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On a day filled with industry vets debating their views on the best practices and future adaptations, Chas Castell (VP of Revenue Operations at TextNow) is cool, calm and collected at the gruelling MWCA panel discussions.

In order from left-to-right: Chas Castell (TextNow) , Mark Epes (Papaya Mobile) , Evan O’Neill (Jana), Angela Ting (PicCollage), Jason Akel (AppNext)

In theatre 2018 of the Moscone Centre West, App Valley Summit hosted The Customer is Always Right — User-Centric Approaches to Monetization & Growth, a panel where Chas Castell shares his insights on advertising revenue management, along with figures from AppNext, Jana, PicCollage, and Papaya Mobile.

“Here’s the dirty little secret: advertising is disruptive”.

Chas recognizes that with the emergence of adblocker installs, more users are finding advertisements disruptive to their daily web and mobile activities. So in order to find the “sweet spot” of advertising without disrupting, TextNow invests in rigorous A/B testing with individual units, so we may determine when and if an individual unit becomes disruptive, and remove it from our lineup.

Direct Sales vs. Programmatic Sales

The biggest challenge for smaller publishers is to find the balance between advertiser demands and their own limited capabilities. The panel collectively acknowledges that their marketing scales are smaller than giants such as Google and Facebook. This often results in having a small team that does not have the capacity to support direct sales (working with each advertiser individually).

As Chas puts it — “play with the tools you’ve got”, alluding to the widely accepted industry method of programmatic marketing. He admits that direct sales have not worked too well for TextNow, and with programmatic sales, it allows us to gather more audience data and facilitate our future decisions with regards to unit marketing.

In today’s fast-paced marketing industry, smaller companies are relying more and more on indirect sales, and having tripled TextNow’s revenue since Chas’ hiring, no one is complaining.

User vs. Advertiser vs. Publisher

The key catchphrase of the panel: Win-Win-Win.

Chas coins this term while speaking about his advertising methods. The trick is to reach the point where the user, advertiser and the publisher are equally satisfied.

He, along with the rest of the panel, believes in collecting rigorous data, and passing keywords or ID’s based on user interests to advertising networks to segment the way they traffic. The user is satisfied due to being fed content that they enjoy, the advertiser is satisfied due to their click rates, and the publisher is satisfied for collecting meaningful impressions. In short: it’s a win-win-win.


While some of the content being discussed may not seem revolutionary, there are hidden details in every publisher’s portfolio that are moving this industry forward.

While different pay models (ad-supported, in-app purchases, free trial/paid hybrids) are moving users from one platform to a higher retention platform, at TextNow, we mix data with creativity to achieve this feat. Just like our User Acquisition model, we rigorously use A/B and refresh rate testing to optimize our advertisement units, while also being open to surprises- such as our branded stickers opportunity- a new venture into the mobile advertising market.

Chas’ largest efforts are spent on how to be concise, taking the time to be creative and to work with publishers on customer loyalty — and not just on impressions. At the end of the day, a win for TextNow is a high user lifetime cycle and an optimal user experience — and we value that above any bottom-line number.

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