How Top Mobile Brand Apps Use a Strong UA Strategy

When we talk about user acquisition for mobile apps, we mean traditional ones, too. These brands have a long history, high visibility, and were part of the market long before mobile became part of the conversation. Since these companies have recall and familiarity on their side, many haven’t put much effort into the app game. 

New data indicates they are ready to drive UA (user acquisition) and take the lead. In Q2 2022, this segment of apps increased users by 13% year-over-year. This increase means they are putting ad dollars into the channel, and it’s paying off with more users. 

Traditional brands weren’t ignoring the shift to mobile, but they weren’t exactly investing a lot in their mobile apps. Lots of things changed their strategy, including the pandemic, greater share of device time spent on mobile, increases in m-commerce, and shifts in consumer behavior. 

They’ve now begun to focus on it, and it’s resonating. So, what can your app learn from these mobile brand apps?

McDonald’s: The Golden Arches Make Their App Valuable

In the first seven months of 2022, McDonald’s earned the top spot of brand apps from Walmart. That’s a substantial accomplishment. They are also way ahead of their next category competitor, Starbucks. So, how did they do it?

Almost anyone in the world knows McDonald’s, but why were their UA campaigns so appealing? It wasn’t just the juicy burgers and salty fries. McDonald’s focused its ad budget on content about the app—its convenience and incentives. 

If consumers are going to eat at the restaurant, they might as well get rewarded for doing so. They are a bit unique in their positioning, as other dining apps concentrated more on promoting food deals, so the long-term value wasn’t evident. 

Key Takeaways

  • Never forget the purpose of your app and its value to users. That core messaging should be present in every ad across all channels. 
  • Consumers love rewards and convenience, and that’s incentive enough for them to download your app. Keep them on it by continuing to offer them exclusivity in the app. You can also boost engagement with CPE (cost per engagement) campaigns that do the rewarding. For example, getting someone to create an account and link a payment turns into free items or extra points. 
  • One-time promotions only present a short bump in UA. You have to offer more to get them to use the app regularly.

Mobile App User Acquisition | AdAction Interactive

Target Diversifies Channels to Capture Younger Shoppers

Most people would consider Target the cooler cousin of Walmart. While Walmart is still the leading mobile brand app in retail, Target is closing in on app downloads. One key reason is their diversification of channels. They shifted app advertising dollars into Snapchat, Tik Tok, and OTT (over the top) streaming services to capture younger generations where they are. 

As a result of these spending adjustments, they’ve increased downloads. Again, Target is a well-known brand, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need more visibility with Gen Z customers

Key Takeaways

  • If you have a diverse audience in terms of demographics, you should experiment with new channels. 


Breaking into younger social media platforms could involve partnering with social influencers. It’s not about star power with this type of campaign but instead finding someone who’s an expert in your category and has earned their followers’ respect.

American Airlines Cracks the Top 10 in 2022 for Brand Apps

Airline apps obviously had a loss in market share during 2020. However, 2022 has been a rebound year, with American Airlines in the top position. Airlines represented 11% of installs from January to July 2022. Other airline apps also saw positive growth in 2022, including United, Delta, Southwest, and Spirit. 

Part of the resurgence is due to more travelers in the skies. Additionally, most airlines now use their apps to stream free content. However, American and others aren’t just seeing increased installs but also more MAUs (monthly average users). Those numbers indicate travelers aren’t deleting after their trips, which means they consider it to have value. Its features allow users to streamline travel, book trips, look up reward miles, view promotions, and more. 

Key Takeaways

  • If your app category is rebounding, it’s time to increase UA spending but do so with specific goals in mind that help you obtain and keep users.
  • Selling the value of your app is critical. In your CPI (cost per install) campaigns, you have to position it fast. Then don’t stop with messaging about unlocking value. You can use CPE campaigns to reward new value when users take a step that’s valuable to you.

Take Advantage of these Mobile Brand App Trends with AdAction

We can all learn from other apps, and these brands are doing some interesting things that are paying off for UA. You can leverage these takeaways to develop your next campaign, and you should do it with AdAction. With access to many channels and unique audiences, your app can grow. Get in touch with us to get started

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