Creative first strategies for performance marketing  

Influencer Marketing Gets a Metric-Driven Makeover

Peggy Anne Salz

Live from MGS20, Mobile Groove’s Peggy Anne Salz talks to Tanya Sardana, CEO at Flyshot, which drives high-LTV installs, in-app purchases, and custom events through trackable branded content. Tanya tells Peggy how her patent-pending technology is helping get influencer marketing ready for prime time by focusing on trackable metrics like conversions rather than vanity metrics.


Peggy: Hi, I'm Peggy Anne Salz. We are live at Mobile Growth Summit. I'm pleased to collaborate with these guys. They have a great show going on and we have live podcasts all day long, movers, shakers, visionaries. We're doing it all. We're mixing it up. My guest right now, Tanya Sardana, CEO of Flyshot. At first, before I thought welcome you to the show, I thought, "Oh I gotta check this out." But you're a very new company, which is very exciting because you're in a space where I'm hearing so much at the event today and over the last two days, you know, influencer marketing I thought it was out. I thought it was been there, done that because we couldn't account for it but you're telling me about Flyshot. What are you doing to make influencer marketing serve ready for prime time again?


Tanya: Absolutely. That's a great question. And you know, I can attest to the fact where it was out and about. I used to be an advertiser at L'Oreal running these multimillion-dollar influencer campaigns and there was no way that we could actually attribute any form of conversion or figure out ROAS because they were using vanity metrics, likes, comments, and followers. What does that even mean?


Peggy: And people buy those?


Tanya: Yeah. Advertisers buy those. Do they buy those? Yes, of course. I can go online and buy, you know, 10,000 subscribers for $500 and people don't realize there's more fraud in influencer than there is in mobile. So what are we doing to stop this? So really, as a performance advertiser, the depth of data that I require from my Facebook campaigns, from other channels is conversions. I want to see installs are fine. We know one in every six installs is an LTV of zero, so that's okay, but I want to drive enough purchases, I want to drive revenue. That's the Holy grail of my bottom line in terms of attribution as to what I want.


Peggy: So CPA-driven model with influencer marketing marrying that and having the tech to bring them together.


Tanya: Yes, absolutely. And the tech is very unique. So the company's new and what we've done is invented a user flow. It's patent-pending and about to be patented. And what it does is that instead of using links which have a user flow that does not allow for a high conversion rate, because you can put a tracker inside a link today, put it in your bio, put it in your description, point to it and yeah, get some conversions, but the user flow is broken.


So what we've done is invented this user flow where we're encrypting the visuals, the images, and the videos of the influencers with data related to in-app purchases and through means of taking screenshots and photos of this content by the users, they're driven inside apps and meet to convert.


Peggy: So they're the missing link. It's my interaction.


Tanya: Exactly. It's your interaction.


Peggy: I get it.


Tanya: So there's no click anymore. The way to unlock or the way to interact with this promotion or, well, let's say an influencer and we always work with promotions. So think of, I'll give you a case study. We're currently overwhelmed with demand in terms of our own almost like at MGS, we're like, okay, we're done. We have almost, you know, it's day 2 and we have about seven test campaigns.


Peggy: Now you can sit back, you know, didn't even have to do a lot of networking. It just came to you.


Tanya: Exactly because there's a need. And so we booked seven test campaigns yesterday but so what would happen as a case study is think of it, let's say an iOS app that has an in-app subscription.


And so these are two campaigns we've done that perform excellently about 150% ROAS on average. So what happened is what we do, we ask the advertiser to create a promotion on this in-app purchase, typically in the form of a 10% off, 20% off in-app subscription. Typically this would happen in the form of a promo code, which is this alphanumeric promo that users would remember. It has a conversion rate of less than 0.01% so forget those. But what we do the easiest way...


Peggy: You do like snap a picture of it?


Tanya: Exactly. The promo code is inside the image itself.


Peggy: Got it.


