Startup Kitchen

Mobile app promotion №12. Incent traffic

wrote this on Май 1, 2015

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Mobile app promotion is almost impossible without purchasing traffic. Incent traffic is often used for this goal. Well tell you about it today.

Nature of incent traffic

The name “incent traffic” means that it’s generated by users for some reward. I.e. people install an app not because they’re interested but because they want a game currency or money.
There are 2 totally different schemes of user stimulation to install:

  1. inside other apps for definite virtual reward.1
  2. via SMS money.


Traffic from apps

The first method is the most popular on the West. Tapjoy is one of the biggest players in the sphere. It works like this:

  • a user is given a possibility to complete a task in an app (in games mostly) and get a reward for it (game currency, bonus points or other resources which give privileges in game process).
  • a system offers an install and launching of an app as a task.
  • a user completes all the necessary activities and gets a reward. A publisher gets an install.
  • a user will surely forget about the app or deletes it and never comes back to it. But a publisher still gets a necessary install.


Traffic from SMS

Such a scheme is widespread in Russia. It was difficult to come to an agreement with mobile operators in the USA and other countries, while in Russian such a model of traffic generation has become really popular.
It works really simple:
A smartphone owner registers in a system (usually you should only enter your mobile phone number in a web page).
Then a user gets a SMS with a link to an app in a store.
A user downloads an app and gets a reward — money on his/her mobile account and a publisher gets installs.


Incent traffic peculiarities

The main difference between incent and regular traffic is that the first one isn’t valuable in terms of adding to a client base. It gives only “dead souls”, i.e. nothing more than installs.
Its distinctive features:

  • low price (approximately $1 per install).
  • very low ARPU.
  • huge per cent of refuses.



It’s not a secret that nowadays installs are one of the main factors for forming an App Store TOP. They influence app entering to the TOP: the more installs users make, the higher is the place of an app in the rating. One of promotion strategies implies an artificial output of the app to the TOP in order to gain organic traffic from it.
Per cent of getting organic traffic depends on the following factors:

  • app appeal (icon, screenshots, size, reviews).
  • TOP position.
  • time of being in TOP.
  • presence of powerful competitors.
  • days of the week (the most of organic installs usually occur on Friday and Saturday).

For an unprepared app 10% of organic installs is a great luck. But with a balanced and thorough approach you can get more than 100% of live traffic.
There are a little bit algorithms of ranking in Google Play. Installs aren’t so important there. That’s why with the help of only incent traffic you wouldn’t be able to get an app to the TOP. Paid installs are used as an additional tool along with other promotion methods.2


Pitfalls of using incent traffic

Just imagine a situation: a publisher has decided to use for promotion a strategy of getting into TOP and buys incent traffic. Further on, situation develop in different ways. Here are 2 widespread scenarios:

  1. a publisher pays for installs and app gets to the first ten of the TOP artificially. It remains there for about 24 hours and then starts to lose its position sweepingly. So a publisher buys more incent traffic and get the app back to the TOP. And so it goes again and again. But still the quantity of organic traffic isn’t enough for keeping beneficial positions in the TOP. Budget drains and app goes to the low positions where it’s hidden from users’ eyes.
  2. a publisher promotes a regular game, buys incent traffic in order to be in the TOP and gather organic installs. App is on the highest lines of the rating for the first day, second one, third one… But there are few organic installs and traffic provider suddenly informs that there’s no traffic left. App is going down, as a publisher can’t afford organic traffic as it’s more expensive.

This is market reality. There are few big players who are able to provide advertisers with an impressive quantity of installs which would be enough for keeping apps in the common TOP.3


Store attitude

Using an incent traffic may be seen as winding up. Stores are negative about it. But while algorithms of TOP forming remain rather simple, they take no measures on fighting with incent traffic.
Though, an overwhelming majority of experts are sure that situation will change soon and incent traffic will die out as stores will change their algorithms.



Incent traffic is used for promoting apps to store TOPs. And a publisher gets only empty installs. Base of live clients who could bring a potential income isn’t widened. It’s done in order to get further “live” traffic from store TOPs.

Alexander Sergeev
About the Author

Alexander Sergeev is the Founder of 32dayz (task and time tracking) who loves to build startups and swim.