What is an install?

Glossary Install

The definition of an install

An install takes place when a user has downloaded an app and successfully opens it for the first time. Installs are a core part of the acquisition cycle. Cost Per Install (CPI) advertising is the most popular driver of mobile user acquisition, making tracking and quantifying install numbers essential.

Why are installs important?

Installs are important to mobile marketing for a number of reasons. First, installs help advertisers identify sources that successfully deliver traffic to their app. Tracking installs into an app helps advertisers identify the time when campaigns produce results, as well as improving payment management for both publishers and advertisers.

Installs can also be used to identify the overall health of an application. In particular, the volume of organic installs that an app generates is a useful pointer to overall appeal.

Finally, keeping count of install numbers accurately can help marketers avoid mobile advertising fraud. Tactics such as fake installs rely on marketers failing to spot installs generated by fake device IDs, which means an accurate install count is necessary to avoid falling foul to mobile ad fraud.

What is an organic install?

Organic installs are any install of an app that’s not attributed to a specific install source. This means that any install which can’t be tracked from performance marketing or advertising sources is considered to be organic.

In real terms, organic installs are called as such when a user installs an app without directly responding to a mobile advertising campaign. While a user who sees an advert and interacts with it, later installing an app, would be considered a non-organic install, anyone who is not directly driven into an app by advertising is defined as organic.

Why are organic installs important?

Organic installs matter because they often result in the most high-value users.

It’s these users who have discovered the app and decided to download without prompting. As such, organics tend to be more committed to a product or service. It’s proven that they retain more effectively, and, at least on Android, organic users have more sessions in-app than their paid counterparts.

There’s also an important business reason for driving organic installs: cost. Though no organic install is likely to be truly free, organic installs can save on CPI costs considerably, as they aren’t paid for at the point of install.

How does an app get organic installs?

There are some ways to generate valuable organic installs for an app, but here are a few that we recommend thinking about:

App Store Optimization (ASO). ASO can help generate organic installs by increasing an app’s visibility in the store while also improving conversions by making sure the app’s listing is up to scratch. There are tons of guides on how to do this, but the best method is through tagging as accurately as possible.

Encouraging word-of-mouth. What this entails can vary from app-to-app, but in app-sharing options, and articles about featuring your in various media outlets can help to get people interested, and drive downloads.

Localizing an app so it can launch in another territory can also help boost installs. If an advertiser does their homework and hits the right market, it’s possible to tap into significant user-demand to help generate installs.

Adjust tracks organic installs right in our dashboard, free of charge. For any and all installs, Adjust also allows you to perform cohort analysis, segmentation by country and platform, as well as events performed in-app among some functions to help you better understand your users, organic or not.

What are fake installs?

A fake install is a mobile ad fraud tactic. It’s accomplished by fraudsters who use device emulation software in virtualized environments (on server hardware) to fake installs. The aim is to claim advertising revenue. Fake installs defraud everyone along the advertising chain - taking money away from advertisers, publishers and networks.

Why are fake installs important?

Beyond lost spend, fake installs introduce fake or misleading data into the marketing funnel. This can cause significant problems for advertisers. For example, fake installs will register as users who have gone inactive after they’ve completed the install (or reached the post-install quality goal). If these installs are attributed but not identified as fake installs, then such behavior can damage metrics over time, resulting in investing in channels which are rife with fraudulent activity, or stop entirely, missing out on legitimate users.

Installs and Adjust

A high number of installs, as well as healthy user engagement, proves that an app is performing. However, generating installs is not particularly challenging for developers with enough cash to purchase users, so app businesses need to be careful about using an install count as a marker of success. Furthermore, developers need to think about where installs have come from and whether they have delivered the necessary user quality on behalf of the business.

By properly attributing installs from mobile advertising campaigns, businesses can work out which sources deliver traffic and whether they do so at a worthwhile cost. Adjust’s Pre-Install tracking tool helps marketers properly attribute where paid installs come from, as well as identifying when unattributed organic installs take place.

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