App Marketing Strategies: Are Cost Per Install (CPI) Campaigns Really Worth It?

Are you an app owner who wants to find the best marketing strategy for his product? Or, do you want to offer some space inside your app for promoting other apps? Either way you are probably thinking which pricing model is the most appropriate for your plan? Today we will talk mostly about Cost Per Install (CPI) since this system is focused on mobile apps. What Is CPI—or openly What is Cost Per Install? Let’s start!

Table of Contents

  1. What is Cost Per Install?
  2. Difference of CPI Model
  3. Is CPI Really Worth It?

What Is Cost Per Install?

First of all, some advertisers may prefer the term Cost Per Download (CPD) instead of CPI. But these are different terms cause a user might encounter a installation problem after he/she downloads the app. Let’s get back to Cost Per Install (CPI).

Cost Per Install (CPI) is one of the many metrics by which people measure their advertising budget.

CPI campaigns are special advertising campaigns for mobile applications. In Cost Per Install campaigns, publishers put digital ads to mobile inventories to drive installation of the advertised mobile app. The brand is charged with a fixed price or with auction rate only if the application is installed as a result of campaign.

In short terms, CPI marketing is a method where the payment is made only if the app is installed on users’ devices after they clicked on an ad.

Calculation of Cost Per Install (CPI)

The formula of Cost Per Install is: Your total investment spent on ad divided by the total number of installs.

For example; let’s assume that you spent $300 on your ads and got 300 new users. In this case, your CPI is $1.

Average Costs Per Install

Average costs per install are very changeable according to many variances such as ad unit, platform and country. Here are some stats that can give you some insight about how different the numbers can be.

Average Cost Per Install 2018

Let’s start with the average costs per install in 2018.

  • iOS app Cost Per Install Globally  – $0.86
  • Android app Cost Per Install Globally (Google Play market) – $0.44
  • iOS app Cost Per Install in US – $2.07
  • Android app Cost Per Install in US (Google Play market) – $1.72
  • Facebook Ads – CPI – $1.8
  • Twitter Ads – CPI – $2.53
  • Instagram Ads – CPI – $2.23
  • Search Ads – CPI – $1.00

Average Cost Per Install 2018

And here are some numbers about the average costs per install in 2019.

  • iOS app Cost Per Install in US – $2.37
  • iOS app Cost Per Install in China – $0.98
  • iOS app Cost Per Install in China – $0.22
  • Android app Cost Per Install Globally (Google Play market) – $0.44

Let’s talk about CPI more!

Main Digital Advertising Methods

For start, you need to understand the main options available for advertising an app. Besides the CPI model, there are others which can influence the way you drive your campaign.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)
This is a system where the price depends on the number of impressions served. The charge is made by mille, which means that the payment is made after 1000 times the ad is shown to potential customers. CPM is used by publishers with the goal to increase awareness of the app.

Cost Per Click (CPC)
CPC as you probably figured out means that the ad network receives money every time viewers click on the ad. Be careful that a click on the ad doesn’t mean that people will install the app for sure. On the other hand, it is the advertiser’s job to display your app to a target audience for increasing the number of taps.

Cost Per Install (CPI)
When choosing the Cost Per Install or Click Per Install marketing model , publishers are charged just for the number of downloads for that specific app. The main purpose of this procedure is to gain visibility in app stores.

Cost Per Action (CPA)
Also named Cost Per Engagement (CPE) or Pay Per Action (PPA), CPA is considered the price paid for specific actions completed by users, like watching a tutorial, making a purchase or accomplishing some tasks. Of course, the ones that choose this type want to make sure the app is not just installed, it is also used accordingly.
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Difference Of CPI Model

With every method, there are pros and cons according to your strategy. For CPC it is easier to understand why users click or not on your ad and it can be cheaper than CPI only if you have the right tools for conversions. On the other hand, clicks don’t mean that you gather more users. CPM is more efficient with rich media like videos and interactive ads and it is suitable if you want to bring your brand in front of customers. For CPA you obtain more than installs since users must download your app to complete the action. The problem is that the cost is higher than the other methods and it is complicated to discover which activities should be included in your strategy. As you can see there are many elements for you to consider when selecting one of the pricing models.

CPI Varies Depending On:

There isn’t a CPI available for all apps. There are many elements that determine the cost of every download.


User’s location is a very important factor in setting the CPI. The price is dictated by the lifestyle of the people who live in those specific countries. For example, in Australia and countries from northern Europe, the CPI is significantly bigger.


