Flappy Bird and Lessons for App Marketers
In this weeks App Marketing Conversation; Ryan Morel of GameHouse, Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ and Robi Ganguly of Apptentive discuss Flappy Birds and how app marketers can apply its strategies & tactics to their own content catalogs. Watch the video here, or read the transcript below!
Ryan: Good morning and welcome to another episode of App Marketing Conversations. I am Ryan Morel with Gamehouse here with Robi Ganguly of Apptentive, Ian Sefferman of Mobile DevHQ. Been a while since we’ve done one these, and maybe one of the bigger stories in apps and app marketing is Flappy Bird, and we will absolutely ride this train.
Robi: And then crash into some pipes actually.
Ryan: Exactly. Yeah, it’s been quite the story. So first question, have you played and if so, what’s your high score?
Robi: I have played, and I think I gave up at six.
Ian: Yes, and I spent all weekend trying to get above three, and I got to 37.
Robi: Woah! That’s huge.
Ryan: That is huge. I got to 29, which is not bad.
Ian: Not bad.
Ryan: So, have you seen the game center leader board?
Ian: I have not. I have heard that it is, that there is virtually no way that people who are on the leader board have not cheated.
Ryan: Yeah. 9,999.
Ian: That’s ridiculous.
Ryan: So that’s a lot of pipes. So, I think there’s been a lot of interesting talk. And one of the things that I’ve heard discussed is whether or not Dong Nguyen is a real person, and if this is maybe a shadow ploy by someone like Zynga or EA to game everything. And six months from now they’ll come out and say we did it. What’s the likelihood that you think that’s true?
Ian: Like, a four percent chance.
Ryan: Four percent chance?
Ian: Somebody like Zynga, like, they need the wins. They don’t need to wait on the wins. If they had a win on their hand, I think that they would say they had a win on their hand.
Ryan: Okay. Right.
Robi: Yeah. I mean, I would agree. It seems to me like a big studio would actually take credit more quickly than anything, given the nature of the environment right now, being so competitive.
Robi: Might as well chalk it up to Jimmy Kimmel trolling us all or something.
Ian: And plus, I don’t think a big studio would ever actually pull the app, right?
Ian: If they had a winner on their hands, I don’t think they would actually pull it.
Ryan: Yeah. And I think that’s the main argument against this is believing that it was a big studio that orchestrated this implies that someone can game the ecosystem, and if that was possible, they’d be doing it all the time, right? So, I think you’re probably right. So, from your perspective, what are the things that, you know, to back up, he launched this game in, like, May of 2013. And it didn’t start getting popular until January of last month, right? So we have kind of an up and down nine months, and then if you look at the trajectory on App Annie, it just went straight up. So, from your perspective, what are the things that he did and what can app marketers learn from him to help them maybe have, maybe not the same success but some success in the app stores?
Robi: I mean, as far as I can tell the biggest thing was that he had the critical mass of people talking about it, right? Enough people and enough groups of friends were frustrated with it and talking about it that everybody who wasn’t playing it then felt pressure to play it. You know, like, what is this people are talking about? But that seems like the key ingredient and not something you can really just make happen.
Ian: Yeah, I mean, I agree. I think it again points to the fact that everything in mobile in terms of games is gone to free. And so you better do free. That, I think, is a point that, like, at this point it’s kind of like the HTML5 versus native discussion. Like, if native won, why are we still having the discussion? If app free won, why are we still having the discussion? I mean, it’s a stupid game, but it is a good game, right? There is addicting qualities to it.
Ryan: Yeah. From my perspective, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, developers need to remove obstacles, and I hate saying this, remove obstacles for serendipity, right? And a good game, first of all, make it easy to share and remove kind of all the fluff and the crap and all these, like, different menus and upgrades and all this stuff to make it something really simple that people love to play and then share. It’s really pretty simple.
Ian: The other thing I would say is that controversy, from a marketing perspective, controversy breeds attention. Alright?
Ian: And, like, he just made up a controversy in the last month or two, three weeks, whatever it was, right?
Ian: And that was, like, oh my God, everybody hates me. I’m not doing this for the money. Oh my God, there’s somebody making money out there who’s not doing it for the money? This can’t be true, right?
Ian: Like, he manufactured a controversy and that worked well from a marketing perspective.
Ryan: Yeah. So do you think he really manufactured it, or do you think it’s really true?
Ian: Either way, it happened, right?
Ryan: Yeah. I think the other point that’s maybe interesting is that despite the fact that he had 50 million downloads or whatever it was, he was only making supposedly $50,000 a day, which for ads is really pretty good but there’s just, I think it goes to show how much more money is available with in app purchase when we see people like SuperCell there. Revenue numbers of 892 million dollars on two games or something like that. So if you’re an app marketer, the key learnings are what?
Ian: Simple game, free, and smart marketing in some way.
Robi: Patience, right? Like, he put it out last May and then it blew up two months ago. So the expectation of being famous fast, that’s just a silly thing to do.
Ian: Yet another overnight success that took nine months, right?
Robi: Yeah. Exactly.
Ryan: We haven’t seen an overnight success in a while, right?
Robi: The charts are just too hot and hard to get to the top right away. I mean, it doesn’t even look like anybody’d doing personable campaigns and popping up at the top at this point.
Robi: It’s too hard.
Ryan: Yeah. OK. Anything else to add here? I know this topic’s been . . .
Ian: What’s your score? Let’s leave it at the . . .
Ryan: Yeah. Post your score. That’s actually a good idea. So we can do, well, let’s not do that. Okay. Make sure to ‘like’ this video, subscribe to our channel, and check back for the other segments from me and Robi.