App Install Ads: Everything You Need To Know

Roberto Tranquilli
July 28, 2022
App Install Ads: Everything You Need To Know

Mobile apps’ dominance is lying there on the mat. The mobile industry growth is increasing in every key metric, from downloads to time spent in apps, from consumer spend to advertising spending. A recent industry report by Data.Ai claims that people spend approximately 5 hours per day using mobile apps.  

Amongst the forces driving this trend there are app install ads, which scale mobile user acquisition for advertisers in order to survive the fierce competition in both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Indeed, while you can get organic traffic with strategies such as App Store Optimization, paid user acquisition is essential to grow your app user base exponentially. 

That’s why more and more advertisers are spending money on app install ads, investing more than 100 billion dollars on ad spend. But what are exactly app install ads ? Let’s find out! 

Why App Install Ads Boost Your Paid User Acquisition

App Install Ads are advertisements which include deferred deep links, bringing users who click on the ads directly to the app store, Google Play or App Store. When users download the promoted apps and open them for the first time the ads have generated a successful conversion. 

The specific purpose of generating installs makes app install ads extremely valuable to the eyes of advertisers and app developers, allowing them to scale their users’ volume while also increasing in-app revenues. Indeed, app install ads can be targeted to high-quality users, who are more likely to spend money in-app. 

Therefore, many experts in the mobile growth and app marketing industry state that app install ads are crucial to any effective paid user acquisition strategy. 

We will now take a closer look at the steps you need to take in order to start growing your app with app install ads: 

  1. Integrate with an attribution partner
  2. Choose marketing channels and partners
  3. Select your pricing model
  4. Provide ad creatives 

Integrate with an Attribution Partner

The first step required to set up your app install ads is to integrate with an attribution platform. Also known as Mobile Measurement Partners (MMPs), these platforms provide a SDK link to implement inside the mobile app. Such a link allows you to track user activity from the interaction with the ad to any in-app event you want to monitor. 

Therefore, with MMPs’ dashboards and data, advertisers are able to attribute installs and in-app events to the ads which have generated them and, as a consequence, to the campaigns and marketing partners responsible for those ads. 

Choose marketing channels and partners

Once the integration with MMPs has been completed, the next step is to choose one or more marketing channels that fit with your overall paid user acquisition strategy. You can run your app install ads through affiliate marketing partners, social media platforms or programmatic partners. 

While affiliate marketing may help reduce costs with fixed payouts, programmatic channels provide full transparency, and more sophisticated targeting options. Furthermore, running app install campaigns on programmatic sources often requires less human intervention since most programmatic platforms provide an automated process, powered by machine learning algorithms. 

Based on the app growth strategy and goals, advertisers can choose to run app install ads through mobile ad networks, social media platforms such as Facebook and Tiktok, or programmatic partners like Demand Side Platforms (DSPs). The latter may be self-serve platforms like Google Universal App Campaign is, or fully managed platforms, run by advertisers and marketers who take care of the whole process. 

Read here about best practices for running app install campaigns with programmatic!

Select your pricing model

The choice of the pricing model for your app campaigns depends on the sources and channels you decide to partner with for running your app install ads. Self-serve platforms provided by Google and Facebook usually work with traditional cost-per-click models, even though they optimize the campaigns towards cost-per-install (CPI) and cost-per-action (CPA) targets. 

Mobile Ad Networks and DSPs tend to be 100% performance-based, working only with CPI and CPA models. This way, advertisers pay only for concrete results such as installs or in-app events. CPI allows you to scale volumes faster and process more data for optimization purposes, while CPA is a less risky pricing model, in which advertisers pay only once users have generated a valuable post-install action like in-app purchases, subscriptions or transactions, which all generate revenues for app developers. 

Working with performance-based pricing models and with programmatic platforms especially allows you to optimize paid user acquisition towards most relevant app marketing KPIs. For example, such platforms are able to optimize the media buying and to show your app install ads only to users who are more likely to have a high LTV (lifetime value), allowing you to increase revenues and your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS.)

Provide Ad creatives

The last step to take is to provide your marketing partners with creatives to place in mobile apps and show to new potential users. 

App install ads can be shown in different formats, always based on your strategy and goals. Some of the most used ad formats for mobile app campaigns are: 

  • Banners;
  • Displays;
  • Videos;
  • Interstitials;
  • Playables;
  • Native ads.

The selection of ad formats depends also on the category of the promoted app, because some creatives perform better than others based on the app category. Videos tend to perform better for mobile games, together with playable ads, which allow players to test a preview of the promoted game. 

Banners are usually the least expensive formats and they can be placed everywhere, while native ads are meant to replicate the format of the content shown in the app publisher, in order not to interrupt the user experience and be too intrusive.  

Since different creatives have different costs and results, when running app install ads we recommend you to run creative A/B testing, showing multiple ad formats, assessing their performance, and letting algorithms to carry out optimization.

You can have a look at the most common ad formats, along with their benefits and drawbacks, in our complete guide to app install campaign creatives

Wrapping up, an effective app marketing strategy should include running app install ads amongst its multiple activities. App install ads are a form of paid user acquisition and help scale results in a transparent and fast way. 

Don’t miss our latest article about how to set up a successful app install campaign strategy here