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How to market a dating app?

With 2020 being a year of lockdowns and forced isolation, the most popular online dating apps got an apparent boost in downloads, but the least popular ones also got their share of traffic. However, we, as an agency that has several dating clients, know that this was now only due to the organic rise in popularity, but also to a thorough promotion strategy. 

Almost a half of all american smartphone users claim that they have tried using a dating app, but how many of them continue to use them? How many have tried some app and then downloaded another one? These are the stats harder to gather, but we know some stories of a new app completely rubbing their competitors of their audience right after ther release. Of course, it was significantly harder to reach in 2020 and will be even harder in 2021 since the competition is high, but it is still worth trying. 

Before you start to market a dating app, you need to answer one question: what do dating apps and MOBA games have in common? If MOBA speaks nothing to you, we explain: the games of the genre usually have a loyal audience who can only afford (in terms of both money and time) playing one game of the sort at a time. People do not want to lose their hard-earned progress, they have friends/alliances in the game, so it’s quite hard to shift to a new platform.  This cannot be said about dating apps, but those who stick to one app rarely use another, especially in the big cities where apps are very socially stratified, so to say. 

Each dating app has their unique target audience unwilling to move anywhere else, and the crossings are not to be taken into great attention, unless someone is a hardcore user and has run out of matches completely. Here’s another thing that datings and multiplayer games have in common: however great your app is, it wouldn’t work without a relevant number of people using it simultaneously. 

This means that the greatest goal of your pre launch strategy must be the highest possible downloads right after the launch.

So how do you start?

1) Think of a killer feature, any novelty value to the public you can think of (if you haven’t done that yet) that you will stick to in the beginning. If they wake you up at 4 a.m. and ask “how’s your dating app different from x, y, and z”, you’re ready to respond at an instant! If that’s impossible, think twice before even trying to launch (sad but true)

2) If you still cannot come up with a solution, try to gamify the user experience. Simplicity is king, but we all know finding a partner might be a challenge, and you can make this challenge fun. 

3) Make sure you have the media to publish your press release. If you have found a specialty before, you need to mention it in the first place, and maybe you’ll even have a chance to spread the word for free.

Unlike some other app categories, people to not search for dating apps in the app stores: they look up the names they have read in their favorite media or heard from their friends

4) Find your target audience. It is great to have a specific category of people that your dating app is aimed at. They would be your chance to have a good start, if you promise them something or at least declare your loyalty to some views. Even though using dating apps has become a routine, nowadays people tend to like tailored approaches and having a chance to be a part of a community with shared values will be appreciated.

5) Alongside with the previous point, think of your brand voice and brand values. What messages do you want to communicate to your audience? Remember that you will have to stick to those messages for quite some time unless you want to be criticized for changing shoes.

6) Choose your influencer hero. Even if you think you cannot afford an influencer in the beginning of your promotion, try at least to reach out to some of them and see their reaction (and also get to know the price). You might be surprised by how many bloggers, celebs or micro influencers can afford a shoutout just because they like something, on the other hand, it has become common not to promote products that are ideologically unfit, so be ready that your offer may be declined if your values are the slightest different from the ones they declare.

7) Think of your visuals. We do not speak of ASO preparation and ad creatives only, but also of a “total look” of your app and everything that surrounds it. What is your ultimate typefont? How do your promo personalities look? What is their style in clothes, occupation and skin type? Dating apps often commit a sin of going to the extremes of either being too perfect or too inclusive. We believe that your ideal “dater” must be a real-life, maybe a bit romanticized version of your target audience representatives, so they cannot be too glamorous or unappealing, well, unless you have really built a dating app for the elitist elite:) 

Also, if you are planning to do worldwide marketing, dating is an area where ad visuals must be region specific, and we mean not only skin and body types, but also clothes, rules and “comme il fauts” of the appearance.

8) Think of your content strategy and how to engage the community in the later stages. Of course, online dating has been destigmatized in the past 5 years, and yet it doesn’t seem to be enough, at least if we speak of the world in general. You have the opportunity to contribute to that by publishing happy and sad stories, creating challenges, making your users communicate with each other not only in your app, but also in social media. 

Do not forget to moderate your SM accounts from the very beginning and set rules for your community to maintain peace and a friendly environment.

How to do influencer app marketing

Influencer app marketing

What if you have tried all of the possible traffic sources and still feel there’s room for not only optimization and budget boosts, but also for widening your audience reach and getting more user categories to know your app? There are several ways to respond to that, but one of them definitely must be influencer app marketing

Some of us still stick to the notion that influencer marketing works better for consumer goods of brand awareness and can hardly be applied to ore digital subjects, also, there’s a bias almost bordering the superstition that the results are impossible or at least ultimately hard to measure and that using influencers has nothing to do with mobile performance marketing.

Before we start, what has to be known about influencer marketing stats in 2020?

Almost 90% of marketers state that ROI from influencer marketing is equal to or better than other sources, Instagram being the major channel with biggest spends, and Youtube following it closely. The most popular integration format is, accordingly, Instagram posts. The least preferred channel for now is Snapchat, though Insta engagement rates might see a kind of decline, and we are still not sure it will last, and no one mentions TikTok yet (at least in this context) but it’s obviously a force to be reckoned with.

An incredible 92% of people listen to influencers when it comes to purchasing products and a fun fact is that influencer-influencers (bloggers, for instance) are considered to be more trustworthy in this case than the regular celebrities, and they are naturally more trusted than any company-company:)

So is it that expensive to hire an influencer? The average influencer marketing budget equals to or is less than $100 000, whether we are not sure this is of any use to the reader: however wealthy your brand might be, it’s not that easy to dedicate $100k for a new channel all of a sudden, especially if there are no guarantees. Well, if that’s a consolation, a micro influencer charges something like $200 per post, which sounds like a relief (but is it a relief?), and we’ll get back to the guarantees a bit later.

Actually, there are plenty of Influencer marketing digits for the past years, we have just named the basics (or the teasers), so you’re welcome to look up your own preferred sources of intel (the original ones, not the IM-is-great go-on-impress-me articles. Like the one you’re reading)

We, personally, are here to speak of how to run a successful influencer campaign for your precious app. 


Well, you know we mean choose your goals. Yes, it’s always more installs, more purchases, more users and maybe even positive reviews, but you’ll have to be more specific, maybe by answering some tricky questions.

  1. To what extent are you satisfied with your current performance? Is it chable? Can you afford a “change” (as an opposite of “run”) course of actions? 

  2. What are the things that could be better? The retention rate, the purchases, the DAUs, 

  3. Is your target audience behaving? Or, are the people who download your app close to the portraits you had pictured before launching your user acquisition campaigns?

  4. Do you believe you have almost reached your maximum potential number of users for any region or social group?

  5. How would you estimate your brand awareness?

  6. Do you know your daily stats by heart? Have you faced any recent changes?

And so on, and so forth. Please be welcome to dig deep into the most urgent or painful thing and see if that might by any chance be done using influencer marketing. If you don’t know the answer, feel free to ask anyone who knows.  Like an IM agency. You won’t need to sign a contract at once, and, believe us, they wouldn’t be happy so sign up for something impossible either, so it’s a relatively good way to forecast your chances. We suggest that almost any of the goals you might think of is achievable, but, well, maybe not as ambitious as you think. By the way, the opposite is also quite possible: since influencer marketing is a relatively new thing, it might very well surprise you, especially if we speak of measurable results.


