June 23, 2019

Moshi Blum – Adding Value & Feeling the Vibe(r)

Moshi Blum - Viber - yellowCHAT

Moshi Blum wears many hats as the Head of User Acquisition at Viber; organic, paid, and viral acquisition. Nevertheless, he was nice enough to hang them up for a chat with yellowHEAD to share his experience and insights into the mobile marketing world of Viber.

So how did Moshi become the marketing expert he is today?

After completing his Israeli military service, Moshi felt that he wanted to do something more innovative, more creative. Be impactful.

He decided to get his MBA degree from Ben Gurion University in collaboration with Columbia University.

It was during his third semester that he was assigned a group project to find a company that was facing a business problem and figure out a solution. Luckily for Moshi, someone in his group had suggested going the route of mobile applications.

After reaching out to several companies, they were eventually accepted by a small, niche application at the time known as Waze.

Through this group project, Moshi became enthralled with the mobile app world. After finishing the internship at Waze, Moshi looked for a similar opportunity and found a small startup from the music streaming industry, where he helped grow their product and turn it mobile.

The startup eventually closed, but the path continued. He looked for a position in marketing and found one at a mobile agency. Here, he began to get a sense for the industry and started to thrive. Dealing with high-performance campaigns, he helped other applications grow and achieve their business goals. He fell in love with the power of digital marketing – “with just the click of a button, you can reach millions upon millions of users online.”

It was during this time that the VP of Marketing at Viber had begun to build an in-house team. Moshi was looking for a well-known brand that provides value to their users, and with over 260 million active users, the calling & messaging app was just the place he needed to be.

What are the main components of your marketing mix?

Although Viber is a big brand, our marketing team is limited in media management resources. We chose to go with premium advertisers to minimize fraud and deliver reach at scale. In most cases, these sources also have the most sophisticated APIs to ease usage.

In addition, we look for marketing sources that can segment our audience and target users based on the specific and custom needs of Viber. Since Viber has many users in our targeted countries, the ability to differentiate in real time between a potential user and an existing active user is key in choosing our marketing sources.

We’re using Google Ads and Facebook/Instagram (both for branding and for dedicated performance campaigns). We also use Apple Search Ads for brand protection and for supporting our ASO strategy.

We’ve used many ad networks in the past, but after analyzing the results, we saw that they didn’t have a lot of incremental value. What we’re doing now is evaluating key partners that are more dedicated to our specific needs, while developing some channels with Snapchat and Pinterest – two very interesting social networks.

What channels are you utilizing, and which do you find most efficient?

So, it depends, right? Different activities require different channels – each with their advantages and disadvantages.

If you are talking about growth and optimizing for an event to help predict retention and loyal users, then I would say Google Ads App Campaigns is the most cost-efficient solution for us, though it has many disadvantages.

With regards to reaching small, specific, and more segmented audiences for unique features within Viber, then we are using dedicated social networks. Whether through Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, we are able to bring the right message, as well as utilize deep links in our user acquisition activity.

What are some things that surprised you along the way in your marketing techniques?

Well, we can talk just about that for an hour! I would say the first thing that surprised me was that, from my experience as the Head of Social Acquisition at my previous company, I was sure that Facebook would be Viber’s main channel and the driver for performance.

But this wasn’t the case. Demand for Facebook ad inventory has increased over the last few years, and advertisers with higher user LTV (Lifetime Value) are winning over companies with lower user LTV. Applications like Viber have a relatively low user lifetime value. We saw that Google Ads results were much more competitive, and that users arriving from Google behave very similarly in retention and event completion to the users arriving from Facebook.

Another thing that surprised me in the beginning was the fact that, in several markets, Viber was seen as a calling app and not a messaging app. There are two problems with that:

  1. Retention: If people perceived us as a calling app, then they will not think of Viber when contacting their friends via messaging. Since messaging is a more common event than calling, you’re losing the potential for meaningful retention.
  2. Marketing message: We want to educate the audience to perceive Viber also as a messaging app, but on the other hand, we want to run effective marketing campaigns and this requires using the strengths that people attribute to your application (i.e. calling). This is the marketing dilemma: what is the right mix between education and performance?

Lastly, for acquiring new users for Viber, simple messages work way better than very complex ones. If we’re just saying “Download Viber! It’s the best calling and messaging application”, they will try it. But a creative focused on Viber’s more advanced features, such as “Follow the community of FC Barcelona in Viber”, is very hard to understand. Users find it difficult to understand the entire funnel: is the creative for Viber or FC Barcelona’s app?

