How to Make the Most of a Mobile App Install Campaign on TV | AppsFlyer
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How to Make the Most of an App Install Campaign on TV

Avatar Shani Rosenfelder Dec 14, 2015

Remember Kate Upton’s Super Bowl 2015 commercial for Game of War: Fire Age? Of course you do. Here it is again in case you forgot (unlikely):

Machine Zone made it to the big leagues. And so did Supercell’s Clash of Clans with its Super Bowl ad starring Liam Neeson:

So you’re probably thinking those guys have millions to spend on UA campaigns on television so how can I even come close to achieving the Kate Upton effect? Well, you can start your way up with far more reasonable TV budgets, and who knows, maybe your game will pick up speed and you’ll be able to afford a coveted Super Bowl spot with a supermodel.

Why even consider TV advertising? As a seasoned mobile marketer in the gaming industry, you may have noticed that the mobile channel is becoming increasingly saturated and expensive – making it harder and harder to stand out from the crowd (427,188 active games in the app store alone to be exact).

So what can you do to get your message across? How about television, which is becoming more and more data-driven (although it’s still nowhere near where digital is but it’s only a matter of time before programmatic TV becomes a mass market – and then it will become really interesting).

In the meantime, TV still offers the largest reach (285 million TV viewers in the US alone), and because 84% of us are watching TV with a second screen in hand, while 64% of us do it simultaneously (you can read more about the ‘why tv’ angle here).

Beyond reach, TV also drives performance of app install campaigns. According to a recent study by Fetch, TV commercials lead users to download apps with uplifts ranging from 56 to 74% during the ad airing. When we extend the window to 10 minutes and up until two hours after the ad was broadcast, there’s still an increase of 24%.

Let’s talk about the practical side of TV advertising for mobile app marketers.


Making a decision: Is TV right for me?

Here are some things to take into account:

TV isn’t only the Super Bowl: A 30-second ad on “Good Morning America,” for example, sells for about $43,000. But an ad on Animal Planet during the early morning, when “Big Cat Diary” airs, according to media cost forecasting firm SQAD, can cost as little as $650. So there’s a lot of wiggle room to maneuver when you plan a budget for a TV campaign. You don’t need millions. Far from it.

Mainly branding & but also performance: If you’re looking to make a statement, TV is the place to be. When you’re running a campaign on television, you’re saying ‘I’m a big brand and I’m in the same league as BMW, American Airlines and Target’. Not to mention if you have a spot on national television or even the Super Bowl. That’s a powerful position to be in.

If you’re thinking, television is for branding and digital drives measurable performance, know this: A recent study by marketing-analytics company Market Share, backed by Turner Broadcasting and media agency Horizon Media TV, found that television has maintained its effectiveness at driving advertiser key performance indicators (such as sales lift across brand properties) over the past five years.

It’s ok if you’re not a TV expert: Agencies handle TV campaigns. So the best course of action is to have your agency explain the process and follow their lead. And just like you’ve mastered digital and mobile marketing, you’ll learn about TV advertising. You can also reach out to the TV guy in your own organization – if you have one – to consult, explain and even take charge.

Media Buying

There are two main kinds of media buying in television:

  1. Upfront: A major annual deal in which a holding company or large agency buys significant airtime from the networks, after which they allocate down to their agencies and / or clients. The upfront period usually starts in May after the networks announce their new season programming up until the end of summer. The advantages of upfront are mainly related to pricing, impressions guarantees, and getting the first pick of the most valuable TV inventory.
  2. Scatter: Networks often hold 15-35% of their inventory for the year to sell outside of the upfronts, usually for a markup. Scatter spots are sold before or after an upfront period (which is typically Q2, early spring to early summer). The main advantage of this shorter-term buy is that the advertisers have more flexibility – they can monitor a program’s popularity and make decisions with more accurate ratings data, as compared to forecasting well in advance. Scatter may also be cheaper, especially if an advertiser wants air time the networks have trouble selling.

As each has its pros and cons, a mix is often a good idea. How to determine the best mix of upfront vs. scatter depends on multiple factors (marketing plans, economic conditions, budget issues, competitive situations, and more). That’s why you should make sure that your agency is on top of things. Ask for  a detailed assessment of market conditions and an intelligent recommendation based on this assessment.


Although TV cannot compete with the level of targeting granularity available in digital (yet, as this will change in the future when programmatic TV becomes a mass market), there are options to help you reach the right person at the right time. These include:

  1. Geo: You can either go for national networks, which reach a national audience, local broadcast or independent stations, which reach a regional or local market. You can focus on cable for a national, regional, or local reach (or find the right balance from all of the above).
  2. Demographics: Usually these are narrowed down to age and gender so you can buy for example 18-30 year old women.
  3. Type of program: The content can always lead you to a desired audience. For example, if you’re looking to target a younger audience, popular shows on cable like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead can work. Since cable and satellite companies began licensing out their set-top box data, advertisers can also be more effective targeting long-tail cable inventory.
  4. Timing and seasonality: Different people watch TV during different times: housewives watch during the day, younger folks like late night shows, working dads may choose to relax during prime time news broadcasts. It’s also recommended to identify any days or seasons that have the most potential for an increase in revenue: for example, last minute travel apps can focus on weekends and retailers that sell ski equipment can target winter.



Typically, television stations will accept spot lengths of 10, 15, 30, and 60 seconds. Production costs are obviously much higher than a banner ad no matter how fancy it is so make sure you plan that in your budget.

You should try to create at least two variations of footage (whether an actual set with actors,  animation etc), after which you can create multiple voice overs and texts. Just like in digital, start with multiple variations and optimize as necessary.

You can also start off small and run the ads online in order to test which ads meet your goals. After all, online is still cheaper than TV.



If you want to make the most of a TV campaign, know that it requires planning in advance. First, because if you want part of the upfronts, that’s what it means. Upfront participation requires budget estimates to be provided to the agency by early spring in order to be well prepared to negotiate in May.

These budgets must then be committed by August. Second, if you want strong inventory or a specific high profile event/program inventory that runs out fast, the earlier you know, the greater the chances you can get that inventory.  



How do you determine how much advertising is enough to reach your objectives on TV? By using what is known as GRP (Gross Rating Points). The formula is a simple one: reach (number of televisions are tuned to a show) x frequency (number of times ad aired). For example, if your want to reach 60% of your market for a specific campaign, and you know you want to reach them at least 15 times in order to convince them to act, then you would need a schedule that would give you 900 GRPs.

Since app install ads on TV are still in their early days, there aren’t any real benchmarks. To name other verticals, an average GRP goal for a typical packaged product is 1,000 to 5,000 in a year, a service or retail establishment is 2,000 to 10,000 in a year, and a business-to-business is 600 to 4,000 in a year.

As a mobile marketer, you’re probably deep into the numbers using data to measure success. The good news is that you can also measure the impact of TV app install campaigns on… actual app installs. This is done by measuring the exact time of an install and attributing credit for the install to a TV ad that preceded it (assuming it occurred within a predetermined timeframe – usually not more than several minutes).

Facebook has also just introduced a new tool to measure integrated campaigns using what they are calling target rating point (TRP) as the metric. “Marketers can plan a campaign across TV and Facebook with a total TRP target in mind, and they can buy a share of those TRPs directly with Facebook,” the social network announced in a blog post.


To sum up, television is uncharted territory for the vast majority of app marketers, but it can definitely offer plenty of value for some. It’s time to think outside the box and explore whether your game should also be promoted in the TV box.