Top User Acquisition Methods for 2023 -

Top User Acquisition Methods for 2023


This blog is a collaborative effort by 2 heavy hitters in the mobile marketing industry: AppSamurai & Edge226. Both MarTech companies have strived to break the boundaries of innovation in the same industry for years and sought out a partnership together to create a synergy of chart-topping clients and state-of-the-art mobile traffic and to see immense success as a result. Both companies have now come together to produce a post to prepare app advertisers for 2023.

User acquisition is the act of bringing new users into one’s app through non-organic means; in the mobile marketing industry, this would specifically refer to the act of building an app’s user base by advertising to and acquiring new users. In this blog post, you will find the top emerging methods of user acquisition to consider using in your marketing strategy in 2023, in accordance with the specialists at Edge226 and AppSamurai.

DSP: Programmatic Media Buying

The mobile performance industry is constantly growing and rapidly changing. With companies looking to gain valuable users outside Social or Google, and with the ever-growing need for transparency, many app developers and brands turn to programmatic to push their app growth forward.

With DSPs focusing on machine learning media buying, marketers can now choose from several programmatic options: self-service DSPs, Managed DSPs or Hybrid DSPs (offering self serv and fully managed options). Let’s break down the difference between them: 

Self Service DSP

A self-service DSP is a platform that allows mobile marketers to manage and control their ad campaigns by themselves. However, there are several disadvantages to running a self-service campaign: it suffers from a limited array of targeting options; and provides very narrow and limited actionable insights and data that are crucial to run a successful programmatic ad campaign.

Managed DSP

A managed DSP on the other hand is a platform that uses its own proprietary bidder and offers marketers a full spectrum of services from campaign setup to management and optimization towards defined client KPIs. A fully managed campaign has several strong and advantageous attributes: it requires low involvement from the marketer’s standpoint – as the DSP sets and fully manages the campaign (while marketers get dashboard access to monitor the campaign results). The second advantage, fully managed campaigns are finely tailored to the client’s acquisition requirements. A fully managed programmatic campaign draws key insights based on behavioral data and prediction methodologies set by KPIs (such as users most likely to deposit, commit IAP purchases, etc.).

In the case of a DSP that supports both self-service and fully managed, it is better to first start with the fully managed option and allow a specialist to set up a campaign. Once the layout and capabilities of the DSP are clearly understood, it may then be prudent to opt for the self-service option and customize campaigns by oneself.


Programmatic DSPs utilize machine-learning capabilities to target the most relevant audience with high precision by segmenting users into specific groups. When choosing a DSP, it is important for a marketer to ensure it can target and optimize based on the following key data points:

  • Demographic: gaining insights into your users’ demographics such as location data, gender, and segmentation, etc.
  • Device Attributes: such as OS type and version, mobile carriers, device type, etc.
  • Contextual Targeting: while not new, contextual targeting was dormant for some time now, mainly due to the dependency on user-level identifiers like IDFA. Now, due to the changes in privacy spearheaded by iOS14, this targeting method rose to prominence once again. In this method, characteristics of the host media are used to determine ad relevance. For instance, players that play RPG-type games may receive other RPG gaming ads.
  • App Category Segmentation: when running a programmatic ad campaign, fully managed DSPs can also categorize the in-app performance of a campaign into selected app categories, allowing marketers to see where their users are coming from. For example, a fintech growth marketer can see if his users are coming from finance news apps, entertainment or forecast apps, etc.


Regardless of the user acquisition strategy chosen, it is essential to test a wide array of creative formats. Not all audiences engage with all ad types equally. For example, RPG players may prefer an in-game video ad, while casual players would prefer the effectiveness of a playable ad. It is important for a marketer to ensure their partner/agency is well diverse in multiple ad formats and provides 100% transparency to track and A/B test the performance of each creative (by type, size, and format).


Influencer Performance Marketing (IPM)

Arguably one of the newest forms of performance-based user acquisition, influencer performance marketing (IPM) is not to be confused with influencer marketing. Whilst Influencer Marketing is aimed at building brand awareness for a product or service, IPM campaigns are specifically designed to target app installs. Hence, this campaign method runs on a cost-per-install cost model, not per impressions or clicks.

IPM campaigns mesh the boosting nature of rewarded engagements with the high quality users of performance-based user acquisition, making it the perfect must-have app advertisers’ strategies.

Via a centralized dashboard, advertisers are able to provide a tracking link and optional ad creatives that influencers then use in their content or on their profile whether in the form of a QR code or directly clickable link. Viewers are then redirected to the app store page to install the advertised app.

It is worth noting that in this type of campaign 30% of the total viewers of an average IPM campaign install the advertised app without even clicking on the tracking link; which means 30% of an IPM campaign is attributed to organic installs, creating a considerable amount of organic uplift and beneficial SEO implications for the app in the process. That makes Influencer Performance Marketing one of the most ROAS-positive (Return on Ad Spend) methods of user acquisition and a must-have for every serious marketer in 2023.


