MGS20 – Interview with Lee Spungin, VP Strategic Partnerships at yellowHEAD
My, how the world has changed over the past several months! As the first MGS Global Virtual Conference rolls out this week, we look back at Mobile Growth Summit 2020. It seems strange that just four months ago, our VP of Strategic Partnerships, Lee Spungin, was able to travel to San Francisco to interview with MobileGroove’s Peggy Anne Salz.
This Thursday, our Head of ASO, Aviva Telias, will be speaking at MGS GVC 1.0. We’re excited to take part in this new digital conference format, and hope you’ll join us to learn “How App Store Optimization Helps Every Part of Your Business.”
In the meantime, let us reminisce about the good old days by listening to Peggy and Lee talk about how to get more mileage out of your creatives, how to get them to perform better, how to really “crack that code”. They also talk about Lee’s incredible expertise in mapping out the best restaurants NYC has to offer, but for more on that topic, you’ll have to reach out to her personally 😊
So, how can you bring performance and creative together? How does yellowHEAD combine art and science to get the most out of creatives? All of that and more in this interview:
Peggy: It’s really all about that area of, among other things, making certain that creatives are performing. It’s really an art and a science.
[Lee then gives a bit of a background about yellowHEAD – a performance marketing company specializing in paid and organic user acquisition. With our creative studio and technology, we help brands by supporting their growth and marketing efforts, focused on performance.]
Peggy: You’re a bit of a cool hunter, in a great position at yellowHEAD because you like to find amazing things. You go where no one has gone before. You’ve certainly combined that with your love of food, as I understand. What’s that hobby all about?
Lee: I love food, but I love good food, not just food. Every time someone comes to NY, they ask me for recommendations, so I created a map with all the best restaurants and bars in NYC, and I added some comments so everyone can find what they’re looking for.
Peggy: So, where can we get this map? Because some people are going to say, “that really is very awesome – I want that!” Where would they find it?
Lee: They should be a friend of mine and ask me for the map.
Peggy: Well, I’m lucky that I’m LinkedIn with you. I’m at the source here. And, speaking of sources, you’re looking at performance but also looking a lot at creatives, bringing those two together. It’s a very hot topic! If we all have the same data, and we all have the same attribution, then we’re sort of all on the same page, competitively speaking. How do you then really make a mark? It has to be through creative. Is that what you’re hearing from marketers out there? Is that what they’re coming to yellowHEAD increasingly for?
Lee: Yes, creative plays a big role in performance marketing today. You need to know to create the right creative to the right platform with the right messaging and strategy, and at yellowHEAD, we have 7 years of experience in creating creatives that actually work. Our creative team specializes in specific marketing with each one of the platforms. We work very closely with Facebook and Google, and we’ve been chosen lately to be Snapchat’s creative partner for their clients.
Peggy: So, you get these various platforms. Are there certain approaches/ways that work better on different platforms? Do you go down to that granular level?
Lee: Yes, we do.
Peggy: What are some learnings there?
Lee: There’s a lot of learnings that we found for different verticals. For the gaming industry there’s different learnings from the eCom industry, and each should adjust the learnings for the right verticals.
Peggy: Are there some data/findings/key takeaways around that inevitable question – what works, what doesn’t? Maybe there are now rules, because we’re looking at this as a science, not just as an add-on. This is the core of the performance campaign (at least that’s what it’s becoming).
Lee: So, exactly for that and everything that you mentioned, we launched Alison, our latest creative technology. It was brought to life by our tech team and our creative studio just to make sure that we know exactly which elements work with each one of the creatives. In the past, we used to say, “ok, creative A worked better than creative B.” We want to know exactly what worked in creative A, and what are also the good elements in creative B. And then Alison gives recommendations to create the next following set of creatives with all the good elements for each one of the verticals. So, we can find that for different markets and for different types of creatives (shape, length, music, CTA) – every element matters. We drill down into each one of the elements in order to know exactly what performs.
Peggy: Have you found anything that’s an outlier that doesn’t perform? For example, I remember talking to a fintech marketer not long ago and he said “one of our key learnings was we read all this stuff about how animals sell everything (you know, get a cute cat or dog). So we said, yeah, why not have a cute dog in a fintech ad? But that obviously doesn’t work.” You have to learn that the right way. This was before your technology. Are there some learnings that you have about what works? Images/approaches/CTAs? Something so we can understand how granular you’re actually going.
Lee: For example, we found that, for a specific vertical, 6 seconds of video with imagery of a dance with music works better in the US, versus France where we would need to create another human element or another length of video that will work better for the same brand. So those learnings really deep-dive into each one of the elements. By implementing them, you can improve CVR and ROI by even 200%.
Peggy: Interesting. The Alison technology – I love the idea that it’s like a name. What’s the story behind that? Is it the CEO’s daughter or wife, or is it just that it makes it sound really engaging?
Lee: At yellowHEAD, we like to give everything a human feeling. Besides the fact that we have our dedicated team that works with our clients, we also want our technology to have more of a human aspect in terms of the name. We also have a yellowHEAD sub-brand called yellowHEAD Analytics, which is a dashboard that shows the paid and organic metrics in one place. Instead of going to different dashboards, you have everything in our dashboard.
Peggy: How are you actually doing this? Is it AI? Is it a team of really amazing anthropologists that work in a back room at yellowHEAD? How do you bring that knowledge to the dashboard?