By this we mean a suitable platform. Do a research on where your audience dwells or make someone do that for you. As we have already mentioned, Instagram is still the biggest, but by no means your choice must be limited by it. If we speak of mobile games, you might as well start with more traditional Twitch or Youtube. If you have never tried to find a mobile-specific influencer, you might realize it’s not as easy as it seems. Trust us, there are more of them than you see at first sight, besides, many of them review both PC and smartphone stuff. After all, it’s not uncommon for a traveller to advertise skincare products, so why not place a bet on the fact that at least some computer gamers visit app stores for less hardcore issues every once in a while?


  1. First of all, the influencer must be real. Well, they can, technically, be a hologram, an incognito artist, an AI-generated well of wisdom, but they must have real subscribers who care about them. “Care” here is the least sentimental and must easily be measured, stat. Proved by stats, screenshots and third-party influencer analytics systems. What is more, there is an easy way to do the first check: calculate the engagement rate. To do so, take the average number of likes and comments for each post, divide it by the overall number of the chosen influencers’ subscribers and multiply by 100. It’s good to see an engagement rate of 2-3%, though digits like 4-6 might be real and are a very good indicator. That’s the proof your hero has a connection with their audience, be it a nice or a disturbing one. 

  2. Check out whether the person fits your brand image and is capable of maintaining your tone of voice, at least to a certain extent. Make sure there are no questionable statements and no facts that are in discord with what you’re selling. A part-time animal rights fighter (even if he or she are makeup tiktokers in the first place) are not a good choice for a, say, game that involves hunting. 

  3. Don’t forget to check out their followers’ geography! It’s very simple, and still many of the marketers forget this point being overcharmed by the influencer overall stats and general coolness.

  4. Yet, do not expect the blogger to stick to your guidelines fully. You have been using your brand book for quite some time and you know the results it brings. Open your might for something new: no one’s a celebrity for nothing, and their wit or eccentricity my bring out the fresh air your in-house or agency buying team lacked. 

  5. Bulk is not necessarily cheaper. It is only natural to imagine that 1 million people subscribed to one celeb are “more” than 600k subsribed to 10 influencers, but you need to know that smaller influencers sometimes have a more loyal audience. Also,  human beings are capable of following an ultra famous person just for the fun of it or because everyone does it, while choosing  a smaller one might be a sign of real interest or even a 20-handshakes personal connection.

  6. Authority is what you’re seeking. Some of us might be following someone for mock issues and never trusting a word the picture on the web says. Look for those whose opinions matter, and, if you’re not badass enough to take risks, choose the least controversial option.

  7. Do not expect the blogger to stick to your guidelines fully. You have been using your brandbook for quite some time and you know the results it brings. Open your might for something new.


If that’s the first time you are starting a mobile app influencer campaign, a range of options might be overwhelming, and the number of checks to take may be too much for a single team of marketers. There are many influencer marketing agencies out there, and there are basically only three good reasons to hire them:

  1. they have at least some guarantees (influencers themselves, however decent and nice they are, usually don’t), and some of them even have a performance-based approach, like being able to run a CPI/CPA campaign with an influencer as a valuable add-on, or even as an additional direct traffic source.

  2. They save your nerves on stats, checks, agreements and approvals. Usually you only have to define your goals, and the routine is done by the agency (but you can have it a different way)

  3. It costs the same. Influencers usually sell cheaper to the agencies, some do that  because the particular agency provides them with a steady flow of clients, others, almost like you, prefer dealing with an all-caught-up agency with processes established to direct negotiations with a brand. That’s why you don’t pay extra money, and sometimes it comes out even cheaper. 

After doing all of the abovementioned, hold your breath and wait for the results. Remember to keep a close eye on your metrics (even if other participants promised to be vigilant).

Do not hesitate to ask questions. Set up brand mentions tracking to be there for your users. 

And good luck!

How to promote a mobile game (part 1)

Promoting a mobile game, pt. 1

Is promoting a game any different from promoting “just an app”? Are there any specific strategy/media buying/creative production tips? How to sort through techniques that will help you drive the maximum number of downloads via various kind of traffic sources? We’re here to find out!

First of all, what’s the difference between a gaming and non-gaming app? From a creator’s/owner’s perspective, for instance. 

You won’t guess, so we’re telling you: a game can be published. If you have a publisher or want to DIY, just skip this paragraph. What’s mobile game publishing? It’s like a one-stop shop for everything apart from the app creation itself. Usually, a publisher is responsible for all things that happen to your product after it has a playable MVP. They do PR, pre-release promotion, media buying, creative production, and also they help solve all the tricky money and legal issues with stores accounts, receiving your revenue, combating those who wanna sue you for some silly copyright infringement. 

Last, but not least — they help you build in-app analytics which can be intimidating if you have never done this before. Analytics is not only a means of estimating the traffic quality of different sources (whether they are worth the price, whether the users they brought will last, whether they steal someone elses’ leads), but also understanding the user journey, the problems and bottlenecks of your gameplay)

Of course, publishers would want their share of revenues, but it’s obviously a choice worth considering, especially in the early stages when you are a solo player and do not have neither human resources to tackle all the stuff nor money to invest in traffic. Just be sure they don’t take your rights (for the game) away: as long as you own your game you can always change your mind. (btw, we know a publisher that fits the description)

What’s the second difference between a game and a regular app?
Again, we tell you: a mobile game loves a pre-launch promotion. There’s no app category like games to encounter mass pre-orders, waitlists, gameplay leaks and social media discussion.  Apart from that, the pre-launch strategy is quite classical, and in this article we’ll be mainly focusing on the pre-launch processes


  1. Do market research. Find your target audience. Of course, you should have been thinking of it all the time in the first place, even before your team wrote a single line of code. You don’t create a game you like or you want (well, you can, but..), you make a game to be loved and played by the people. That means you keep them in mind while developing the game, but you’ll have to rethink and reconsider them before the launch. Try to be more specific this time:  use the demographic terms that advertising platforms operate. Know your audience’s consumer behaviour, travelling habits and so on and so forth.

  2. Analyze your rivals. The funny thing to be said first: if you find out that no one’s doing the thing you’re planning to do, the chances that you have found a blue ocean are relatively low. If you search through the stores with any mobile intelligence tools and there are no games of a kind..that might mean that there’s no demand for that kind of product. Either that, or you lie to yourself and understate the likeness between you and your competitors.

  3. After doing so, use the intel you have gained and build your online presence. Create a website (could be unnecessary for the regular app but is strongly recommended for the games. That’s your chance to share a glimpse of what to expect (the best part of it, of course), to tease and promise please. Make sure you have the relevant videos, pictures and texts (because there’s always a chance your players only do one thing of a kind). Put there the social media and share buttons, and you definitely know what social networks are your users’ favorites, do you? The region might affect your choice strongly: you might start from your homeland, where, for example, everyone uses Instagram for anything from buying roof tile at wholesale to politics, but in a month you plan to expand to another continent, where Instagram is much more relaxed and game opinions are made on Reddit. Another thing: if your game is multiplayer, do not neglect Discord. It’s better to own the main channel from the very beginning than to cut into an existing community and try to moderate it as a product owner. Try considering TikTok as well, it’s not all zoomers, not anymore:) Also, the “newsletter signup” thing is alive and kicking. How else will you announce the launch, updates and build the heat? ..And Don’t forget to add the app store links after you launch! 

  4. Okay, you are already better off than you used to be. It’s time to breathe out (the marketing way) and pick a launch date! We need to mention that you are to give yourself some float time in case anything goes wrong. 

  5. Pre-launch days with the release date set are a perfect time to test your game on the audience. Of course, your friends and family (and even your colleagues) might not be your ideal audience, but they can spot a bug of find a logical mistake in the gameplay as good as anyone, maybe even better. Also, who else is going to tell you your graphics is so 2010? 🙂 You’ll have some time to make amends and even shift the due date (it sucks, but it’s surely better than disappointing the hopingly-excited audience with critical errors).