Tanya: So what happens is the advertiser creates a promo, which is let's say a 10% off monthly subscription, they onboard our platform, they connect that subscriptions parameters to our platforms through a means of a little integration, very minor. And then they are essentially creating a campaign where they invite influencers, create their brief and those influencers get an email from us saying that this brand would like to sponsor you.


We've done a platform partnership with one of the leading influencer databases in the market, so we're an influencer platform, but we built the technology to monetize it.


Peggy: To fit that all together to be that missing link. It sounds a little bit like a really smart spin on what QR codes were supposed to be.


Tanya: Similar.


Peggy: It's in the image and that's the link. And then this is of course really cool because you're also matching people's behavior. People do say, "Oh that's really cool. I'll just take a picture and share." This is like you don't even have to teach us. Because that was the problem with QR codes, you had to teach people to do it. You had to give them a software to do it. They weren't going to do it. I mean I'm not dissing them. They do work in some places. But that's very smart. Is this your IP? You thought of this personally?


Tanya: This is our IP. Absolutely.


Peggy: You are CEO. Did you take credit for that too?


Tanya: Yeah. Me and my CTO were listed as the inventors in the patent. And so you know, in the means of taking a screenshot when you said that action, that action is always contained as a call to action in every post by an influencer. It's either take a screenshot or take a photo of the image and photo works with QR codes.


And so what happens is we've invented this thing called a social promotion window. And what this does is, so let's say that you're a user and you see this Instagram post of the girl saying, and this is the campaign we're doing with Headspace currently. The girl says, "Hey, take a screenshot of my photo to unlock 10% off your in-app subscription." So the incentive is 10% off. You're like, oh, I want that. You take a screenshot, let's say you're a new install. You open Headspace and you see this beautiful window. I'll send you the graphics so you can put this in the video.


Peggy: Absolutely.


Tanya: And it says "Screenshots and Photos: A new way to apply promotions." Just give access to photos and the promo will be redeemed automatically. You see the same screenshot of the influencer that you just took a photo of so you're reaffirmed as to why you did that. And then you click on scan for promos. We ask you for access to your camera roll, that's a one-time permission, and after that we send you an alert saying, "Nice screenshot. You just unlocked 10% off your monthly subscription."


Peggy: That is so seamless. That is so smart.


Tanya: And so this in-app alert now, it also says go sign up now before you redeem it.


Peggy: So you're getting me not just to have that promo but to like go in full [crosstalk 00:07:02].


Tanya: Exactly.


Peggy: I get it.


Tanya: You go in and explore the app so we're driving you to the conversion. And so sign up, in this case, is a preliminary event that we're also tracking and attributing to the influencer. And finally, when the influencer does the sign-up, we send another alert saying, Oh, now you finally unlocked that 10% off. It's a iOS alert canceled by iOS purchase, click on buy, that in-app purchase ID is tracked by us and we record the data and now we can say this influencer drove $52,382 to be that precise of an in-app purchase.


Peggy: That's what a marketer wants to hear because that was the problem with influencer marketing. It was like this is not trackable. Maybe a tracking link, great, but I mean I can't really account for this.


Tanya: Exactly.


Peggy: And the other thing that's really interesting about this, I'm just thinking off the top of my head, is I can imagine some app marketers coming to you just because they want to get a better feel around incremental value of what they're doing. So this is like the best test.


Tanya: Absolutely. It's a great test.


Peggy: It's like I can actually see. I did X, this is the increase. I'm not paying twice for these people. They really only came in once.


Tanya: Yes, absolutely.


Peggy: Absolutely.


Tanya: And it's CPA based. So we were giving free installs, no CPI. And whenever the events happen. So in this case, a signup and then an in-app purchase, we charge for those events so there's almost no risk for an advertiser to get a story.


Peggy: So they must be banging down the door. Name some interesting companies that you've had for clients?


Tanya: Well, so we have Pixar, Checkout 51, Drop. These are all companies, Checkout 51, Drop just signed letters of intent while we were still in development. So you know, nine-month-old company.


Peggy: I was gonna say nine months.


Tanya: Nine months.


Peggy: That's off to a flying start.


