Pay Per Install Networks: The Best Ally To Your UA Efforts

Stella Saia
March 22, 2024
Pay Per Install Networks: The Best Ally To Your UA Efforts

What is pay per install

Pay per install is a popular pricing model in the ad world,where advertisers pay for each app install that has been generated by their mobile app advertising campaign. 

How do pay per install networks work

When working with PPI (Pay per Install), partnering with a pay per install network is always a good idea. The networks allow advertisers and publishers to sign up and gain access to a platform where they can connect with each other, therefore working as an intermediary between them. 

Pay per install networks operate through different advertising channels, such as banners, in-app ads and, now more than ever, influencer partnerships. PPI networks generate traffic, which is the most important element of pay per install campaigns, regardless of the app marketing costs model employed. 

In fact, pay per install networks work because of their cost-effectiveness: by using CPI and CPA as parameters in their PPI campaigns, advertisers pay publishers only when a specific action has been secured, whether it be an install or another in-app event such as in-app purchases or subscriptions. 

The main channels used in pay per install campaigns are advertising and affiliate networks, which we’ll analyze more into detail later on. First, let’s focus on how publishers play the field of pay per install networks. 

The role of pay per install publishers

Publishers play a pivotal role in the correct functioning of pay per install networks, connecting app owners and developers with potential users. This results in a win-win situation: in fact, both advertisers and publishers benefit from pay per install networks. 

Publishers could be anyone from bloggers to app owners and they can operate as different promoting platforms, either an app, a site or an influencer, bringing in profit thanks to advertisers willing to invest a significant share of their budget into pay per install networks. The revenue generated by pay per install campaigns offers publishers an additional source of income that proves profitable. 

But how do publishers approach pay per install networks? After joining the network, publishers go through a list of offers from apps or softwares asking to be promoted and from that list they select the ones they think will be the most profitable based on their audience

Once they’ve made their pick, they just have to put their affiliate link of the app or software and share it on their platforms, so that once their followers or users click on it and install the app, the install will be attributed to them. 

Ad network vs affiliate network: how to make the right pick for your app

We’ve touched briefly on ad networks and affiliate networks as different models of pay per install networks, but what exactly are they? And how are they different? Let’s see. 

ads popping out of a phone realistic representation

  • Ad networks. Advertising networks are platforms that connect advertisers with publishers, in a supply-and-demand network that focuses primarily on traffic acquisition, resulting in an income of traffic for advertisers and of money for publishers. The relationships entertained with publishers and advertisers are both direct: marketers can choose the format, the audience and the price they want, and publishers can select the ad format and the commission they get.  

  • Affiliate networks. Affiliate networks serve a different purpose than ad networks, performing as a marketplace where advertisers offer products and/or services for affiliate marketers to promote for commission. These offers generally describe the main characteristics of the product to better cater it to the right affiliate merchant. 

Programmatic advertising and pay per install

Ad space can also be purchased through programmatic advertising, an algorithm-based process that makes the buying and selling of ad placements totally automated, providing both advertisers and publishers with full transparency

Programmatic advertising proves efficient because of this highly automated nature, especially in keeping with today’s market, where the number of publishers has grown so much that publishing ads only in a manual way isn’t enough anymore. 

Programmatic networks fall into our list of pay per install networks and they are used in PPI campaigns to optimize ad buying. They use real-time bidding (RTB) to ensure that you get the highest ROAS in your user acquisition campaigns; and they engage in contextual targeting so that your ads will be shown only to the users which are more likely to be interested in your app and therefore install it, bringing in revenue according to the pay per install pricing model. 

Best practices for pay per install campaigns

To prove effective, pay per install campaigns need to be optimized for success, through the use of some measures which we’ll now list shortly: 

  • Choosing the right network. Deciding which PPI network you’re going to use is the first step, differentiating firstly between the models taken into analysis in the paragraph above. Different criteria should be taken into account when selecting pay per install networks: reach; capabilities; user demographics

  • Creatives. After that you’re going to need for your ad to stay relevant, bringing in continuous revenue and actively engaging users. The way to do that is through captivating creatives, crafted to resonate with your target audience and rising their interest in your app. 

  • Tracking and optimizing performance. Tracking analytics to measure user engagement, retention rate, and installations rate, allows you to closely monitor your pay per install campaigns and make adjustments when needed, so that you have the highest ROI possible. 


Pay per install networks are dominating the app marketing world right now, continuing to stay relevant, and in this article  we’ve taken a closer look into how and why they prove so efficient. 

So, feel free to come back to it when and if you decide to employ one in your user acquisition campaigns!