  6. If you have time to post some content before the launch, do it. If you already have some subscribers, it’s good, but you need to know that ordinary social media posts have much greater reach and are a living, 24/7 proof you are alive and promising.

  7. Pitch your game! Everywhere from dev forums to gamers communities. Your fellow developers might be harsh sometimes but hey are good critics, and they still might be willing to play your game for the pleasure sake.. well, if they have the time. 

  8. Try to reach out to some relevant influencers. A pro gamer/streamer is an obvious choice, never too bad, but you might go for something more original. Remember we told you to seek where your audience dwells? A more down to Earth influencer may be the doctor prescription. Even if they don’t do that for free, they can give you a discount for finally promoting something fresh and out of the box. Just because your game is not another yoga pants brand:)

  9. Schedule traffic tests. The best way to know if a product meets the audience’s demands is a real-life traffic test. You’ll start to know your metrics and find out what’s missing, or, on the contrary, excessive. To do so, you must set up in-app analytics and secure a couple of ad/monetization contracts. Because you do want to earn something from your app, don’t you?

  10. If you don’t or are not sure, review your monetization model. A paid app is always a straightforward option but you might be missing many opportunities that way. We have an article about how to earn from you app, and you might want to read it or any article of the same sort to ensure you’re not realizing you don’t have anything up your sleeve on a launch date and you already have run of your saved or investment money.

  11. Check your app for bugs, errors and anything that might ruin the user experience before the hard launch. Failing your newborn fans on the launch stage is unacceptable. When you have a devoted audience of your own, you might reschedule the releases, roll out the ultra-buggy updates. raise prices and whatever (but you’d better not: someone has to be a good co..developer, after all)

  12. Secure media contacts. Have the press releases and a list of media ready to say the word about your app before you launch. No, you won’t have time for that after the thing happens. You might think that they might be more friendly after they have a real product to test, especially if you have high hopes for its future, but, in our experience, it doesn’t matter much. Those who have the price name the price and those who don’t can at least be talked into some sort of pre-agreement, so it’s highly advisable to use the chance. We are planning to share our own top sources later, maybe, in the second part of the article. Our peers say that reviews and press releases are a waste of time in 2020 (and, assuming, in 2021), but we believe that if you don’t have that many resources for promotion in money equivalent, you may want to grab every opportunity you have. And if the press release money is literally all you have, well, they can wait until the audience have their say (=the traffic test).

End of “How to promote a mobile game pt. 1 🙂 Next time we’ll be taking a closer look at analytics and media buying, as well as the rest of the post-launch stuff. 

Have you found anything of use? Have you anything to add? We’d love to hear your comments!

How to promote Your App by Driving App Installs from Facebook

drive app installs from Facebook

How to Promote Your App by Driving App Installs from Facebook 

Your app could top charts, and the last piece of the puzzle is the users you need to take it there. With over 2.6 billion monthly users globally and some of the best audience targeting techniques, if you don’t promote your app on Facebook, then you’re wasting your app’s potential. Learning how to promote your app on Facebook can take it from beta all the way to billions of phones worldwide. All you have to do is let Facebook ads for app downloads help you. 

You can market your app anywhere, but combining Facebook install ads with the huge reach is a sure fire way to see a return on your ad spend. Facebook ads allow you to narrowly target your audience (provided that you know it), and create ads that will actually reach users who are more likely to interact with them. What more could you ask for?

If you don’t know much about Facebook ads, don’t worry! We’re going to provide a brief guide to help you get started. Your app could soon be on many more phones, let’s talk about how:

First Steps to Promote Your App On Facebook

Have you created your Facebook business page and set up your Facebook Ads Manager account? If not, what are you waiting for! You can also create a Business Manager, but that’s not obligatory for the beginners. After you’ve done that you should:

  1. Download the Facebook SDK and app events

  2. Register your app on the Facebook for Developer’s site 

  3. Link your app to your ad account 

The Facebook SDK gives you the ability to pass data from your app to Facebook. This is an incredibly useful tool that allows you to accurately track and measure the actions people take in your app. This, along with registering your app on the Facebook for Developer’s site, will allow you to optimize for installs, app events, or value.

To be clear, you can still run an install ad campaign without completing these steps, but your ads won’t be optimized for app installs (which is the exact thing you want) and you won’t be able to measure and track them. One of the most valuable things in marketing is data and without the ability to track your Facebook app installs, you can’t optimize your ad delivery and you won’t get the best return. 

Now that you’ve got your account and metrics all set up, you can start any campaign or ad set you want. 

Set Up Your Mobile App Install Ad

After you’ve completed the first steps in setting your Facebook app campaign up for success, it’s time to create the ad. Once you’ve selected Create Ad in Ads Manager, you will need to:

Set Campaign Objective

While there are two campaign objectives, you want to select App Installs, as your goal is to get more people to download the app with a Facebook app install campaign. By selecting this, the campaign will optimize towards the goal of placing your install ads on the feeds of your target audience who are most likely to take action. 

Specify The App Store

If your app is available in more than one app store you’ll need to specify which app store to send your paid traffic to. Maybe you only want to promote your Android app on Facebook, or maybe it’s also on the App Store. Regardless, you still need to let Facebook know where to send your paid traffic. This is also important because if your app is available on more than one app store, you will need to create ad sets for each store.

Choose Your Audience

Do you already know your target audience? If so, input all their demographics. Knowing who you are targeting is crucial to seeing good feedback from ad campaigns, it’s kind of a waste to market to people who definitely won’t download your app, right? Facebook ads are effective because they deliver your ads straight to the phones of those most likely to interact with them, so utilizing this feature is important.

If you know your audience already, you can use the custom audience option. Just input all the data you know about them, age, gender, occupations, net income, location, etc. If you know that your app is meant for a demographic, you can customize your audience to fit that. 

Not sure of your audience yet? Facebook mobile ads have the “lookalike audience” for this reason. This option will create an audience that is similar to another, so if you already have a page with a large following, Facebook can generate a new audience based on that. You can also create them by uploading email lists, app events, and more. As long as there are at least 100 people from one region in your custom audience, Facebook can create a lookalike audience. 

Even if you haven’t really honed in on your target audience yet, the tracking that Facebook SDK and app events does will help you really define what demographics you’re setting your ads for, which ones respond best to what, and which types of ads work best for who. So even if you have a loose target audience to start, the more Facebook app download campaigns you run, the more defined picture you can build. 

Set your budget

You can set your budget for your whole campaign, which will distribute your budget in real time to ad sets with the best opportunities. If you have a small budget, this option will get you the most results from your campaign at the lowest cost. Your other option is ad set budgets, which allow you more control over ad delivery. If you have many different ad sets targeting a large audience, this option might work better for you.

Daily budget or lifetime budget? This is what you decide next. Do you want your budget spent over the lifetime of the campaign, or do you want to set the budget for daily? If you’re working with a limited budget, setting it for “lifetime” will help you avoid overspending and give you more flexibility on how much you spend daily. 

Choose Your Bidding Type

A bid represents what you’re willing to pay to achieve the desired result from someone in your target audience. There are two bid types Facebook now currently offers

  1. Automatic Bidding – Facebook sets a bid that will optimize delivery for your ad

  1. Manual bidding – you set your own cost per app install

If you have a limited budget, manual bidding will allow you to set a cap on how much you want to spend per install. But if you have a more free budget, automatic bidding will allow Facebook to display your ad to a more ideal audience, thus getting you more installs. The more control you retain over costs, the more restrictions you put on Facebook to find lower cost opportunities for your desired outcomes. 


