So, you’ve done it.

After months of planning, research, development and testing, you’ve launched your first app.

Now what? Once you’ve shared it with friends, family, colleagues, business contacts and your newsletter, the trickiest part is encouraging the general public to find it and download it.

Though the average smartphone user has between 60 and 90 apps installed, the rate at which consumers download new apps has slowed. In fact, research shows that the average consumer installs ZERO new apps per month, happy with the software they already have.

One way you can increase downloads is to pay for advertising in the Google Play Store and Apple App Stores, ensuring your app appears when users search for apps in your industry.

But is it good value for money, or should you spend your marketing budget elsewhere? To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of app store advertising…


Instant exposure

The most obvious benefit of app store advertising is instant exposure.

Rather than spending months building brand awareness and driving people to your website, your app, description, and logo will appear when users search for apps in your industry.

An app that finds local taxi drivers, for example, might place advertisements on search terms like transport, Uber, and taxis, and immediately attract downloads with a suitable ad budget.


Increase downloads

It’s all well and good investing in a cutting-edge app, but if consumers don’t download it, it’ll be a waste of time. And when you consider app development can run into tens of thousands of pounds, with ongoing monthly maintenance costs, that could prove an expensive mistake.

When you advertise inside of app stores, you’re promoting your app to users who are actively looking for an app or piece of software. We go to Google for answers to questions and to research, but we only open the app store when we want to download something.

The chances are that if you advertise on relevant search terms and have a decent app name, logo, and description, at least some of those who see your ad are going to download it. Not all will stick around, so it’s essential that you focus on a great onboarding experience.


Find new customers

App downloads = more customers.

Whether you’re running an e-commerce business, offering your software for a monthly fee or offer your app as a counterpart to your real-life products and services, the chances are that you will pick up some new customers when you advertise in the app store. Be clear on what your app does, if there are in-app purchases, and work to optimise the user experience.


Appear ahead of competitors

All businesses want to be at the top of their game. If you’re struggling to rank ahead of your competitors organically on the app store search engine results pages, placing an advert will ensure your brand comes out on top. When you consider up to 92% of people only click on results on the first page of Google, you can expect that metrics are similar in the app stores.

According to SplitMetrics, the app at the top of a search result page attracts 19% of all traffic (that’s taps through to their app product page, which will lead to a swipe back or download).

What’s more, appearing at the top of a search engine result page shows increases brand recognition, trust, and downloads – people only use the most popular and trusted apps.


Boost brand awareness

Most people don’t buy (or download) the first time they see a product (or app).

The adage is that a consumer needs to be exposed to a brand seven times before marketing messages sink in, and it’s the same for apps. The more times users see your app icon and name, the more likely they are to see you as a reputable brand and download your app.

Don’t stick to one search term; advertise for different user intents. An accounting app might advertise for popular branded terms like QuickBooks and Sage, as well as for terms such as small business accounting, bookkeeping app, tax calculator, and freelance accounting tools.



One of the biggest criticisms of app store ads is that they can be very expensive, and that’s not good news if you’re on a tight budget and need to make every penny count, especially considering that 28% of all apps are uninstalled within 30 days of being downloaded. Some of the world’s biggest app store developers, like Facebook and King Games, spend millions on having their apps appear at the top of results pages via ads, so competing can be pricey.

The average cost per acquisition in the shopping category is $7.30, which is expensive if a user downloads the app but doesn’t purchase from your e-commerce store.

Of course, the average cost is highly dependent on your niche – sports apps average at $2 per acquisition, whilst weather apps come in at just $0.20 per download.


Pay per tap

With Google Ads and Facebook Ads, businesses have to pay per click rather than per sale.

It’s the same case for Google Play Store and Apple App Store Ads – you pay them every time someone taps on your ad, rather than every time they download your app. Over time, that can prove to be pretty costly, especially if you’re targeting broad, popular search terms.

Shopping and finance apps are the most expensive categories in terms of costs per tap, coming in at $3.48 and $2.81. Make sure you set yourself a strict budget and optimise your ads to appear on the right search terms; if you’re too broad, you’ll waste your ad spend.


Not sustainable

If you’re trying to promote a free app with no adverts, in-app purchases or products to buy, then paying for app store ads is not a sustainable business model. Ads are expensive and user intent is incredibly hard to predict – stick to organic app marketing methods instead.

For those who are selling products or services, make sure your margins account for app store ad spend. If you’re spending $5 per app download and one in ten app users buy a product from your store, then that’s $50 of ad spend per sale – a pretty costly exercise.


Tough to target

As we’ve just touched upon, it can be tough to predict app store users. Unlike Google and Facebook, where you can use external data to optimise, track, and A/B test your ads, Google and Apple have strict controls over their app store ecosystems, and you can’t plug in your own data to remarket to consumers who’ve tried your app or visited your site before.

The way consumers use their smartphones is also changing, with many preferring to engage with brands inside of trusted apps like Instagram and Messenger, rather than downloading third-party apps, making it tough to generate a significant return on your investment.


Irritate potential customers

Nobody likes their screen to be littered with advertisements. Apple caused controversy when it introduced App Store ads, as consumers were used to an impartial app store where every app was on a level playing field. Though ads can be useful and provide users with value, it is important that you don’t bombard potential customers with your app if they’re not ready for it.

If you’re spending thousands of pounds to appear on every relevant search term, users will feel like your ad is following them across the app store, and though some will be interested in your app and download it, others will be turned off and see your brand in a negative light.


Looking for assistance getting your app to the top of the App Store and Google Play Store? Let Zudu help. Find out more about our app store optimisation services – designed to boost your rank on search pages organically – and arrange a free consultation with the team today.

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