Top Publishers Reveal Latest User Acquisition Strategy Trends

Posted May 11, 2015

Today, AdColony is pleased to reveal the top trends from our latest User Acquisition Survey. Conducted semi-annually, the survey gathers insights, benchmarks, and trends from the top 100 grossing app developers.

While many mobile user acquisition surveys poll publishers of varying successes, this survey features data from only the top grossing iOS and Android developers. These developers already know how to build high quality apps, and their UA teams drive an average of 500,000 paid installs per month.

So what are the top developers doing to acquire high quality users at scale? What is their user acquisition strategy, what are they most excited about, and what has been the most successful for them? The answer is video.


98% of respondents turn to video for mobile user acquisition, making it the channel of choice among top grossing publishers.  Interstitials, Facebook display, and other display ads follow closely behind as the top tier choices.


According to the survey, 50% of performance advertisers are most excited about video as a UA channel this year, making video 2.3x more popular than social and 23x more popular than display.  Interestingly, while the majority of respondents who use video are excited about the format, only one fourth of advertisers using social are excited about it, suggesting a level of discontent with social channels as optimism shifts to video.


Excitement aside, top grossing publishers rank mobile video ads as the most effective UA channel at meeting their campaign objectives, with Facebook trailing close behind. Specifically, 98% responders report that video ads are “very effective” if not the “most effective” format they use, compared to 93% for Facebook.


While driving installs at scale are important, top advertisers are most concerned about user quality. In fact, 96% of respondents consider user quality to be a top KPI when determining channel success.


When it comes to quickly determining which users may be high quality, top advertisers overwhelmingly look at retention and early in app purchases. While positive reviews on app stores are always nice, they simply aren’t a reliable indicator for 96% of advertisers. Instead, 2, 7, and 14 day retention is the most important factor for 89% of mobile UA teams.


Looking ahead, expect top advertisers to shift their increasing UA budgets to more heavily rely on video and social to reach more users across broader geos. Experimentation will also remain key, with over 60% of advertisers planning to test out new channels this year. As look-alike targeting becomes prevalent, more advertisers are focusing more on lifetime value than install costs, making it more important than ever to leverage post-install event data and insights.

About the Survey
The Q1 2015 AdColony User Acquisition Survey is the 4th iteration of the survey over the last 2 years. The survey consisted of 90 detailed questions and had a 46% survey response rate. Surveying the top 100 grossing app developers, respondents averaged a $1M monthly UA ad spend, driving an average 500,000 installs monthly.

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