Q&A with Daniel

Daniel Kenny-Godoy oversees Programmatic Monetization and Ad Ops at Wattpad. Rich with over 12 years of digital media and ad monetization experience, Daniel also co-founded the r/adops reddit community—one of the most prominent ad ops destinations on the internet. At Wattpad, Daniel leads a team of monetization experts where he oversaw substantial increases in programmatic revenue across the platform.

Read Daniel's latest article: "​​A 3-Part Recipe for Monetizing a Global App"

In your own words, tell us about the app(s) that you manage?

Wattpad is a global entertainment company and social storytelling platform. Its core apps allow our community of 94 million people to discover and share stories from science fiction to romance—and everything in between.

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How did you get started in mobile monetization?

I have always been passionate about technology, and creating great content has interested me for a long time. I learned about digital advertising through a few friends and colleagues who worked in the space. They helped me get my foot in the door, and I learned about ad operations and the fundamentals of digital campaigns.

As mobile and programmatic spaces began to grow, I learned how new technology in these areas can drive revenue and growth at scale. When the opportunity came to work on programmatic revenue growth at Wattpad, it felt like a perfect fit for my skills. Plus, Wattpad presented the types of problems I wanted to help solve.

If you could start in mobile monetization again, would you do anything differently? Why and what would you do?

Mobile monetization is a complex space. Domain expertise is distributed across various functions like business, technology and UX. If I could do it all over again, I would spend more time asking questions and investing in ways to scale my career earlier.

Secondly, I would focus on training and getting everyone up to speed. It’s important that the teams I work with understand the nature of this business, its limitations, and the importance of doing things the right way. Educating your team encourages quality decisions that will yield effective results in the long run.

What do you like most about mobile monetization?

I love the variety of apps and services that exist in this space. You’re working with different business models and experiences, and this helps foster a community where people can connect and learn. I gained a lot over the years from this community.

Generally, I value the opportunity to share and exchange knowledge when possible. Working with apps and games to achieve their objectives feels pretty unique to this industry.

What do you see as the next big thing in mobile app monetization?

Users have become savvier. They’re demanding accountability around how their data is used and why. Laws like GDPR / CCPA and changes in ad tracking have already impacted the industry. We will only see more investment across the globe in legislation and technologies aimed at protecting user privacy.

This shift will drive investment in user segmentation alternatives (such as UID 2.0) that are transparent, anonymous and give users greater control. I expect it will also create opportunities for app publishers to build robust first-party data segments to mitigate the effects of user privacy changes.

How do you balance a positive user experience with the monetization experience in your app(s)?

It’s important to understand your users and the value your product offers them. Advertising is a value exchange between your users and the experience in your app—and finding that ideal balance for your users is the key to success. For example at Wattpad, we recognize that the platform is a reading app, a quiet activity that people do when they have downtime. As a result, we design the ad experience to be mindful of user behavior on the app.

I combine this approach with a few others, including:

  1. Use robust experimentation frameworks that help your team make data-driven decisions.
  2. Maintain diverse communication channels with your users. This can include social channels, app store reviews, user interviews and sentiment surveys.
  3. Develop internal health metrics that go beyond revenue to keep track of the impact of your work.

In the past year, what is one tip you can share which made the biggest performance difference for your monetization strategy?

One interesting thing we’ve observed is that the quality of our users’ devices continues to improve which can open up more opportunities for us. I often work with my team to assess our partner mix to find room to add new partners or to remove underperforming ones. We saw surprising gains by expanding the number of SDK partners we integrated into the app. However, this work does require engineering support and collaboration with technical teams. You’ll have to talk through the implications of increasing the size of your app.

What's a common mistake you see with mobile monetization strategies, one that’s made by otherwise smart people and smart companies?

Many teams tend to decide too early what they think will work. They don’t allow enough time for experimentation or data-driven decision-making. Great ideas never get off the ground because of execution issues or capacity constraints.

Less data-driven decisions can also lead to wrong assumptions. By spending more time with data deep-dives or giving your users more time to adapt to a new experience, you might yield more positive results and discover new revenue opportunities. Be curious. You never know what you might find!

When you advise people on mobile monetization, such as “Do more of this” or “Do less of that,” is there one lesson you share over and over again?

Build your ad infrastructure for scale. I’ve seen many teams fall into the trap of focusing only on throwing up an ad placement or adding a new partner. They’re not thinking about ensuring that the data is easy to read and analyze. Your business will be better off with data-driven decisions. Develop consistent ad unit/campaign naming conventions and scalable reporting infrastructure and processes. This will help you add more complexity to the system over time. Think about doing things the right way at the beginning and save yourself a lot of work and time in the long run.

What are your top 3 go-to resources for keeping up with the mobile ad tech industry?

  1. App Publisher Slack Channels - These are generally private, invite-only channels that have sprung up over the last few years. Of all the sources I follow, this transparent, publisher-only environment has been the single best tool I’ve used to educate myself and my team.
  2. Reddit - r/adops, in particular, is a great community. You can connect with others and get a sense of what is on everyone’s minds. Having dialogues with people from all parts of the industry is incredibly helpful in growing your knowledge base.
  3. Partner Communications / Documentation - I make it a point for myself and my team to keep up to date with what is coming out from our partners, particularly the top revenue-earners. The industry is always changing, and having a pulse on what product features or investments are being made by our partners ensures that we are making better decisions.

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