Tanya: We've been sprinting. Oh my God, I don't sleep.


Peggy: What you do is show about like how you just keep it going because it's incredible. What are you noticing also about the influencer community? Because in a way, this is like, this is very cool because even people who don't have a certain cool factor can say, hey, I could get involved because I have my niche audience. I can make this work. I mean theoretically, I can make it work. Check out our podcast, take this image, get something going. Because there are micro-influencers. You don't have to think about the size anymore or do you think about nano and micro and all that stuff?


Tanya: That's a great question because you know what the size doesn't matter because if you're looking at the engagement rate that's currently used as a performance KPI, what is the engagement rate? It's the number of likes plus comments.


Peggy: Likes. It's a popularity contest.


Tanya: Exactly. What were the number of followers? It's an equation, and each one of those variables can be faked, bought. So, on the other hand, we have something like the conversion rate, which truly is nominated by real transactions, real mobile transactions. So a nano influencer may have a high conversion rate than a celebrity and it's really about whether they can...


Peggy: Because they could be more genuine. I'm hearing that a lot. You want an influencer who identifies with the brand and might not be doing their own personal brand as well.


Tanya: Absolutely. And are their followers going to make a purchase or not? It's very hard to predict that because it's, you know, are their followers gonna make a purchase? So that KPI conversion range for influencers has not existed in the past. And so our technology is able to give that and not only for influencers, so we're pivoting this to any content.


Peggy: I was just gonna say, you could do really any content. You could do like any digital content, music, books, you name it.


Tanya: Any organic branding content.


Peggy: Bands will love you. Bands that are always complaining to me off the record about how they don't really feel at home on Spotify or other platforms. Sorry but I mean that's a fact. If you're an indie, indie, indie, what do you do? It's like democratizing access in a way to influencer marketing. It also makes it very legit.


Tanya: Yes, yes. Pure KPIs, pure transactions.


Peggy: So, what do you have like a conversation now with a marketer, how does it sound? An in-app marketer you're able to go it in a completely different way. I mean, what does the pitch sound like?


Tanya: You know what, I have realized that simply the statement, "CPA campaigns for influencers," opens doors. It's enough. And you know what, I tested this. So Pixar and I sent them Pixar and Skillz, I sent them just a cold one-liner on LinkedIn and a few others that responded exactly the same way.


Peggy: It's magical I think.


Tanya: It's magical, just that because and you know, these are people that get bombarded by vendors all the time and so they never respond to like cold one-liners and that's all I had to say.


Peggy: We'll get you 100% engaged traffic, all that stuff. I've heard that. And I just did an interview with Skillz. Actually did an article on Forbes. I mean a great company and I could see that because some of their players are influencers and champions, a lot of cool women playing in the casual games that can maybe bring in a community as well. So I can see it.


Tanya: Absolutely. And you know with influencers it's a confirmation bias. So it's almost like watching for games. It's great because you're really watching someone else play and that's the best form of persuasion, but really driving someone to convert versus serving them an ad. Let's face it, not everyone loves ads, but they like consuming content that's, you know, let's say posted organically by people they like. So we're able to monetize that correctly.


Peggy: And turn it into a business model because I remember being very excited by influencer marketing. I thought, oh this is really cool because we are ultimately, you know, mobile tribes, mobile communities, this has to work, but then it just blew. And marketers were coming to me saying, you know, we're trying to figure out how to think of attribution here. How do we tell that this influencer influenced this action?


Tanya: You can't correlate it.


Peggy: Exactly. And they were like, well, now, you can do this model and you can work at it, you can do regression and hope. So, you're nine months old, which is great. I know I'm gonna be looking into this for my other content as well. Where does it go from here? I mean, you got patent-pending, so I guess, you know, you get the patents and what you go full-blown and do apps for a while then digital or what's the roadmap look like?


Tanya: Well, so we're focused on apps simply because, you know, with that granular transaction data, that's our Holy grail where we want to be able to drive that $4.99 purchase at scale.


Peggy: Or subscriptions, which is awesome.


