We all know that the shift from tablet and smartphone adoption is increasingly fueling an app economy. The latest numbers from IDC show that the continual growth of tablets at a whopping 142% with Q1 2013 shipments close to 50 million units. This growth is fueling the app economy. In fact, if you are not thinking about mobile as part of your strategy you are in a for a painful lesson in the trendline of the proverbial Dodo bird. In Seattle, you can read about some recent examples of the best of times and the worst of times with comedy site Cheezburger restructuring staff due to having to focus on mobile versus Zillow that recently announced that they are getting more ad impressions from mobile versus desktop.
In the app centric world, there is an entirely new slew of tools that you need to distribute, track, and measure your business. In the app space, the vernacular may be different but the context is the same in terms of the types of services that you need on the Open Web. You need the ability to profitability get traffic to your app, track user behavior, and to understand how to optimize for it. Its not unlike the early days of SEM, SEO, and the overall advertising marketing in the Web 1.0 days.
Since there are over 850K apps in the Apple AppStore and almost as many on Android Google Play, the tools that you need (as an app developer) are super important if you ever hope to break-out of the considerable noise in the app world. The ecosystem between the end-consumer and the app developer is starting to get filled with an number of different players that help. Its going to get really noisy in the optimization space. In a previous life, I ran an ad analytics company and I wrote about the large amount of players that were building solutions from the adserver to the ad presentation layer -- I called it the 'ad optimization stack.' We are going to see consolidation in the space as well as capabilities being built out that will make some companies deliver a full-service solution. For instance, ad analytics company Flurry recently announced that they are introducing real-time bidding, TapJoy is getting into the analytics space, etc, etc.
There are a number of players in the space (especially in the Bay Area) but there are some important companies in Seattle that are building some notable services that I would recommend that you check out in the 'app optimization stack.'
(Note: I have not invested in any of these companies.)
Peter Hamilton' runs HasOffers in downtown Seattle. They originally were focused on running affiliate programs on the Open Web but pivoted a little over a year ago to mobile. They have built a set of technologies to handle the mobile attribution problem. AKA they know how ad spend performs across over 120 mobile ad networks. This is a hard problem today and they have built a universal attribution model (helpful since UDID is going away) to help advertisers and app developers to understand ROAS, LTV, LNTV, etc. The A ton of companies are using their products -- they are growing rapidly and getting a ton of interest from publishers, networks, and investors.
Jai Jaisimha (former college of mine from RealNetworks) runs Appnique. They are building a set of services around the mobile version of SEO (called ASO or App Store Optimization). They are trying to solve the problem of enabling developers to achieve higher rankings by analyzing app keywords, title, product page descriptions. I am surprised that a company like SEOmoz isn't doing something like this.
CEO and found Robi Ganguly is one of the brightest entrepreneurs in the app space. He oozes a Bay Area-style cool mixed with a Seattle humility. Apptentive building a cross between GetSatisfaction and Salesforce.com. He raised a little over $1M in angel funding late last year. His team is building services that improve your customer reviews and ratings -- like an app version of the class Net Promoter Score.
Its great to see some promising companies in Seattle building important technologies in the app advertising and distribution space. I'd personally like to see a huge business bloom out of Seattle to take the mantle of where aQuantive was years ago in the advertising services space.