The one about ad scaling

If you run growth / marketing activities for any startup, you have millions of tools at your disposal. It’s not always easy to choose. A tool might be great at certain scale, but then become insufficient. Knowing which tools to use in every step of your growth journey is tricky from my experience. Either you’ve used the tool before, or you know someone who’s use it and you can ask.

If we’re talking specifically about tools that help you get customers. Consumer app users in my case, there is a relationship between two variables. Price and scale. If you can reach a very low price, it usually comes at a fairly low scale. As you start scaling, you won’t be able to target perfectly, reaching more of the general public and by default your campaigns will be less efficient, driving the acquisition price up.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 4.50.21 PM

Following this curve, you might reach a point where even TV ads make sense because they just reach so many damn people, but most won’t care. I think about this now because we’re moving from one stage to another.

Of course it’s more complicated because you’ll probably have more than one acquisition channel, the prices are volatile even at constant stage, new tools come and go, current tools introduce new features, nothing is static, but thinking so for a moment makes it easier to think about it.

This is how I think about the stages for our app installs. Btw, the install numbers are not precise, it’s just for a reference!

The Sniper: 0 – 100 installs / day. 
Manual labor. This is where you just have to hustle as Gary would say. You get on IG and write to as many people as you can, providing value and getting them to download. You grab people on the street if you have to…but this is a 1-by-1 manual process.

The Rifle: 100 – 1000 / day 
Now you can afford to use platforms and direct, targeted ads. Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat are all your friends at this point. You can go quite far. Some of these will scale much further of course, it’s just a reference, relax.

The Shotgun: 1000 – 10.000 / day
You’ve made it now. Probably making a lot of money or you’ve raised a lot of money. You’ve exhausted all niche markets. You might even have to change your value prop for something more general where the general public gets excited as well. This is where you’re probably not using as many self-service platforms, but rely on bigger reach where you can afford a higher price. Tinder ads start at a $15.000 per campaign. Native ad platforms used to start at $15k as well, but now they have self-service where you can do as little as $20 / day.

The Bomb: 10.000+ / day
I have 0 personal experience here so I will just assume this is where you do TV ads and all kinds of large-scale campaigns.

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