InMobi is one of the world’s largest entertainment ad platforms, reaching over 1.6 billion users worldwide, with half of that audience relating to video games. While the company’s goal has always been to enable users to discover more of the content they want, its approach has begun to shift more heavily toward re-engaging dormant users and retaining current ones. Its remarketing approach applies to any app-based business, whether it involves mobile games or taxi hailing.

The company’s chief product officer, Piyush Shah, recently spoke with [a]listdaily about its remarketing platform, the changing needs of mobile apps businesses, and re-engaging with users.

Piyush Shah, InMobi chief product officer
Piyush Shah, InMobi chief product officer

“The InMobi remarketing platform is a very new initiative from our side to solve for the problems that app-based performance marketers are facing around the issue of retention and engagement of users,” said Shah, describing the service. “Its objective is to work with advertisers and marketers across verticals, including gaming, retail and the taxi vertical, to maximize in-app engagement. The way it works is that it solves for key specific use cases and needs for our customers. We help them activate new users and reactivate dormant users, which is a very large use case nowadays. Finally, we help them retarget existing high-value users who may have deviated from the game or service so that they can come back.”

So, of the three groups (new users, dormant users, existing high-value users), which is the hardest to reach out to? “Given that they are users that have installed the apps already—technically speaking, it’s easy to reach out and target any of them,” Shah replied.

However, the challenge is in the size of the group businesses are trying to reach. “If it’s a larger base of users for a game or retail app, then it is much easier for our solution to retarget them, find them on our network, and get them going,” said Shah. “If it is a much more specific set of high-quality level players or an extremely niche set of users, then it becomes a bit complicated. So, I guess it’s easier to reactivate dormant users and focus on re-engagement rather than doing the same thing for retaining a small group of active users.”

Apps, especially mobile games, are facing a huge problem with user retention, as most users uninstall games within a week. When asked how developers are dealing with the issue, Shah said: “The whole problem of uninstall has become very acute lately, partly because of the increasing size of apps. App developers are working to ensure that uninstall rates are lower and the retention rate is much higher. The first thing that they’re doing is reaching out to users who install the app within the first few days with some kind of offer or coupon. A lot of people are utilizing the first few days to make sure that happens because 70 percent of users who uninstall will do it after the first few days. Notifications though a remarketing/retargeting platform like ours is definitely a way they would want to improve their retention rates beyond the first few days.

“For example, a taxi app service would utilize us to start showing first ride coupons during peak office hours, right after the install happens. In the case of games, a lot of them are utilizing us to reactivate dormant users by offering them free level-ups and things like that. There are a bunch of techniques, but apps are doing a lot more than driving the install.”


Given how different mobile games are from service apps, we asked Shah if he saw a lot of overlap between the two when promoting engagement. “I think the core need to reactivate dormant users or retarget existing loyal users are the same,” he said, “but the dynamics change, of course. On the gaming side, because the percentage of payers is far lower (about five percent), that’s an extreme and precious set of users that the developers want to stick with the game. They’re willing to go to all levels to retain them.

“For services such as taxi companies, the number of paying transacting customers is much bigger. But we were surprised to see that, depending on each different vertical and the life-state of that particular company, they will resort to focusing a lot more on reactivating dormant users or focus on protecting their valuable core set of users. That varies, based on app to app.”

In discussing the challenges mobile games face when reactivating dormant users, Shah said “I think the biggest challenge is the price that they’re willing to cough up to reactivate users, given how there’s a lot of competition out there. With a small percentage of paying players, the dilemma for gaming companies is whether they want to spend a lot of money to reactivate players who aren’t necessarily payers, or if they should work harder to protect their precious five percent of paying players.”

Shah continued by saying, “Given the high competition among gaming companies, the biggest challenge is for these guys to allocate their marketing spend in the right manner across new user acquisition, versus re-engaging with dormant users, versus retargeting the set of high-value users. I don’t think that the economics are completely understood yet, and we want to be a partner for gaming companies to figure out the equation for themselves.

“It’s been a very interesting journey for us to evolve from the classical performance user acquisition marketing to now solving for the retention and retargeting problem. In doing so, it has been interesting to note that it isn’t just relevant to gaming, but applicable to any app-based business out there.”