Choose your creative

Your creative is the actual ad that will be shown to the user, the visual media they will see. Your options for your creative are one singular image, video, or carousel. Which creative you choose depends on what you want, but we’ll talk more about this later. 

Crafting an Effective Mobile App Install Ad

Now that you’ve gotten all the technical stuff out of the way, you actually need to design an ad that will really drive up your app downloads from Facebook ads. Your mobile ad will more than likely only be visible for a short second, so you want your ad to catch the user’s eye, and then hold their attention long enough to get them to download the app. So let’s take a look at the tools that you have in your arsenal:

Words – You have two different sections of words that you can use to your advantage, the headline, and the actual body or copy of the ad.

Headline – While it’s tempting to just make this the name of your mobile app, that’s not really the greatest use of the 25 characters you get. Use this space to grab the user’s attention, if you’re running a promotion, deal, or sale, utilize this space to let the user know, you want to suck them in and almost everybody loves a good deal.

Copy – This is where you can really grab the user. Within these 90 characters, your copy really needs to shine. Chances are, your app hasn’t gone viral yet, so you want to use this space to convince the user why they need to download your app. Explain its key function and why they should download it in a concise and convincing manner.

The best part about your headline and copy is that you can tweak them for different audiences. If you have a broad audience, you can try out different texts tailored to different subsets of your whole audience. You can run six single image ads with the same image, at the cost of one. Try out different copies and make your ad customizable for the best results. 

Creative – Besides words, you have visual aids at your disposal, and this is where you can really grab the user’s attention. As we mentioned before, there are three different creative options available for Facebook mobile app install – a singular image or video, or a carousel. 

Image – Naturally, this type of ad includes only one image, which is why it’s so imperative that the image you choose both grabs the user’s attention and accurately illustrates your app and what you want to show users about it. Your image should stand out; the last thing you want is it blending in with the timeline. Also, make sure that your image is a good depiction of your app, it’s the first and possibly the only image a user sees of your app. 

Video –  With a video, you have a little more room to showcase what your app can do. Single video ads statistically drive better conversions because they are better at catching attention and they show more. Consider if you want just a demonstration of your app, or maybe a video depicting what your app can do for people in real life. This creative option is very versatile, it truly depends on your app. Just make sure your first few seconds are gripping, engagement drops off the longer the video is.

Carousel – Does your app have a bunch of cool features you want to showcase? Carousels allow you to use multiple images or videos for your ad, and the users can scroll through. With a different headline for each image, carousels are a great way to show off several features of your app as a way to entice the user to download it. 

Call To Action – The last piece before you run your Facebook app download campaign is the call to action. This button is what the users see and click on to go download your app, it literally calls them to do something with the ad they’ve just seen. Facebook offers you 11 different call to action buttons, so you can easily choose one that fits your app. You can choose the general “Install Now” or “Use App” or more specific call to actions if your app is more specific. 

Now you can run your campaign and you know a little bit more about how to promote your app on Facebook! The most important takeaways are using the tools that Facebook provides to drive your own success. You have a wide variety of Facebook mobile ads to choose from, and all of the metrics you get from the Facebook SDK will allow you to track how your campaign is doing. 

But we get it, running ad campaigns can be a daunting task, from creating the ad to actually putting it out on Facebook, there’s so many details to remember. That’s why we can take care of all the details for you! At Adsbalance, we specialize in mobile user acquisition and have experts that can help you with any stage of your campaign, from planning, developing, to analyzing the metrics, just contact us here or book a call via the website right away and give your app the best chance of seeing the world. 

An (almost) complete guide on app monetization

Almost any app released comes with a monetization strategy in mind, be it a vague notion of what you could earn from a large built-in SDKs pack and a couple of advertising contracts already signed. Anyway, if you have developed an app and have no slightest idea of how to monetize it, don’t worry: we’re here to help, because better late than never is a relevant statement here.

What is app monetization in general?

It is a number of ways to gain revenue from your app, which is important since mobile consumption (compared to desktop and regular media) share still grows every year, according to comScore. Some of those ways can be used simultaneously (=at the same time) so that you’re sure you don’t miss an opportunity to earn from your product: for most product types it’s the only way to stay self-sustained unless you are a charity/governmental project and are funded heavily — despite the fact that at the same time most products are free to download in the beginning. Each product category usually has its most suitable way of monetization. 

Another important thing — last, but not least — is that adjusting the monetization logics helps you analyse the user behavious and user flow in your app to make sure your users have everything they need and have it the right way, so you might think of it as another challenge.

According to App Annie, 2018 total app revenue reached $101 billion dollars ($71 billion as of Sensor Tower), which is impressive and might help you head forward to grabbing your piece of that pie. Experts expect it to almost double in 2020 (which we are soon to find out, but the current world situation has already give the industry the additional boost)

How do you monetize an app?

As we have already mentioned, the share of free apps in Google Play and App store is 96.5 and 92.3 accordingly (see the 2020 report picture taken from below)

As we have already mentioned, the free apps prevail, which means that the other 3.5 and 6.7% need a payment to be downloaded. That’s the simplest way to put it: both free and paid models have their own sub-types. For example, a subscription app is technically free to download but is impossible to use unless you buy a (surprise!) buy a subscription or start a free trial if there is such option. The low number of paid apps is slowly but steadily getting lower every year but this doesn’t imply this can’t be your model of choice.

So, what are the pecularities of the paid downloads model?

As we already mentioned, the number of paid apps is not that significant, but it doesn’t prevent it from being a good option!

What are the pros?

  • There are much fewer paid apps (well, it depends on your genre, but still), so the pre- and post-release market research requires a smalleYor number of direct and likely competitors to observe

  • The model itself is a no-brainer: you don’t need to look deeply into user psychology and choose the best moments and circumstances of in-app purchases, as well as the value of each. 

  • The previous point also means that your revenue analytics is pretty straightforward: you know the LTV of each user at once..

  • ..and get your revenue at an instant as well!

  • You don’t need to adjust your interface for the additional payments steps of ads, so your design and user journey are free to be as pure and clean as they can.

  • You are supposed to have more infromation on your user behavior and usage patterns: paid users tend to pay more attention to the products they purchased, they are less likely to give up on them, so the average time spent is higher and the retention rate is lower. Isn’t that music to your ears?

  • Last, but not least: your app promotion is ultra-transparent. If you are new to the market, it might be hard for you to figure out the best terms for working with user acquisition partners, but here you can easily settle upon CPI model (which is also comportable for your partners in many ways) and save the calculations and negotiations time. You have your revenue guaranteed and the parter is able to know thether working for you is profitable in no time.  Also, your analytics team won’t spend sleepless nights thinking about the traffic quality of consider buying an anti-fraud analytics add-ons: as long as the users make purchases, you can go easy on where they come from. (of course, it’s only for good it you give it some attention: some of the ad fraud methods are outstandingly exquisite and it’s wise to know your enemy before you face them (next time, in another app, for example). We have an article on the point if you’re ready for the devil in the details.

There is also plenty of tricks, bottlenecks and things needed to remember, which we will name cons.

  • The psychological barrier: the decision making process for a paid app is far more complicated than you might think, and it takes time and effort to persuade them, That meants that you must pay great attention to details, your visuals, explainers. The concept of your app, its USP, benefits, oohs and aahs need to be absolutely bovious from both a short gaze at your app store page and your ads (well, ads are a bix more relaxed: you can tease a user first and the lead them to the full and unabridged answers.

