This Q&A reflects Daniel's time as Interim Head of Programmatic and Adops at Wattpad. Currently, Daniel is Director Ad Revenue at Paramount.
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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.