Established by long-time collaborators Nic Blair and Shon Siemonek in December 2012, Brisbane-based Brus Media is quickly gaining momentum within the mobile app market.
An affiliate network, focused on performance-based advertising for mobile apps, Brus Media helps clients to monetize and grow their iPhone, iPad and Android apps. In a nutshell, Brus Media offers promotional opportunities for advertisers and game developers. The boys from Brisbane have helped grow some of the largest gaming apps, including Slotomania, Castle Clash, Clash of Clans, and everybody’s favourite, Candy Crush Saga.
The rise of the company has been exponential. Back in December 2012, on its very first day in business, Brus Media generated just $1 in revenue. Fast-forward 18 months, and the affiliate marketing experts are generating $1 in revenue every 7.6 seconds. Just in case you’re trying to do the math on that, it equates to almost $4,000 per day (based on an eight hour work day).
In March 2014 alone, Brus Media had over 19,000,000 clicks for mobile apps, over 550,000 installs and over $225,000 in revenue. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Brus Media also recently launched Brus.com, a mobile app studio to showcase its apps developed in-house. One such app is Deep Sea Slots. Launched on 8 April 2014, the app is a mobile casino game that features a colour design and no pop-up ads. According to Brus, the app has already had more than 60,000 downloads.
One of the men behind all this success is Nic Blair. A digital entrepreneur with a passion for digital marketing and e-commerce, Blair has been involved in a number of start-ups since 2008. Obviously, two of these start-ups include Brus Media, and Brus.
But there is also Search Factory, of which Blair is the Managing Director. Established in 2011, Search Factory is an SEO and SEM agency that has worked with some of Australia’s biggest brands, including Flight Centre and Coral Homes. Within just a couple of years, Blair has grown the Search Factory team to more than 27 people almost quadrupled turnover from around $560,000 in their first year to $2.2 million in their third year.
Not one to rest on his laurels, as of June, Blair has entered the world of publishing as well, purchasing FreedriderMX magazine (the only magazine in the world totally dedicated to freestyle motocross).
“Freerider is a global brand and the most cost effective way to reach its global audience is by developing the existing digital channels”, said Blair. “Our plan is to make this a multi media brand in every sense of the word and we look forward to formulating a new publishing strategy in the coming weeks.”
Blair took some time out of his busy app development / affiliate marketing / SEO / SEM / publishing schedule to answer a few questions for us.
Q: You have suggested that many companies employ too rigid a business model; when market demands change, these companies get left behind. So, what are your tips for maintaining a flexible business model, particularly in today’s digital era?
I believe the first step is to always be looking ahead. You can’t become too stagnant with what you are doing right now, because the digital landscape is always evolving. For example, Brus Media started as a business for growing and monetising Facebook apps, but we shifted entirely to mobile shortly after because we could see that Facebook apps were declining and mobile was growing rapidly. You need to read as much as you can, test frequently and understand (or try to) the direction in which different industries are heading in order to plan how you will keep up with the rest of the world.
Having a strong team is also a large part of this. You need passionate people in your business that embrace change and want to continually expand their knowledge. In all businesses we have been fortunate enough to have great teams that thrive on change in the digital landscape. There’s always ideas and knowledge being shared between team members which creates such a strong, dynamic culture.
Q: Given your success in start-ups, with revenue in the millions within just two years, what is your biggest piece of advice for anyone thinking about embarking on a new business venture?
There’s two things that I would say are worth sharing. The first is to go for it! Most people I chat with that are thinking about starting a business venture put up too many barriers for themselves as to why they can’t do it. Don’t wait until everything is completely perfect to get started, because that will never happen. Commit to it, get started and you can fine tune as you go. Just get started with the most important things and the rest will come. Consider the position you are in right now, in most cases if you get started and it doesn’t work, you won’t be much worse off than you are right now in the long run, but the potential gain can be so much more. I just bought out a print publication, I have not a single clue how to run a print mag but I’ll work it out!
Secondly you really need to get good at understanding the numbers in your business. Before starting, make sure you understand what your expenses will be and make sure you have a good understanding of your revenue projections in the worst, average and best cases. If your best case is $5,000 month and you don’t make it, you might make $2,000. If your best case is $200,000 month and you don’t make it, you might still end up with $50,000. I like to take this bigger thinking approach into my own projects. It’s also important to understand your profit and loss statements and making sure that you complete and review these on a monthly basis. Having money in the bank doesn’t mean you’re actually making a profit.
Q: Your mantra at Search Factory is to never to lock people into contracts, charging all work at an hourly rate, with no packages or contracts. This is quite an unusual approach. How and why did you devise this? What are the benefits?
I was managing digital marketing for a large Australian brand at the time and was trying to find a good search company for us to work with. The providers in the Australian market were typically more focused on long term, lock-in contracts for relatively low quality work which didn’t suit our needs. Based on my own issues with this I saw the opportunity to build a search company that provided a much higher quality service, didn’t outsource our activity overseas and fill that gap in the market. The US search industry had evolved to this, but Australian providers were tailoring their packaged contract approach to small businesses.
This approach is much less profitable than outsourcing all our work overseas, but in the long run it provides a much better service for the clients that we work with through developing custom strategies and having the ability to be flexible and innovative with them. This is reflected in strong client retention without the need for long contracts. It also keeps our team on top of things, as they have to perform each month.
Q: What do you think is the most effective way to build a successful business within the digital arena?
If it’s a service-based business like Brus Media or Search Factory, networking is still one of the best ways to grow a business. In Brus Media for example, we have basically nil marketing budget and all revenue is generated through working with and expanding a base of publishers and advertisers around the world. At the moment, Skype and email are our best marketing tools!
Q: What advice do you give people who want to promote their app?
You need to have a growth strategy in place before you launch. Too many apps are built with the notion that you “build it and they will come”. Every day the app stores are flooded with new apps that will never eventuate into anything because they haven’t actually considered how they will get it on to people’s devices. A great way to start is through cost-per-install advertising as it is a more cost effective way to grow your daily users without wasted spend where you might not convert users. More installs also means higher rankings in the app store top lists.
Q: Do you have any advice for first time app developers?
Once you launch your app and begin to grow it, pay close attention to your 3 and 7 day user retention. What is considered a good number varies between app types, but if you can improve and grow your 7 day retention rate, you will build a strong app.
Q: What do you see for the future of the marketing industry?
Marketing campaigns driven on tangible KPI-based results are going to continue to become more important. I already see this happening across many different marketing channels, but the increased transparency that is being delivered to decision makers through Google Analytics and other tracking platforms means complete accountability for campaigns. That’s why we see strong growth in platforms like Google Adwords, cost-per-install app campaigns and cost-per-click banner advertising. Every click or install can be measured and attributed to a user. Branding will always be an important part of marketing and growing a business, but these more accountable mediums will continue to become a wise place for marketers to invest their budgets for the greatest return.
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