Paid User Acquisition

Paid user acquisition is the process of paying to advertise an app or game on UA channels in efforts to drive relevant traffic to an app store and convert new users.

What is Paid User Acquisition (UA)

Paid user acquisition (UA) is the process of paying to advertise an app or game on UA channels in efforts to drive relevant traffic to an app store and convert new users. The new users who download an app via this journey are known in the industry as ‘paid installs.’

As part of an overall marketing strategy to ensure an app reaches and engages with the right audience, it’s vital to include paid UA to drive traffic. App developers / marketers struggle to see significant growth if the focus is solely on organic traffic without leveraging paid UA; the key is to maximize both sources.

Why Paid User Acquisition is Important

Paid UA for acquiring new users is one of the biggest growth levers that games / apps have to increase budgets and rank higher. The more paid UA an app dev / marketer does, the more installs it brings. But it isn’t a guessing game, it involves a great deal of strategizing / testing to boost marketing return on ad spend (ROAS) and maximize tap through rate. Factors to consider when strategizing are:

  • what the target audience is, so the ad will be put in front of the right people
  • which channels / networks to advertise on as they vary in what they offer (a channel that works for one app can be more effective than another)
  • which ad creatives to use with the App Store / Google Play messaging. 

Paid UA can focus on first time installs as well as returning users. If an app increases first time installs, it’s going to rank higher in the top / category / keyword charts as the App Store and Google Play store take into account the volume of first time installs that an app gets. This equates to an increase in discoverability, which is a priority for an app; the more eyes on the product the better.

Paid UA can be complicated to measure on occasion. Let’s say that it’s directly correlated with brand awareness which increases branded search traffic. Search traffic (made up of branded and genre keywords searches) contributes to 70% of installs in Apple’s App Store. But actually, not all users are responding to an ad directly, they may be aware of a brand from an ad they’re watching on another UA channel which prompts them at a later time to visit the App Store and search for an app / game specifically. On this occasion, it means that though there’s been no direct response to an ad, paid UA has led to an eventual install.  

Paid User Acquisition and ASO

Paid UA, which focuses on bringing the right (targeted) audience to an app, increases visibility, increases downloads and improves rankings in the App Store. Any effective marketing strategy will use UA to accomplish ASO goals such as ranking higher for keywords in charts, encouraging branded search activities and increasing the engagement rate. Paid UA campaigns are a unique tool that can directly target these goals.