Not always is the shiny new feature a driver for the users’ attention.

Do you feel that your personal hobbies play a role in your work? How so?

Let’s divide the question into two.

First, my work is my hobby: I invest a lot of time in reading literature, articles, ebooks and listening to podcasts about the industry. I’m interested in how to build growth stack tech, how to analyze performance & user behavior, and how to hack marketing sources to deliver better results. I think that if you do what you love, you can treat your work as a hobby, and this is one of the most amazing tips to reach happiness.

I also like reverse engineering the internal mechanisms of mobile apps, thinking about my experience and user flow as it was initially designed by the UX specialist. How different services create a habit of usage and how to leverage the user’s satisfaction in order for the users to support app growth (purchases, ratings, referrals, etc.). Designing a product for growth is fascinating. In addition, there is always the value of collecting ads as I use mobile applications, which help me to refine my creative work.

This leads me to the second part of my hobbies: collecting stuff.

I’m a collector of many things. I collected CDs and books before the digital era. I have a collection of beer glasses from all over the world – more than 300 different beer glasses.

I also collect digital ads screenshots and categorize them to learn how I can improve my ads. I may have more than 1,000 screenshots of different ads on my phone.

It has helped me to find key insights such as how the end users perceive an ad, which tricks several of the networks are using to increase CTR (and potential for conversion), and what are the unique ways that marketing sources are adopting creatives to placements.

One of the more interesting examples in placement adoption awareness is Facebook. Facebook Ads don’t have text limitations, but while your ad on the Facebook Mobile Feed Placement may look beautiful, you’ll see a different place and length for your text within the Audience Network/Instagram placements. Most of the time, advertisers don’t understand this, so you will see cut marketing messages if the advertiser used too much text.

By understanding what the limitations of the characters are, you can use them in order to utilize all available Facebook placements better.

With such insights, we’ve managed to improve our ads and deliver a more comprehensive and complete message for Viber.

Where do you see the industry headed over the next 5 years? Do you have any predictions?

The future will always play out differently than our predictions, but I’ll take my chances. I see big progress in leveraging technology to support and automate UA and CRM marketing activities.

Five years ago, people did a lot of the work manually – gathering the data, analyzing performance, and implementing their findings back into their campaigns. Now we can see tools that provide a fully automated, smart and seamless approach towards managing campaigns with insights that deal with the building blocks of UA according to performance (creative, audience, source, budget, bid, etc.).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting that there will not be any more user acquisition managers five years from now. I think that by adapting to the new trends of automation, UA teams will become smarter, more sophisticated, and more agile. UA managers will increase their responsibilities for the users acquired from Event Completion optimization (CPA: “FTP”, “registration”, or key in-app event completion) to the initial user’s life cycle and optimization for habit creation for meaningful retention.

On the other hand, there will always be a place for human intelligence, because only humans can outsmart and guide the automation in processes toward better results and creating a competitive advantage for their companies.

What is your golden tip?

I have several!

  • Develop your professional network – You need to be skillful, professional and sharp-minded. I think that most people tend to ignore the fact that building a network can take you even higher than being the smartest person in the room.Invest in people. Invest in your interpersonal skills. Invest in building your network, because that’s going to be the thing that pushes you towards where you want to go.
  • Know your incremental impact – Marketing can be very impactful. To know the true value of your budget spend, a marketer needs to see the broader picture: taking responsibility for the company’s total growth from all channels and attributing the growth correctly to the different types of mediums, sources and campaigns you run. To learn more about incrementality, check out this video:

  • Organize your work – Another important factor that differentiates a good marketer from an excellent marketer is order. How you structure your activities and how you organize campaigns will have a tremendous impact on your ability to analyze them afterwards.

I’m always saying to my employees, “Prepare everything as if it was your last day at work and somebody else is going to take over your work.” We do so many tasks over the course of one month, so your chances of remembering what you did in six months’ time are slim if you haven’t set the foundations properly.

When I’m not careful, I tend to leave a mess, and you can see examples at my home, my kitchen, and my desk. Therefore, I take extra care when I’m doing my marketing activities. I record, categorize and label everything because, at the end of the day, it will save me a lot of time.

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