would result in different benchmarks for these metrics, overall these are the right metrics to monitor across all genres of gaming. Setting benchmarks for your hyper-casual game across acquisition, user behaviour and monetization performance will give you a guiding baseline for understanding your game’s chances of success, where and when adjustments need to be made, so that you can extend the lifetime value of your players and drive sustainable long term growth.

First published https://gamedaily.biz/article/1002/how-to-measure-a-hyper-casual-games-trajectory-to-success-industry-contributor

The new rules of multi-channel customer engagement: handbook for growth marketers

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WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns at a global scale.”

Winning CX will come from Brands who can balance relevance, consistency and convenience to drive engagement. The kind of engagement that drives optimal customer lifetime value and real business impact.Download

In just 12 months, WeQ launched its brand and a host of products, expanded offices overseas and increased its global footprint. Most recently, WeQ announced that it had acquired a boutique games development studio and rebranded it as WeQ STUDIOS. Uniting the talents of its acquired gaming studio with its mobile advertising expertise, the new studio will provide exclusive access to gaming inventory along with first and third-party publishing services.

Here’s what Sven shares on why mobile performance is here to stay and the trends to follow in this space:

WeQ started off well-funded – thoughts on the launch in April 2018 and how we earned investors’ trust?

WeQ refers to the cultural change from an exclusive ego culture to a collaborative “We” culture.

Here, the collective human intelligence is in the foreground. For our brand, this means that we as WeQ combine collective knowledge and expertise with innovative technology.

From the get-go, we have gathered a highly knowledgeable team of experts with a wealth of experience in media, desktop, mobile, gaming, big data and machine learning. We then combined their human experience with machine learning in order to create bespoke mobile marketing solutions and drive high-quality user acquisition for clients, beyond the walled gardens of Facebook and Google.

We believe that all these elements have appealed to the investors and gained their trust, enabling us to start off on the right foot. By securing a strategic investment of up to $50 million in USD in internal funds and debt capital to accelerate an ambitious global growth path, we were able to position WeQ as a key player within the mobile advertising industry.

What makes WeQ a unique player in the mobile performance ecosystem? 

WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns at a global scale. Our team of experts enable clients to achieve their goals by combining a client-centric approach with purpose-built, state-of-the-art technology. We deliver to our clients in over 180 countries across different verticals: gaming, mobility, m-commerce, travel and more. 

As a mobile advertising company, WeQ is offering a unique approach that balances data with human intelligence – thus rendering us a unique player in the mobile advertising industry. The motto “Built by experts, powered by technology” is embedded within every facet of the organization, from campaign management to optimization.

 What is WeQ’s value proposition and competitive advantage?

WeQ is all about achieving measurable results for clients worldwide and our proprietary machine learning technology is at the core of WeQ. It enables us to deliver optimal results at a fraction of the cost, according to specific KPIs. WeQ’s proprietary technology is continually developed by an in-house team of machine learning experts, developers, and data scientists – in order to deliver the most targeted, optimized, and scalable mobile advertising solutions. This allows our clients to focus on what they do best: building great apps and growing successful brands.

Reflecting on WeQ’s success in APAC – what enabled it?

We attribute our recent success in South Korea and Japan to our dedicated team of account managers, who follow a hands-on consultative approach that is tailored to the market needs for each client. There is a strong consultation element, as we advise our clients based on the experience we have gained from previous campaigns in other GEOs. We enjoy sharing knowledge of GEOs and give them advice on how to run campaigns in Western markets and ultimately help them grow. We have a tailor-made and personalized approach at WeQ so we don’t just press some buttons: we are there on a personal level to help our clients develop mobile marketing strategies every step of the way, together, as a team.

Our APAC team consists of members who have local expertise and speak the languages natively to enable their partners to reach their goals, both in APAC and globally. This combined with our proprietary technology for successful campaign management and optimization enables us to stand out in APAC’s mobile advertising market landscape.

New office in Japan: In March 2019, we opened a new office in Tokyo. We opened our office in Japan to help agencies, app developers and networks to grow their apps. We want to work together to drive user acquisition and engagement via tailored mobile performance and branding campaigns. We have already been running offers from diverse verticals including gaming, dating and shopping. As Japan is one of the global leaders in technology and the number of mobile users, we believe that there is a high potential for verticals like finance, entertainment and lifestyle.

