Cracking ASO with Juanjo Monge of Lab Cave Games

Feb 15, 2018

MG: And today, we have Juanjo Monge. He is the CMO of Lab Cave Games, one of our speakers at our event and has a great story about his games.  He’s also going to tell us how he’s getting huge volumes of games downloaded. So, Juanjo, great to have you.

Juanjo: Thank you for having me.

MG: Good to have you. You know, that’s the thing, you have a very interesting company because you sort of, like, cover all parts of the ecosystem. Tell me a little bit about Lab Cave Games.

Juanjo: Well, Lab Cave Games is a company founded by two brothers in Madrid, like, four years ago, by the end of 2015. It’s a very funny brother with two brothers who are coming from very different worlds. So, you have Fernando which is the current seat of the company, he used to come from the rap world. So, he’s a rap producer,  and then Oscar, who is our CTO…

Interviewer: Good for you guys are so cool, you’ve got rapper blood.

Juanjo: Yeah, and Oscar was the developer guy, he used to work in a few companies, and at some point of their life, they always wanted to have to do something related to video games. Ah, so, both at that point and they decided to ask their partner for money, and tried to create their own…the first video game. So they started to develop the game, like, they’d been developing the game for, like, one year and when they put it in the market, they realized that it was total disaster. So they hardly recovered, like, 10% in the next three months after the launch.

And so, they decided, “Okay, we need to do something.” So, they started to do all the work  and suddenly, as these things always happen in life, a guy from Poland came in to see them and asked them for, like, five games. They say, “Okay, we’ll do that.” Then, like, a month later, this guy also requests them to do another 10 games. They say, “Okay, but we want to understand what are you gonna do with that games.” And say, “Well, we position in the markets.”

It was like 2015, 2014. So, they discovered niche there. So next time this Polish guy came and asked, “We want 20 games,” the answer was no. So, they started to do…

MG: Started to do themselves.

Juanjo: Themselves.

MG: So, what do you have nowadays? How many games do you have?

Juanjo: Right now, we have more than 350 games in the market for Google Play and OS. And we recently reaching more than 140 million organic game downloads, just with ASO, nothing on paid acquisition.

MG: And that is impressive. That is impressive. I mean, I won’t ask exactly how you did it, because you won’t tell me, but that is impressive.

Juanjo: I couldn’t even now, to be honest.

MG: You wouldn’t know that. So, you’re getting organic uplift, I mean, that’s what it’s all about here. And at another level, within your company, you’re not just that. I mean, you’re part of a bigger company now. Don’t wanna go into too much detail, but give me an idea about how this all works, now, because now you’re turning into a games machine.

Juanjo: Yeah. So, well, I’d say I didn’t really know how to, how we’ve been doing that, but to be honest, we know a little bit, so we always been a part of the DNA of the company to have this ASO first approach. So, unlike many other company where they build the product and then decide what kind of ASO they need to do, we always have an ASO first approach. That means, we always try to identify what people are looking for into the store and we try to build a product to fit into those niches.

Okay, that said, as you mentioned, we recently have been bought by Mobusi Corporation which now it has been rebranded to Fibonad. So, we are part of a holding of more than 300 employees and they are performance marketing, which is something that it’s always been done through Mobusi, which is one of the leading European company for user acquisition.  And then we are on the publishing section, which is pretty much ourself.

We have been acquired six months ago. Right now, we are developing some projects together that we can see they are very strategic and they make sense for us to build for Instagram edition. So we always, since we are, right now, having around 60 million monthly impressions…

MG: Impressive.

Juanjo: …building our own media can even make a lot of sense for us, but it’s our long-term objective to have our mediation, but since now we are part of Mobusi, and for them, also makes sense to have a mediation where they can sell their own inventory. So, there is so much there and we’ve been working to build our own mediation.

MG: And you have high goals and objectives and I think that’s important to have. But you also have objectives, not just for the company but for the breadth of your apps, for the audiences you can reach. And we were talking before on our Fireside Chat Panel about what you’re doing to capture those new markets because it’s not just about Apple and Google, meaning Google Play, not Android. But, you know, there’s more than that. Tell me about that journey.

Juanjo: Yeah. First, in all this ASO strategy, we’ve always been focusing on China. So China has always been a top one country, I mean a top yield for us. So around 35% of our global income is from China. So, considering that you only reach a small portion of the Chinese market which are the ones who are having iOS devices, our next question would be, “Okay, what if we reached, like, part of the Android market, or the Google Play Market?” Well, they’re not Google Play, but are they under Microsoft, then definitely came the alternative app stores.

For us, in this super-lean process where we’ve been developing all those games, it makes a lot of sense for us to listen how we can distribute all those games into all those different stores. We still, like, not aware of how much potential it is there, but as far as we know and as far as we been also testing right now, all the biggest channel there, we still see that there’s family accounts from there. It’s…of course, it’s not something like a must, you know, something that you are obliged to have, but definitely, it’s a very good nice to have.

