Marketing an app this holiday season? Hope for the best, but expect the worst.


Marketers, imagine the holiday shopping season that is now upon us with this little poem:


 ’Twas the holiday season, when phones were alight


 With users all shopping and planning delight;


 Creatives were made for inventory sources with care,


 In hopes that more installs soon would be there.


This poem serves as a reminder that the mobile phone will be a key touchpoint with consumers this holiday season. If you’re a marketer on top of your game, you instinctively know this and are already executing a comprehensive plan to ensure that your app drives measurable business goals between now and the end of the year.


However, you face unknown challenges. Will your cost per install (CPI) sharply increase and disrupt your ability to achieve a positive ROI? Will your volume go down because the competition for reaching mobile users has intensified and you’re not winning as many bids? Will other advertisers buy out your best inventory sources?


For these challenges, I offer the following predictions and tips based on my experience marketing apps over past holiday seasons:


  •  • Your CPI will go up by about 25% versus Q1-Q3 of this year. It will also be about 10% higher than last year’s holiday season.
  •  • If you don’t increase your bids, your impression volume and resulting installs will decrease. Figure out the max bid that you can place while still meeting your ROI goal. Bid that max and then optimize for volume.
  •  • Your inventory source reps can tell you about any planned inventory buyouts that may affect your ability to get the impression volume you need on the days you need it. Be sure to ask your reps about this.
  •  • Develop a list of backup sources to use in case a favorite source gets too expensive or bought out. These should be sources that you’ve run on in the past and can anticipate some type of successful performance.
  •  • Produce more creative variations than usual because the more variations you have, the easier it is to scale your campaign and onboard new inventory sources. These additional creatives should still align with your overall marketing efforts and have a consistent look and feel.
  •  • Use data from last holiday season to build a look-alike model for this holiday season. For example, build a model of users who were very active during the holiday season last year. Then, use your media buy to find new users that look like last year’s active users.
  •  • Don’t feel obligated to advertise your app during the holiday season. If the ROI isn’t there, it could be more beneficial to your business to wait until the third week of January to market your app. The holiday rush will be over then and your CPI will be lower.
  •  • Be sure to document what works and what doesn’t this holiday season so that it can help you run a successful campaign next holiday season.


Ideally, you want to go into Q4 2018 knowing the answers to the following questions:


  • 1. What was the original plan last year and what actually happened?

  • 2. How much did last year’s holiday campaign have to rely on a backup plan?

  • 3. What was your CPI during the holiday season last year? Assume it will be 10% higher.

  • 4. What was your ROI during the holiday season last year? Were you able to make a profit?

  • 5. What types of inventory sources worked best?

  • 6. What types of creative formats, creative messaging, and creative themes worked best?

  • 7. What specific goal do we want to hit during each week of our 2018 holiday campaign?

  • 8. What tactics will we use to hit these weekly goals?


Keep in mind that you’re competing with app marketers who plan every detail of their creative and media plan for each week of the holiday season. Some app marketers have a specific goal for each week and tactics in place to reach that goal. For some weeks, they have an acquisition goal. For other weeks, they have an engagement goal. If you haven’t gone into this level of detail for this holiday season, consider doing so next holiday season.


Don’t worry if this sounds like too much work for your internal marketing team. You don’t have to do all the strategy, planning, and execution of holiday app marketing campaigns on your own. TMGA can help. Reach out anytime to


Happy holidays to all, and to marketers a great flight.


Originally published on LinkedIn by Kristina Congiusta, Head of Growth Operations at TMGA.




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