Lee: it’s a combination of our in-house technology team – amazing people who developed Alison. They’re in charge of all the new features that will come in the future. They work very closely with our strategists, meaning it’s a combination of our technology and also a human element. As mentioned before, we really believe in the human aspect and the human touch. So our strategists always review the insights from the technology and it brings a perfect fit between the AI and the human mind.
Peggy: What are some of those insights that you might be able to share? Are there statistically significant numbers and data, or is it more about human behavior and trends?
Lee: it’s a combination of both. Because we’re very performance-oriented, each one of our clients has different goals and KPIs, so we need to make sure that the data we provide is related to their goals. So, there is no generic data that we provide. Everything is customized.
Peggy: What about how you interact with the marketer? Are you talking to the Head of UA? The Growth Marketer? Retention team? Creative team? Designers? Because they need to work together to use you properly. So, I’m wondering, have they evolved to interact with you or are you trying to train them in a way to get the best out of yellowHEAD? Because it’s not just about performance – it’s also about the design team. They both need to come together to come to you. Would I be correct?
Lee: We work with many types of people, depending on the service. If we work on the holistic view, meaning that it’s paid, organic and creative services, we can work with many different people and many different POCs in the same company. But, if we work on a specific service, we will work with the right person that leads the service on the other side.
Peggy: And what are you working with? More non-gaming apps? Gaming apps? Good mix of both?
Lee: Mix of both. We work with leading gaming companies, the largest ones. And we work with eCommerce companies, with CPG companies, with brands.
Peggy: It would be interesting to understand also if you’re working with global or specific regions?
Lee: We work globally. We work with the US a lot and with EMEA.
Peggy: If you look at how marketers are understanding, combining performance and getting the most out of their creatives – what kind of score card would you give them now? And, if you could tell them, “hey, this is what you need to do or do better than you are,” what would you tell them? Because we are in early days, so it’s all a learning process. There’s a right and wrong way to approach things. How would you tell them? How well are they doing? What do they need to do better?
Lee: First of all, they need to understand what they can do internally, what they know. And, if it’s not part of their knowledge or their specialties, I would tell them that the best thing would be to take the best company they can find that will help them to grow, bring more users and get to their ROI and goals, and make sure that they found the right partner to do so.
Peggy: Exactly, that’s the point. They don’t have to do it on their own. Because some people are. I’m talking to some marketers and it’s almost beyond their ability to produce them, let alone test them. How does that work with you? Do I come to you and say, “I’ve got this concept”, and you help me get that concept into a creative, or do I have to come with my creative assets and just do a lot of testing? How does that work best?
Lee: We recommend to use our creative services, because our creative team has 7 years of experience and we can come from the initial concept to the production and etc. Our team can come up with the idea based on the brand guidelines, based on the best practices that we know for each one of the platforms. We come with the messaging and we create the creative for each one of the platforms.
Peggy: And what about videos? You mentioned a 6-second video. Should they be experimenting more with video than other formats, or are there still formats that have a lot of interest and, based on what you’re seeing in your dashboard, have a lot of mileage? I believe, for example, there’s still a lot of mileage left in display and interstitial. It can’t all just be video. What are you seeing, personally?
Lee: it should be a combination. There’s a lot of shifting to video today, but we still see static banners that are performing and we still create those. And, with Alison, we’re also able to take the elements from the static banner, so it’s not only the videos. We can then create all kinds of elements – playable ads, videos, banners, and we test all of them to see which ones work and which ones don’t, so we can create more of the ones that work. So, I won’t say, focus only on one thing. I would say, focus on what works for you.
Peggy: If I’m getting into this for the first time, what should I be doing? You said not to focus on one thing, but what range should I be looking at to really get started? You can do this infinitely, and major brands do that because they can test 100 out this way and 100 out that way – they do multivariate testing. It can be a lot. But what do you recommend to your clients? Where should they start? Where should they focus their efforts?
Lee: It depends on their budget and the time that they have to test it. But, what I recommend to do is what you can afford to do, because each small element can affect your creatives. And I think this is a good starting point. For small start-ups, if you don’t have the budget like large clients, at least test what you can. It’s a matter of time. You will still get the learnings from each one of the tests.
Peggy: I’d like to close with one of those learnings. What’s a surprising learning from what you’ve been seeing? I mean, you have Alison. It’s just been launched, so maybe it’s a little early for key learnings, but there might be a key finding or something you can share.
Lee: There are a lot of key findings. We’ve been using Alison internally for our partners in the past few months. It’s been almost a year that we’ve been using it internally and, lately, we’ve onboarded the first partner that’s going to use it as a SaaS externally. There’s a lot of learnings from Alison and a lot of things that we will be able to share very soon and we’re very excited about it. The amazing thing about it is that it really doubled and tripled the ROI for most of our partners
Peggy: That’s a great reason to do it, absolutely. So, if anyone’s on the fence, that’s reason enough to try it out. I’m sure people want to find out about these findings. How’s the best way? What would you suggest? How can they find out about that, maybe even stay in touch with you?
Lee: First of all, they can get in touch with me on LinkedIn and then they will get both – the Alison findings and the restaurant recommendations.
Peggy: See, I’m lucky we’re LinkedIn already. I’m gonna be first in line!
Lee: Our website is also a great place to look for all of our findings. A lot of success stories are published there, so I really suggest looking there and joining our mailing list to get what we share and will share in the future.
Peggy: Absolutely, and, being such a cool trend-hunter, I can assume that you’re going to keep us on top of those trends, keep us well-informed. It’s been a pleasure, Lee. Thank you so much for the interview.