Hypr launches App Blaster to put you in front of 1 billion social users

STEWART ROGERS MAY 16, 2016 10:48 AM


So you’ve built an app. With over 2,300 launching on the two major app stores every day, how will you make sure people see the digital embodiment of your blood, sweat, and tears?

We have been analyzing mobile user acquisition strategies and tactics for some time at VentureBeat, summarizing the results of over 14 billion mobile ads and talking with leading user acquisition experts. When something different comes along, we take notice.

Enter App Blaster, a new and intriguing app user acquisition tool from Hypr, the influencer marketing search engine and database.

So what is different about App Blaster and its approach?

The tool promotes an app through influential social media accounts. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a twist. It utilizes its network of over 800 themed social media accounts, each of which creates a series of social posts that “blast” apps throughout different platforms. These posts are exposed to as many as one billion social media users who are directed to the app stores to install the app.

For example, let’s say you’ve created a new sports game. Popular social media accounts that discuss athletes, equipment, and sporting events will promote your game to their audiences. Because the accounts are sports related, it is likely that your app will be downloaded by bona fide sports fans, resulting in high engagement.

App Blaster has another interesting element. Hypr’s technology crawls every public social media account in the world and analyzes them to understand audience demographics. That depth of understanding allows App Blaster to select accounts that speak directly to the audience most likely to be interested in your app. I wondered how it determines the best users to target.

“Hypr’s sophisticated engine looks at the follower lists to understand audience demographics,” Hypr CEO Gil Eyal told me. “We look at any platform that has a following mechanism, including, but not limited to, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Periscope, Meerkat, and others. By taking a representative sample of the audiences of each social account, we’re able to compare them to our proprietary database and understand if an audience is particularly interested in specific subjects, as well as generate a demographic audience map for the account, including a breakdown of audience interests, gender breakdown, age breakdown, income levels, education levels, ethnicity, location, and more.”

That level of understanding provides complex targeting and segmentation.

“It allows our system to insert automated targeting into the account selection process,” Eyal said. “By understanding which accounts reach which audiences, we are able to ensure that a larger percentage of relevant followers is exposed to the app. For example, if the app is about basketball and targets teens 15-18, male, in the U.S., it would be a waste to post on a fashion-oriented account that targets females in Latin America.”

Although the company says that campaigns are effective across all platforms, some produce better results than others.

“Typically, the most effective platforms have been Instagram and Facebook,” Eyal said. “Our posts are carried out on themed accounts, thereby giving us control over the content and posting time. Message delivery includes a short video and a caption, regardless of platform. Where it is possible to include a link, we include one.”

App Blaster campaigns are first tested with a pilot campaign that costs $5,000. The system optimizes posts in order to reduce user acquisition costs. Once the posts are optimized, customers can scale increasing organic downloads to hit their rankings or download quantity goals within the app stores. In comparison to other user acquisition techniques and tactics, the per-user costs are low, considering Hypr’s claim of delivering high-quality users.

“The pilot is focused on understanding the cost of installation on our network for a specific app,” Eyal said. “Prices [per user] typically don’t exceed $3, and often go below $1 for extremely high-quality users. There is no incentivizing during the process, and users will most often go and download the app organically from the app store, resulting in a major boost in the ratings, as well as highly engaged users who chose to download the app.”

We know from our research on App Store Optimization (ASO) that paid acquisition campaigns deliver a 20 percent uplift in organic installs. High-quality users become advocates for your app, increasing reach via word-of-mouth and social sharing.

“There are many services that send volume downloads in an effort to drive an app up the rankings,” Eyal said. “From the outset, our goal was to only send extremely high-quality users who will engage with the app, leverage any viral features, and write genuine positive reviews. No one knows exactly how the app store algorithms work, but we do see a major boost for apps that have positive engagement [and] high user ratings. As an app developer, the days of just obtaining a lot of downloads are gone. Apps are measured based on the quality of their users and how often they come back, and we believe there is no value whatsoever in a user who downloads the app and leaves shortly thereafter. Our goal is to generate the highest-quality users at the lowest cost.”

App Blaster is available from today.


