TechBytes with Basil Shikin, VP, Engineering, AppLovin

Basil Shikin, VP of Engineering at AppLovin

Basil Shikin
VP, Engineering, AppLovin

In July, AppLovin had announced the launch of Lion Studios, a media division that works with independent mobile developers to publish and promote their apps. Basil Shikin, VP, Engineering, AppLovin tells about the core tenets of their mobile app advertising engineering and the impact of contemporary gaming platforms on app discovery.

Tell us about your role at AppLovin and the team/technology you handle.

I was one of the first engineers at AppLovin. As the team grew, my role and responsibilities increased, and now I’m the VP of Engineering for a team of about 25 people.

AppLovin’s engineering team handles more than 60 billion requests a day, and we use a variety of technologies to deal with that volume. The platforms we use include Spark, Aerospike and Vertica.

How do you help customers with mobile app advertising and discovery?

AppLovin offers a comprehensive platform that connects mobile game developers of all sizes to billions of global users each month so they can get discovered.

There are hundreds of thousands of mobile game developers, and each year it gets harder for them to secure the resources they need to create good games. They need help with publishing, user acquisition, creative services, and monetization. With AppLovin, mobile game developers can do it all: publish great games, leverage high-value creative services, acquire customers, and expand their revenue base.

How do you see trends in mobile app monetization influencing adoption of mobile-only technologies for marketing?

Strategies for mobile monetization and marketing work hand-in-hand. Because developers and gaming studios need to reach larger audiences to build user bases, there has become an increasingly large need to identify platforms that promote app discovery before monetization tools can start to be effective. In-app marketing offers more detailed analytics and anonymous tracking across the user journey, and that dataset allows marketers to optimize marketing spend. Keep in mind that more users don’t equate to more revenue; a base of high quality, engaged users is more important than focusing purely on the number of downloads.

What are the core tenets of your mobile app advertising engineering?

Because we’re running a large engineering operation, we keep a few core principles close to our hearts. Those include:

  • Continuous A/B testing: We test most of the ideas that engineers or the business side have, so we can identify the best ideas and technology.
  • Push to production every day: We’re constantly looking for ways to create a better user experience or improve the solution and move the product forward every day.
  • Monitoring the landscape: we’re always on the lookout for solutions that will improve our product. We have a rigorous selection process for identifying and choosing third-party platforms and try to commit to solutions that provide a minimum of tenfold improvement for any given metric.

How do you work with video and live content technology?

AppLovin supports several types of ad formats for our partners’ needs, including a variety of video ads such as playable, native, interstitial and banner. Our vision is to help our partners implement personalized and tailored content for their audiences so that users have the best gameplay experience and developers see higher return from monetization tools.

Why is programmatic still not as bullish on mobile as other tech platforms?

Mobile actually offers one of the best mediums for programmatic, because of high rates of user engagement with mobile devices, but the tech has been catching up on mobile.

We’re especially bullish on in-app header bidding, which is done through a direct programmatic auction. It allows buyers to bid simultaneously on inventory in a unified auction and gives equal opportunity to buyers and better monetization to sellers. We think this kind of technology will be incredibly important to our industry.

How AppLovin enables better app discovery for both larger and indie developers?

AppLovin’s comprehensive platform is really a growth platform for large mobile game companies and indie developers alike.

In July, we announced the launch of Lion Studios, a media division of AppLovin that works with independent mobile developers to publish and promote their apps. Lion Studios is designed to fuel the growth of the independent app developer ecosystem by empowering developers around the world to publish their apps and help those apps get discovered via cost-effective user acquisition.

Lion Studios has already driven hundreds of millions of app downloads and helped drive four #1 overall free apps in the App Store, 13 that ranked in the top 10 overall, and 16 that ranked in the top 20. Some of these titles include puzzle games Love Balls and Weave the Line, hyper-casual game Draw In, and money-clicker game Cash, Inc. which was a recent recipient of Google’s Android Excellence Award 2018.

Thanks for chatting with us, Basil.

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