Tanya: Oh my God. And we only charge for the first one so the LTV from us is just excellent. But that's why we'll keep on apps. So I don't think we'll go to web, and you know, for the next, for what's coming forward. So we're 11 people now in Toronto and nine months old.


Peggy: Okay. And you don't sleep so that's actually 12.


Tanya: That's a good point.


Peggy: [inaudible 00:13:30] Well, close one. But then no, seriously a small team, what do you do? You scale it or you keep it small and focussed?


Tany: We are absolutely scaling.


Peggy: So you're hiring.


Tanya: Hiring like crazy


Peggy: Hiring is the word.


Tanya: Absolutely. So we will be at least at 25% company before the end of the year. We're raising a large seed round, you know, very shortly. Right now we're almost kind of overwhelmed with demand where our platform has been vigorously tested in terms of QA. The technology is being tested and we just have so much advertiser interest that it's not really the intention anymore. Like I came here, I'm like, okay, you know, it's good to network, but really we have so much inbound work right now and some by delivery. And so our next few months will simply be about doing campaign after campaign generating data and then the data sells itself and so that's really the focus.


Peggy: Are you gonna release some of that data as well because people love these benchmarks.


Tanya: Absolutely.


Peggy: What's an uplift I can expect? Like right now, you were telling me some numbers offline. What am I looking at here on ROAS?


Tanya: ROAS, at least 150% increase.


Peggy: Okay, that's worth it.


Tany: Reason why is because we're discounting the CPAs compared to Facebook by at least 30% and giving free installs. So you can imagine the effect that has on the ROAS where, for us, we're deciding our CPAs, it's up to us. So an advertiser can come to us and say that this works with my margin, this is what I'm paying Facebook and say 20% off.


Peggy: Yeah. You decide the discount because it's really well thought out from step to step. I get it, I get it.


Tanya: Exactly. And we know we convert so we also make money on the CPA so we're incentivized to drive that conversion. And so, you know, the uplifts have been incredible. An average conversion rate for a user during the first event is around 22% after they see that window, the social promotion window. That window, some user feedback we have received is, oh, I love that window. I've totally made my purchase on coding them because I saw the influencer's image in the app itself.


Peggy: And you know where you are in that image, in that app, you know where you are in the flow. A lot of things they, I remember campaigns it's like do this then you land there. It's like where? what? I'm lost. It's not that immediate. It's just not that seamless. Here it's like literally take a picture, go up, upload it, in the moment.


Tanya: It scans it. No uploading either.


Peggy: Right. Scanning I mean exactly. Always better.


Tanya: Some people say that but it's completely automated, completely it's the user needs to do almost nothing and it's a fun experience for them.


Peggy: So where did you get the idea for this because I was looking at your LinkedIn, I mean you've got a lot of experience, a lot of different brands. Was it like a pain point where it's like, you know what, we have influencer marketing that I can't deal with this. It's eating up budget. I can't answer to my boss. I mean, what was it that gave you the idea?


Tanya: Totally. So it all started when I was at L'Oreal and we were doing, you know, multimillion-dollar campaigns for Maybelline, Gigi Hadid like you know, influencers and you know, for store visits what is the ROAS, what is the conversion? So it was just completely me. I was head of digital strategy and you know, it was just a big blank hole.


And then I had some personal influencer campaigns that I did and I felt that the pain from their end as well and I know how easy it is to go and buy, you know, the fraudulent bots and all that.


Peggy: It's hard for them as well to prove their worth. Now they can.


Tanya: Exactly. And you know, to that point, it's very interesting to see how influencers are responding to this because the feedback we've received so far, and you know, at first I was a little skeptical. I'm like, celebrities typically get paid, you know, $250,000 for a post. Are they going to do this on a purely performance basis? And I myself was surprised. And I'm of course the biggest believer in this and I was surprised in that I was like, you know, yeah, they'll do it for $15 a subscription. And the way we convinced them... And I don't mean we have to convince them now, but the way we present it is that you were able to prove your worth. And this is me telling them, can you imagine how many brand deals you'll get after you...