Rewarded Engagements

Fast growing as a popular method of user acquisition, rewarded engagements are advertisers’ go-to method for hyper-growth. This form of advertising requires only the app’s main icon as the sole creative to be used.

This method of user acquisition incentivizes users to download an app in return for the in-app currency of the application where the advertisement was initially shown. The most prevalent form of rewarded engagement is an offerwall – an ad extension within an app that allows users to perform actions to earn bonus points that may be redeemed for monetary rewards. Incentivized users tend to install new apps for bonuses which mean rewarded engagements can earn an advertised app a huge amount of downloads in a very short span of time.

When granted this boost of installs in a targeted time period, an app also manages to increase its app rank which leads to greater visibility (similar to ASO effects) and an organic uplift.

This user acquisition type gets its name from the fact that users can be incentivized to engage with advertised apps beyond simply installing them. An advertiser can request that users not only install their app, but sign-up and interact as well; for instance, play a game up to reaching a certain level, or install the delivery app, enter their information and order food. The strategy here is to initiate a tutorial of the app’s utility to the end-user and earn their loyalty through prolonged exposure.

This campaign type is particularly well suited for gaming, fitness, delivery, finance and loyalty apps looking to boost their growth.


OEM Inventory

While OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) refer to companies that manufacture their own smartphone devices, such as Samsung for instance, OEM Inventory refers to a particular type of mobile marketing campaign whereby an advertised app is recommended to end-users on their smartphone device. End-users do not need to visit a website or an application in order to view the advertised app, which is what makes this such a powerful tool in the arsenal of a mobile marketer. OEM inventory allows advertisers to pole-vault over their competitors and reach their end users when they first activate their new smartphone devices.

OEM inventory can be divided into 2 common types, preinstall campaigns and recommendation engines.

Preinstall Campaigns

In a preinstall campaign, an advertiser’s mobile app is pre-loaded onto an Android smartphone device before it is sold to an end-user. Often, manufacturers such as Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei allow for 3rd party apps to be featured as pre-loaded apps to be used by their end-users, after passing their screening processes. Once a user initializes their smartphone, they see the pre-loaded app on their home screen and after opening this app for the first time, the campaign officially recognizes a conversion. This campaign does not convert based on impressions or clicks.

In addition to beating the competition to the end-user, through the use of a pre-install campaign one is also able to build one’s brand equity as more users become aware of the advertised app. The fact that one’s app is preinstalled on reputable manufacturers is also beneficial as that would entail sharing in their brand’s success and reputation as well.

Recommendation Engine

Many manufacturers have begun to rely on a new method to help further monetize some of their smartphone devices, especially their non-flagship mid-tier models. They do this by creating an advertising space within the operating system of their devices such that they include a widget on the homepage of the device that “recommends” new apps to users based on their geo-location, age and app preferences to name a few demographics.

Recommendation engines are flawless in terms of delivering a seamless advertising experience to users but, unlike a preinstall campaign, this method does not preload apps. Users who click on the recommended app will be taken to its Play Store page to download it.

It is recommended to mesh this user acquisition model with additional methods including social media awareness and influencer marketing so as to keep the app at the forefront of the end users’ minds and build brand equity.


In the cut-throat world of user acquisition, choosing the right partner can be quite challenging. There are many factors to take into consideration, such as transparency, quality, reach, and campaign-style offerings of the platform.

Platforms that provide you with campaign performance visibility allow you to make streamlined optimization decisions and will offer clarity as to your audiences and where they come from. Opting for a user acquisition platform that can offer you a high volume of highly sought users is a no-brainer, though it is important to note that achieving these users may take multiple channel strategies. Being one of these strategies, DSPs are rapidly becoming more popular and in demand with their machine-learning capabilities and different programmatic options that boost app growth.

Edge226 is a performance marketing platform that delivers high-quality user growth, positioning apps for immediate results, and brands for long-term value. Edge226 proprietary technology determines the ideal customer for each app, targets relevant audiences, and delivers campaigns programmatically to those that are more likely to install, continuously engage, and spend on the brand’s offering.

AppSamurai is a mobile marketing one-stop shop that aggregates the top mobile ad publishers around the globe into one state-of-the-art user acquisition platform. AppSamurai’s multi-award-winning dashboard meshes quality with quantity and allows users to access millions of highly rated placements through a myriad of different campaign styles ranging from performance marketing to pre-install & recommendation engine traffic.

AppSamurai and Edge226 remain two of the most valued mobile marketing platforms that can offer app marketers the opportunity to boost their growth and achieve their user acquisition goals. For more information, head over to the AppSamurai and Edge226 websites to learn more about what mobile marketing solutions they have to offer.


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