  • Apple/Google Play commission. Even though Apple lowered their revenue share for indie developers, it’s still a huge issue. 

How do you know if this model suits my app type? Any app can be that (well, almost: we can’t imagine a social network with a one-time initial feel, and it would be too good to have a video/music streaming service with a single for forever).  Though we have noticed that desktop (also paid) utilities analogs (like Photoshop, for instance) optimized for the device and performa very well, maybe because they are signigicantly cheaper than their enterprtise desktop siblings and their value is predictable and easy to estimate.

In-App Purchases: what are they all about?

In-app purchases, in spite of being a simple notion, can take many forms: an extra workout in a fitness app, a one-time cheat for a mobile game, a new user level or reward, or a premium feature in a productivity app. The important thing to remember is that your app should be functional without the additional purchase; with the add-on serving to enhance the user experience.

Their pros are:

Having a free app will attract considerably more users at the start.

It’s fairly low risk as you’re not denying users access to critical features or content.

You can make a hefty profit as in-app purchases are digital upgrades and don’t require storage or maintenance of physical stock.

As users acquire add-ons, the experience improves and this, in turn, boosts loyalty.

Can use this in conjunction with other monetization strategies.

Cons being:

Even if users love your app, some will never purchase anything. When you monetise this way, revenue can fluctuate greatly.

As with paid apps, Google and Apple take a large cut from any profits you make.

You may encounter more requests for refunds if someone accidentally makes a purchase (like a child playing around with his or her parent’s tablet).

Advertising (in-app ads)

Ad revenue is an extremely popular app monetization strategy. With this method, you’re selling space within your app for advertisements. Some of you might be familiar with this model if you display ads on your website.

According to a recent survey of the world’s top app publishers, mobile advertising is the most effective method of app monetization.

App advertising can come in all different shapes and sizes. Not only are there different types of ad formats (video ads, banner ads, native ads, pop-ups, interstitial ads, etc.), but there are also different revenue models within this category:

  • CPC (cost-per-click)

  • CPI (cost-per-install)

  • CPA (cost-per-action)

  • CPM (cost-per-mile)

  • CPV (cost-per-view)

How you’re paid and how much you get paid depends on a wide range of factors. For example, simply displaying a banner ad with a CPV revenue model usually won’t pay as much as CPC or CPI model.

Check out our guide on the top mobile ad networks to help facilitate ads within your app. This resource contains an in-depth description of the various revenue models as well. Ad networks help ensure the ads displayed within your app are relevant to your target audience.

While in-app advertisements are popular and profitable, they’re definitely not for everyone. Sometimes ads can hinder the user experience, and ultimately make your app less desirable. So you need to take this into consideration before blindly adding ads to your app.

In-App Subscriptions

In-App Subscriptions (also referred to as “freemium content”) is similar to in-app purchases in that the spending of money opens users up to new parts of the app experience.

However, the main difference is that in-app purchases are typically items, events, or content that are viewed as a bonus or reward. They’re not contingent on moving on or being able to experience the whole app.

In-app subscriptions, on the other hand, offers users the very basic, slimmed-down version of the app. Options for paid premium upgrades are then made available so they can “unlock” the rest of the experience.

With mobile apps, this usually comes in the form of gated content you can access after subscribing. You can also sell subscriptions that allow users to remove all traces of ads in their mobile app interface (this is a feature MobiLoud News supports!).


Perfect for news sites and blogs that have a steady readership.

Easy to amass users since it’s like a try-before-you-buy opportunity.

To maximize profits, you can sell in-app content subscriptions outside the app store. Premium members then have to log in. (FYI: MobiLoud includes this login feature.)

Subscriptions provide you with recurring revenue; not unpredictable one-off buys.


Selling in-app subscriptions through the app store allows Apple and Google to take a large cut.

Content offered in the premium app needs to be supremely valuable.

It will need to be constantly updated with fresh, relevant content.

Need to strike the right balance between what’s included in the free and premium versions. You want to inspire them to upgrade, but not turn them off altogether.

Best app intelligence platforms (analytics, spying and more)

When you start (or, better, continue) to market an app, choose the right user acquisition strategy, and the best marketing agency to do media buying for you, how do you know you are doing everything the best possible way?

Who is to tell you you have covered all the top keywords (see our ASO article to find out how to set them up) and keeping up with your rivals in terms of user acquisition volumes, charts positions, and overall performance?

Where do you follow the latest market trends and see if you’re all fixed and up to date?

Maybe (and this is definitely a good option) your all-in-one agency does this for you, but what if it goes at some extra cost or you just want to have visual control over every aspect of your app’s existence?

That is the situation where you rever to app intelligence providers, also knows as competitor analysis tools, spying tools, or, as part of a wider group of platforms, app analytics tools.

We’ll speak of the types of data they provide a bit later and now will try to answer the question that many of us ask ourselves when choosing a platform: how do they get the data and how accurate is it?

  1. Open-source data. The most straightforward source of information: Google Play and App Store data, including the ratings, reviews, charts positions, number of downloads, and category listings, parsed and put into comprehensible form, along with the company websites and publicly available ad campaigns

  2. Spying apps. Some of such platforms are reported to gather app usage data via a huge network of free utility apps (for example, VPNs) installed on users’  devices. They do say they collect user data and often request the root certificate to monitor all of the traffic that passes through the device but do not specify how they use the information. Some of those apps have already been removed from the stores for policy violations, some of them are still under investigation, but we all understand only too well it’s not a problem to create a bunch of new apps of the sort or buy/sign an agreement with the app owners to buy anonymized data from them.

  3. Data shared by app owners: some providers let product owners access some of their intelligence tools for free if they share their product data, promising all the necessary privacy precautions.

How accurate is all that info?

It’s safe to say that publically available data, as well as the data shared voluntarily by app owners is quite accurate — the downloads, the ratings, the revenues, while we cannot be so sure about the rest. As for the usage data stats data, it’s often taken for a relatively small statistical sample and extrapolated, which can be done by either taking 100% data from one app and extrapolating it to the similar ones, or by taking some random 10% user data of the needed app data and assuming the conclusions are true for the remaining 90%. Some platforms state directly that the overall “correctness” of the information is around 80% which is not perfect but still good enough for analytics, market analysis and predictions.

Are mobile intelligence providers different from each other? It’s very tempting to say they all use the same “controlling stake” of data and provide you with the same services but that is not completely true. Each one uses their own sources of data, each one has better and more precise results in specific verticals. Last but not least — each one has different plans adapted for their target businesses. The most expensive and even the middle-priced solutions do not necessarily have the optimum functionality to price ratio.

What are the best mobile app intelligence platforms and what kind of service do they provide?

  1. Sensor Tower. A long-standing market leader founded in 2013, a big platform aimed at enterprise users. Got involved in some data sources situations but still are among the top analytics providers.

    1. Top SDK analytics. Reveals the top third-party SDKs installed into the likely app categories and subcategories. Those SDKs serve different purposes, from app analytics to advertising so it might help you quickly define the top-demand programs you need to install into your code to meet all your requirements. Top SDK filters data can be combined with the other 

    2. Usage intelligence — daily active users, retention rate, number of sessions, time spent (a key factor to understand the LTV of your users), demographics along with app overlap (the insights on what kind of products’ users are more likely to install your app and interact with it) will help you compare you app stats to similar products, analyze your performance and optimize your app ads targeting.

