AppThis co-founders Jim Mansfield and Mike Fitzgerald
With the proliferation of apps over the past few years, it was just a matter of time before some smart entrepreneurs figured out how to better advertise them. AppThis, a Denver-based company, does just that. But it helps advertisers too; the company serves as a marketplace for app discovery, helping promote apps worldwide and monetize mobile web traffic.
Started by two industry veterans who met through one of their now employees, CEO Jim Mansfield and President Mike Fitzgerald knew the growing app marketplace and move to mobile platforms was an underserved market.
The two founded the company in the spring of 2014. “At the beginning, it was me writing all the code and Jim doing all the business development,” said Fitzgerald.
Their idea was to bootstrap the company until it started making revenues. They put out a product – not their ideal or final, but something that met their initial goals – and saw success almost right away. “Pretty quickly we were able to get a product into the market and get a little bit of revenue,” said Fitzgerald.
That allowed them to grow the business and eventually look for seed funding. But staffing the company with just the two of them meant they had to pass up on some lucrative deals in that first year.
Those goals for the first iteration of their product were to help app developers and provide “people unique ways to monetize their mobile traffic,” said Mansfield.
The duo knew their idea had potential because of their combined backgrounds in online marketing and engineering. They looked at the market and realized that companies “had web traffic that was being viewed on smart phones and it wasn’t being monetized well with traditional advertising, so we gave them an easy way to use apps to help monetize their site,” said Mansfield.
If you need further proof, imagine how often you Google something on the go. Or use your phone to quickly check the score of the game. “Roughly 55 percent of all internet traffic is on mobile, so on smartphones and mobile devices and that’s only increasing. Those traditional ad units just aren’t as effective on mobile devices,” said Mansfield.
Less than a year old, the company has already seen plenty of traffic on its marketplace. “We’ve created a marketplace for app discovery. We work with app developers and ad networks, we take in their advertising demand into our platform. There’s roughly 30,000 unique campaigns in the system for apps, covering all the countries in the world and we use that to create unique ad units that serve a wide variety of ad publishers,” said Mansfield.
App This takes a cut of the transaction.
A surprisingly large amount of this Denver-based company’s revenue comes from outside the US. Mansfield’s extensive international contacts. “There’s a good amount in the US, but over half the big app developers are outside the US. When they go to get user acquisition, they go on a global scale. They are buying [adds in] 100 – 150 countries,” said Mansfield.
With the proliferation of smart phones worldwide, but especially in developing countries, the market for apps is expanding. “Any time people are using smart phones, there’s a lot of demand for apps,” said Fitzgerald.
Beyond helping advertisers, the service is aimed at helping app developers too. “One of the challenges app developers have is there’s over 1.3 million apps in the Apple store and the same in Google Play store. The top apps that everybody hears about get a lot of organic installs but the rest of the apps need to rely on paid distribution,” said Mansfield.
Data Science for Better Advertising
AppThis uses data science to make recommendations on which app to promote. “We have a machine learning engine, that when we are about to show an ad to a user, it takes all of the data points available to us… and we essentially use predictive analysis to essentially figure out which of the 30,000 apps that we could promote are they most likely to be interested in and install,” said Fitzgerald.
Using data science to make better decisions is a large engineering challenge for the small team, especially given the anticipated growth in their service. “There’s a lot of nuance and depth that can be built out in making those decisions smarter and smarter. From an engineering perspective, there’s a lot of data to crunch through and to manage effectively. We are serving over 15 million impressions on any given day right now and that’s probably going to increase by an order of magnitude in the next six months,” said Fitzgerald.
AppThis is seeing growth month over month. “We delivered over 1 million installs, did over 1 million in revenue in our first 8 months. We are looking to accelerate that quickly,” said Fitzgerald.
Based in the Industry creative workspace, App This is hiring engineering positions. The ten-person company expects to add around five positions next quarter.