Introducing Storyly

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The idea glowed in the second half of 2019. It evolved magically and finally, we have Storyly. This is our story, introducing App Samurai’s youngest product.

I talked a bit about what we do in App Samurai in my previous post, where I discussed our design processes in the company. In a few words, I can describe our business as helping app owners and marketers reach masses to acquire users for their mobile apps. Putting what we do in one sentence is pretty easy, doing what we do is not 🙂 We aim the cleanest ad traffic, we even built Interceptd to fight ad fraud. App Samurai and Interceptd together are handling billions of units of mobile ad data with a strong and passionate team of developers, product people, customer success specialists, etc.

Having years of experience in ad tech, we are always in the search for solutions to democratize the marketing ecosystem. I expressed what we do in this context because it’s of course what shaped Storyly into its form today.

The Journey So Far

It all started with the need for a better ad unit.

After standing side-by-side with the advertisers for quite some time, we decided to change our perspectives to care for the publishers as well. Monetization has always been a challenge for app owners, and the main reason for that is the end-users’ precious experience.

Why is UX that important and so fragile? Imagine being a user of a health & fitness app, you just want to spend some time on the newest trends in yoga, get rid of your daily stress and have a sip of your green tea. While scrolling through the content, le wild interstitial ad (the full-sized ads that we see on our mobile devices) appears. You have to wait for the cross button on the upper right corner to show up so that you can close the ad and continue reading “How to nail Baby Grasshopper Pose?” article. See? Your green tea is cold already.

A significant portion of digital marketing budgets is spent in the mobile world, where users spend most of their time. However, most of their digital media budgets go to waste in the stony road of “acquiring real users”. Yes, there’s fraud everywhere in the mobile advertising world, but fraudsters are not the only ones to blame. There’s something wrong and insufficient with the commonly used ad units like traditional banners and interstitials. They spoil the enjoyment of the user, they get in the way of the yogi and learning the trendy yoga pose. But when it’s a case of a content-dense app, they usually use these ad units because it’s so hard to earn revenue from these apps; there’s a tradeoff between sacrificing the end-user experience and making money from ads.

In the light of what we knew so far, we came up with the in-app story idea for monetization. One meeting followed another and one publisher interview followed another, we agreed on implementing Instagram-like stories in an SDK for Android and iOS apps to be used for advertising, which could be a game-changer. Because of the following reasons:

  • It’s one of the most familiar experiences for the end-user. Stories are relaxed, cool and they’re here for a few years now. They are pretty user-friendly too; letting you move at your own pace with simple thumb gestures. No more waiting for the cross button, just swipe left and move on.
  • Businesses undoubtedly benefit from story ads on Snap, Instagram, and so on. There are tons of statistics all around the web supporting this, such as “1/3 of the most viewed Instagram stories are from businesses.” or “Brand stories reached 85% completion rate.”. This is huge. Why not use it to our benefit in any app?

So, we started building Storyly, a lightweight SDK, with the thought of a better mobile app ad experience hence more ad revenue for apps in our minds.

Then a long series of customer interviews began.

While we were developing an MVP for Storyly, we conducted many customer interviews and inter-team workshops. We wanted to validate or kill the idea before it’s too late. Among the interviewees, there were app owners with less than 1k of daily active users (DAU), marketing managers and product managers working for apps with more than 500k of DAU. And almost every size of apps in between. Especially in the case of the big companies’ apps, one thing hit our faces:

Monetization with ads is not their main concern, keeping their hardly acquired users in the app is.

Think about a pizza brand’s app with about 200k DAU. There are digital marketers, content creators, and product people to make this app reach thousands of people and they want the users to consume the content they create. This is important to them because it’s how they compete with their competitors. The content can be about promotions, maybe some influencer stuff, seasonal campaigns, hot deals, basically anything about pizza. It doesn’t mean much when their users come to the app, do nothing and leave in 30 seconds and therefore make the whole content go useless. They need more session time, they need engagement. And finally, they want their users to order pizza (it’s fair enough to name this as their core action). They don’t need ad networks to put some ads on their app, they need their acquired users to enjoy the app.

Core action conversion is the most important metric for these apps, the most reasonable way to reach the maximum is ensuring in-app engagement.

So we decided to shift our focus on engagement instead of monetization. User engagement is Storyly’s top priority, when you engage users you can easily make them come back to your app. You can also put stories in your app to show your direct deals with your business partners or featured content. Let’s say you own that health & fitness app this time, a yoga studio comes to you and wants to build a partnership through sponsored stories. And there you go, making extra money with Storyly. So we haven’t killed the monetization idea, it’s safe and sound in direct deals 🙂

What now?

Storyly has great features that we’re proud of already. You can add custom CTA buttons to your stories, import stories from your business’ social media accounts, edit your content and everything about your stories from our Story editor, and track all the important stats from our dashboard.

What is ahead is even more impressive; we’re bringing interactivity to stories from polls to Q&As, creating Storyly Network as a community of Storyly owners to create a marketplace to help them make direct deals with each other, implementing personalization of stories by making tailored stories for each end-user, and the roadmap goes on.

Storyly is live on Tarif Küpü — a food & drink app (both on iOS and Android), and we have many apps in the pipeline from real estate apps to flight booking apps. We’re getting incredible attention from many mobile app development companies as well, because it’s never easy building fully functional SDKs (Storyly operates on native iOS, Android, and React-Native apps) and a smooth dashboard from scratch, monitoring every single issue, collecting all the metrics that matter and delivering a great experience. The conversion rates are very satisfying for Tarif Küpü, hence the live success supports our courageous words:

Our dream is to be the number one in-app engagement tool, and we crave to make Storyly irreplaceable for our customers.

We will launch Storyly in Product Hunt on January 28th. While we are super enthusiastic about the launch, we’ve released our beloved product on the Upcoming Page.

Edit: We launched Storyly in Product Hunt!

We’d appreciate any comment, subscription, and support on this journey! Feel free to check our webpage and contact us at these email addresses:

  • cansu@storyly.io
  • aykut@storyly.io

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