The times they are a changin'. It's a truism that always seems to resonate, yet the pace of change is seldom steady and its focus is hardly universal. In the world of app growth and monetization, the changes are fast and fierce.
With bidding expected to eventually take over most of the traditional monetization tasks, publishers are giving plenty of thought to new tasks and broader responsibilities for their monetization teams.
Bidding Brings Change
With less manual configuration and piecemeal recalibration, monetization managers will shift from troubleshooting and tinkering to more proactive planning and optimization. They'll assume wide-ranging responsibilities, touching on everything from IAP to implementation and LiveOps.
Stepping outside of waterfalls, monetization professionals will serve as trusted advisors to Product, UA, and Retention teams. The trend toward de-silofication is already underway and can be felt across the industry. Whereas ad monetization previously was an island unto itself, today it’s being brought more and more into the fold of UA, Product, and Game Design.
Make no mistake, the coming changes will not be limited to any one department. Monetization may be the catalyst, but the shifting sands will touch all teams and come to a head in the form of lasting organizational change. Instead of having each team work independently and sometimes even at cross-purposes, these teams are becoming increasingly collaborative — working together to refine placement logic, improve game flow & UX, boost engagement, and strike a perfect balance between user and advertiser revenue strategies.
As Monetization Managers becomes more integrated across departments, it'll begin to change the way that both monetization and non-monetization folks think — each learning from and adopting more of the other's mentality. Going forward, every new idea and project will reflect the company's revenue goals and be channeled through a shared business lens.
And even though the job description is being rewritten, monetization folks aren't really worried. While bidding may take away a huge chunk of their daily work, people appreciate that it would remove tedious and painful tasks while opening the door to more interesting and strategic work.
It's the same phenomenon that we've observed at oolo. People are really excited about the work we’re taking off their plate and not at all threatened. They see it as an opportunity to invest more of their time and focus in other areas of their work and to expand that work into arenas that are more interesting and rewarding. As DualCat Co-Founder and oolo user Gary Cohen remarked, "oolo has all our monitoring needs covered — so we can spend our days doing rather than digging."
While the Monetization Manager of tomorrow will have a much wider purview and more sprawling responsibilities, they will still be expected to maintain today's detail-mindedness, hyper-awareness, and tactical precision. Of course, to do that, they'll probably also need a more robust set of monitoring tools.
Change to Maintain
Though the writing may be on the wall, the fact is that ad monetizers can't yet say goodbye to waterfalls. At least for the time being, not only will that aspect of the job remain, but it may even grow.
With all the questions surrounding bidding, Monetization Managers have to kick the tires on a network by network basis, test performance against waterfalls (both in isolation and head-to-head), research best practices, look into new tools, and spend time rounding the corners with their network account managers.
As higher ups press them to expand their contributions to other areas, monetization teams are saddled with their still growing traditional workloads. For a while longer at least, monetization teams will probably have to keep experimenting as they try to figure out when it works best for them — waterfall, bidding, or both. And as long as that experimentation continues, so will the juggling act.
To get ahead, the Monetization Manager of tomorrow will need to be able to quickly and intelligently dig into the data. Traditional BI dashboards, which help in analyzing and visualizing data, will not be enough. More advanced tools will kick in, surfacing the right questions and extending the data's value using predictive models and actionable analytics.
The Future-Proof Monetization Manager
So how can monetization teams get ahead of the problem to set themselves up for success despite the current challenges and coming disruptions? Well in principle, it’s really quite simple.
Monetization Managers need to:
- Know their old stuff backwards & forwards
- understand how bidding changes things
- Learn a lot of new stuff
Simple in principle, but slippery in practice.
Monetization Managers will need to balance their legacy responsibilities with learning everything about bidding, and becoming more involved in product and marketing processes. To successfully make that transition, smart organizations will to evolve their tools, workflows, and best practices along with the role and responsibilities.
Given the uncertainty and lack of transparency that comes with bidding, advanced tools that allow for continuous experimentation and review, will be the key to staying in the driver's seat and avoiding revenue leaks.
Specifically, automated monitoring and insight harvesting solutions should serve as go-to tools for Monetization Managers. These tools can be called on to remove manual burdens, quickly identify problems and opportunities, and allow the managers to focus more of their efforts on optimization.
And that's the real rub of any decent future-proofing strategy — optimization.
To optimize, you need to:
- Foster an optimization mentality
- Insert the necessary levers of control (and freedoms to act)
- Know where and when to pull the trigger
In order to know where and when to pull the trigger, you need timely monitoring and an agile methodology.
Monitoring means examining the data trail, seeing what's going on with the business, surfacing problems/opportunities, and translating observations into action items. Ideally this would be a continuous 24/7 process. Unfortunately, such monitoring can be a very involved and time-consuming process, so the reality is rarely ideal. At a minimum, you'd need to conduct a thorough health-check of all your key figures on a daily basis and with each new data update.
An agile methodology requires you to consider new approaches, think strategically, A/B test new ideas, collect data, merge successful experiments into the the baseline, rinse and repeat. There's always something more to test, so it’s something that you want to do as much as possible. But this too tends to be fairly involved and monetization teams seldom have an abundance of time. Naturally compromises are made and, more often than not, app companies think of agility more aspirationally than methodologically.
Thankfully, the evolving Monetization Manager will be assisted by an evolving toolset. oolo, for example, delivers unmatched monitoring capabilities and makes it easier than ever for app publishers to embrace agile methodologies.
A New Horizon
As the business continues to evolve, so will the role of Monetization Manager and so must the tools that support it. A new generation of tools will take center stage and settle in as industry standards. These tools and technologies will change the way Monetization Managers think about automation — giving them speed, convenience, and scalability, without forcing them to surrender any context, acuity, or control.
As the role gets wider and more integrated with other teams, best-in-class publishers will find new ways to remove tedious & mechanical tasks and help their Monetization Managers better focus on growth and planning.
In this brave new world, monetization teams will thrive as long as they're able to embrace cross-departmental collaboration, streamlined strategy, comprehensive data command & control, and smart tooling.