CPI Campaigns: What Is Cost Per Install ?

Giulia Bergamaschi
May 16, 2024
CPI Campaigns: What Is Cost Per Install ?

When it comes to mobile user acquisition, app developers are more and more interested in employing CPI campaigns rather than using other channels such as influencer marketing or social media. CPI stands for cost per install and it’s one of the preferred models employed for user acquisition campaigns.

Let’s find out what CPI is and why it has turned into one of the most widespread pricing models for user acquisition.

  1. What is cost per install and what are CPI campaigns?
  2. What are the factors determining CPI?
  3. What is the difference between CPI and CPA?
  4. How does a CPI campaign work?
  5. What are the benefits of a CPI campaign?
  6. Who should you turn to for your CPI campaign?
  7. Conclusion

What is cost per install and what are CPI campaigns?

Cost per install (CPI) represents the amount of money an advertiser pays an ad network each time a new customer clicks on the ad and then installs it. This is the direct result of a CPI campaign aimed at acquiring new users for a specific mobile app.

CPI campaigns are an essential part of user acquisition campaigns. During a CPI campaign, UA networks put ads on different platforms with the purpose of convincing users to click on the ad and install the advertised app.

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that cost per install can be both fixed and dynamic since it depends on what the advertiser has previously agreed with the app developer.

What are the factors determining CPI?

CPI depends on several factors: 

  • Location. CPI depends on socio-economic variables and might change according to the country or region of the user.
  • Operating system. Another key factor is related to the difference between Android and IOS as the latter is known to have users who are willing to spend more than Android users.
  • The app and its category. The kind of advertised app influences the CPI as well. For instance, hyper-casual games are the less expensive ones since they are more lightweight than hardcore games.

What is the difference between CPI and CPA?

As mentioned above, CPI stands for cost per install and implies two simple actions performed by the user: downloading and opening the advertised app.

CPA, on the other hand, stands for cost per action and demands something more from the user. It is, indeed, another pricing model for user acquisition, but it expects users to carry out a particular action (registration, for instance) after installing the app on their mobile phone.

How does a CPI campaign work?

First of all, it is crucial to get in touch with a mobile measurement partner (MMP) to track the performance of the CPI campaign. Not only is MMP useful to measure and improve the campaign performance, but also to save time and check data faster.

Moreover, MMPs have yet another benefit: they provide anti-fraud services to filter out fake installs and protect your data. The most reliable MMPs are Appsflyer, Adjust, Branch, Singular and Kochava.

Then, it is also important to collaborate with UA partners, who will come up with a marketing strategy to increase the number of app users and decrease the churn rate. Their contribution is essential to attract new users through advertising campaigns.

Another important part of a CPI campaign is to develop creatives to make the app more appealing to potential users. Creatives are ads appearing on mobile apps and websites and are aimed at attracting app users through their visuals and their design.

One of the last steps is to set the goals that the CPI campaign has to achieve to be considered successful and effective. This is a crucial part of the process as a CPI campaign involves many partners who collaborate to obtain the best results for user acquisition.

For instance, some of the main goals of a CPI campaign are growing the app’s user base, acquiring high-LTV users who will keep using the app after installing it, and increasing ROI to track the effectiveness of the campaign.

Lastly, the CPI campaign can finally be launched and monitored for constant optimization.

What are the benefits of a CPI campaign?

Cost per install is one of the most highly regarded pricing models: let’s find out why.

  • Less risky for advertisers. CPI campaigns reduce the risk factor as in this case advertisers only have to pay for users who actually install the app on their mobile phones.
  • Useful to evaluate the performance of your campaign. CPI campaigns are important to track the number of installs and verify the success rate of the app. Therefore, they are helpful to simplify the evaluation of cost and benefits.
  • The best way to make your app more visible. Launching a CPI campaign will increase the popularity of the advertised app and attract more users.

Who should you turn to for your CPI campaign?

  • DSPs. Demand Side Platforms are a type of software that allow advertisers to buy traffic with the help of automation so as to increase app user acquisition and get the desired results for the CPI campaign.
  • Ad networks. They connect businesses that want to run advertisements with websites, thus gathering ad space for advertisers.
  • Affiliate networks. These types of networks are platforms connecting brands with publishers so that they can advertise their product.
  • Offerwall platforms. These platforms are created to attract and retain users by providing a series of rewards. Offerwall platforms are popular in mobile games and offer rewards to users who complete particular tasks.


To sum up, CPI campaigns involve a series of important steps and have become essential for app user acquisition.

Both app developers and advertisers are increasingly becoming interested in cost per install (CPI) and have acknowledged its benefits.