[USE CASE] Interview of the CEO of Limia : “The use of App Ape makes a big difference”

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Along the application evolution, Limia, Japanese lifestyle media app company, has grown more than a dozen of times within a one year period, thanks to repeated measures of employees who took advantage of data. The CEO Yasuaki Kaneko mentioned the importance of using the mobile apps big data, saying “there will be differences between businesses depending on whether or not mobile apps analytics service App Ape data is used”.

Kaneko : Compared to a year ago, when the MAU (Monthly active users) was just around a dozen of thousands, I feel like “Wow, it really grew up !”. We subscribed to App Ape, learned and set high goals.

Shibuya (CEO of Fuller Inc.) : What did you learn?

Kaneko : I learned with App Ape how we can grow and how big our application can grow, how to see the promotion cost and set goals.

Shibuya : How is the result compared to the goal set ?

Kaneko : Pretty good ! It’s likely to go beyond the goal set.

Shibuya : Great !

Kaneko : By using App Ape to improve the service, the evolution rate has steadily increased, to reach more than the expected target.

Shibuya : Even if you look at usage data accumulated by App Ape, MAU has increased more than 50 times over the past year !

“Decisions are mostly based on data”

Shibuya : I’m interested in knowing how to make decisions like “let’s focus on communication” or “let’s make a commercial”. I think that there are data-based decisions and idea-based decisions, but what is the right balance between both?

Kaneko : Sometimes it starts with an idea, but the decision-making process is mostly based on data. Logic, creativity and speed are in the company’s DNA. While thinking creatively, we have to stay logical. But if I do it slowly, I will be late compared to competitors, so I have to be fast. So, we manage a lot of data in our company.

Shibuya : It seems pretty convincing according to Limia growth over the past year. Make a suggestion, verify it with data and make decisions.

Kaneko : I keep doing it consistently.

Benchmarking with App Ape

Shibuya : How did you use App Ape concretely in your company relatively to your growth so far ?

Kaneko : First, I looked up the figures of influential media companies’ data such as MAU, DAU and other attributes. We then obtained reference values, so I could grasp the divergence with our current figures. As I could see it, we monitored the trends of other companies, analyzed the differences and since then we’ve been working all this time to fill in the differences.

Shibuya : How many apps did you look up as a benchmark for the first time ?

Kaneko : In addition to our plans, we requested custom reports from Fuller and we focused on 10 medias, such as news medias and interior design medias, and did research.

Shibuya : The benchmarking survey field is quite wide, not only limited to the area of interior design.

Kaneko : That’s right. For example, concerning news medias, we asked a custom report to see how many users of both genders actually use them, what kind of interior design media are growing… After setting an approximate goal, I made hypotheses using App Ape.

Shibuya : I think there is consistency. I think that the idea of “Wide and Deep” will hardly come out unless you think it from the beginning.

Kaneko : And then, when you use the app, you can check what time you receive a notification, what kind of push notification is it, why is this media pushing a notification at this very moment… I’m monitoring it with App Ape to see what are the effects.

Shibuya : What attributes do you use as KPI ?

Kaneko : Unlike the web, mobile apps are linked to users retention rate. Since it’s better to have loyal users, I was monitoring the DAU, WAU, MAU, and few other attributes. When the users retention rate is good, DAU and MAU will also increase !

In order to have more loyal users, I think that you have to monitor the users retention rate. On the other hand, from another perspective, I think that the number of activation per user and the peak time of app usage will become important indicators for satisfaction. It’s important to maximize those figures.

“All our employees are monitoring data”

Shibuya : I think that you are looking at data and trying to inspire from them, but in reality, it also depends on how many people in the company are monitoring data, if they are sharing information…

Kaneko : It depends on each department but basically all employees are watching the data. Each department has different figures to track.
In addition, since we are looking at figures such as DAU and MAU in the whole company, we basically disclose the data to all employees. There is a daily goal for each team, and I discuss every day with them about the day before during the morning meeting.

Shibuya : You are like data geeks !

Kaneko : I really keep doing it everyday (laughs) !

Shibuya : It’s amazing that everybody is doing it ! There are companies that let only a part of their employees see the data, because it is hard to spread awareness about it.

Kaneko : This is our premise.

“App Ape must be a tool for strategy creation”

Shibuya : Do you use App Ape’s data even during your conferences ?

Kaneko : We use the data for reporting what we have achieved until now. In addition, we are using it for marketing purposes such as commercials and advertisements. It’s a must-have tool.

Shibuya : You’re the ideal user.

Kaneko : After that, for example, I watch App Ape’s data to know how long another company broadcast a commercial, so according to the advertising cost I can hypothesize about the CAC.
So, rather than using it partially for limited tasks, we factorize App Ape data and use it.

Shibuya : I think that company’s colors really come out. It’s amazing being so thorough !

Kaneko : This is something I always do, rather than immediately using App Ape.

Shibuya : Have you ever come up with new ideas thanks to data ?

Kaneko : I checked another app data on App Ape, and when I saw the difference between MAU and DAU, I was like, why is this company doing so well ? Then we looked at the content strategy, and thought we should adopt such a strategy. So, as we make decisions and modify the strategy, we also keep an eye on the data to see if this strategy is ok.

