In Audience Building, Blog Articles

When it comes to mobile, there’s always good news and bad news.

The good news is that mobile offers ample opportunities for brands to make money. In 2014, we passed the tipping point: mobile users outnumbered desktop internet access points for the first time. In other words, there’s no shortage of potential users for your app.

The bad news is that there’s no shortage of potential users for anyone’s app. Competition is fierce, and it’s incredibly hard to stand out. As of March 2017, there are more than 5 million apps in the two leading app marketplaces (Apple and Android).

It’s hard to get attention, it’s hard to get interest, and it’s especially hard to get installs.

What’s a brand to do?

If you’re looking for a quick way to increase your install rates (and hopefully drive monetization from an expanded user base), one tactic can be your best friend: app-install advertising, AKA performance campaigns or cost-per-install (CPI) advertising.

What is it? It’s simple: an app-install ad runs inside other apps (or on the mobile web) and encourages users to install your app. According to eMarketer, it’s seeing an increase in popularity—there’s been a 20% increase in in-app ad spending between 2016 and 2018.

Why is it so popular? Because it has three traits brands and marketers LOVE to see.

Trait #1: You only pay for success.

With many other forms of mobile advertising, you’re paying for something that’s not exactly the result you may want. Advertisers often pay impressions—i.e. they pay to get the ad is in front of users, but there’s not always a result beyond that.

App-install advertising is different. You’re signing up for a cost-per-action model (usually cost per install). That means you only pay when a user installs your app. You get exactly the result you want—more users—and the ad network has skin in the game, too. They don’t get paid unless they deliver.

(Note: If you’re paying for installs, you’ll need a monetization strategy to make money from your app. Check out our post for useful tactics and strategies—if you’re paying $5 for an install, you need to know how to make more than $5 from that user!)

Trait #2: App-install ads entice action.

App-install advertising drives behavior. You don’t pay for impressions; you pay for action. And action is easy to see and measurable—which marketers love.

Tracking whether a user took the desired action is simple. Just answer this simple question:

Did someone tap on your install ad and install your app?

  1. NO: No conversion to attribute.
  2. YES: You can attribute that conversion directly to that ad.

Trait #3: ROI is easy to measure.

App marketers often struggle to prove the effectiveness of their efforts. It can be hard to attribute conversions to ad impressions. That’s not to say that impressions aren’t valuable—they create brand awareness and can help you communicate important brand messages. But if someone ends up buying your product or service in part because of brand awareness built through ad impressions, it can be tricky to prove that attribution.

Unlike other forms of advertising, app-install campaign ROI is easy to figure out—because app-install conversions are easy to measure.

With a good mobile advertising partner, you can leverage install data in ways that boost your ROI over the long term. You’ll have the capacity to not only track downloads, but more importantly measure opens and active users. Your partner should absorb and utilize that data to optimize campaigns over the long term, so that your ROI improves as you go.

For more reasons to why mobile performance marketing is ideal for driving app downloads, read “Mobile Use Acquisition: Performance Marketing Fundamentals.”



The key benefits of CPI advertising are that you:

  • Grow your app installed base
  • Have more installs, which equals app store ranking improvements
  • Boost the number of ad views within your application (if you run ads inside your app)
  • Raise the overall potential for in-app purchases

With the right support and expertise, app-install campaigns are an essential tool for developers and brands.

For more user acquisition tips and tricks, download our eBook, App Marketing 101: 12 Ways to Help Users Discover Your Mobile App.

Download eBook Here

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

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