App Marketing Costs: How To Work Out A Smart Budget

Stella Saia
February 14, 2024
App Marketing Costs: How To Work Out A Smart Budget

What are app marketing costs?

In today’s continuously evolving app landscape, to delve into it without a solid app marketing budget supporting your efforts is unthinkable. Developing the best app possible certainly offers a strong foundation for app success, but it will lead you nowhere if you don’t know how to promote it and profit from it.

But what are the main app marketing costs? Let’s delve into it.   

Mobile app marketing strategy

App marketing costs strategies can generally be divided into three steps: 

  • Pre-launch app marketing costs
  • Launch app marketing costs
  • Post-launch app marketing costs

All three steps matter in getting a high ROI and retention rate (RR), thanks to high-quality users who will keep on utilizing your app over time, making it grow. 

The goal of the first step of your mobile app marketing strategy is to make users aware of your app’s existence. Now this can be achieved through various channels, such as:

  • Market research. This needs to be your first move. Assessing the market by looking for a need that users want met lets you know if your app is in demand.

  • Beta testing. No app is perfect on the first try. Working on a prototype can therefore be crucial to make the right adjustments as you go. App marketing costs here happen to develop an MPV or Minimum Viable Product. 

  • PR activities. To create awareness and generate a buzz around your app, public relations outreach can prove very effective. It is nevertheless a dispendious effort and press releases and direct communications also need a solid relationship with the media channel in question to work well.    

  • Influencer marketing. Endorsement from influencers is proving to be more and more effective, providing highly-quality users. Choosing the right influencer, whose work aligns with your app strategy, is key in establishing credibility in your app. Depending on a series of factors such as the influencer’s popularity and platform, app marketing costs in this case can vary. 

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  • ASO. App Store Optimization serves the purpose of increasing organic user acquisition by making your app rank higher in the app store and therefore gain visibility and new users. ASO tools are the most subjective variable in app marketing costs, depending greatly on the approach you decide to take.  

We’ve then seen that extensive coverage is essential in getting users interested in your app and instilling anticipation and a desire for it in users’ minds. 

This brings us to the launch and post-launch steps and the app marketing costs to face once the app is out in the world. This is where you pull out the big guns, investing a great part of your app marketing budget in acquiring new users and getting them to perform specific in-app actions. The app marketing costs of these activities can be monitored through two specific metrics, CPI (Cost per Install) and CPA (Cost per Action). 

App marketing costs

Launch and post-launch app marketing costs can be monitored through CPI and CPA. Acquiring users needs to have a big part in your app marketing costs strategy, with it being your main source of profit. Even better if these users perform in-app actions like purchases or subscriptions. 

CPI can be calculated by dividing the total ad spend by the number of installs. The average global estimate is $2.24, but it can vary largely depending on how much money you’re willing to put into it and another series of factors that we will analyze more closely in the following paragraph. 

Next in your app marketing costs list is CPA, generally higher than CPI since in this payout model advertisers are charged for in-app purchases and in-app subscriptions performed by the user. CPA can be lower or higher depending on the kind of industry you’re operating in, therefore its global average also fluctuates a lot, ranging from $6.72 to $32.52.

Source: Appetiser Apps

Ad spend

Mobile ad spend has seen in 2023 an increase of 8%, reaching an amount of $362 billion, larger than the economies of Colombia, Finland and New Zealand, and it is expected to touch $402 billion in 2024, as more time than ever is being spent on apps. 

In the previous paragraphs we’ve touched briefly upon how app marketing costs can vary by different factors. Mainly: 

  • By country. The geographic location and the socio-economic situation affect app marketing costs greatly. Generally, richer countries tend to have higher CPIs: the US has an average CPI of $3.16, while Indonesia’s is only $0.80. The region also affects CPA, with North America having the highest CPA at $32.52, and the asian-pacific area scoring as low as $6.72. 

  • By platform. Not all app stores are the same. Even the two giants of the app world, Apple Store and Android Play Store, generate different CPIs. According to Publift, IOS’s is greater with an average of $3.6 vs. Android’s $1.22. 

  • By app category. Other primary factors are app genre and category. Globally, mobile games score better CPIs than other app typologies, specifically betting apps have an overall CPI of $9. 

Of course, this is just a brief overview of cost per install across the app world, if you want to learn more about CPI rates don't miss our latest app marketing report for 2024. Get your free copy here!

App marketing channels

We’ve already referenced how vital brand awareness is to app success, and listed some of the ways to achieve it, like influencer marketing and ASO: choosing the right channel is key in correctly determining the app marketing costs to be expected.

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The quickest way to give your app the hype it deserves is paid user acquisition. Paid user acquisition is the method through which new users are called to your app, enhancing your ROI by way of getting high-quality users in. In terms of app marketing costs it can be expensive but nevertheless extremely effective in growing your user base and your ARPU (average revenue per user)

So what are you waiting for? User acquisition platforms like Mapendo can be your biggest ally in attracting new users to your app! Thanks to our experienced team and a combination of programmatic advertising and A.I., we are able to give you high-performing user acquisition campaigns that’ll compensate for your app marketing costs.


With these insights in mind, developing a cost-effective app marketing strategy should be no big feat. Remember to look out for CPI and CPA when you’re assessing app marketing costs, and leave space for the channels you want to operate on.

In the meantime, you know you have someone looking out for you and your app, since we’re always keeping an eye out for new data and info to report promptly to you, to help you make the best possible choice!