Veteran Mobile App Marketers Launch Grow Mobile, A Way To Systematically Get Users

Although it still seems opaque, the top mobile game companies have honed the art of spending millions of dollars per month to bring in new users through ad networks and dozens of other channels over the past few years.

Now a couple of veterans in this space are launching a platform that should make it easy for any app maker — brands and game developers alike — to acquire users. Co-founded by Zynga’s former head of mobile marketing A.J. Yeakel, Storm8’s former head of business development Brendan Lyall and Ming-Lei Xu, who sold Wild Needle to Zynga, Grow Mobile is a dashboard that incorporates about 75 different marketing channels from ad networks to cross-promotion networks and other exchanges.

It makes it easy for app makers to see which ones perform the best.

“This would have been amazing if both of us had this at our respective companies before,” Lyall said. “We each put in our own personal touches in what we wanted in the product.”

There’s a media planner that helps developers choose the best ways to get traffic based on their historical performance, a campaign wizard that makes it easier to syndicate campaigns without a lot of hands-on involvement and user retention and monetization reporting that shows where the most highly engaged users come from. Then there’s lifetime value reporting, which tells a developer how profitable users might be as long as they use an app.

There are basic app-rankings reports for how an app does on the charts in Google Play or the Apple App Store, basic analytics on where users come from geographically and what types of devices and OSes they use. Then there’s cohort ROI reporting, which tells a developer how much they’ve spent versus how well a group of users who joined at a certain time did in engagement and spending.

Lyall says that while there are similar tools for web-based performance marketing from companies like Adobe and Marin Software, the mobile ecosystem is way more fragmented.

“Your average mobile advertiser has a budget that is spread across north of 30 different sources,” Lyall said.

The company, which has raised a $1 million seed round from Signia Venture Partners and Bessemer, had about 16 companies in its beta. They included bigger buyers like GREE, Zynga and K-Lab. Lyall said one publicly traded company managed its entire budget on the Grow Mobile platform.

The 11-person startup takes a small percentage of spend every month. That percentage declines as the spending volume increases. Grow Mobile declined to share its rate card.

“Once you scale into the multiple millions of dollars per month, we go down to a single-digit percentage of spend,” Lyall said. “What we’re trying to do is to make it so easy that it’s like a no-brainer. If a company likes our solution, they would just allocate more of their spend through us instead of hiring a larger team.”