The cost for each install is different from iOS apps to Android apps. While the number of devices provided by Apple is smaller than the ones sold by Google, mostly because of the prices, the ones that choose iOS are considered with deep pockets which will eventually translate in more in-app purchases. So, the CPI for iOS is higher than for Android.

Top 10 Cost Per Install (CPI) for Android in USD, by Country and Category

Source: Chartboost

Acquisition Channel

Each media channel has its own CPI, according to the services offered. Social platforms like Facebook or Twitter have higher rates due to their popularity.

Cost Per Install by acquisition channel in USD

Source: BusinessofApps

App Genre

Not all app types have the same CPI. The price is set by app category. It is known the fact that games have a more expensive CPI because players are more willing to spend their money inside the app. Also, not all games have the same price.

Seasonal Effects (In Special Days CPI Rate Is Higher)

Of course, if you choose to run your campaign during winter holidays the budget must be substantial.

Use App Samurai platform to increase your app installs via creating effective CPI advertising campaigns without dealing with any ad network. Click here to start for free.

Is CPI Really Worth It?

There are various opinions regarding if mobile app cost per install really worths or not, but let’s check the advantages and disadvantages of this method.


  • CPI campaigns target your app’s niche audience. For gathering as many installs as possible your ad will be shown to potential users which are interested in apps similar to what you offer.
  • Guaranteed Installs, get what you paid. If you want downloads, that is what you will have.
  • Swiftly creates buzz around your app. During the app launch or in other moments when you need to increase the popularity of your app this is the solution for your intent.


  • Costs get higher in accordance with competition in each app category. If you want to promote a game which runs on iOS in a country like Australia, then you must prepare your budget for this type of plan.
  • It is a complicated process for Advertisers to create a successful campaign because you need to go and try several ad networks to get the best ROI out of your ad campaign.
  • Drive low-quality users. The main goal is to attract users. For engaging them you need to create additional plans.

User Acquisition Campaigns To Build Sustainable Growth Process

While every app owner wants as many users as possible it is very important what kind of users you will receive. As we already discussed, building a successful user acquisition strategy dictates the entire evolution of your app.

There are various steps you need to make for showing your app in front of valuable users from targeting the specific audience to optimizing your app. Next, you need to choose between organic and paid channels to promote your app. Don’t forget to track important metrics for an efficient campaign. After that, change your strategy according to the results. Don’t forget that not any user is a good user for your app.

Eliminate Downsides Of CPI Campaigns By Using App Samurai Platform

If you consider that Cost Per Install is the appropriate method for your app don’t feel discouraged by the cons listed above. Working with professional platforms like App Samurai will help you minimize bad effects.

No Need To SDK Integration

  • You don’t need to implement another SDK to use App Samurai Platform. You will have full control over your campaign without the worry that you need to integrate some extra SDK inside your app.

Get Optimized/ Quality Traffic

  • You don’t need to go with several ad networks and try them until you find an appropriate channel for a successful campaign cpi for app. App Samurai helps you to funnel high – quality traffic for your campaigns.
  • App Samurai Experts pick the best options among more than 50 ad networks for getting qualified users.


See Your Efforts And Results Side By Side (In-App Events, App Store Analytics, Ad Measurements)

  • You can track your user acquisition, performance and in-app events in one dashboard. You are able to check in every moment the situation of your strategy.
  • Control how much you spend on paid campaigns and return on your investments from it to optimize for the best. For lowering the risk you can keep your eye on costs and realize what worth and what doesn’t.
  • Optimize accordingly: Open Rate, In-App Purchases, Number of Logins etc. As we already mentioned, Tracking In-App Events is a crucial stage during the entire process for promoting your app.

Easy To Create Ad Campaigns

It is not enough to decide that you go with the CPI model. It is important to know how to create your campaign for your cpi campaigns. App Samurai will be by your side for each step you are taking for optimizing your cpi advertising campaign.

Get Unique Recommendations

After App Samurai created more than 4000 cpi ads campaigns for reaching more than 5 million installs we are able to advise you in the best possible way for creating a successful strategy for cpi advertising.

Final Thoughts

After we discussed efficient methods to reduce customer acquisition costs, it seemed logical to go into details and to talk about Cost Per Install. We listed the advantages and disadvantages that come with this method, so you need to take into account various elements according to your app. Keep in mind though that a team of experts will make the whole process easier for you and it will reduce the downsides of this system.

App Samurai is an AI-powered, secure mobile growth platform. Register, add your app and start driving high-quality users.