Mobile Ecosystem

App Marketing Conversations: Thoughts on Kim Kardashian

Becky Doles

Welcome to the newest installment of App Marketing Conversations. In this episode our CEO, Ian Sefferman (@iseff), talks about the Kim Kardashian app. That’s right. Kim Kardashian has an app, and it’s hugely successful. He is joined by Ryan Morel (@ryanmorel) of Gamehouse (@ghpartners) and Robi Ganguly (@rganguly) of Apptentive (@apptentive).


Ian Sefferman: Hello, everybody. Welcome to another installment of App Marketing Conversations. As always, I’m here with Ryan Morel of Gamehouse, Robi Ganguly of Apptentive, and I’m Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ. In what I think means there are pigs outside flying, let’s talk about Kim Kardashian on this segment. So Glu Mobile has released a game for Kim Kardashian, and it appears to be doing gangbuster business. You actually kind of know what this game is about a little bit.

Robi Ganguly: Yeah.

Ian Sefferman: I’ll throw you under the bus on that one.

Robi Ganguly: To be fair, I’ve been reading some stories about it. I haven’t actually yet downloaded it and played it, but my understanding, that it’s the ability to live Kim’s life virtually, and then every once in a while, you interact with sort of a fake Kim in the game. So the combination of those two things seems to be amazing because would love to buy Kim’s outfits, talk to their agents, earn money just by putting a smile on, and sort of other classic turn-based resource management games, right? So that’s what it is for Kim Kardashian’s life, and it’s growing really well. It’s got 50,000 plus positive reviews in the App Store, so people are happy with it.

Ian Sefferman: Yeah. It’s an incredible thing. And the reports are that it’s making awesome money, too. Who knows if it’s right, but it says already over $200 million in revenue. That’s a pretty staggering number. It’s been sitting sort of top 2, top 5 free apps in the App Store. What’s your thoughts on this?

Ryan Morel: I think it’s really interesting because there was a time in the mobile game industry where the only way to make revenue was to have licensed content. So you had to go out and license movies and TV shows and stars and whatever to slap their name on it so that people would recognize the title and they’d buy it, right? And when the iPhone and subsequently Android came out, that went away. You didn’t need to have this big licensed content in order to succeed, and now we’re seeing what is hopefully not the start of another round of big licensed content deals where publishers and developers kind of get screwed by the license holders.

Robi Ganguly: So that means we’re pretty much definitely going to see a round of that?

Ryan Morel: Yeah. For sure. My fear is that there aren’t enough people around from what I consider the good old days of mobile phones where we had to sell to carriers who remember how bad those deals were for the publishers to really avoid doing them. On the other hand, this is a long diatribe, sorry, the interesting thing about the Kim Kardashian thing is she can push the content via channels that did not exist previously. Is the game good? I have no idea. Is it successful because Kim Kardashian’s pushing it or Glu’s pushing? It’s probably because Kim Kardashian’s pushing it because their incentives are aligned. I think the marketing channels for a brand or a license to acquire users on behalf of their publishers is much different than it used to be.

Robi Ganguly: That’s a really interesting point because if you think about it, if she had a CD that she was promoting through the channels she has, would it do $200 million?

Ryan Morel: Yeah, no.

Robi Ganguly: Would it do 50? It might not even do 10, right? But she’s promoting a game with in-app purchases, this experience, boom, revenue out the wazoo. Wow.

Ryan Morel: Yeah, and think about all the different places she can do it like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, whatever, and those are one click to download, effectively, right? So push this button, go to the App Store, Google Play Store, and download this game. There’s no friction there. Versus a CD, for example, maybe they promote it on the Kardashian TV show, then it’s like, “Well, now what do I do?”

Robi Ganguly: Right.

Ryan Morel: So it’s interesting.

Ian Sefferman: So if you’re a marketer of a publisher at a publishing company, what would you be doing? What would you be thinking about now?

Robi Ganguly: I think, for me, it’s a drum I keep beating. The value of audience continues to increase. So this seems like Kim Kardashian’s audience is hugely loyal, super engaged. There’s a meaningful percentage of them who want a deeper experience, a connection to her. So that seems that every app marketer, every publisher should continue to be thinking about ways in which they’re going to upgrade the level of their engagement with their audience. How are they going to get those people more sort of personally connected to them? And the more that they do that, the more they have the likelihood of using the tools at their disposal on a regular basis to make more money. And it doesn’t just mean huge licensing deals, spending millions of dollars on Kim Kardashian. It also means their characters that they’ve created. If I’m Nintendo, I’m looking at this and saying, “I bet you Super Mario is more famous than Kim Kardashian.” Right?

Ian Sefferman: Yeah.

Ryan Morel: Yeah.

Robi Ganguly: He probably is if you create him as a character and take advantage of the audience and the fan base.

Ian Sefferman: Yeah.

Ryan Morel: Yeah.

Ian Sefferman: You agree?

Ryan Morel: Yeah, I agree, and I think maybe we’re now at a place where developers and publishers can probably look for niche brands that have an audience and kind of rank them based on how profitable that audience may be. So you can see, I’ll use Magic the Gathering as an example. That’s a pretty big brand, but not the size of Kim Kardashian. But maybe there’s kind of sub brands below that that has 5, 10 million really hardcore fans. That’s enough, right?

Ian Sefferman: Yeah.

Robi Ganguly: Yeah, exactly.

Ryan Morel: Given what you can do from a monetization perspective and how many people can actually access your content. Where three years ago it wasn’t because you could only get 10% of that audience.

Ian Sefferman: Yeah.

Robi Ganguly: Yeah.

Ryan Morel: Now you can get 80% of it really monetizing.

Ian Sefferman: Yeah. That’s really, actually, an interesting point because I think by default, my mind always goes to the fact that it’s just way easier to get a whole lot more people, but it’s also way easier to monetize today for people who are passionate about things, such that you almost don’t need that many more people, right? Instagram took how many months to get to 100 million users, and you’re like, “Oh, man, you can get to 100 million user that fast?” But if you just have passionate audience, you really don’t need 100 million users.

Robi Ganguly: Right.

Ryan Morel: Yeah. For any big business, you can have a whole lot of people who don’t pay a lot or a small number of people who pay a lot.

Ian Sefferman: All right. Any other thoughts on Kim before we pull the pigs out of the sky?

Robi Ganguly: I think the ironic thing is this probably teaches us more in terms of app marketing than some of the technology announcements that come out and some of the app and earnings announcements that wee see. This actually says a lot more about the state of the world and where things are probably going.

Ian Sefferman: Yeah. That’s probably true.

Ryan Morel: That sounds a little demonizing there.

Ian Sefferman: All right. Be sure to watch the other videos, like this segment, subscribe to our channel, and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.

Becky Doles

Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she handled content strategy and marketing communications at several tech startups in the Bay Area. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned home to Charleston, SC, where you can find her strolling through Hampton Park with her pup and enjoying the simple things between adventures with friends and family.

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