Apester Picks Up $12 Million To Help Publishers Embrace Native


by Allison Schiff // Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 – 9:00 am

Apester, a self-described digital storytelling platform, rounded out its Series A on Tuesday with $12 million, bringing its total funding to $17 million.

The fresh infusion, which came after an initial $5 million round in July, was led by Blumberg Capital, with participation from Mangrove Capital, Wellborn Ventures and several others.

The cash is earmarked for three main purposes: R&D, hiring salespeople and international expansion beyond existing offices in New York, Tel Aviv, London, Berlin, Tokyo and a soon-to-open outpost in Istanbul.

“We’re trying to meet digital publishing needs, and that’s not market-specific,” said Apester CEO and co-founder Moti Cohen.

Those needs include increasing engagement and time spent, both of which are acutely lacking in the mobile and social referrals that comprise a larger and larger portion of overall traffic.

According to AddThis, most social referral traffic bounces after landing on the first page.

“Social usually acts as a way to get someone from one point to another, but they’re unlikely to dive into other articles, let alone advertising,” Cohen said.

Apester’s approach is to try and limit the bounce rate by adding elements to the page that spice up the editorial and keep users from heading out after reading the headline and scanning a couple of paragraphs.

The technology works by integrating into a publisher’s CMS. From there, publishers can embed interactive units – quizzes, polls, personality tests and videos – directly into content so that they look like a native elements of the story.

Although funding in the ad tech space is notoriously running dry, native advertising still seems to be able to bring in the bucks. Survey and quiz platform Playbuzz, for example, one of Apester’s top competitors, raised a $15 million strategic round in late March led by Saban Ventures with pinch-hitting from Walt Disney Co.

Apester's platform also collects user feedback, preference info and sentiment-related data based on a reader’s engagement, which it supplies back to the publisher and uses to help recommend more relevant content to keep the reader reading.

Some Apester clients use the tool to enhance their editorial output, while others use it to power their sponsored content, including The LAD Bible for McDonald’s, The Weather Channel for Michelin and The Huffington Post for Virgin America and Clorox.

In the Clorox example, The Huffington Post used Apester to drum up engagement around the fruits its content partnership with the brand by creating a “Would You Rather” quiz aimed at parents. (“Would you rather step on a LEGO or be head-butted by a toddler?”) The quiz had a 72% click-through rate, and nearly 5,000 of the readers who engaged with the poll went on to read other Clorox-related articles on HuffPo’s site.

Entertainment Weekly created an interactive video on the 40th anniversary of the release of Queen’s "Bohemian Rhapsody" that prompted readers to test their knowledge of the song’s lyrics. The video garnered a 56% engagement rate despite its placement at the bottom of the page, a 93% completion rate and an average time spent rate of six minutes.

UK publisher The Telegraph created an interactive quiz to accompany a story entitled “Who said it: Donald Trump or Adolph Hitler?” The quiz generated a 14% click-through rate and more than 60,000 engagements the week it was published.

“We use the same mechanisms for brands and for advertisers,” Cohen said. “There’s no point in disguising yourself. If you bring value, it doesn’t matter if you’re a brand or not. Look at Red Bull and extreme sports – I mean, it’s just an energy drink, but people engage like crazy.”

Founded in 2011, Apester first hit the market at the end of 2014. Over the last year, the company upped its headcount from eight to 50, a number it plans to double by 2017 using funds from this most recent round.

Silverstein’s Tal Kerret has his eye on the future while nurturing the past



Tal Kerret, president of Silverstein Properties, entered the real estate world after a dinner with both his father-in-law and the company’s chairman, Larry Silverstein, in 2011.

“It’s hard to say no to Larry, repeatedly,” joked Kerret, who is married to Silverstein’s daughter, Lisa. “He’s a terrific man.”

Since coming onboard as executive vice president, Kerret has launched Silver Suites Offices at 7 World Trade Center, and taken on the task of overseeing Silver Suites Residences at Silver Towers.

By January of 2013, the former chairman and co-founder of Oberon Media, Inc., a casual games platform and solution provider, was promoted to chief investment officer. Not long after, he had earned his current role of president.