Looking Ahead – What’s next for WeQ in 2019

What are the trends that are driving the industry today, and how is WeQ meeting those needs?

Influencer Marketing: Influencer marketing is booming with a projected $10 billion to be invested in endorsed ads in 2019. So, in March 2019 Elena Kutsopal and Olga Wese joined forces as Managing Directors of WeQ INFLUENCERS.

We launched WeQ INFLUENCERS to leverage our market expertise and deliver the most impactful and scalable influencer campaigns for global brands. We can now help brands and app developers engage with high quality consumers across a wide array of key markets. We’ve created a unique and effective way for advertisers to reach users where they’re most engaged, unlock new marketing significant channels (including YouTube, Instagram & TikTok) and maximize return on ad spend in influencer marketing. By leveraging influencers’ personal brands and connecting their communities with products across multiple social networks, we can deliver true engagement and transfer the loyalty from the influencer onto the product.

Gaming: We see a huge opportunity in mobile gaming. Hyper-casual games have seen unprecedented growth over the past year and the market is valued to be in the region of $2 billion to $2.5 billion in annual revenue. We are looking to branch out into gaming in Q2 and it will be a heavy focus for us in Q3 We are in the process of investing in talent and looking potentially at game studios. We want to help them publish and grow their mobile games and we will be willing to invest into new partnerships and additional gaming projects. We will be revealing more details soon.

What are the opportunities that you see in the future of the company?

APAC: Since APAC continues to be a top tier market for WeQ’s mobile advertising activities, we also have our sights set on expanding our footprint further within the region. We are continuing to expand our network in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea. With our newly established presence in Japan via the office in Tokyo, we aim to strengthen our existing relationships with local partners and expand our business reach.

What are the challenges?

Adapting Fast: To be successful as an entrepreneur in any field, you must see problems as opportunities. This rings mostly true with mobile advertising, where there is a constant need for innovation. Working in this industry does not only mean that we must be aware of the trends, but as a business we also must work in an agile way to ensure that changes are continuously made to stay ahead of the curve. The challenge is also the most exciting part: adapting fast to improve our offering and doing it well. 

Meeting our clients’ needs: This goes together with the other major challenge, which is meeting our clients’ needs daily from campaign management to optimization. We get around this by working closely with clients to understand their perspective and needs. For example, with mobile ad fraud being the biggest pain point for advertisers, our team worked closely with clients to understand their needs and perspective. They then took this feedback on to develop a comprehensive in-house fraud prevention solution that addresses the current compliance needs of the mobile marketing industry.

Developing Bespoke Solutions: We pride ourselves on developing our bespoke solutions with a tailor-made approach. This ensures that the needs of our clients are met, as there is no one-size-fits-all, so this is always front of mind for us.

What are additional key trends that you see impacting the advertising industry significantly over the next 12 months?

Mobile Fraud: Rather than “trend” we’d speak about the major problem faced by our industry – mobile advertising fraud – which is driving the need for a solution. Mobile ad fraud is growing at an alarming pace, with rates nearly doubling since 2017. We developed a solution to help us protecting clients’ campaigns called WeQ SHIELD and launched it in November 2018. Seeing as one of the key impediments to fighting fraud is the lack of unified benchmarks, WeQ’s compliance team has worked closely with clients to understand their perspective and needs for fraud mitigation. We have also gathered an expert team of data scientists and BI specialists who use machine learning to comb through hundreds of millions of events and data points daily.  As a result, WeQ SHIELD is based on AI technology and unlike other manual or static automated systems on the market today, it uses machine learning to constantly adapt our anti-fraud detection mechanisms. This uniquely empowers WeQ’s team to take immediate action in the increasingly complex and growing fight against fraud.

Brand safety: The other trend or need driving the industry today is brand safety. Organizations now need to encourage cross-channel marketing, so there is more emphasis placed on brand safety than ever before. At WeQ, we collected several hundred billion data points from our partners and aggregated them in our in-house database. Based on the learnings from these statistics WeQ Technology can make informed decisions to protect our customers. We work exclusively with premium advertising inventory and offer our customers full transparency, by giving them access to the various advertising placements up to the individual publisher level.

MTA Features Desk: Thank you, Sven for sharing your insights on WeQ’s journey. We hope to talk to you again soon.

