This article was initially published in October 2020, but it’s been updated in August 2023 due to accuracy reasons.
It’s no secret that the CPA offer you choose will directly affect the performance of your campaign. If you want to have an easier path to success, you need to carefully plan out your offer selection process, starting with the industry you’re working with. We suggest you take Utilities, currently one of the hottest verticals in the world of affiliate marketing.
But while they may be delivering stellar results for some affiliates, you need to take the time and understand how these offers work, and how to promote CPA Utilities offers to make the best decisions going forward.
We’ve reached out to Natalya Gudimova, Senior Account Strategist at PropellerAds, to get up-to-date information and help you make the most out of your Utilities campaigns.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
What are utilities?
In the affiliate context, “utilities are mobile applications that help users protect, block ads, change IP, and organize files on their devices”, explains Gudimova.
“This vertical has consistently ranked among the most popular within our network”.
Since the beginning of 2020, consumers have put major emphasis on protecting their smartphones and other devices – but this trend has grown significantly since then.
Also, the time users spend on their mobiles has increased over the years. According to Statista, from 225 minutes people spent on their phones daily in 2019, we are not at 276 minutes in 2023. That’s almost an hour longer.
Utilities and antiviruses have become extremely popular over the last few years, and for a good reason. Digital fraud, along with the absence of adequate security while you are surfing the web, and other forms of cybercrime generate billions of dollars in losses for consumers and private organizations.
From individuals who want to protect their financial assets and personal information to companies that want to safeguard their employees and internal secrets, utilities have become a necessity in today’s digitalized world. And, affiliates can help create a more secure ecosystem while generating significant revenue in return.
Types of Utilities CPA offers
There are different types of mobile Utilities offers and these vary depending on what the software in place actually does. In general terms, most offers fall under the category of:
- Classic antiviruses
- Ad blockers
- File managers
- VPN (for privacy)
According to Gudimova, the main offer types for the two most popular operating systems are:
- For iOS: VPNs, Adblockers, File and photo organizers
- For Android: Cleaners, and VPNs
Tips for running Utilities offers
Developing, launching, and monitoring a Utilities campaign is not an easy thing for beginners, especially if it’s your first campaign in this vertical. To increase your chances of success, you need to focus on the ad formats, targeting, and creatives you use.
Ad formats for Utilities traffic
When choosing the ad format for your campaign, you should be aware of the operating system you are about to select – are you going to target iOS or Android users?
Because not the same ad formats are the most effective within these two groups.
“One of the best ad formats for Utilities campaigns are Popunder ads, if you bear in mind iOS users.”
“But even though the biggest amount of campaigns with this targeting are running on Popunder, which has the largest reach, don’t forget to scale your campaigns with IPP and Interstitials as they bring excellent performance as well”.
Survey Exit is PropellerAds’ newest and exclusive ad format that comes with a very high conversion rate. It has the ability to deliver an audience that was previously engaged in different types of surveys, and is probably already interested in your offer.
Creatives for Utilities CPA campaigns
Here are a few tips when preparing creatives for your Utilities campaign:
- Add 2-4 creatives to your campaign
- Use a pre-lander to warm up users before sending them to the landing page.
In fact, “pre-landers should be always used, for both Android and iOS apps”, as Gudimova suggests.
- It would be good to make sure your creatives are not too generic, but to portray your niche and to reflect what the tool behind your offer is all about.
- In the case of Push notifications, make sure your icons are simple and neat, not too complicated. You don’t want your audience to wonder what the message is about.
- Some affiliates use aggressive tactics like showing a red screen, fake warnings, notifications that mimic system messages, and so on, in an attempt to achieve higher CR, but such practices are strictly prohibited at PropellerAds. Make sure to check if any questionable approaches are compliant with our network policy
- Try keeping your copy in balance with the visual part. We don’t suggest it being too alarming but rather suggestive.
Utilities offers targeting
When it comes to Utilities offers, targeting is paramount. Offers targeting Android can run almost worldwide, but it’s not the case with iOS, bear that in mind. Also, Android’s optimization can be performed at later stages, while with iOS, you have to start optimizing as soon as you launch a campaign. Because the traffic for Utilities offers targeting iOS is more expensive.
On top of that, it’s rare to find an iOS offer targeting more than 28-30 countries. Make sure to ask your account manager which GEOs are on the top right now.
The general rule of thumb is: don’t mix Tier-1 with Tier-3 in one campaign (for example, USA and Philippines) as the user behavior and traffic cost are different.
If your offer has multiple GEOs, you can take 3 to compare (for example, from Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3). Payouts in Tier-3 might be lower, but you can easily compensate it with the bigger numbers of leads and cheaper cost of the traffic.
At this point, the best GEOs for iOS Utilities are the US and other Tier-1 countries, while for Android, the top choice would be the USA, GB, IN, DE, MX, and most of the Tier-3 countries.
And if you see Push notifications, including In-Page Push as the best option for your campaign, know that within these ad formats, you can apply Demographic and Interests Targeting – a feature we at PropellerAds developed to make sure you are engaging only relevant people and therefore bringing your performance to an incredible heights.
This option makes it possible to target the audience by their interests (we refer to vertical in place), by gender, and by age group. But bear in mind that it’s better to target different audiences in separate campaigns.
Launching and optimizing Utilities campaign
Here are more tips suggested by our Account Strategist you should rely on:
- The preferable pricing models for iOS apps are CPA Goal and SmartCPM; for Android apps – CPA Goal and SmartCPC (we assume you are launching your campaign on PropellerAds platform ?)