“Every year I progressed,” Kerret told Real Estate Weekly while applauding Silverstein’s workplace culture. “This is a family-run business,” he added.

But family run businesses are not the only types of ventures that Kerret supports. Earlier this month, American Friends of Tel Aviv University, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Israel’s largest institution of higher learning, recognized the school’s alumnus at its annual gala.

“We are delighted to recognize Tal Kerret’s remarkable achievements as we host the first major celebration of Tel Aviv University’s 60th anniversary,” said Gail Reiss, president & CEO of American Friends of TAU.

“Tal is an outstanding leader and innovator in the real estate industry, and a shining example of Tel Aviv University’s alumni over the last 60 years.”

The award was due in large part for his work in the traditional aspects of real estate, including managing and monitoring Silverstein’s portfolio of assets, devising strategies for growth and communicating with investors.

Kerret’s tireless efforts geared towards helping other entrepreneurial-minded professionals in New York also garnered his former school’s attention.
Recently, Kerret launched SilverTech Ventures, a collaboration with Silverstein Properties that fosters a community of successful technology entrepreneurs in New York City.

Kerret described the program as a platform on which young companies can grow and eventually become large, successful entities.

“Those that are supported by the right people win,” said Kerret. “We’re trying to help the startups, if we can, to become more successful. It’s a part of building a community.”
However, he was quick to add that aiding fledgling ventures is about more than just potential financial gains, it’s also about helping entrepreneurs create “a better place for people to live, work, and spend their life.”

Four of the startup initiatives that took part in the SilverTech program were sold last year, a stat that caught Tel Aviv University’s eye.

The school prides itself on its dedication to entrepreneurial ventures. It is ranked as one of the ten best institutions of its kind for nurturing startups, sitting beside schools such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard.

Kerret said that many entrepreneurs in Israel are drawn to the U.S. because of the health of the markets for their particular venture.

After spending significant amounts of time in five U.S. cities, he feels that New York is the “best suited city” when it comes to fostering tech growth.

“New York is very entrepreneurial to start with,” said Kerret, who feels that the access to talent and capital are hard to find elsewhere. “It’s also geographically — in terms of time zones — easier for companies out of Europe and Israel to work with.”

The access to a qualified workforce is especially strong in the lower areas of the city, according to Kerret, who points out that Brooklyn, lower Manhattan, and the Jersey side of the Hudson each house a substantial number of young professionals.

He credits this reservoir of quality talent as a major driver for Midtown South and Downtown’s success.

“Silverstein not only expected (the commercial growth in these areas) we were driving a lot of it. We believe that downtown is the most accessible place in the nation, and definitely in this area,” said Kerret.
He credits the accessibility of the area in large part for helping lure new tenants such as one-time Midtown fixture, Conde Nast, south.

But the more reasonable prices are also sweetening the deal for incoming tenants.
“Downtown you can get a much better value than you can anywhere else in the city,” said Kerret.

Among those pursuing that value will likely be companies that benefited from Kerret’s guidance.

“It’s a very important piece of my life,” said Kerret. “It’s a passion of mine. I take it very seriously. I spend most of my free time — other than with my family — focusing on how can we help entrepreneurs and startups succeed.

“I am delighted to support Tel Aviv University on its 60th anniversary. I spent four happy years there studying math and computer science and met many friends and colleagues. TAU was a great foundation for my career as an entrepreneur.”

Now a fixture in New York’s commercial real estate market, Kerret hopes to give others the same boost that his alma matter did for him.


Fraudulent Wire Transfer Payments Can Breach Trust

As finance departments get duped via wire fraud, four tips to lower risk

December 15, 2015 | by Charles Keenan

While the deluge of cyber attacks seems never-ending, one particular type of crime stands out for its perpetrators' mix of street smarts and tech savvy, sometimes draining company coffers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

With this scam, referred to as "business email compromise," fraudsters infiltrate company networks, posing as insiders to extract illicit wire transfers and duping managers along the way. Victims in the United States reported $748 million in losses from October 2013 through August 2015, according to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. And this is only what's being reported – the real dollar amount is likely much higher.