About Sven Lubek:

Sven is a serial entrepreneur, having founded over 25 companies — including WeQ, Browsergames, Sven Lubek’s the ADEX, Onlineversicherung.de — across 15 different industries, with a range of these firms benefiting from extremely high profits. He has acquired over 20 years of experience in building and leading high-performance digital and mobile marketing companies.

About WeQ:

WeQ drives user acquisition and engagement to deliver mobile performance and branding campaigns. Headquartered in Berlin with an office in San Francisco, it has a global footprint in Tokyo and Seoul. WeQ’s experts enable clients to achieve their goals by combining a client-centric approach with purpose-built, state-of-the-art technology across 180 markets.

First published here: https://www.martechadvisor.com/interviews/mobile-marketing/martech-interview-sven-lubek-mobile-performance/

About Sven Lubek

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Sven Lubek

A seasoned ad tech expert with unrivalled knowledge of performance marketing, Sven Lubek is passionate about creating technology and tech-driven mobile marketing solutions.

Sven is a serial entrepreneur, having founded over 25 companies — including WeQ, Browsergames, Sven Lubek’s the ADEX, Onlineversicherung.de — across 15 different industries, with a range of these firms benefiting from extremely high profits. He has acquired over 20 years of experience in building and leading high-performance digital and mobile marketing companies. Thanks to his business acumen, Sven has also secured partnerships with over 20 different associates who cooperated or helped finance a range of ventures, with the likes of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, Axel Springer and Burda.

His career highlights include: developing one of the largest German internet domain portfolios and digital marketplaces, which led to a number of successful exits with digital companies. One of his enterprises, BrowserGames.de, was acquired by the European mass media company ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, and three of Lubek’s other ventures were also funded by the media giant. He also co-founded the ADEX, one of the leading decentralized ad serving networks.

Passionate about working with and coaching fellow entrepreneurs, he is a mentor at the Founders Institute and Sven Lubek also sits on the Board of Directors of ProvenExpert, an online platform for qualified customer feedback and review aggregation in the DACH region.

A former Chairman and CEO of WeQ, Sven Lubek applied his leadership experience to help shape and drive top-notch strategies, innovation and processes revolving around growth.

Today as one of the three partners at Impact Plus Ventures Sven Lubek builds business cases that have impact in their DNA – right from the start. Impact Plus Ventures offer start-ups the perfect ecosystem for growth and profitability: curiosity and network, capital and knowledge.

AiThority Interview Series With Sven Lubek

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Tell us about your journey into technology. 

Before joining WeQ as Managing Director, I’ve been passionate about creating technology and tech-driven digital marketing solutions for quite some time. At the age of 20, I stumbled upon the world of affiliate marketing by accident and once I realized its potential as a business model, I started buying and building domains. That’s where my tech-entrepreneurial journey began. Then, over 15 years ago, I moved onto developing one of the largest German internet domain portfolios and digital marketplaces, which led to a number of successful exits with digital companies.

One of my companies, BrowserGames.de, was acquired by the European mass media company ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE. From there, I also developed three additional ventures that were also funded by ProSiebenSat.1. Following that, I co-founded AdEx, one of the leading decentralized DSPs.

How did you launch your journey into the field of data science and analytics? 

I started exploring the field of data science and analytics with AdEx, the data management platform company that I founded in 2013 which I exited in 2017.

Today, Ad Tech companies such as WeQ need to process incredibly vast amounts of data, and in order to do this, we hired big data science experts and developed our own proprietary algorithms to power our network.

How do you prepare for an AI-driven world in a tech-heavy marketing industry?

Machine Learning is the foundation for Artificial Intelligence, and this is how we have prepared at WeQ to integrate AI into our platform. We have built Machine Learning processes for our media buying and implemented strong fraud-detection solutions in the advertising campaigns we are running, and are leveraging this framework to feed into our AI system.

How do Automation and Big Data come together at WeQ?

As organizations now need to encourage cross-channel marketing, there is more emphasis placed on brand safety than ever before. At WeQ, we process several hundred billion data points from our partners. Based on the learnings from these statistics WeQ Technology can make informed decisions to protect our customers. We work exclusively with premium advertising inventory and offer our customers full transparency, by giving them access to the various advertising placements up to the individual publisher level.

Tell us more about WeQ’s role in the fight against Mobile Advertising fraud.

