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Testing Mobile App Acquisition Strategies: What Bidding Model to Choose? [Case Study]

app acquisition strategies

This post is also available in: PT

There are a lot of factors that will determine whether or not your mobile app acquisition strategy will be a failure or a success. 

Yes, it all comes down to how many downloads you have at the end of the day, but it can be a long way to the point where you find the numbers satisfying.

One of the decisions you will need to make is what bidding model to choose for app acquisition, and testing different options for top offers is the crucial part if you ask us.

Here is the case study with one of the clients we have worked with for years. It proves exactly what we are talking about to be right, and gives a lot of insights into how the process of testing goes on here at PropellerAds.

A Mobile App Acquisition Campaign: eCommerce & Multiple Ad Formats

First, here is everything you need to know about user acquisition for mobile application – what is it, how to make it work, what are the necessary settings, targeting, what your creatives should look like, etc:

And now the story – this is how it goes.

Geo: Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, India
Offer type / Vertical: eCommerce, Social Networks
Bidding model: CPC, CPA Goal, SmartCPC
OS: Android
User activity: All
Ad formats: Classic Push ads, In-Page Push ads, Onclick Popunder ads
Case study time frame: November 2022 – January 2023

The advertiser behind the case runs campaigns regularly on different types of mobile applications – some of them are eCommerce, some are in a short video domain, and some are multipurpose apps intended for ordering food, and booking hotels and flights.

And he usually runs it with geos like BR, IN, ID, SA, MX, PK, and PH.

In most cases, the strategy was based on him buying push traffic on CPC and CPA Goal as those were performing the best (October 2022).

But then, in November last year, we presented a new bidding model called SmartCPC, and it was a game changer.

Now, these are the results our client faced before we started using SmartCPC. Take a close look at these, and later on see for yourself how the numbers grew.

Bidding modelImpressionsClicksConversions
CPC2 662 397 7802 506 19014 229
CPA Goal + SmartCPA169 551 2701 436 59916 519
By bidding model
Push2 830 184 5023 937 20125 851
Onclick1 694 31804 867
Interstitial70 2305 58830
By ad formats

Why Opt for SmartCPC for Mobile App Acquisition?

Let me just explain in a couple of sentences what this bidding model does and why it is so special.

First and foremost, it is auto-optimized, unlike classic CPC which demands manual work. It allows you to apply automated zone management – you won’t need to monitor zone performance, and you won’t have to bother about what bit would better suit a particular zone.

Read more about it here:

This is what will save a lot of your time, but also money – with SmartCPC you will be able to purchase 20%-30% cheaper traffic.

The smart algorithm is helping with simplifying the bid selection process. It allows you to select the top bid you are willing to pay for a click, and avoid overspending on the zones where traffic price is below your top CPC bid.

November 2022: Changing the Situation in 9 Days

When we released the new SmartCPC bidding model for Classic Push and In-Page Push our Account Strategist suggested this advertiser to test it out. We believed this model had to suit perfectly the offers he was running.

The very first move was to test the top offers that perform great with CPC and CPA Goal. We chose a well-known short video app for Brazil and one quite similar for Colombia.

For the first app, the expected CPA (cost per action) was $1.2. During the first week of launches, we got around 95 conversions daily with an average price of $1.24. But every day the price went down a bit, which means SmartCPC was obviously doing its job.

22/11/202213 543 34228 4971260.2100.005$1.18
21/11/202218 018 62031 3981430.1740.005$1.14
20/11/202213 474  21722 9671110.170.005$1.09
19/11/202211 394 24621 495880.1890.005$1.32
18/11/202210 514 23320 181720.1920.006$1.54
17/11/202212 343 13520 091830.1630.005$1.32
16/11/20227 205 52211 274490.1560.006$1.29

Yet everything else went up – in just one week the number of impressions increased by 10.000 and more, the number of clicks tripled, and we went from 50 to almost 150 conversions. Logically, the revenue had significant growth as well.

With app #2 expected price was $0.6 and we reached that goal as well, getting around 20 conversions daily with the average CPA being $0.59.

11 098 38922 5601600.2030.004$0.59

To conclude: The first launches based on the SmartCPC model showed us great results and we decided to go further with it.

Our next move was to launch a similar app campaign in Indonesia. The app #3. And it was such a touchdown!

The expected CPA was again $0.6, and once again we made it real. We were getting around 500 conversions daily.

30/11/202219 886 03469 7364760.3510.004$0.56
29/11/202223 320 37488 5875410.380.004$0.63
28/11/202234 065 163139 4147400.4090.004$0.69
27/11/202212 997 40358 1784210.4480.003$0.47
26/11/202219 919 36282 4165910.4140.004$0.50
25/11/202231 040 49788 6225690.2860.004$0.58
24/11/202227 919 88484 3595320.3020.004$0.60
23/11/202216 836 42774 2344100.4410.004$0.77
22/11/20227 550 78621 3011490.2820.004$0.57

In only 9 days time period the situation changed drastically, and our partner was well aware of it since his revenue and profits went up three times. 

December 2022: Around 550 App Conversions a Day

At the beginning of December, we added app #4 to our SmartCPC. It was an eCommerce app for ordering food, booking hotels and flights, etc., and we launched the mobile app acquisition campaign in India with the expected CPA being $0.17.

This time we were just waiting for good results. And we got to around 550 conversions a day on Push traffic.

Everything was working as smooth as butter.

427 500 2001 067 85417 0780.0070.250.003$0.17

January 2023: Reaching 159k Conversions

Building on this success, in January 2023 we adopted additional strategies to further enhance campaign performance. 

These included introducing new creatives and testing different prelanders, both created by the advertiser and sourced from top performers in the market. We also implemented manual blacklists to improve overall campaign efficiency and keep CPA at a certain level.

Here is the table showcasing what was achieved from the beginning of January till the end of April 2023:

Bidding modelImpressionsClicksConversions
SmartCPC3 082 160 50212 074 928159 865

Spoiler: The results were so good that our client invested extra $37κ in his campaign.


The market conditions change in a blink of an eye, and what was working yesterday doesn’t mean will bring results in days to come. So we suggest two things:

#1 Testing, testing, testing!

#2 Trying out our new fresh features we are working so hard to deliver so your business can bloom.

In this case, implementation of our new SmartCPC model proved to be highly successful in optimizing the performance of the mobile app acquisition campaigns. By leveraging this model, we were able to generate significant revenue gains in a relatively short period.

But moving forward, we will continue to explore new avenues for improvement and deliver even greater value to our advertising partner.



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