"It's clear to us [wire fraud] is not abating and it continues to be a significant threat," says Maxwell Marker, a section chief in the transnational organized crime unit at the FBI.

Some attacks have led to big losses. Ubiquiti Networks Inc., a technology company, disclosed in August that cyber criminals stole about $47 million by impersonating employees and targeting the finance department, according to an August filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Xoom Corp., an online money transfer provider, discovered an illicit payment of $31 million to overseas accounts in December 2014.

One part tech, one part savvy

In the scam, perpetrators obtain administrator passwords, often through malware sent in an email, giving them access to a company's network. Once in, the hackers can then rifle through emails, carefully studying how a company conducts its wire transfers and adopting the parlance of its executives. They also use LinkedIn to learn how the executive hierarchy works. The criminals then pose as an executive of the company, giving instructions to the home office to initiate a wire transfer. Often the payment is made to a website that is one digit or letter off from that of the legitimate domain name.

The fraudsters also use urgency to get managers to act, with phrases such as "needs to go out today," "need you to take care of" and "now." The criminals, suspected to be members of organized crime groups from Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, tend to focus on businesses that have foreign suppliers or those that regularly perform wire transfer payments, according to the FBI.

"These guys are good enough that they watch the communications over time, so they are able to mimic those communications very well," Marker says. "These look legitimate – like they came from persons of authority within the companies. So a lot of times there's a reluctance to question that type of authority."

Shoring up the defenses

While it seems like common sense to have the right controls in place, why do fraudsters still get away with it, especially at a time when there's so much publicity about email fraud and cybersecurity? There's a common misconception that "it won’t happen to me," says David Pollino, fraud prevention officer at $73 billion-asset Bank of the West, a San Francisco subsidiary of Paris-based BNP Paribas Group. "Thinking about controls is sometimes an afterthought."

Generally, if the money gets transferred, companies are out of luck. "ACH transfers tend to disappear pretty quickly if they are done fraudulently," says Howard Greenstein, chief operating officer of DomainSkate, a New York-based provider that helps companies monitor malicious domains names. "It is frightening."

That means a renewed focus on prevention, experts say. Companies can go a long way to reduce risk from the scam by using the following strategies:

1. Strengthen technology. Blocking the intruders is the first line of defense, through methods like using software designed to detect intrusions and monitoring email traffic for anomalies. Vendors can also monitor illicit use of domains outside of the company and help identify which ones are real threats. DomainSkate, for example, scans hundreds of millions of domains each day and alerts companies to registered domains that could cause harm to its brand. “Companies should be looking for mistyped domains,” Greenstein says. But even so, the proliferation of domain extensions has made it easier than ever to make a name look legitimate, he adds. "There is a wide range of possible places to register a name online."

2. Institute multifactor authentication. A phone call to the executive asking for the transfer would be the simplest form of another way to authenticate a transaction. Generally it also includes use of other tools such as tokens and biometrics. Electronically signed email is another method. Each factor reduces risk. "You can get that next level of confidence that the request is legitimate," Greenstein says.

3. Change the culture. "You need to instill a healthy dose of skepticism in the workforce," Marker says. Ego needs to be taken out of the equation. "A lot of that is going to come down to leadership not being offended by the fact that somebody confirms their identity," he adds. "It's going to take a culture shift to empower these folks who are moving these transactions to take that step back and say, 'Is this really legitimate, and is it something I really should push forward on, or do I need to have a second step?'"

4. Use standard financial controls. It's hard to believe companies don't use all the standard financial controls, but as Pollino states, there's a common mentality among many executives who think it won't happen to them. Develop an approval process for large transactions, use a purchase-order model for wire transfers, confirm (and reconfirm) the transactions and stay in touch with the bank, Pollino says. He also suggests companies put themselves in the shoes of a criminal. "Think through these scams," he says. "Create controls that are appropriate for the business. Having these controls in place can really help maintain the viability of the business and minimize unnecessary losses."

Put another way, prevention efforts are a must. "This is something that is critical," Pollino says. "A seven or eight-figure loss – even at a medium-sized or large company – could mean the difference between making money and the ability to stay in business."