What is the average cost per install for different types of apps?

Artyom Dogtiev

In App Marketing. March 14, 2016

What is the average cost per install for different types of apps?
One of the most important metrics mobile app marketers need to measure is a Cost Per Install (CPI). It provides an information for how much does it cost to generate a single app install on a smartphone or a tablet. At this point, all major mobile app advertising platforms, that allow app marketers to drive installs for their apps, are capable to calculate this metric and provide it as a part of a dashboard data set. A CPI value naturally fluctuates with respect to time and depends on a specific ad platform, mobile operating system, inventory of a mobile app affiliate ad network and it also has a seasonal dependence. Historically during the holiday season in December, so many people are busy with shopping and gadgets, smartphones and tablets in particular, are on a shopping list. This shopping activity spike leads to mobile app downloads increase and it influences on CPI value significantly.

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So behind any doubt, it is important for businesses to know CPI for mobile apps and measure ROI of a particular mobile app user acquisition campaign but it’s also important to know an industry average value for CPI to being able to allocate an ad campaign budget properly. In this article we’ve gathered information from multiple sources to draw a comprehensive picture for Cost Per Install for both iOS and Android, in different regions and app categories.
Key Average Cost Per Install Statistics:

  •  iOS app CPI Globally  – $1.24
  •  iOS app CPI in US – $1.64
  •  iOS app Cost Per Loyal User in US – $2.78
  • iOS app CPI in Europe – $1.4
  • iOS app CPI  in Asia – $0.90
  • Android app CPI in US (Google Play market) – $1.91
  • Android app CPI in US (Amazon market) – $1.74
  • Android app CPI in Europe (Google Play market) – $0.99
  • Android app CPI in Europe (Amazon market) – $0.41
  • Android app CPI in Asia (Google Play market) – $0.74
  • Android app CPI in Asia (Amazon market) – $0.26

Let’s take a look at different factors that influence cost per install of a mobile app, such as operating system, geo location and specific app categories.

According to the data from Geenapp app promotion platform, currently the cost of an iOS app install is leveled at the $1.24 mark and the number is equal for both iPhone and iPad apps. Meanwhile an Android app install costs significantly less, only $0.53 per install. These are the average figures and they fluctuate daily, depending on the number of ad campaigns analyzed worldwide. The difference between the of iOS and an Android app install cost can be explained by the fact that Android platform has more apps than iOS does and higher level of adoption, especially in countries like India and China. On the following graph you can see the picture of both iOS and Android CPI fluctuation during February of this year, it’s based on almost 13,000 ad campaigns analyzed.
Cost per Install (CPI) March 2016 Globally
Source: Geenapp
The data for cost per app install of iOS and Android apps from Fiksu, mobile audience platform, in US shows that this January it was #$1.64 for iOS apps and $1.91 for Android apps. We can see a significant spike for Android app CPI during the holiday season in December and than it drops from almost $3,5 per install to less than $2.00. This dynamic can be explained by situation between supply and demand for Android apps, with a significant increase before Christmas and New Year period and decrease afterwards. The situation with iOS CPI had a reverse dynamics, on the App Store an incentive traffic plays significant role as the tool to reach higher ranking and hence it was heavily used by app marketers during holiday season to increase their apps visiability, which actually decreased CPI and forced it increased back, once the holidays were over.
Cost per Install (CPI) January 2016 in US
Source: Fiksu
There is another even more important metric, which has been tracked by Fiksu for a number of year, it’s a cost per loyal iOS app user. The company defines a loyal user as the one that opened an app three times and more since it’d been downloaded. The significance of this metric lies at the fact that mobile app marketers are in a constant struggle to retain their user base. According to the 2015 data from a Neilson study, the bulk of the time people spend with mobile apps is spent with only 5 non-native apps. This January cost per loyal iOS app user reached $2.78 per loyal user, which presented 34% drop from December of 2015, when it was more than $4.
Cost Per Loyal iOS App User January 2016 in US
Source: Fiksu
Now, let’s take a look at how CPI varies geographically. According to the data provided by Charthoost, the company that helps game developers to monetize their apps, among multiple countries it tracks CPI value for, the highest cost per iOS app install is registered for Australia and it equals $3.23 per app install. The other countries, that collectively present the Top 10 of countries with the highest CPI, are New Zealand ($2.99 / install), Canada ($2.93 / install), Hong Kong ($2.85 / install), US ($2.78 / install), Sweden ($2.77 / install), South Korea ($2.71 / install), Singapore ($2.68 / install), Norway ($2.63 / install) and finally Taiwan, with $2.59 / install.
Top 10 Cost Per Install (CPI) by Country
Source: Chartboost
App Store or Google Play app categories are another factor that influence mobile apps CPI. Let’s look at several categories, starting with non-games. Because historically games as a category have been presenting a single biggest and most profitable category, it’s important to evaluate an average CPI value for other categories and see how it stacks up against games CPI. According to the Geenapp data for this March, we see non-games CPI for Android marketplace equal to $0.35 / install and $0.63 / install for iOS apps.
Average CPI March 2016, Non-games Only Globally
Source: Geenapp
Now the numbers for cost per install of games on both Android and iOS app stores draw an interesting picture. On the Android side, we see that CPI for games is higher than non-games, $0.56 / install against $0.35 / install, but for iOS it’s the opposite. An install of non-games on the App Store costs more than the games one, $0.63 against $0.58 for iPhone apps. It’s equally interesting to note that iPads continue to be the best platform for mobile games and hence the highest level of competition, as a consequence the CPI for iPad apps equals to $0.81, which is higher than CPI of both iPhone and Android apps.
Average CPI March 2016, Games Only Globally
Source: Geenapp
There is one particular app category we’d like to analyze app CPI for as well, which is Kids. Quite often, apps created for this category are conceived and developed by non-profit organizations and hence the question of defining a marketing budget and knowing of a cost per app install are especially important. The data pull is less in scope than for games and non-games, only 88 campaigns, but apps for Kids category is proportionally smaller as well. As of today, an average CPI for this category equals $0.98 / install for Android apps, $0.60 / install for iPhone and $0.59 for iPad apps.
Average CPI March 2016, Apps for Kids Only Globally
Source: Geenapp
Cost Per Install remains to be one of the most important metrics for mobile app owners to measure. Cost of acquiring loyal users for an app is even more important metric, as it provides a real picture of how much does it cost to build a loyal fan base for an app and therefore build a sustainable app business. For companies that extend their existing business on mobile, CPI is a real indicator of investment they need to make to include mobile into the mix of channels they use to reach out their customers. Geographical location, mobile OS and specific app category are important factors that influence CPI for a particular app and app owners need to have analytical data for cost per install for a mobile app market segment they operate on.