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TechBytes with Paul H. Müller, Co-Founder and CTO, Adjust

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Paul Müller

Paul H. Müller
Co-Founder and CTO, Adjust

Nearly 80% of internet users rely on mobile phones for their online activity, largely for search, email, and commerce. Marketers are already building their targeting campaigns on mobile-first and mobile-only strategies. To understand the state of mobile marketing in 2018 and how mobile customer analytics are more refined today than ever before, we spoke to Paul H. Müller, Co-Founder and CTO, Adjust.

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

I’m the CTO and one of three co-founders at Adjust, the industry leader in mobile measurement and fraud prevention. We provide high-quality analytics for marketers to better understand their apps and boost performance, allowing them to analyze measurements including user behavior, user acquisition and marketing ROI.

As CTO, I’m responsible for building and scaling all our various technologies, and overseeing our great team of over 90 talented developers, engineers, data analysts and fraud specialists based in our 13 offices all over the world.

What is the state of mobile marketing in 2018?

Mobile marketing is at a very good place at the moment: mobile is now the leading advertising medium, accounting for 33.9% of total U.S. ad spend. This explosive growth isn’t set to abate anytime soon, so it’s a really exciting time to be working in the industry.

But the more spend is funneled into mobile, the more motivated fraudsters become. Mobile ad fraud can take a number of different forms – from Click Spamming to Faked Installs – but the end goal for fraudsters is to “hijack” apps in order to steal from advertising budgets.

Our latest study showed that mobile ad fraud rates have almost doubled since 2017, and we currently reject around 10% of all paid installs as fraudulent. As well as decimating ad budgets, fraud skews data and gives marketers an inaccurate view of which campaigns are performing well.

It’s a deep-rooted issue, but one we’re determined to keep on fighting as long as the problem continues. That’s why we’re always evolving and enhancing our Fraud Prevention Suite to fight the newest forms of ad fraud. We also do a lot of awareness-raising within the industry about its dangers – we believe education is the first step to getting rid of it for good.

How is it different today than when you began here and started Adjust?

One of the main differences is the sheer increase in the use of mobile. We started Adjust in 2012, so there’s been a big rise in adoption since then. That comes with its own unique challenges and opportunities, particularly when we consider how mobile phone usage changes from country to country. Expanding into China, for example – with its “Great Firewall” and privacy and piracy issues – was especially complex, but cracking the problem was a unique and satisfying experience.

The industry’s response to ad fraud has also changed dramatically over the past five years or so. When we started Adjust, other attribution providers weren’t willing to perform any filtering of attribution in fear of cutting into their network partners’ revenues.  Many marketers weren’t aware of the extent of fraudulent activity, or simply accepted a base percentage of fraud in their campaign data as part and parcel.

But one of the reasons we started Adjust was to challenge the sector’s status quo. That meant sticking our head above the parapet and taking fraud seriously, which started a domino effect within the industry.

Tell us about your Fraud prevention Suite? Which set of customers are best-suited to benefit from it?

Our Fraud Prevention Suite proactively stops fraud from making its way into clients datasets, meaning they never pay for a fake install. We use a combination of filters to verify every install or event, in real time, for any signs of fraud – from Click Spamming to SDK Spoofing. This helps marketers protect their budget and datasets, and stops them from focusing on incorrect data.

I can’t stress enough the importance of having decent anti-fraud protection in place. Without one, you’re going to fall victim to fraud sooner or later. That’s why all customers benefit from the solution – but it’s especially important that verticals with the highest rates of fraud take it seriously, such as ecommerce, gaming and travel.

What are the core tenets of your mobile analytics technology? How does it help B2B customers attribute to mobile better?

All of our various functionalities are built on the same core concept: that our clients are inherently entitled to full access not only to their data, but also to the methodology behind the results we provide. In every single scenario, from the attribution of a new user to a fraud dispute, we always provide in real-time the raw data we used to make the decision we did. I think that makes us unique in the marketplace.

Another core value that’s driven Adjust over the years is innovation. Mobile marketing has come a long way, but it’s obvious from looking at things like the state of fraud or the inefficiency with which some campaigns are targeted that there’s still a long way to go before we can call the industry “mature”. We put a lot of time and resources into researching what problems our clients face and to innovate new solutions which will improve the health of the market overall. Things like our Ad Spend API or our approach to Click Injection fraud are examples of this.

What impact do you see in customer engagement across social media advertising—Facebook and Instagram, in particular? How does it link to your Audience Builder?

Facebook’s timeline has always been the cornerstone of mobile ad inventory: access to arguably the best users, the most powerful demographic targeting options, and an inventory that’s viewed more than any other on mobile. Because of its ability to deliver mobile ads to very specific groups of users based on behavior and demographics, Facebook campaigns tend to boast very strong retention and conversion rates.

Our Audience Builder lets clients upload user segments based on their attribution data directly to Facebook, further strengthening Facebook’s targeting options. Clients who skillfully leverage both can anticipate seeing some of mobile’s most effective campaigns.

Of course, Audience Builder also enables our clients to provide any network with user segments, meaning one can hunt for better prices or leverage new inventories without sacrificing efficiency.

Tell us more about your Audience Builder and the data management it leverages.

Our Audience Builder product is a one-stop shop for effective targeting. It lets clients easily create targeted user segments using their own data, to help them effectively retarget, engage and discover new users. In practice, it means advertisers can show ads to users they know are valuable and likely to convert after seeing more personalized or better-targeted ads.

There’s no limit to how detailed segments can be, but brands can for example target users by drilling down to day of install, events triggered, or amount of time spent on the app.

What are the major challenges for mobile marketing companies in how they deliver disruption-free experiences?

One of the biggest challenges to deliver a disruption-free experience is to understand how the users interact with your product. The more data you get on how they use an app, the better you understand the user experience and are able to update accordingly. Adjust enables marketers and app publishers to track any given in-app event, so they can easily identify obstacles that lead to drop-offs.

Thanks for chatting with us, Paul.

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