While having a solid organic strategy in place for your app is key, you cannot overlook the importance of paid channels. Paid acquisition campaigns allow you to cast a much wider net than organic, driving more traffic to your app. Your paid tactics will catapult you in the right direction with a solid user base that you can retain and grow organically.

Just like the other aspects of your user acquisition campaign, it’s important to have your target audience in mind with your paid strategy. Understanding where they frequent online is key to success. Here are a few paid tactics to consider:

1. Social Media: Start with a list of social channels your audience is most active on. Facebook and Instagram are the undeniable titans of social ad campaigns, especially if you are trying to reach millennials.  Some companies have also had luck on SnapChat and Twitter. Your strategy should be to place targeted ads on several social media channels, and monitoring where you are getting the most bang for your buck.

Another pro-tip for social media advertising is the importance of A/B testing. Don’t just create one ad and expect it to deliver, instead test several versions of the ad to see which performs best. Research some best practices around social media ad copy, and implement it in your different ads. From there, you can hone in on which ads are performing best and drop the rest.

  • Facebook Ads:  Facebook totes some of the best targeting capabilities in the ad world, allowing you to get as close to 1:1 advertising as possible. For starters, you get to tap into their massive audience reach (1.5 billion and counting), and run highly targeted campaigns using their audience profile tool. This audience tool allows you to get very personalized with your ad campaign, not only breaking down audience by standard demographics (age, gender, location), but by personal interests and life events. Plus, you can A/B test ad copy and audience profiles to see where you’re getting the strongest ROI on your campaign.

  • Instagram Ads: Instagram has over 500 million daily active users. That number is staggering (and every mobile marketer’s dream DAU count!). Since it is a mobile-first app, it’s the perfect place to advertise your own. Plus since it’s owned by Facebook, Instagram makes it incredibly easy to place ads across both social platforms. Want to learn how to create powerful Instagram ads? Check this out.

Instagram Ad Tip: Instagram is able to tap into the robust data of its parent company, Facebook. Using this data and combining it with the power of visual advertising their social platform lends easily too, Instagram ads enjoy CTRs of 2.5x higher than other social platforms.   

  • Twitter Ads: Twitter is another great social platform to run app install ads on, giving you the ability to target by interest, keyword, and more. Twitter’s Mobile App Promotion site boasts powerful case studies from Lyft reaching their acquisition goal at 30% below CPA (cost per acquisition) and gaming app TwoDots reaching 1 million downloads in the span of a few weeks.

Twitter Ad Tip: According to Twitter’s blog, creating a sense of  urgency through using words such as “now” drive a 9% higher conversion rate and 36% lower CPI.         

Apple Search Ads: With the launch of iOS 11 came the ability to place search ads in Apple’s app store. App owners are now able to target their audience based on key insights like - location, gender, keyword searches, competitor searches to boost discoverability even further. When a user searches for specific keywords, the app ad appears at the top of the results page.


Apple recently introduced two types of search ad programs, Search Ads Basic and Search Ads Advanced. The Basic program is aimed at smaller app publishers looking to pay per install. Whichever one you choose promises a powerful way to reach your intended audience.

  • Google: Of course, Google is also another solid option to run paid advertising on. Google AdWords allows you the ability to run your ads across Google channels (including YouTube) and through multiple options (search, display) .Your app’s ad will populate during related search results based on the criteria you set, including location. This is a prime opportunity to test out different messaging to see how it performs prior to rolling it out on a larger scale. AdWords also gives you access to their reporting tool so that you can monitor results of your campaign and optimize accordingly.

Google AdWords Hack: Adwords gives you the ability to create app install ad campaigns that run exclusively on tablets and smartphones to better target your audience.


  • Ad Networks: In addition to the above ad partners, you’ll want to invest in a solid mobile ad network, which can provide you with an even larger reach. Ad networks are unique in that they bring together individual websites and publishers into a sort of ‘bundle’ so that you’re able to efficiently and effectively reach your audience on a large scale. The idea here is that this bundle of websites is highly curated based on your target audience. Be careful though and do your research, as not all ad networks are created equal.

Below are five of the big ad networks to check out beyond Google and the social media platforms we listed above:

  • Millennial Media: One of the biggest mobile ad networks around, Millennial Media offers a host of creative ad formats and helpful targeting options. Some of their clients include U.S. Marine Corps, T-Mobile, Paramount, and UGG, among others.
  • AppLift: Works with over 5,000 media partners and 500 advertisers, including Zynga, Lyft, and King games.
  • Conversant:  A massive mobile ad network serving over 5,000 clients each month and driving an average of 5 million purchases each day. Conversant works with most of the top brands across various industries and offers integrated solutions for everything from mobile to affiliate marketing. Some clients include Travelocity, Hotels.com, Urban Outfitters, Target, and Gap. Conversant was also rated as the #2 most popular ad network by comScore.
  • Tapjoy: TapJoy offers a large collection of different ad styles for driving awareness, conversions, and engagement. Some clients include Starbucks, Sephora, and Lego.
  • Opera Mediaworks: Sophisticated targeting and rich ads with a massive network. Opera works with McDonald's, Ebay, Samsung, and MasterCard, among others.

Knowing where to target your paid strategy is half the battle. The other? Effective ads. How many times have you simply scrolled past an ad without even giving it a second thought? That’s a marketer’s worst nightmare. We know that there is an art and science to creating effective app ads, and below are a few of the key ingredients to an engaging app advertisement:


Clearly state the value proposition: You created your app because you felt there was some kind of void in the marketplace, right? Be sure to clearly state in your ad what needs or problem your app addresses. Whether your app is entertainment based or task-oriented, you designed it to provide value to your audience, so make sure they know it.

  1. Copy: You have such a small window of time to get your audience’s attention, so make sure you invest time in your messaging. Be clever, but succinct.
  2. Branding and visuals: If you’re an established brand launching an app, make sure that your audience knows it’s you. Your app is an extension of your brand, and the ad should showcase this with voice, tone, and visuals. If your app is your brand, now is your chance to get noticed. Make sure the essence of your brand is encompassed in the messaging and visuals of the ad. This is your introduction to the world, so make it count.
  3. Visuals: You have such a short window of time (seconds or less) to grab someone’s attention. The visual part of your advertisement is critical on any platform, but especially image centric ones such as Instagram. Be creative but make sure you get your point across. Consider moving beyond just images and testing out videos ads which are becoming increasingly more popular.
  4. CTA: Don’t forget to provide clear nexts steps on your app ad. What action do you want them to take? Most likely, you want them to click-through to the app-store to download.  
  5. Deep Linking: Deep linking allows you to direct users to a highly relevant piece of content. It can be as straightforward as having your CTA link them to your app store profile for them to download the app, or as complex as linking them to specific content once they install your app ( e.g. a specific offer or article).
  6. Ratings: Including app store ratings or the amount of “likes” or “followers” on your app’s social page is another powerful tactic to use within your ads as it builds a sense of legitimacy and social proof.

Measure success and optimize accordingly: As with any advertising campaign, it’s important to closely monitor performance upon launch, and gather insight into what’s working for you. In other words, start broad and then narrow down based on data insights. Continually optimizing your app’s advertising campaigns will allow you to get the most bang for your buck, and increase the success of acquiring new app users. We cover more on how to do this, below!