The 3 Keys to Driving Mobile App Installs Efficiently and at Scale on Twitter

The 3 Keys to Driving Mobile App Installs Efficiently and at Scale on Twitter

By Josh Van Lente • March 3, 2015

This post originally appeared on the blog.

Twitter, the younger sibling of Facebook, shares a few traits with the company that invented the mobile app install ad. Most prominent is that both platforms are social platforms with a large global user base, but many of the similarities – specifically user acquisition strategy – stop there. Advertisers who copy and paste their Facebook strategies to Twitter will find this out the hard way.

Efficiency and scale are the goals of any user acquisition manager. At Ampush, we have helped clients achieve this goal on Facebook repeatedly, but can it be done on Twitter?

Before we jump into the key tactics that make mobile app install campaigns a success on Twitter, here are some of the broader trends we see across the Twitter mobile app ecosystem.

  • Success is skewed toward fashion, music, and apps with identifiable niche audiences, such as a golf-related app or a celebrity-themed game.
  • Gaming apps that target hard-core and mid-core gamers don’t see the same traction on Twitter as they do on Facebook.
  • Due to the news-like fashion in which Twitter content is distributed and consumed, ad creative needs to be refreshed frequently and performs best if tied to a current event.
  • Campaigns are easiest to scale in the US, followed by the United Kingdom, France, and parts of East Asia.

These trends should guide your expectations, but in the end, the strength of your campaign strategy will determine the success of your mobile app promotion campaign on Twitter. Now, let’s jump into the keys to app install bliss on Twitter.

Get Volume & Quality With Expanded Audiences and Followers Targeting

The challenge with Twitter is applying enough targeting to hit the right people while maintaining scale considering the platform’s smaller user base. These are the targeting tools we see provide the best mix of volume and efficiency.

Expanded audiences from your followers. This feature lets you create an audience that is highly similar to followers of your Twitter handle,very much like creating a lookalike audience based on your Fans of your Facebook Page. We’ve seen campaigns using this product drive mobile app installs at a 40% lower CPI than the average targeting segment, while representing 15% of total spend. The only weakness of expanded audiences is that scale is limited by your follower base. The more followers you have, the larger and more accurate your expanded audiences will be.

Followers of a Twitter handle. This product is similar to ‘Likes and Interests’ targeting on Facebook, and can provide both scale and efficiency (when done correctly). To do this well, you need to know which handles attract people who are also likely to be interested in your brand. Twitter offers recommendations based on perceived follower overlap. At Ampush, we take this to the next level by also analyzing if an audience’s affinity for another handle is greater than the general Twitter population, which often uncovers under-the-radar interests.

One other targeting type worth testing is Expanded Tailored Audiences (Facebook calls these lookalike audiences) from lead information collected in your CRM or mobile app events. Creating expanded audiences from people that have taken downstream action in the app should set you up with a small, but high performing group. We’ve seen mixed results, but believe long term this will be a valuable tool for app promotion.

Optimize Each and Every Audience Segment

Twitter is unique in that you can drill down into the performance of each handle, hashtag, or other value that you used to target a campaign. This way, you can see the exact interests of your audiences and rule-out others that may not resonate as well as expected..

Here is a snapshot of what you will see in Twitter’s campaign segmentation reporting.



There are a million ways to use this information, but these are the two big-impact actions you should take:

  • Optimize toward individual handles. This ability to single out performance by each Twitter handle, and scale or pause accordingly, is unique to Twitter’s segmentation reporting and lets you eke out incremental campaign performance.
  • Leverage keyword insights for other channels. This is a keyword goldmine! Use this to better target ad campaigns on Facebook, Google, or any other channels that let you target campaigns by interest.

Refresh & Optimize Creative Constantly

This tip is not unique to Twitter but very relevant to running at scale on the platform.  Fresh, engaging creative is vital here for two reasons:

  1. Twitter has a smaller base of users than say Facebook or Google. Less people, means less inventory for ads, means the faster your ad with be seen and tired by your target audience.
  2. The real-time, news-driven nature of the platform. Ads need to be as timely and personal as possible to compete with breaking news, and celebrity and athlete gossip for attention.

This makes it imperative to utilize a creative team that can quickly and frequently produce creative in time with current events. The refresh rate of ads will be determined primarily by your spend level, but plan to introduce new iterations of creative weekly to bi-weekly. Keep top performing creative running until performance starts to trend downward while continuing to test new iterations in search of the next high performer.

Similar to Facebook, look for general themes within ad creative that drive performance, such as imagery of multiple products versus a single product or in-app shots versus creative art. Be on the lookout for synergistic targeting and creative combinations that can be replicated to drive additional scale.

So can you drive app installs efficiently and at scale on Twitter?

Absolutely. But the success rate depends heavily on your ability to execute well while leveraging Twitter’s best features. Mobile App Promotion on Twitter is still young, but with new features and tools released each month, it’s clear that Twitter is committed to building out this product. For the meantime, keep these strategies close to ensure your ads have the best chance of achieving efficiency at scale.

Josh Van Lente is a founding member of Ampush Labs R&D where he specializes in engineering unique solutions to make advertisers successful on Twitter and Facebook. Josh has a BS in Finance and Sustainability from San Diego State University and spends his time outside of work weight lifting and exploring with his beautiful wife.