Mobile App User Acquisition

Three Ways to Focus Your UA Efforts

AppLovin offers insight into winning user acquisition strategies and tactics.

This post was contributed by Katie Jansen and Mark Rosner, CMO and CRO at AppLovin, a leading mobile marketing platform. 

Mobile marketers are often torn between making a quick splash with their user acquisition (UA) efforts and setting up the foundation for a longer-term approach. At AppLovin, we are constantly weighing the pros and cons of different UA strategies and tactics; it can take a lot of experimentation to discover what works best for your app.

Here we look at three ways to focus your UA efforts for future success — choosing a length for your campaign, driving new users through earned and owned content, and building revenue with in-app ads. If you want to learn more, check out App Annie’s UA Playbook.

Burst or Ongoing Campaigns — It’s Your Choice

Depending on your goals, budget and product, you’ll need to decide between a burst or ongoing UA campaign (or potentially a combination of the two). In short burst campaigns, most of your ad spend is put toward the first days or weeks of an app’s launch, in hopes of driving a massive amount of installs and potentially spurring earned or word-of-mouth coverage. If these organic installs are high quality, then they can help you grow your user base dramatically.  

But there are downsides to this tactic. Quality burst campaigns can only be done with large budgets and will hopefully allow you to achieve higher ranking. Low quality burst campaigns can drive many installs, but may not have the same effect on rank.

A long-term, steady-drip campaign, on the other hand, allows you to scale massively over time with high quality users. With long-term campaigns, you may also have more time and latitude to iterate based on the data, meaning you can improve acquisition by identifying the metrics that work for you.

PR and Owned Content — Smart, Longer-Term Approach

As part of a steady-drip UA strategy, it can pay off to add PR and owned content to your media mix. Press coverage can gain great exposure in addition to giving your story a personal touch, so the time and investment needed for good PR is almost always worth it.

Good press starts with a sound strategy that will typically focus on one of these things:

  1. Articles about your app(s)
  2. Bylines that offer genuine thought leadership and mention your app(s)
  3. Awards and “best-of” lists

Once you have a strategy nailed down, smart execution comes next. This typically requires help from an expert, either a PR agency or someone well-connected with the media.

Your owned content — including blog and email marketing — is another way to attract new users. Aim for interesting content that covers a range of topics related to your industry or vertical. Beware of losing your audience with a too-narrow focus; users want to learn about the industry at large, not just your app.

Video and Interstitial Ads

Now that we’ve covered two long-term strategies, let’s look at one of the most common UA tactics — in-app advertising. Many app publishers use in-app video and interstitial ads to monetize. (In-app banners are another well-used tactic, but we won’t dwell on them here.)

Video ads have quickly become a stand-by in mobile advertising because they’re so effective: they have the highest click-through-rate of all formats. In 2015, mobile video ads generated $3.54 billion in revenues in 2015, a figure that is expected to grow to $13.3 billion in 2020. Yes, they are often more expensive than other formats but that’s expected to change as more placements become available.

Among game developers, rewarded video ads are popular because they feature currency as the incentive. Not only does it generate additional revenue, but players like it because it’s opt-in and they get something in return. Rewarded video generally increases in-app purchases, too. Since players get to try game currency, it often turns them into spenders.

Interstitial ads are another way to capture a user’s attention and reinforce your brand — it’s an opportunity to dazzle the user with quality content. Interstitials are best deployed at natural breaks in the app experience and, in our experience, they deliver solid conversion rates when done well.

End Result: Acquire the Best Users for Your App

Taking the time to map out a long-term UA strategy will require plenty of decisions on your part. Will you launch a burst or ongoing campaign? Invest in good PR and owned content? Develop an in-app video ad and see how it performs? You may need to try all of the above. Good luck!

To get best practices for the entire UA lifecycle, download App Annie’s UA Playbook.



November 7, 2016

Mobile App User Acquisition

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