Shibuya : Oh yeah… It’s awesome (laugh) ! Does that mean that App Ape was used as an analytics material even for the launch of a commercial ?

Kaneko : As I analyze it with App Ape, I can see that there are many cases where media apps that are promoted by a commercial gain around 1 million downloads in reality.
When you have a company, you need to plan things, and I feel like planning according to App Ape’s figures. We also use App Ape’s data to make budgets.

“We always add the right amount of content”

Shibuya : According to you, why does Limia receive a big support from users ?

Kaneko : I think that Limia is offering enough content to get the support of users, because there currently isn’t “mega” media in our field. New internal articles are posted every day and since thousands of new articles come out monthly thanks to popular users, every time you activate the app, there is always new content.

Those regular updates make users launch the app frequently and visit different categories, so I make an hypothesis about the right amount of new content. If there is too much new information, users won’t read it, so we always provide the right amount of content.

Shibuya : Please let me know if there is any measure of perspective that should be emphasized.

Kaneko : In terms of marketing decisions and technology trends, I think it’s possible to use data better.

Shibuya : It’s very greedy (laugh) !

Kaneko : I think data management can be done better. I would like to use both in-house data while using App Ape’s data, for website improvement or promotional purpose. After having gathered data, I could use it for content personalization. I think that there are plenty of room for content and push notifications that fit users. I want to dig deep in the area.

Shibuya : Now you’re on iOS and Android, but are you thinking about developing the app for a different device, such as watch ?

Kaneko : I don’t know yet, but I think we might do something related to smart house devices.

Shibuya : The interior design field seems to be compatible with these devices.

Kaneko : That’s right, I think there is a compatibility, and the interest is high.

Shibuya : Are you interested on data about how smart speakers are used ?

Kaneko : Yes.

Shibuya : Ok (laugh). I started to think about a business idea (laugh).

Kaneko : Bringing the IT around the house is a positive thing for Limia. Either as a media or as a content provider, there is something to do with it.

“Making the best use of App Ape can make the difference”

Kaneko : App Ape’s data can be used very well to keep an app alive. From my perspective, using App Ape can make a big difference between companies.

Shibuya : We will do our best to make users use it even more and make the businesses succeed. Everybody knows that it’s interesting (App Ape’s data), and that it’s important to make use of it in a strategy.

Kaneko : Indeed, I couldn’t do without it.

Shibuya : The IT world talks about Facebook, but everyone has ideas even tho it’s difficult to put them in practice. It’s important to actually do it, and from this perspective, the way you do it in your company is ideal.

Business development for both B2B or B2C companies

Shibuya : How do you want to grow in the future ?

Kaneko : From a business model perspective, I am now focusing on advertising and I think that there is something else that is going to grow on a large scale. It is possible to switch to an eCommerce-like project as a future development.

Limia is like “CookPad” for the lifestyle/interior design category, a B2C business, but thinking about also being a B2B one, like “Foodlog”. I will strengthen the community part this year, attract many more people thanks to more quality content. From the B2B point of view, I would like to attract businesses like “Foodlog”.

Mr Shibuya, did you know ? There are actually about 1 million cases of lifestyle-related businesses.

Shibuya : That’s huge !

Kqneko : It’s basically a very big market, a lot of companies are having a hard time with their internet strategy, they make a website but cannot update it easily, same for social networks. I wanna support such companies.

Shibuya : This is very good. If you go to rural or residential areas, there is a demand in the field of DIY.

Kaneko : The market is getting bigger.

Shibuya : That’s right. If there are business users, there are things that will make money. It means that you have a media for both consumers and businesses.

Kaneko : That’s right. Foodlog, CookPad and some cosmetic companies with an annual turnover of 15 billions yens are starting to do advertisements and combining BtoB and BtoC. We are doing a strategy where we will combine them.

Road to the leading position among interior design related medias !

Kaneko : From the perspective of a media as a whole, I think that Limia will continue to grow, including our web apps. We hope to take the leading position as soon as possible in our field, real estate/interior design media.

I am also focusing on strengthening the community. While valuing the vertical axis of communication, thanks to influencers Limia has also reinforced the side-by-side relationship community. We aimed to use more both vertical and horizontal axes to communicate with our community.

Our goal is to become a mass media, with an emphasis on interior design. I want to make it a media that can reach millions of people. We try to not narrow the subject and the target too much. I think that widening our subjects could make us acquire more readers.

For example, I think that our main subject could be related to real estate and remodeling, but there are only 2 or 3 times in a lifetime that people need to think to these topics.

Shibuya : Certainly.

Kaneko : I thought that it would be better for more people to use a lifestyle-like form of media, and it might be better to make people think about real estate more naturally. The main user of Limia is mainly in the mid-30’s, but it’s made to be widely used by those in the late 20’s to those in the mid 40’s. I would like to attract people interested in the field of marriage, real estate, furnitures that goes with the house they purchase…

Shibuya : Could you collaborate with other companies in the future ?

Kaneko : Well, if it’s good for each other, of course I would !

Shibuya : With other medias, there is the possibility to interchange some content, but I also think there are possibilities with other businesses to do product development.

Kaneko : Yes, I am looking for companies to collaborate with !

Shibuya :Thank you very much for today, I’ll pay attention to these trends from now on!