What are the Best Cost-Per-Install App and Mobile Game Marketing Networks?

Jamie Giggs | April 24, 2014

App Marketing

The app and game industry is increasingly aware of the value of a comprehensive app marketing strategy. Pulling together the best resources for the pre and post launch work, as well as utilising a range of organic and paid app marketing channels is key to succeeding in an increasingly competitive market. However, app and game developers are faced with a vast and confusing array of providers, and knowing which one is the best for you also requires a dictionary definition of price and ad channel acronyms. The level of control and visibility you have over your ads in the network also varies greatly between platforms, with some removing the middleman all together, giving you complete control.

Exclusive Bonus:  Download the PDF guide to Top App Install Networks

The growth in app marketing as a segment means that increasingly the mobile ad industry itself is being dominated by a new breed of networks focused on app marketing rather than branding or other forms of promotion. To some extent app marketing has ‘eaten’ mobile advertising as the brand budgets have been slower to move onto mobile than the performance dollars available to buy installs for apps or games.
As the mobile app industry matures, so must the app advertising industry. This is why many of the ad networks are branching out into innovative services and new technologies. What isn’t clear is the direction this industry will take as a whole – the question still remains on the best way to acquire users.
Each network in our list below provides its own twist on the model in terms of ad formats and ad units, optimization approaches, the inventory available and the support provided to mobile app developers. As a developer, knowing which ad network you should invest in requires a great deal of research – this list should be just the start.
The full list of cost-per-install networks:



NativeX formally known as W3i, is all about creating value for the app ecosystem. Their company has seen great success since its inception in 2000. They have always ensured they provide the best app gaming services, with their ad network mediation being no different. Ad Network mediation means that NativeX doesn’t have it’s own ad network, instead they send ad requests to hundreds of ad networks. NativeX uses multiple ad channels: their direct sales team sell your inventory to premium advertisers, ad networks, and agencies. Everyone competes in real-time for higher eCPMs and fill rates.
NativeX has somewhat of a love hate relationship with ad network mediation, although their data shows better monetization for their customers and higher eCPM they admit that it isn’t significantly beneficial compared to individual ad networks. There is still the issue of a lack of choice and flexibility with ad units. However, they intend to resolve this industry pain by developing innovative ads. They believe that once networks are able to provide diverse formats on a broader scale that are very persuasive, mediation will become more valuable.
Their service provides direct and exchange ad channels. Their price models include:

  • CPA – Cost Per Acquisition
  • CPI – Cost Per Install
  • CPE – Cost Per Engagement

How to make the most of your gaming app by Native X

Avazu Mobile


Avazu Mobile is a performance based ad network for ad buyers and sellers. They focus on delivering the best in class targeting capabilities to fetch the highest ROI. This means they track user behavior, relevant content, shopping intent and other transactional behavior to ensure you get the right users for your app. Avazu Mobile is part of Avazu Inc, a digital marketing company based in Shanghai.
This Asian Company has worked with plenty of big names in mobile including:

  • Orange
  • Vodafone
  • Bigpoint
  • Base
  • Evony

One of the most helpful features provided by their network is the real time tracking and reporting. In the world of mobile, trends change in no time at all, and keeping up with the pace is essential for a successful marketing plan. The real time tracking and reporting enables you to adjust your marketing efforts to get the most out of your app.
An Introduction to Avazu Inc


If there’s one thing Applift knows it’s games. The company is based in Berlin with offices in San Francisco,  Seoul and Paris. They’re a relatively new company, established in August 2012, but have already made huge waves in the gaming industry with partnerships with King, Wooga and EA. Alongside this they have massive global reach with 1000+ Media Partners, running campaigns in over 180 countries.
For Applift it’s not just about generating users, its about tracking, measuring and benchmarking the quality of players delivered with regards to retention and, perhaps most importantly, monetization. Enabling developers to adjust their spending on promotion, based on users they get and different traffic sources. Applift will allocate your marketing budget to the vast marketing channels and media partners they have access to, their extensive knowledge in gaming and the industry enables them to effectively manage your marketing campaign. With no set up fee or minimum budget, you don’t need deep pockets to get this agency on board.
The benefits of using Applift’s ad network are numerous and include:

  • Fast payments, high Cost per Installs (CPIs)
  • Transparent metrics
  • Flexible ad integration
  • Quality mobile games, so you know your advert wont be appearing on any old app

A slideshare by Daniel Heer on mobile gaming opportunities


We’re not the only ones marking Leadbolt as one of the world’s best mobile ad networks. In 2013 the Mobile Excellence Awards presented them with ‘Best Mobile Ad Network’. This award winning monetization company and ad network has offices in Los Angeles, California and Sydney, Australia.
They offer 3 forms of ad networking solutions:
  • RTB – Real Time Bidding CPC platform gives advertisers full control to target, bid, allocate spend and track results.
  • CPI – Cost Per Install fully managed solution provides app developers access to quality traffic to drive user acquisition. This is more for developers with more money than time.
  • CPE – Cost Per Engagement fully managed agency solution provides Brands unlimited access to highly engaged consumers.  Video, sweepstakes and full sponsorship integration is available.

