In Audience Building, Blog Articles

As its name suggests, performance marketing is a model under which you pay only when your mobile ads, well, perform.

Performance is defined as delivering a specific action—such as a form completion, a download or a conversion. On mobile, performance marketing usually refers to campaigns that focus on delivering installs for an app (some call it app-install advertising or simply user acquisition).

Top game developers led the performance marketing charge and have refined their strategies for quite some time. Now that traditional brands are building more apps to connect with consumers, those brands are also turning their attention to performance marketing—and for good reason.

Why mobile performance marketing is ideal for driving app downloads

  1. Quicker path to conversion

    Because mobile performance ads run solely on apps and mobile websites, your message reaches prospects who are already using a smartphone or tablet. In a mobile environment, they’re much closer to downloading your app than they would be on a desktop experience.

  2. Cost-effectiveness

    There are several different performance marketing models available through a variety of partners. Each can result in new installs, but a CPI (cost per install) model is perfect if mobile user acquisition is your goal. Under a CPI agreement, you are charged a fixed or bid rate for your ad only when someone installs your app after clicking from the ad. It’s a very cost-effective way to increase your install base.

  3. Deeper campaign metrics

    Because you’re running your performance campaign on mobile, you can track deeper metrics—such as engagements and purchases—and use that information to optimize your campaigns. For example, if you’re running an app-install campaign, you can work with multiple ad partners, and then evaluate your success on those partners not only by install volume but also by the quality of users. You can see that ads on Platform A delivers users who only open the app once or twice, while Platform B delivers users who not only use the app every day but spend money on in-app purchases. You might then decide to focus your advertising dollars on Platform B to improve your campaign results and ROI.

A word about campaign targeting: it is not the same as brand marketing.

For a brand awareness campaign, it’s common to use granular targeting to minimize waste and reach the right audience: “How do we target A18-34 entertainment lovers who have been to a movie theater in the past six months?”

In performance campaigns, it’s often best to start as broad as possible, discover what pockets of users are converting, and then optimize from there. Starting off with a very small subset of users will usually not give the campaign enough scale to be effective.

Finally, here are a few more tips for running an effective mobile performance campaign

  • Keep your messaging short, clear and simple. Focus on the benefits.
  • Test new partners and creative ad formats to see how you can optimize performance.
  • Track as much as you can. Leveraging third-party solution providers (like HasOffers, for example) will help you evaluate partners and optimize your campaigns.
  • Video is the fastest-growing mobile ad format. If you do not have the creative resources to make your own video, lean on your ad partners. Most will help you create a video ad inexpensively or for free if you hit a certain spend threshold.
  • When creating your ads (especially video ads), look for opportunities to showcase someone actually using your app. Not only does this highlight the app’s value to the consumer, it can also help reduce friction when he or she uses the app for the first time—ultimately increasing retention.

Phunware’s here to help.

Phunware’s platform delivers effective mobile campaigns with a personal touch. Through our deep roots in app development, the Phunware team has extensive mobile user acquisition knowledge. We also have access to exclusive inventory and proprietary audience data that helps power and optimize the mobile ads we deliver. To minimize the risk for our customers, we offer CPI campaigns that only bill for for downloads (and high-quality users) delivered. Check out Phunware’s performance marketing growth (50% revenue increase YOY), highlighted in our recently released co-branded HasOffers case study.

Want to learn more about performance marketing with Phunware? Contact us at

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