    3. App intelligence — a tool for App Store Optimization. It enables you to look at each app’s profile and observe its stats and life cycle, as well as the specific category rankings. There’s a nice breakdown — the visibility score. It shows you the visibility of the app for the specified keywords, featured/reviews historical stats. Also, the enterprise version allows you to make predictions about whether your app is likely to rank high (top 10) for the needed keywords, and the competitive analysis might be the feature you would initially go for. Another nice option — the ability to analyze your localization efforts results. You can receive all the necessary daily reports via email, which is indeed very comfy.

    4. Store intelligence. That is the “place” where most of your market analysis happens. You can see top apps and publishers rankings, as well as their estimated revenue. Game owners will enjoy game genre breakdowns (so you’ll be able to tell mach7 from mid-core strategy stats)

    5. Ad intelligence. We, as an agency, love this feature. You can see any app’s public ad creatives and the budgets allocated for each traffic source (so that you will know whether your rivals buy Facebook traffic of focus on Snapchat heavily). Also, you can create a breakdown by total spend and see the top advertisers for each category and platform.

  2. App Annie. Unlike Sensor Tower which has no free plan at all, App Annie Connect and a part of App Annie Intelligence are available to everyone who creates an account at no cost.  So what types of information can you get free of charge there?

      1. First of all, “App tracking” enables you to track any app’s details, ranking history, and top charts at the full extent.  All of the reviews are available, but the premium plan allows you to access smart reviews analytics (key topics, the reviews’ impact)

      2. Regarding keyword analytics: most of the vital functions are free, but you’ll have to pay for competitor keywords analysis and keyword visualization. All of the paid search analytics, including finding competitor-risk-free keywords for promotion or your rival’s search phrases’ bids comes at a price.

      1. What comes further is mostly heavy metal — stuff needed for precise market analysis and hard to find in open sources. That’s why what we are going to talk about next is mostly the premium users’ prerogative. When it comes, to revenue and download estimates, App Annie provides you with a range of top-notch custom reports, including top apps and top publishers by income and downloads, including those both divided by countries and regions and from a worldwide perspective. Also, there are estimates for the general market size for each category, which might help you with planning your potential income.

      2. App usage data usage stats. The coolest features (apart from the regular DAU, MAU, WAU, and retention rates), in our opinion, are 1) data usage – sorry for the calambour. Here you can wee the average amount of data that comes through the app for an average user:) 2) cross-usage: shows you what products are most likely to be downloaded and opened by the same users. By the way, haven’t you seen this feature a couple of paragraphs before? 3) behavioral models for different demographic groups 3) the tricky market penetration — how many people used the app during a period of time and how many devices have this app installed, as

      3. Game insights — a whole section providing enhanced analytics for all of the most common game genres (and you can create you custom genre and analyze it alongside others)

      4. Mobile web usage stats — the same data sections but for mobile web. Of course, the information can be combined and mixed with app stats, which is, i.e., great for e-commerce platforms that often have an equal share of mobile  and app users.

      5. SDK insights — pretty straightforward, this is very close to what Sensor provides us with

      6. Advertising Estimates — the same here apart from the handy access to the advertising networks data (not only what kind of ads a brand runs, but also it’s service providers)

      7. Also, paid functionality makes your life easier by enabling you  to create custom reports, download data in CSVs or via APIs: all of the adult data playing pleasures you can possibly hope for.

  3. AppFollow. Those provide the same market and competitor analysis services, but focused on ASO heavily. Also, the core feature isthe extensive user-communication
    functionality and a wide range of various integrations, including SalesForce, HelpDesk and many more.
    Unlike the others, they do reveal their pricing on the website: there’s no free plan, but the cheapest starts from $111/month,which is, indeed, very affordable.
  4. Who’s next?
    What’s your fave app intelligence provider?
    How often do ou refer to their data and what insights did it lead to? We’d love to hear your say!

The basics of App Store Optimization for everyone

Every application on Earth needs organic downloads. However big your initial app promotion budget might be, you will not have a chance to spend it the best way if you don’t pay attention to your product’s looks and well-being in the App Store and Google Play.

Pretty much every single quote about app promotion mentions that there are more than 2.6 million apps in Google Play and more than 2 million in the App Store, so why would we break the tradition? On one hand, in fact, not many of us can get a hang of those digits: those who create applications sometimes get carried away and think they only compete with the top 50, forgetting the other millions would like to be top 50 if they could. On the other hand, you do need to be on the top charts to earn from your app, be it money, glory, or satisfaction.

So what do you need to do, remembering that user acquisition campaigns are not enough? It’s pretty clear that we are going to speak about ASO, or App Store optimization, which might be seen as a specific instance of SEO — search engine optimization, and is a series of steps that you take to rank higher when users search for the likely products.

Among all of the good things you can do for your product, it is one of the cheapest and might be done fully on your own, the only crucial expenditure item being the analytics tracking service. Maybe, graphic design/video production as well if you outsourced your app design and your own is terrific.

Why do you need organic installs? 

Researchers say that an “organic” user is more loyal to the app and is more likely to spend money there, and less likely to uninstalls. Maybe people’s attitude towards their own choices is more ..reverential, what do you think?

How do people search for apps?

Most people just type the app name (if they know one) into the search field or just type in the keywords / the function the app must perform, usually one or two words. Both App Store and Google Play give you hints while you type: Apple suggests the needed apps at once while Google helps you find the most relevant search requests, being quite intelligent about the mistakes and typos, but not all of them.

So, where do we start?

It’s only natural that we start with the keywords. There are many tools for collecting keywords, some of them provide you with phrases specifically designed for app stores, but be ready for the fact that they might be not so good for some languages, so you may need to refer to the good old Wordstat.

You have defined the key phrases, what’s next?

Here’s a trickier thing: not only you need to choose the words that describe your proposition best, but also take into account the “density of the traffic”. To find the optimum keyword you need to define the search volume (= the number of search requests for the keyword) and the number of apps that match the keyword. The best keyword is a combination of the most often requests and the least number of competitors. 

How do you name your app?

After (not before, but, of course, there are some exceptions) you define your keywords, it’s high time you thought about naming your app. We recommend you to keep the balance between the uniqueness/memorability of the name and at least some keywords inside. Like “yoga warrior”, oh, wait, there’s going to be unneeded traffic for the warrior word. Keep this in mind too in order not to mislead the users, because this would lower the conversion rate (we’ll get back to this later).

Picking the right category

Of course, the category you choose must describe the meaning of your app, but the principle is the same as for the keywords: you need to balance between the relevance and the popularity (crowdiness) of the category, since you have higher chances of visibility in the less popular destinations.


  1. A beautiful icon helps users make their choices. It’s okay to have an abstract yet still well-designed logo if you promote any kinds of lifestyle apps and utilities. Games tend to display a glimpse of what’s inside, but don’t overindulge in trying to explain your style or your gameplay in a logo. Again, avoid misleading: a 3-d scantily dressed girl (in shining armor) might promote your strategy successfully, but it won’t help the retention rate if your game looks like Starcraft II inside (and we don’t imply it looks bad). Ideally, you ABCD-test several types of icons before launch.

  1. The second (more likely, the first) best thing is the screenshots: they are the shop window of your app (in the App Store they are even displayed in the search results), and, since many of the users make decisions quite impulsively, the first screenshot is your chance to touch the people’s unconscuious. It has the highest impact compared to the rest. It’s okay to add captions to the screenshots or show the onboarding process with steps to follow. It’s vital to explain what your app is about, with or without the captions (and make sure they are readable). Take into account that simply copying and pasting the real screenshots of the app is probably the stupidest thing you can do:)

  2. You need to make clear the main functions of the app (ideally, the problems they solve as well) and how to use them. An quick onboarding experience, maybe a story right in the screenshots will increase your chances to clearly communicate your product’s mission.