Brand safety is becoming a key concern for advertisers, our partners. We believe it’s our duty to identify key pain points in the advertising industry and to develop and acquire innovative solutions which address these points.

We all need to come together with transparency, data sharing, and solutions in order to fight against the ever-evolving threat of ad fraud. So, we’ve been working heads-down for many months on developing our proprietary fraud prevention solution, WeQ SHIELD, which we hope will have a major impact in the AdTech industry. It’s a comprehensive solution that meets compliance needs while acting preventatively on fraud challenges in the mobile ad industry.

How could AI and Machine Learning solve ad fraud for marketers?

Our WeQ SHIELD fraud detection solution is based on AI technology, which unlike other manual or statically automated systems in the market today, uses Machine Learning to constantly adapt our mechanisms for detecting suspicious behavior.

We use Machine Learning to comb through hundreds of millions of events and data points daily such as installs, post install events, traffic distribution, and device and the operational system variations. This builds a knowledge base that helps predict and take action against any malicious behavior.

Elaborate on your playbook for AI for Mobile Advertising technology. What challenges do traditional AdTech platforms suffer in dealing with ad fraud metrics?

Traditional platforms process huge amounts of data, but they don’t use the data in the defense of the advertiser. Doing a manual analysis on chunks of data never gives the full picture on patterns that a machine can easily identify. Recognizing these patterns gives WeQ SHIELD the edge and technological advantage, over traditional platforms.

The Crystal Gaze

What are the major challenges for intelligent mobile technology companies in making the platform more accessible to local communities? How do you overcome these challenges?

Local communities are the winners of the mobile evolution, as we now see areas with a poor internet connection being able to access the world via their smartphones. If we talk about business in those areas, then we have to predict what their digital learning curve would look like: If they got into the internet recently, they are more likely to use Facebook to access content on the internet.

At WeQ, our technology and the performance marketing capabilities can adapt to those different behavioral patterns and serve the best advertisers to the needs of each user, wherever they are.

What are your predictions for 2019-2020 in the field of Machine Learning/AI for mobile AdTech?

Emerging technologies that were exploratory in 2018 will take center stage in 2019 and into 2020, including blockchain, which is helping to create a new model that uses a cryptography-encrypted pipeline to ensure that target audiences actually get the ads that are delivered.

Blockchain is expected to address transparency, reduce fraudulent attacks and address flaws in the OpenRTB system. Additionally, I believe that the development of more advanced AI- and Machine Learning-based ad fraud detection systems will come in 2019 as well.

What AI start-ups and labs are you keenly following?

In all fields of science and business, there are plenty of interesting startups that push the boundaries of what we know — probably too many to list here. I normally follow the people in those fields who are behind impressive technological growth. However, I also recently read about IntelligentX who invented the world’s first beer brewed by Artificial Intelligence — as a German, I really have to follow those guys!

What technologies within AI and computing are you interested in?

I and my team are very interested in Machine Learning as it’s at the core of our business offering. WeQ is all about achieving measurable results for clients worldwide and our proprietary Machine Learning technology is at the core of WeQ. It enables us to deliver optimal results at a fraction of the cost, according to specific KPIs.

WeQ’s proprietary technology is continually developed by an in-house team of Machine Learning experts, developers, and data scientists — in order to deliver the most targeted, optimized, and scalable mobile advertising solutions. This allows our clients to focus on what they do best: building great apps and growing successful brands.

As an AI leader, what industries you think would be fastest in adopting AI/ML with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for AI technology markets?

In addition to our own industry of AdTech, the financial industry will be the fastest to adopt AI/ML technologies with the greatest efficiencies. In terms of resources for big data scientists and automation technology, the financial markets are way ahead of others, so they’ll be quickest to adopt and adapt.

In terms of emerging markets, the automotive industry combined with IoT is bringing intelligence to transportation, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings here.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

In general, it’s important to stay informed as there is a constant need for innovation. Working in this industry does not only mean that we have to be aware of the trends but as a business, we also have to work in an agile way to ensure that changes are continuously made to stay ahead of the curve. The challenge of “working smart” is also the most exciting part: adapting fast to improve our offering and doing it well. On a smaller scale, I am a fan of Slack for keeping up with instant “work chat” — it has become the most important means of communicating for my company WeQ and therefore indispensable.

First published here:https://www.aithority.com/interviews/interview-with-sven-lubek-managing-director-at-weq/