- For iOS, the top optimization method is by zones (creating whitelists and blacklists) based on install-to-trial and trial-to-paid subscription ratios; for Android it’s the same, but with the optimization method being based on user activity inside the app
- Optimization by user activity should actually be done for both OS campaigns – creating different campaigns for different user activity and bidding the highest for high UA and lowest for low UA (this targeting is available for Push notifications on CPAGoal, CPC, and CPM, and for Popunder on CPM); or you can save yourself time and launch on SmartCPC – this model also considers UA when choosing bids
- Launch separately Classic Web Push and In-Page-Push
- Optimize by browsers and OS versions, since performance on them might differ
And when talking about optimizing your campaign, be aware that PropellerAds has a brand new feature called Subzones, that allows you to split one zone into segments, so you can invest only in those that are proven to be profitable. This way you won’t have to exclude the entire zone, and you will be able to optimize your campaign more precisely – by investing in traffic segments that convert best.
But let’s not stop there. We have another fresh auto-optimization feature that goes under the Duplicate My Campaign’s name, and it was designed to scale conversions and boost your campaign profits by getting the most-performing traffic for your offer.
By duplicating your original campaign. PropellerAds will analyze your traffic, and if we establish that it works well for your campaign, and if similar targeting can be found, the duplication can be made in order to improve your campaign’s performance.
iOS vs. Android Utilities offers
For starters, Android and iOS offers are based on different conversion types including, but not limited to:
- CPI (cost per install and open)
- Free trials
- CPE (cost per event, for example, the first virus scan)
- CPS (cost per sale)
While the very best conversion type for Android apps is CPI, for iOS applications it’s CPI and Free trial with automatic payment for a monthly/yearly subscription, or paid subscription for 1 week and 1 year with automatic payment for a monthly/yearly subscription, as Gudimova explains.
“iOS apps have either an Install or Free trial (free with auto-renewal or subscriptions without a free period) as a conversion, where Installs are the best option for high CR, stable traffic, and faster data gathering for optimization.”
Android user behavior
When creating ads for Android users, keep in mind these things:
- With Android offers payouts are usually lower compared to iOS ones, but this is compensated with higher CRs
- Android allows WebView – full-page ads
iOS user behavior
With iOS users you need to remember to:
- Plan for bigger payouts as iOS users are more likely to pay for apps compared to Android users who prefer free apps
- Avoid talking about credit card details or anything financial as this data is already stored in the Apple Store
Adhering to our network policies
Utilities offers often lead to alarming language, but all creatives in campaigns on our network need to adhere to our advertising policies.
There is a relatively fine line between statements that urge users to take action and scare tactics, so you need to understand what you’re allowed to do to get the right results.
You’re allowed to use wording like “malware may damage…” or “you may have virus…”, plus you can also use suggestive language by implementing words like possibly and potentially.
You’re not allowed to use brand logos on any ad formats, unless you entitled to do so. You also need to avoid any misleading statements about junk files, device problems, and viruses.
To learn more about the limitations you need to adhere, check out our Push notification policies.
Here you fill find out, for instance, that it is prohibited to promote VPN offers in the UAE.
Best VPN offers to try out provided by Zeydoo
|Green VPN Security
|US, NZ, AU, CA, JP, GB
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Note: When deciding on an offer make sure to request an up-to-date list of offers, as well as the top GEOs on them from the network manager. It happens that after some time they are on a pause or in a stop.
Case study: Push campaign with Antivirus offer
Now let us show you how running a Utilities campaign looks like close up, and what results it can lead to.
Here’s some basic campaign info:
|22/05/2023 – 22/06/2023
Even though the advertiser launched a campaign across multiple GEOs, we will focus only on the US in this case. But bear in mind that results were quite similar in other countries as well.
The ad format of his choice was Push, but the advertiser also tested other formats along the way.
He started his campaign with the CPC pricing model, and after two weeks, in total, he got 2113 conversions, with an average conversion price being $1.75.
It was a good start, but we saw a huge potential there and wanted to spread our wings a bit more. Which led us to:
In order to scale his campaign, after these first two weeks, our partner decided to add SmartCPC to the equation. The move was definitely right since it brought him an additional 4590 conversions, with a slightly lower average conversion price of $1.54.
At this point, the advertiser collected data and started optimizing his campaign. What he did next was:
- He started scheduling his push messages, which increased his CTR and CR
- He defined which are the underperforming zones and added them to Blacklist
- He started launching campaigns relying on interest-based targeting; he selected Utilities and Shopping as his interest groups, and surprisingly Shopping performed as well as Utilities
Advice: Don’t be afraid to test different interest-based audiences for Utilities offers.
All these changes happened in the same period of time. The campaign was initially launched on 22/05, the optimization process started on 07/06, and we compared results from the 7th till the 22nd of June.
The steps he took to optimize the campaign increased his conversion number by 3300.
In the end, let’s take a look at the creatives used in this campaign, so you can get a sense of what works well for the Utilities affiliate program.
The advertiser tested different creatives and picked the ones with the highest CR. As you can see it’s a very simple looking visual, with nothing but a nice background and a clear image of a utilities symbol.
Also, he wanted to include a pre-lander in his campaign, and after testing some options he went with the one looking like this:
If you consider this topic to be interesting and useful, join our Telegram chat and find out more about Utilities and how other affiliates are approaching this type of offer.