  1. Remember, it’s always good to A/B test! Even if you are 100% sure you have chosen the best image ever, try changing it a bit and see if minor changes have any impact on the conversion rate.

  1. The orientation of the pictures may vary: you can choose landscape and portrait in both Google Play and App Store, but don’t forget to adapt your app screens to iPad and iPhone, Apple TV or Apple Watch accordingly, if it can be downloaded to those devices:)

  2. Localize your screenshots if you can. No need to explain why it improves the conversion.

  3. Add a video. There are people who don’t watch videos out of principle, but they are the minority, use those seconds to explain all of the abovementioned in a fun and logical way, but remember that many users have their sound off, and you would be too arrogant to assume they turn it on solely for the sake of watching your app’s introduction,

  4. In the end: don’t forget to compare yourself with the others: search for insights, find our strenghs and then think of how to celebrate and cherish them by demonstrating them to public.


The first three lines matter, and this time it’s not about psychology or the perception pecularities, it’s about facts: when users search for the app, only the firsst 1 or 2 screenshots are visible along with just three lines of information, think of it as a pitch. Other jems are hidden beneath the “More” button, and take our word for it: not many people come to clicking that button.

After you have made a statement, refer to the public recognition and positive reviews you have. It might be the awards, the critics’ citations or simply quotes from your app reviews area. “This app helped me lose 20 pounds” is both rational (states the benefits of the product clearly) and irrational: in the first couple of moments we trust everything we read unless there’s something obviously absurd of hyperbolics, also, we are kind of “jealous” and want the same effect for ourselves.

Having shown off a bit, you finally have time to say everything you could not fit into the screenshots.

It’s even to repeat some info, ideally, you speak of the main fuctionality and core features once again, getting into details on how it works and how you are different from your competitors. 

After that, you might want to add a call to action, and yes, it can be different from “download our app”. Promise a change that might happen after a user tries the app of interacts with it for some time, but don’t lie, or you’ll get a lot of negative feedback and quite justly.

And, again, localize this too. Localize everything if you have the needed resources, but don’t forget to do proper analytics and prioritize.

The list of don’ts: don’t lie (again!), avoid being too nerdy, avoid wordiness and bad language/grammatical mistakes, hire a freelancer if being grammatically and stylistically correct is not your default mode, as a gesture of respect for your users:)

That is, of course, far from the ultimate list of actions to take to make your app the higest-ranking in its category, there are many other tips and more going-into-detail tutorials on each of the points we have mentioned, but still we have tried to cover the most important things and add a bit of our own expertise. Have we missed something important? We’d love to hear your comments.

ASO improvements ordered by importance

What is a PPI network, or the introduction to in-app advertising and modern ad tech

By this article, we start a series of texts on how the mobile advertising market works and what we and the likely companies do on the market. We’d like to start with PPI/CPI networks, for instance, mobile (in-app) DSPS.

Cost per install (=pay per install) advertising is an instance of a wider notion — cost per action, or CPA advertising. This is a model where advertisers pay traffic sources (mobile, for instance) for driving traffic to make users perform specific actions, in this particular case  — installs, and the price is set beforehand and usually fixed. Sometimes this price may vary, but we will get back to this a bit later. 

What are the traffic sources that do pay per install advertising?

First of all, we must mention that, in general, many of the traffic sources mentioned offer various buying models, including CPM (cost per mille — 1000 impressions), CPC (cost per click), CPE (cost per engagement), and so on, but CPI (PPI) and CPC are the most common ones.

In fact, we are going to talk about programmatic advertising that is a whole advertising ecosystem whose number of components may vary depending on the complexity. 

Since we are a mobile agency so we are going to base our explanation on in-app advertising networks.

The programmatic advertising “chain” starts from a user who watches an ad while interacting with some content. The content is provided by the publisher (here it’s the app owner who has an ad SDK built into their app), to the publisher “owns” all the ad impression slots his app produces.
As soon as the publisher sees they have a new ad impression to sell, they send the corresponding info (ad request) to the SSP (supply-side platform) that aggregates the traffic from many publishers.

An SSP might send (=sell) the traffic to an ad exchange. An ad exchange is a place where advertisers or DSPs (demand-side platforms) take part in an auction for each user’s impression. The exchange uses the built-in DMP (data management platform) or a third-party DMP to define the user’s demographic characteristics (age, gender, income, interests, and many more) by matching the available info with the info DMP has “in store”. Then the competing parties place their maximum bid for the users. The winner shows the ad, and the price is not necessarily the highest bid, it’s the next highest price. That’s called the second price auction, a very popular approach to pricing in many advertising networks.

However, this chain might skip the Ad exchange part so that SSPs sell their traffic to DSPs.
DSP is a place which, in turn, aggregates many SSPs so that advertisers do not have to sign contracts and do integrations with every SSP on the market. It is a one-stop-shop for buying (mobile) traffic for a great number of publishers. The DSP is responsible for dealing with SSPs and, somehow, for their traffic quality and the stability of supply too.

Many of the DSPs nowadays optimize the selling process so that for the comfort of advertisers they are able to work on a CPI model.

Again, some enthusiastic advertisers who have their own in-house media buying teams try to work with DSPs directly, but mostly they refer to the dedicated CPI/CPA advertising agencies, who, in their turn, have contracts with a select number of platforms/networks and take care of the performance and traffic quality. 

What’s left here in this chain?  Digital advertising is a place where the best minds of the scammers from all around the world try to fake real users and make DSPs and brands pay for non-human traffic, which is called ad fraud. In fact, there is a great variety of fraud types not necessarily associated with bot traffic, like click hijacking, but this is not the right article to get into details. It’s enough to mention that it’s a huge problem fought with relatively successfully.  Another thing is the stats. As one of the articles the author of this stumbled upon while trying to google media buyer jokes says, “Since I first started toiling in the web trenches in the late-’90s, the false promise of digital has always been measurability and accountability”. Even though everything is operated and calculated by powerful networks’ backend stuff, all of the networks “brains” might have a bit different notion of anything from impression to install.  That means discrepancies occur every now and then, so one day they decided to refer to a third-party system, a trusted mediator between all of the participants of the chain. Those mediators are called analytics platforms, and we do not know a company in the market that does not use such platforms. The most popular analytic platforms are Adjust, Appsflyer, Kochava, Tune. Most of them, the paid ones, have special anti-fraud add-ons, and there also are “full” analytcis platforms that can be used for for internal analytics and product development like Google’s Firebase.

Here we can get back to the core of the article — the PPI mobile DSPs. In general, DSP is what happened to advertising networks with the development of technology. Some say DSPs are ad networks too, some write posts on how to tell one from another.

To start from the beginning, we’d like to mention that DSPs are called so because they operate to serve the “demand” (i.e. advertisers’) needs, they are designed to make the advertiser’s life easier, not the app owner’s or ever user’s:). DSPs are meant to have as many SSPs integrated as possible: in a perfect world you would only use one DSP to rule all of the needed traffic.

So how does this work/How do you work with a DSP/ CPI network?

A media buyer walks into a bar..(alas, much to our chargin such joke hasn’t been found). A media buyer (inhouse or agency, doesn’t matter) enters a DSP.
They have a budget, target CPI and the idea of the advertsed product in mind. They create a campagin:what you really need is creatives, the rest might be defined experimentally.

So when you set up a campaign in a pay per install network you keep in mind that you can use the following targeting options:



Mobile carrier

Operating system

Mobile device attributes

There, again, sometimes is a choice between in-app and mobile web, but all of our preferred and most efficient traffic sources are in-app (at least when we speak of the ad networks, social traffic does not count). Anyway, this all might sound very appealing and may lure you into using all of those setting at once. Don’t. The location, devise and OS are crucial because they can tell a user if his device is fit for using your app. The rest’s stable work is not guaranteed since  not all of the DSP gather mobile data well enougn.