Peggy: If you can say how many sales you really influenced. That's a lot stronger than saying I've got followers. And again, you know, to that point I've been talking to some companies who have very niche products. And they go for these very niche audience who are like runners and climbers and you know, sportspeople because they're out doing their thing, they're out doing whatever it is they're doing in fitness. They're not thinking about their personal brand. They're not feeding their Instagram all the time. They're just doing it.


And so that gives them the power to say, you know, hey, the running community looks up to me because I'm always out there running and now they can show that worth. Because before it was like, just get a whole army of people to take care of your social profile, you go out and run. So I get that.


What are some stories, maybe, about where you could see this coming? First, you're going to deliver, but I'm also excited about the idea of this going out to other media. I mean, I know you'll be in apps first, it's really important, but have you thought about that? Have you been talking to others in music and you know, indie movies and short films and all that good stuff because you could.


Tanya: Absolutely. So the beauty of is that we work with the apps simply because of that tracking because we get really granular with the tracking, but the genre is something we can expand all over. So you know, with music, Spotify is an excellent, in fact, we have the Spotify example on our landing page and so music is excellent.


Peggy: I didn't even look over there and I thought about it.


Tanya: It's quick. We're working. So you see it's a landing page, we have been so busy with the platform we have to invest time into the topical anesthetic things. But you know it's good. It's coming along and on the note of, well, genre is something we can cover. So if for example, if it's movie theatre, if it's indie movies, if they have a mobile app and they know the conversion they want to drive and that's my first question to an advertiser is, what is something that's valuable for you to drive inside your app? What is conversion?


I mean we work with types of conversions. We work with in-app purchases, iOS driven in-app purchases and Android also subscriptions. And then we work with internal payments where the transactions don't go to the Apple and the Google Play stores. So if you look at Uber Eats, if you look at, you know, any other shopping app, they have their own internal payment systems to facilitate those transactions.


So we're able to do, you know, drive transaction data to them, those types of transaction apps as well, of course. And food delivery apps are massive for us. Just promo codes are [inaudible 00:20:08].


Peggy: I mean, yeah, exactly, that would be a natural as well. Well, this is fantastic, Tanya. I mean, we talked about what's next for the company. How about for yourself? I mean, if you get time to think about it, I mean, I can see you actually, you know, inspiring a lot of entrepreneurs. Not just women entrepreneurs, but you know, entrepreneurs. You got a start-up, you got nine months, you've got, you know, you've got the plan, what's next for you? You're going to share some of that or focus more on just building the business.


Tanya: Yeah. You know, I'm happy to inspire along the way. I get a lot of little girls like messaging on Instagram, like teenage girls and I love that, you know, like I'm happy to...I believe in leading by example so I'm never going to go out of my way to do it but if they want to follow my journey then I'm happy to actually do it and execute and actually build something that's valuable. And so the next year for us is really, you know, growing the company, growing the business, proving ourselves and establishing ourselves as a reputable marketer, reputable vendor for advertisers.


Peggy: And making it possible that we really take influencer marketing to the next level and take it seriously.


Tanya: Oh, yeah. That is something also. We are completely disrupting this industry. I'm very excited about that.


Peggy: But you look like someone who could disrupt the industry. Absolutely. Tanya, it's been a joy to make your acquaintance.


Tanya: My pleasure, Peggy. Likewise.


Peggy: I'll be watching your company. I know I watch companies and I know when I see something, and this is bringing new interest in energy back to influencer marketing. I know that I could be connecting with you in the short term just to see what's going on. Just to check and see what you're up to. I'd love to do that again. Thanks for being on the show. I love disruptors too.


Tanya: Absolutely. I would love to keep in touch with you. You're the best.


Peggy: Oh, well, thank you.


Tanya: Thank you so much, Peggy.


Peggy: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure, Tanya. Good luck.


Tanya: Likewise.


Peggy: And thank you for Mobile Growth Summit. I'm Peggy Ann Salz and we're live, come on down.