Leadbolt claim to be the fastest paying ad network, they achieve these high speeds by providing net 15 payment terms. This means any invoice is payed within 15 days, they also provide net 7 payment terms in certain circumstances. Ad units are integrated in two ways, there’s a simple Javascript tag or their own SDK which gives you access to all their ad units.
Leadbolt also claim to produce the highest eCPM, this is an standard industry comparison metric to show you how well your advertisers are performing. However, this metric can be somewhat misleading. For example on ad network 1 you get 10,000,000 impressions and earn £10,000, giving you an eCPM of £1, on ad network 2, from 1,000 impression you earn £2.50, giving you an eCPM of £2.50.
A demonstration of App Walls by Leadbolt


Trademob Logo
Trademob is Europe’s leading expert in mobile app marketing. Coupling the world’s largest mobile inventory with pioneering mobile advertising technologies they plan, track and optimize your mobile media advertising across 230 mobile ad networks, RTB exchanges and media partners. From planning an app launch to scaling your user base, and maximizing revenue.
Trademob provides a single media buying point for mobile app ad campaigns, using various ad networks, exchanges and traffic providers to create targeted mobile ad campaigns according to advertisers’ goals. They have partnerships with Admob, Millennial Media and GDN. Through this they are able to provide all price models available:

  • CPM
  • CPC
  • CPI
  • CPA

Their real time data analysis provides transparent and accurate campaign tracking from a single dashboard, enabling you to adjust your campaign settings to create the greatest ROI. Their comprehensive reports include everything from campaign cost, ad network and publisher to in-app conversions and generated revenue.
Trademob – The global app marketing platform


Fiksu was established in 2008 and is based in Boston, USA. Their name means ‘smart’ in Finnish, which has a lot to do with their approach to app marketing.
Fiksu’s innovative DSP platform focuses on cost effective, highly targeted mobile Real Time Bidding (RTB) buying. This real time auction environment could see you receive the best possible price for your media spend. Second to this, Fiksu focuses on obtaining loyal and valuable users, they achieve this through:

  • Spanning multiple exchanges: Access leading mobile RTB exchanges including Google Ad-X, MoPub, Nexage, and Smaato – with a single point of entry and unified reporting.
  • Performance through targeting: evaluates millions of possible targeting combinations and provides extremely competitive CPIs for high quality traffic.
  • Precise delivery: Intelligently serves the right media to the right person at the right time and the right price.

Fiksu take a programmatic approach to media buying, which is anticipated to show explosive growth in coming years, both in mobile and on the desktop, due to many compelling advantages. Marketers anticipates RTB ad spending will see healthy gains over the next few years, thanks to continued interest in improving the quality of digital display ad inventory, as well as continued adoption among publishers and media buyers seeking greater advertising efficiency.
10 tips from Fiksu to acquire loyal users


Chartboost is an ideal choice for game developers as it is dedicated to advertising games, coupled with leading integration and analytics technology, it is certainly one to consider. It’s simple to use platform improves your eCPM while advertisers increase their bids to pump out high revenue.
The ads are mostly about downloading another new game, so it meets the interest of the audiences who are already playing games, and always looking for the next time-waster. Chartboost also offers a host of targeting options to refine your campaigns and maximize user acquisition.
They measure your app performance using the eCPM metric, otherwise known as the effective cost per thousand impressions served. Because Chartboost advertisers bid per click or install (instead of per impression), Chartboost eCPM is a combination of a campaign’s Install Rate (IR), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), and bid, sothe better your ad performs, the more high-quality traffic you receive.
Chartboost’s Advertiser Walk-through


YeahMobi is a mobile affiliate network and a subcompany of NDP Media Corp that was founded in 2009 – it has offices in the US, Japan, China, and Brazil with over 400 members of staff. YeahMobi works directly with its advertisers to help understand their needs – they have worked with advertisers such as DeNA, Cupid, Baidu, Boyaa, NQ and more. They also have a variety of mobile campaigns on offer and they use a CPI/CPA model at the core of their platform.
Performance can be optimised by analysing key indicators like conversion rate, ROI, e-CPC, etc. YeahMobi also features its own exclusive traffic sources, for example their own app KK Tuneup that has 8 million users globally – they also have exchange traffic and have partnered with UC web browser, Mobogenie and others, in addition to a dedicated Facebook marketing team. There is an account manager and market consultant service available to advertisers to ensure they make a profit.
Some key data points about the network are:

  • There are over 10 million downloads every month
  • It’s a global network that reaches 224 countries and counting
  • There are more than 100,000 distribution channels

YeahMobi Review


Appnext is a multi-platform monetization and discovery network focusing on  mobile and social games. It was founded and managed by a team of entrepreneurs with years of experience in the gaming and marketing world. Despite advertising themselves as a gaming ad network they offer services to all kinds of apps.
They offer a wide range of solutions to lower player acquisition costs. Each platform is optimised for Android, iOS and Facebook. Their smart targeting tool is available for each platform and targets by genre and by geographic area, making it easier for mobile advertisers to achieve top traffic results that include both local and international users. They also go for the more favored CPI model because of its low risk advantages.
Appnext mobile add units are less intrusive and seamlessly integrated into your game. The video below demonstrates this.
Appnext – mobile ad units


