CTR, CTI, & IPM: Optimizing The Path to Install Conversion
Over the last few years, much has been discussed about the post-install journey — marketers need to measure this data, then connect to a user’s pre-install behavior to optimize their future marketing efforts. Indeed, it is universally agreed that this focus, emphasizing user “value” over “volume,” is the most mission-critical for marketing profitability.
However, in addition to post-install analytics, it is important to closely monitor pre-install data, which offers key insights that inform creative optimization, ASO, targeting and bid management.
Before diving into the different KPIs and what they mean, here’s a taste of some of the key findings (complete gaming genre per country benchmarks appear further down in the post):
- In the US, the highest regional genres for click-through rate (CTR) are Music, Arcade, Social Casino, and Simulation, compared to the others, which were 2x lower on average.
- In the midcore genres, China was the leader by far in impression to install (IPM) rates: 60% higher than the median.
- For all three pre-install conversion rates, Vietnam had the highest average median in casual genres: 63% higher in IPM, 35% in CTR, and 27% in click-to-install (CTI).
What Are Install Conversion Rates and Why Are They Important?
Among the variety of mobile marketing KPIs, pre-install conversion rates are used to measure the volume of users that make it through your conversion funnel to install. While an install is not considered the real “end game” of marketing efforts, it is still an important milestone, as users must physically download the app to their phone and invest attention and/or resources into it.
Understanding this significance, then, in the broadest terms, a pre-install conversion rate can be the number of installs divided by either the number of total ad clicks or ad views, depending on what you’re trying to measure. These metrics are click to install rate (CTI) and impression to install rate (IPM), respectively.
In the past, mobile marketers relied more heavily on pre-install conversion rates, trying to achieve high install volumes. Back then, however, these kinds of conversion goals made sense, since higher paid install rates meant greater volumes of high-intent organic users. As mentioned above, the focus shifted to post-install down funnel KPIs and rightfully so, but the so-called legacy metrics are still relevant!
Let’s explore each metric:
Click-through rate (CTR)
Number of clicks / number of ad views
|Explanation||Higher in the funnel, CTR has limited value informing other overall marketing goals, but directly reflects the effectiveness of a creative in a campaign based on the clicks received.|
Click to install (CTI)
|Formula||Number of installs / number of ad clicks|
|Informs||Creative and app store optimization; targeting; and/or tech implementation (for example, your MMP, internal ID matching tech, and time between the game loading and the attribution provider firing an install event to the API) that can affect loading and downloading times|
|Explanation||Measuring the direct conversion between the two strongest touchpoints on a pre-install user journey, CTI is both socially and technically critical, as lower rates might mean less relevant audiences, ineffective creatives, or slow loading time before an install is complete.|
Installs per mille (IPM – Install per 1000 impressions)
|Formula||Number of installs / 1000 impressions|
|Informs||Creative optimization; lowering CPIs; boosting install volumes; and/or effective waterfall bidding and management|
|Explanation||IPM shows the full picture of the user journey when targeting new users. Additionally, a high IPM directly impacts the waterfall ad bidding process, moving the rank of a given ad campaign towards the top due to the high performance of a creative, ad, and campaign in generating installs. In turn, the ad receives more traffic and a higher volume of impressions, further boosting install rate.|
- In the role playing genre, China dominated with a median of 20%, nearly 2.5x higher than the next closest country, Thailand with a 9% rate. In terms of the 90th percentile, though, while China still leads the pack, the US and South Korea are not far behind with only a roughly 15% difference.
- In the action genre, although India had the median highest rates with 16.4% by only a narrow margin, the percentage of increase in all countries between the 90th percentile rate and median is massive – nearly 3.5x on average. Even for China and India, with 65% and 51.6% rates in the 90th percentile, respectively, the gap is still averages around 3.7x higher.
- In the US, the highest regional genres are Music, Arcade, Social Casino, and Simulation, compared to other genres which are 2x lower, on average. Despite these genres being highest in the region, however, the US is only a global leader in Music (at 30.8% conversion) and Social Casino (with 15.6%), where it ranks 3rd and 1st, respectively.
- In the role playing genre, the UK, at 12.9%, dominates above all other countries with a 2x higher rate than the second closest, Brazil, and a whopping 7.2x higher rate than the lowest converting, Thailand. The same overall trend is true in the 90th percentile rankings for this category, despite the UK’s otherwise mid-ranking rates in other genres for this metric.
- Russia shows a relatively high median ranking in almost all verticals, particularly leading the pack by 5%, 30%, and 8% in Action, Adventure, and Puzzle. This is compared to distinctly average to low rates for CTR.
- For all genres, medians are fairly closely grouped, with the exception of four which feature one or two countries with at least 25% higher rates compared to the others. These are Music (in South Korea & Japan), Role Playing (in the UK), Social Casino (in Brazil), and Strategy (in the US).
- In the midcore genres (action, adventure, arcade, role playing, simulation, strategy), China was the leader by far in impression to install (IPM) rates: 60% higher than the average median of other countries and 50% higher than the average of other countries in the 90th percentile.
- Vietnam and the US appeared to have the most consistently soaring IPM rates in the 90th percentile, appearing in the top 3 countries for 7 out of 10 genres. Among these, Vietnam was particularly strong in the Puzzle and Simulation genres, ranking 50% and 25% higher than the second largest, respectively. The US stood out in the Music genre with 43.9% IPM, Vietnam only 13% behind, as well as in Role Playing and Social Casino.
- Despite low CTI in almost all genres, Thailand boasted a whopping 52.4% 90th percentile IPM rate in Social Casino, 30% ahead of the second closest country and nearly 8x ahead of Vietnam, whose rates were uncharacteristically low in this genre.
From this study, we can understand the following insights:
- APAC users seem more engaged, less annoyed by ads. Whether a developed or developing country, the APAC region seems to have consistently greater conversion success along all touchpoints of the user journey. This is particularly true for China, dominating in midcore games, and underdog Vietnam, in both midcore and casual games. We can expect this trend to continue into the future, and perhaps featuring rising stars India, Thailand, and South Korea.
- Continued US leadership, but the UK finds difficulty keeping up. The median rates for the US continue to rank relatively high among countries, though the UK enjoyed limited success. Targeting for audiences in the US are likely to boost your overall conversion numbers throughout the entire pre-install funnel, but it may be wise to focus more on creative, app store, targeting, and bidding optimization with UK users, especially in the Role Playing genre.
- Scale for success with IPM. Only in IPM did the median and 90th percentile rates follow roughly the same trends; for both CTR and CTI, leaders in median were often trailing behind in the overall leaderboard and vice versa. For that reason, IPM seems to be more both predictable and stable, meaning marketers can focus more on scale with this metric in mind. This also means that it will be more effective to optimize on a micro rather than macro level to increase install rates.
- Across funnel, worldwide leaders keep standards high. As the median conversion rates decrease while users move through the funnel, the top performers in each country continue to keep standards high – the 90th percentile leaders maintained rates over at least 30%, especially in Brazil, China, the US, and Vietnam. Therefore, although users naturally drop off as they move down the funnel, certain technology, methods, and targeting can still lead to high success. Keep an eye on your genre and region’s benchmarks to set your performance goals.