What’s the cost of buying users from Facebook and 13 other ad networks?

Google Search, Google Shopping, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, Snapchat, LinkedIn & more

This post reveals the cost of acquiring a customer on every ad channel my agency has tested. The ad channels include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Quora, Google Search, Google Shopping, Snapchat, LinkedIn and others. Using this data, you can reduce your costs by identifying which channels are a likely fit for your own product. Then you can focus on testing just those channels to start. I’m pulling data from my agency’s experience testing 15+ ad channels and running thousands of ads for dozens of Y Combinator startups.

This post leaves you with a prioritized to-do list of which channels might work for your product, and reference points for how much you can expect to pay if you get those channels to work.

Which ad channels should I use?

We focus on three criteria when assessing ad channels:

  • Profit — You want to earn at least as much as the cost of acquiring a customer. For example, it’s uncommon to acquire an American customer through Facebook for less than $30 USD. So, your profit per customer should be at least $30 to break even. (In reality, it should likely be 3x more to account for meaningful profit and ad channel volatility.)
  • Volume — If your audience doesn’t exist in significant quantities on a given ad channel, it’s likely not worth your time to experiment with it yet. Especially given your effective audience volume is probably smaller than you think: It’s not just a matter of how many people use the channel, but how many who use it also want your product today and can justify its cost.
  • Targeting — The best-fitting ad channels are those that let you narrowly target your desired audience. If they can’t do this, you’ll be forced to target broadly, which wastes dollars on the wrong eyeballs. This means your customer acquisition cost (CAC) is more likely to exceed your profit margin.

In short, to succeed with ad channels, your product should earn sufficient profit and have a sufficiently large targetable audience.

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Bad news for Gmail users: First Inbox, now this

It hasn't been a good week for some Gmail users.
It hasn’t been a good week for some Gmail users.
Image: S3studio / Getty Images

Gmail users who like to wring every feature out of the service haven’t had a great week.

Earlier this week, Google harshly reminded Inbox by Gmail users that the productivity-focused app would shut down soon. Then on Thursday, If This Then That, or IFTTT, sent an email alert to users letting them know that a number of actions related to Gmail will no longer work at the end of March.

IFTTT users got this message in their inboxes this week.

IFTTT users got this message in their inboxes this week.

Image: alex perry / mashable

For the uninitiated, IFTTT is a free service that lets people use simple web commands called applets. For example, one of the Gmail applets advertised on the IFTTT website will send an “I’m running late!” message to several people who might need to know with the press of a button. It’s basically a way to keep your online life in order by automating things you would otherwise have to do manually. 

Every Gmail trigger in IFTTT except “send an email” and “send yourself an email” will be disabled on March 31.

In a longer blog post on its website, IFTTT explained that maintaining these actions in the face of upcoming Google API changes would have been difficult. Google announced the changes back in October to give developers time to comply with them. 

“The changes being made to Gmail would have required massive refactoring in how we integrated Gmail with the IFTTT platform. It would have created a lot more overhead than we had before, and the experience for users would have been degraded as a result,” IFTTT’s blog post said. “These updates would have made continuing to maintain the Gmail service unsustainable.”

The end of March and beginning of April will be a bit of transitional period for Google apps and services. As mentioned above, Inbox by Gmail is shutting down on April 2 as Google will consolidate its email userbase into the central Gmail app. On the same day, the long-running and under-supported social network Google+ will finally shut down

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Android ad fraud scheme drained users' batteries and data


Shih Wei Wang / EyeEm via Getty Images

BuzzFeed News has confirmed a massive ad fraud scheme, which was originally uncovered by at least two fraud detection firms, that drained users’ batteries and data. The scheme begins by hijacking the in-app advertisements of developers using Twitter’s MoPub ad platform. It then silently runs autoplaying video ads behind legit banner advertisements, with the users being none the wiser. And since the video ads are still marked as completed even though none of the viewers got to see them, the scheme also rips off hapless advertisers.

Protected Media, one of the anti-fraud firms that discovered the scheme, absolved Twitter of any wrongdoing — the social network itself was merely exploited by the fraud’s masterminds. Upon investigating the fraudulent ads, the firm named Israeli company Aniview and its subsidiary OutStream Media as part of the scheme. Outstream created the banners and codes the investigators found in the dodgy ads.

That discovery corroborates a previous investigation by DoubleVerify, another fraud detection firm, which spotted the same MO late last year. DoubleVerify learned that the illegal video ads used Aniview’s player, and it also found 60 million ad calls made for fraudulent video ads every month.

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Aniview, however, denied any involvement. Company chief Alon Carmel told BuzzFeed News that the perpetrator is an unknown bad actor who created an account on the platform and used the banner ad images designed by Outstream Media. “To be crystal clear, another customer on Aniview’s [self-serve] platform used this player and is responsible for this activity and we took actions immediately to stop this activity. We are fighting against bad activities, pushing and focus on clean and legit activities and should not be blamed or framed for bad use of our platform,” he said.

Even if Aniview isn’t really involved and has truly squashed all the bad activities originating from its platform, Android users will likely still come across more fraudulent video ads in the future. According to Protected Media, several ad tech companies like Aniview engaged in and even started similar illegal ad schemes in the past.