Appsfire is a premium ad network for iOS and Android. They are making a lot of noise in the mobile app industry, receiving a great deal of praise for their recent native ad units. Clients include big names such as, Disney, Redbull, CocaCola, Spotify and many more. The benefits of using this highly regarded ad network are numerous and include:

  • Business model: CPC/CPI
  • Transparent network
  • Hands-on approach – personal service. no cold platform or RTB buying
  • Both 24-hour and on-going campaigns
  • Targeting by geography and device
  • iOS & Android compatible
  • Guaranteed number of clicks
  • Zero fraud. Only high quality/hand managed publishers
  • Daily-capped budget
  • Integrated with leading tracking solutions (HasOffers, Kochava,Ad-x..)

Appsfire started life as a consumer app, a place for users to discover apps and a new space for developers to promote theirs. These days Appsfire is now focusing all their efforts on the mobile advertising industry. They recently released their first SDK, enabling developers to integrate their new innovative native ad units.
Appsfire SDK – The Growth Engine for Your App


StartApp is a monetization and distribution platform focusing on free applications for mobile phones. Startapp partners with app developers to help them make more money from their free apps by introducing search monetization to the mobile world.
Startapp offers android app developers a unique ad network that allows them to make money from their apps without embedding in-app ads. This network is currently only available for android. This solution allows android developers to add search access points with their own app and earn higher revenue per download. They pride themselves on offering the highest revenue for the developer than any other ad network.
They base payment on your app downloads, in other words you get paid for each download generated with their SDK inside. There are 2 integration levels available:

  • Full – they pay $50 per 1,000 unique U.S. installs and $10 per 1,000 unique installs from any other country.
  • Partial – they pay $40 per 1,000 unique U.S installs and $8 per 1000 unique installs from any other country.

Introduction to StartApp


Clickky is a full service global mobile ad network which has been operating since 2011. They work on CPA, CPD and CPI payment methods. On the surface they may seem like any other global ad network, but their customer reviews speak volumes. They are constantly praised for their prompt payments and outstanding customer service.
Clickky offers wide range of advertising tools for agencies, networks and direct advertisers, as well as effective and up-to-date monetization solutions for affiliates. A unique aspect of Clickky is that it does not request the developers to implement their SDK into their mobile to start showing ads. For developers, who prefer more traditional SDK integration, Clickky proposes a solution for iOS, Android and Unity as well.
A unique feature of Clickky is that the platform is built entirely on proprietary technology that fully captures and analyzes a multitude of different traffic sources to generate leads and installs at an optimal cost for the client. At the platform’s core is its own CPA network and media buying engine that decides whether purchasing advertising on traffic originating from major global mobile ad networks would optimally fit into the client’s goals. Today Clickky has a primary focus on working with mobile apps for iOS and Android from around the world.
An Introduction to Clickky


Jampp like to keep things simple by only using the CPI payment model. Their data driven user acquisition platform claims to get you the right users, from the right source at the right price. This data is built up using over 30 different variables, including time and location. It gets even easier when you take into account the fact that they work without an SDK and you just need a few lines of code to get started. You can use your own ad units or they will provide their own.
Jampp’s network operates in:

  • US
  • Latin America
  • South Africa

Thankfully this Argentinian based agency has global ambitions, so even if these aren’t your target markets, they’re one to keep an eye on. They have also been recognised by The Next Web as winner of the Mobile Startup Rally.
The 8 commandments of App Promotion by Diego Meller


MobPartner is a mobile affiliate network that was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Paris – it also has offices in San Francisco. The platform has a global reach with a presence in over 200 countries, its campaigns also connect with 200 million consumers every month and it features more than 200 advertisers with a host of publishers. MobPartner works with consumer and mobile brands such as DeNA, King.com, EA, Gree, Gameloft and more.
MobPartner features a CPA model for advertisers that allows multiple forms of actions, including CPI, CPL and CPS. They also have over 100,000 affiliates on the network, from app developers to media buyers. Publishers benefit from the CPA model with unlimited campaign budgets and the network claims to provide a 100% fill rate for all countries on every operating system – they do this through their adserver that features an intelligent optimisation system. Both advertisers and publishers are supported by dedicated account management and 24/7 real-time statistics to keep up to date on their progress.
How to subscribe and promote a campaign on MobPartner
Final thoughts
The mobile ad network industry is still very segmented, and somewhat in it’s infancy. Each advertising and digital marketing company seems to have contrasting opinions to the next on what an ad network should be, even on the fundamentals, such as whether it should be a free service for developers and publishers or not. What is clear is that some ad networks have greatly benefited their clients and brought them numerous high quality users, making it a vital service to consider for the success of your app. If there is an app or game marketing network you believe should be included in this list please use the comment section below or add yourself to our directory here.
You can find more mobile app marketing services in our directory and a range of mobile app marketing guides.

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