That is why using the lists of allowed sources is only natural. Each publisher might be ablck box. each publisher might be a newtork of publishers, so it’s almost impossible for a DSP to check every singly bit of incomming information, but they, at least. try quite hard.

We’d even say that who owns the black and white lists for the networks owns the success of the campaign, and just having them fresh and upfatedi.

If you don’t have them, refer to an inapp traffic buying agency, they usually have the optimal DSPs for the vertical and all kinds of exclusive and inclusive publishers lists, or you can take knocks and learn on your own.

After that you choose your target CPI, which is rather a price you’d like to achieve, a price that occurs after the DSP buys publishers’ traffic with a CPM model and sees if that’ possible for them and profitable to them. So it is more correct to call it eCPI, because it’s the final, resulting price.

(Then the dates and time, etcetera, and then you’re all set up. If a camoaign does not have or does not have enough impressions or installs, that means the DSP somehow thinks that your ads are not liked by the audience you chose, rather buy someoe else’ knocks. By this we imply that DSP has a sort of value for all of the campaigns and placements they have and they judge those campaigns by their engagement rate and eCPIs. So the best thing you can you is make the targeting less precise and/or change thee creatives.

Was this article useful for you? Did you learn anything new about PPC/PPI or ad tech in general, or do you know all of the things mentioned by heart? We’d love to hear your suggestions on what might be added here.

TikTok as a traffic source: insights from a TikTok advertising agency

What is TikTok? (just skip this if you are 100% confident in your knowledge)

Originally, TikTok was largely based on — a social media app of Chinese origin for making music videos and live streaming created as long ago as 2014. After Twitter announced Vine’s closure in 2016, has shown significant growth in downloads. ByteDance, a huge Asian entertainment holding, bought the app in 2017 and merged it with the newly created Douyin (named TikTok for the international market), and’s userbase migrated there.

This is how Musically looked before the redesign.

Today TikTok has a userbase of approximately 800 million people (the overall number of downloads has reached 2 billion), who can created short videos (3-15 seconds) and looping videos from 3 to 60 seconds. The specialty of the app is the music: it can be added to any video (more than two tracks at the same time), sped up and so on. Many of the videos there become viral and are exported to other platforms like Instagram (Stories, for instance) and Youtube. Also, the powerful recommendation system (in the according tab) is said to suck you into the app to never let you go. However, those words can not describe the type of creatives and we find it quite useless to describe how “the absolutely TikTok-is content looks”, so it’s better to see once than to hear twice (many more times, actually). The most popular video categories are “fun”, “dance” , the third place is shared by “pranks” and “fitness”, the latest being the last year’s trend, but we’ll get back to that later. So do you need to advertise on TikTok and what is so special about TikTok advertising videos?

Types of ads and ad creatives. Traffic sources.

TikTok video ads: the most famous and powerful format for all types of user acquisition, your first choice when you start with TikTok and are not even present there. Nice fact: it supports multiple calls to action.

Pay attention to the music (all in all, it used to be a “music” app one day), but always keep in mind that users often keep their sound off, so it’s necessary to make sure your visuals will make everyone want to hear what you have to say.

A perfect TikTok commerical is engaging and fun (does not have to be an “ad video”, your brand in the background is enough)

News feed video ads: the same, but different.  We suggest that you use it alongside regular videos to feel the difference.

Vigo and Halo video ads: as follows from the name, they are not shown on the main app, but in the brand audience network apps. Like Instagram ads set up in Facebook.

Special branding options that might come in handy if you have or plan to build a TikTok community. Brand filters, “brand takeover” banners — everything you need to know your company image and voice does not get lost in a crowd.

The TikTok advertising platform is quite straighforward but the ad campaign setup depends on the advertised product type so you should better refer to the buying expert for the personalized recommendations if you ever think of how to set up TikTok ads.

Why should you choose TikTok for advertising your product?

  1. It’s still viral and growing! That means that you may never (at least for the foreseeable future) run out of audience because your potential users become TikTok users every month

  2. It has good targeting opportunities, all of the up-to-date parameters like age, gender location, interests, language, and device, which is supposed to be the “necessary and sufficient minimum in 2020”, but in fact, it’s not: many traffic buying platforms have a poorer set of options. The killer feature, in our opinion, is including the ability to use third-party targeting systems, which is quite impressive. For example, our dearly beloved Facebook won’t let us do that. 

  3. In addition, there are user behavior analytics options available, as well as the marketing pixel (that needs to be set up on your web page to track user behavior and conversions)

  4. If you already have a brand page in TikTok you can compare your target audience suggestions by viewing the account demographics’ stats. 

  5. Bonus for app owners: apart from other goodies TikTok has, the ad campaigns are optimized for installs quite easily.

  6. TikTok supports some of the most popular analytics systems and trackers, including Appsflyer, Adjust, Tune, Kochava, all of the Google Ad products, and more exotic ones, like Tenjin, Appmetrics, Sizmek and MyTracker

What are the best verticals and product types to promote in TikTok?

We believe that the best verticals are:

  1. E-commerce

  2. Games 

  3. Utilities

  4. Fitness apps

  5. Finance

  6. Media

Here are some popular stereotypes and misconceptions about TikTok we’d like to dispel.

TikTok is for zoomers!

Here’s the long-playing one. It really started as an app for teenagers (Did you know TikTok doesn’t (formally) allow users under 18 to register? However, to put it mildly, ironic it sounds, it’s absolutely true. The fact that no one checks the real age of a new user is another thing)

The users are getting older every day, not like us and you, though: much faster. There is a chance that in a couple of years (unless, of course, it gets banned), it will become an app for grandmothers.

TikTok doesn’t have many users in my country.

Definitely more than you’d expected. Honestly, this might happen (we don’t know what country you live in) but is highly unlikely. If you don’t use TikTok, this does not mean this is true for your target audience, it’s just a typical cognitive bias.

Here’s the visualization of top TikTok countries by users:

TikTok is a no-brainer. 

Thinking that the most trendy app of the past two years is “stupid’ or its audience is stupid is like starting the “kids those days” thing (they are spoiled, their music sucks, they dress awfully and have no respect for the elders, or the words we have been hearing for more than two thousand years, maybe longer, this is the perioud we have the proofs for) You might keep grouching in a private conversation, but that kind of attitude won’t do you any good when understanding and finding working approaches to your audiences. It is true that, mainly, the top-viewed content is relatively simple, at least due to its length. It’s rather hard to make an intellectual and attention-grabbing video lasting 15 seconds. Watching those videos is less and less a sign of anything at all. Compare it to porn (harsh but not untrue): the content is not equal to its viewer.

Also, TikTok is easy, just be fun in a trendy way. Being fun or entertaining is often enough, but we highly recommend you to refer to trends specialists, in-house or outsource, because following those specific trends will soon require some sort of advanced training.

It’s the Instagram for pranks and dances.

Whatever you mean by this phrase, never (never) copy your Instagram creatives and working approaches to TikTok. Apart from tech differences (for example, “swipe up” means “skip the video” in TikTok being the direct opposite of Learn More in Stories ads), the, so to say, ads style is completely different. Be smart and behave accordingly.

It’s expensive.

We have cases where TikTok was literally the cheapest and the best performing traffic source among all others. 

Have you tried TikTok ads for user acquisition and what are your impressions?
Did you feel you made the best out of it? If not, we might help. or just recommend you to give it another try with different approach.

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