MG: Yeah, because it doesn’t, you know, it makes no sense. If you can get a few more installs by really not doing an awful lot to do it, I mean, why not? I mean, it’s like retail. If you want your stuff sold, sell it in all the stores. Don’t keep it to just one or two stores. You don’t want to keep it exclusive, you wanna be inclusive. How are you handling that because that can be a lot of work? Are you handling this on your own or how are you…how are you handling the job of making sure you’re on all the shelves?

Juanjo: Yeah, so in the beginning we tried to do it on our own, so it was about, like, on the marketing department to try to, when we weren’t thinking about the Chinese market, we were just like, kind of, something totally different from what’s there so they release. But as we saw, it’s super hard, you have so many challenge. But then, also when we tried to reach, like, Amazon or Samsung with this kind of channel, it’s still good but it’s still like you need to understand that each channel has its own particularities.

So, for us right now, we’re working within a solution called appScatter. Basically, this one-stop platform that can be placed at the end of our manufacturing production where basically in just one site, you are able to submit the game on as many stores as possible. So, you are able to see all the different store where you can submit your game. And that’s easier for you to, at least to identify which is your hottest channel. You know?

Like, first of all, you cannot know all the channels that there is in the market. Second, it’s pretty hard to know how they really work, what’s the requirements you have, you need to have in order to submit the game. So, having that platform, having that one site where you just go there and in one place, you can submit the game and just let it work and see how potentially you can benefit from that, it’s great.

MG: So, what do you make of the data that you are getting out of the appScatter platform? Is it telling you things that you’re, like, saying, “Yeah, thank you for this visibility,” or it’s like, you know, what I can see into this because then I can plan, you know, more app stores, less app stores, whatever do your ASO, because you’re still ASO. It’s just tons of ASO because you’re in lots of app stores.

Juanjo: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I mean, I mean, when we think about appScatter, it’s not something a place where you just submit a game and then you just forget about it, but also when you need to think about all the interaction on that end, all that intelligence is good because it’s easily for the developer to easily check in which channel you are performing better. And then, of course, if you’re thinking like you go to, let’s say, Cafe Bazar or somewhere like that, of course, it’s good because you already know that your top channel is there, so you need to put effort there. And then you can even consider about duals or maybe testing there because you’re getting revenue from this store.

So, our business approach to all these channels also depend on the kind of data we are able to see on the panel.

MG: And what’s next then for Lab Cave Game?

Juanjo: So, it’s coming, like, if we’re shifting a little bit our business model.

MG: More stores or more games or a little bit of both?

Juanjo: No. Kind of both. So, we want, on the first hand, we want to definitely keep working on this body line because we’re being able to reach, I mean, to set out completed business based on ASO. And identifying these kind of small niches and apply and submit the game to those niches so we definitely want to work there. But we want to outsource part of the production, so we want to have a product kind of game mechanic and game things.

In the past, we use to work with 10 game mechanics and 30 themes. But now, we are 50 themes, we’ll be around 20 game mechanics in this quarter. So, we want to keep, brought in this body line. But on the other hand, and this is what’s more important, it’s about, like, applying all this knowhow, all the knowhow that we been acquiring during all this year, into a new publishing line.

Basically, what we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to identify in the market that they are lacking everything that you need a product to have in order to be a success, right? So usually you’re able to see many products in the market that you’re able to see in the stores that from the quality perspective they are good, but they don’t support, like, a good marketing approach. And probably the people who have developed the game they don’t even care about what ASO. That kind of approach.

So for us, it’s very important to identify these products and help them building a complete business with a very business mindset. Help them, not only with the ASO, which is one of the main field of expertise or amortization, which is also. But also building all the user acquisition that now can be done through Mobusi. That’s something I’m very interested in because also we have a very interesting network for doing cross promotion. We have a 1.5 million DAU.

So, having all that and being able to do all the cross promos is great from this acquisition or even, of course, our contacts to Google Play and AppStore. But we want to build this publishing line and try to help them. To really help other studios to be…really succeed game in the market.

MG: So it’s a great opportunity for those listening in. You know, they’re saying, “Yep, I’ve got a game, I want to go to you as a publisher.” So how would they engage with you? How do they get ahold of you? How would they contact you with this great opportunity?

Juanjo: Well, they can reach us on our webpage,, And, definitely, I mean, we are on social media. It’s easiest to see us also on pretty much on all the event. And also, we’ll be talking in the near future about, like, ASO because, like, we are building our…an ASO bot, which is something like very interesting.

We are not really, we don’t really want to tell everyone the reason because we don’t really know. But still, it’s something that when we are seeing the first result, it’s something that we have been testing internally. We so happen to be very good. But then, like, research is very time consuming, so we have developed all that technology to do all that…well, actually, we are tracking more than 500,000 keywords for Google Play and in 12 different languages. Which is pretty cool because but just, like, it’s very time consuming for everyone and an ASO. And now all the companies are having their own ASO department or they don’t even have the full-time person dedicated to this, so having that approach. Here, I am not talking only to have smaller studios or in the studio but also talking about bigger studios where maybe they haven’t dedicated that much time to this.

MG: So, lots of reasons to engage with you. I mean, everything from ASO and publishing, understanding how you cracked the Chinese market, there are loads of reasons to get in touch with you. So, I hope to have you back again soon, Juanjo. Thanks for taking the time.

Juanjo: Thank you for inviting me.