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Indonesia’s Kargo comes out of stealth with $7.6M from Travis Kalanick, Sequoia and others

Travis Kalanick may be busy cooking up a cloud kitchen business, but that hasn’t stopped the former Uber CEO’s VC fund from making its first investment in Southeast Asia. 10100, the firm that Kalanick launched last year for investments in Asia, just took part in a $7.6 million seed round for Kargo, an early-stage ‘Uber for trucks’ startup that is based in Indonesia and — you guessed it — founded by a former Uber Asia executive.

Kargo takes some of the concepts behind Uber and applies them to trucking and logistics. That’s to say that business customers order trucks using a mobile app or website but the scope is wider, Kargo CEO and co-founder Tiger Fang told TechCrunch.

The goal is to remove middlemen who broker logistics and trucking deals to provide greater transparency, better quality service and improved financials for clients and those operating the services — so cheaper pricing for companies and a larger share of the revenue for those actually out driving. So rather than being subject to closed discussions and chains of brokers, each taking their cut, Kargo wants to offer a direct connection.

“This is a huge opportunity,” Fang said in an interview. “We’ve been looking at what types of problems we can go and solve [since the Uber-Grab deal]… starting another e-commerce startup was probably not the best idea.

“We hope we can lower the price for shippers and raise the earnings from shippers and transporters,” he added. “We think there are hundreds of thousands of smaller companies who all get their hobs from agents and middleman.”

Fang — whose stint at Uber included time in the U.S, launches across Southeast Asia and managing its business in Chengdu, once the company’s busiest city on the planet based on daily trip volume — started Kargo late last year with Yodi Aditya, its CTO, following “months” of research after Uber sold its local business to Grab . They went on to close the financing deal before the end of 2018 and launch in beta early this year.

Operationally, Fang said Kargo is currently piloting with “a couple of big FMG companies” while, on the supply side, it has access to “thousands” of trucks. The initial focus is strictly on FMCG, he added, because each industry and segment requires different types of trucks.

As those figures suggest, Kargo is in its early stages and that makes a $7.6 million seed round pretty notable. Yes, valuations and rounds have been ratcheted up in Southeast Asia, where investors and tech companies see potential as internet access grows among the region’s 600 million-plus consumers, but this is a large check for a venture that is literally just kicking off. But that’s not all, the caliber of the backers is also quite unlike your average seed deal.

Kalanick’s 10100 firm is participating, but the round is led by Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, which announced its new $695 million fund six months ago and has since added an early-stage accelerator program. Other names involved including China’s Zhenfund, Indonesia-focused Intudo Ventures, a personal investment from Patrick Walujo — co-founder of Indonesian hedge fund group North Star — ATM Capital, Innoven Capital and Agaeti Ventures from Indonesian businessman Pandu Sjahrir.

Kalanick is, in many ways, the headline investor given his profile and connections to Fang and others at Kargo. TechCrunch understands that Kalanick agreed to invest last year when he visited Southeast Asia on a trip that combined hiring for his CloudKitchens startup and more generally catching up with the Uber alumni in Asia.

Fang declined to comment on the circumstances, but he said Kalanick “has been a big mentor” to him.

Clearly, a lot of the interest in Kargo stems from the team’s credentials — Fang said a large chunk of Kargo’s 50 person team are ex-Uber Asia — but there are also promising examples of what Kargo is doing in other parts of the world.

China’s two trucking platform unicorns which merged to create Full Truck Alliance Group, a startup reportedly valued at $10 billion that counts Google and SoftBank among its investors, while in India, Blackbuck is reportedly raising at an $800 million valuation. It’s logical, then, that Indonesia — the world’s fourth largest population and Southeast Asia’s largest economy — would also come under the radar, and Fang believes that his team is ideally suited to go after the problem.

The focus is entirely on Indonesia for now, where Fang believes logistics accounts for close to one-quarter of the national $1 trillion GDP, but further down the line he anticipates that there will be expansions across Southeast Asia and potentially beyond.

“We definitely want to build a global company,” he said.

Uber had a tough run in Indonesia. Taxi drivers and those with interests in the industry staged often-violent demonstrations in protest at this ‘foreign’ entrant that posed a threat to their businesses and financial returns. Trucking feels a lot like that with decades of inefficiencies in place, and certain parties profiting from those extended chains of deal-making. Like taxis, those who are being disintermediated aren’t likely to take a threat lying down, so it remains to be seen if Fang, and his fellow ex-Uberites, will run into similar conflict in the future. But Kargo is certainly off to a bright start with plenty of money to go out and test its thesis.

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IFTTT loses some Gmail triggers on March 31st


Chesnot via Getty Images

Google’s push to tighten third-party API access is already going to cost the world Google+, but a change that more of you might notice is coming to IFTTT. The service sent out emails alerting users that their “recipe” scripts involving Gmail triggers and an action that could create a draft will go away as of March 31st. According to Google, the shift is a result of the Project Strobe sweep it announced last October.

IFTTT said it worked with Google to keep the integration that will support triggers to Send an email, or to Send Yourself an email, but the API lockdown that’s coming would’ve required too much work to change its services. Otherwise, integrations with Google will still the same, but anyone relying heavily on the automated scripts may want to double check things before they get a surprise in a few days.

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