Cost Per Install

What is Cost Per Install?

Cost Per Install (CPI) is the price to acquire a new customer from paid advertisements. This metric refers to paid installs in contrast to organic installs.

Advice from Mobile App Experts

“CPI is best used in combination with ARPU to calculate the return on investment for your marketing efforts.” - Alex Walz, Head of Growth at Lighter Capital

“Cost Per Install remains to be one of the most important metrics for mobile app owners to measure. For companies that extend their existing business on mobile, CPI is a real indicator of investment they need to make to include mobile into the mix of channels they use to reach out to their customers.” - Artyom Dogtiev, Content Editor at Soku Media

How to calculate Cost Per Install

($) Ad spend / (#) new installs from ad = ($) Cost Per Install

Cost Per Install is calculated by dividing the ad spend (over a specific time period) by the number of new installs from that same period.

For example, if you spent $200 on ads for your mobile app and generated 130 new installs, your Cost Per Install would be $1.53.

200 / 130 = $1.53

Visualization Examples

Below are a couple examples of how you might view Cost Per Install on your mobile app dashboard.

cost-per-install-visualization-mobile-app-metric

Pros:

Cost Per Install is a more specific metric for Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and helps determine the viability and sustainability of your paid advertisements. The key is to track CPI along with Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) so you can make sure you’re generating more revenue than you’re spending to acquire those users.

Cons:

CPI shows a narrow segment of what it costs to acquire new users or customers for your mobile app. Other ways of generating users include organic traffic (usually from searching the app store or from a high app ranking), user referral, co-marketing partnerships, or other content marketing efforts (i.e. blog, website, or email).

Another downside to Cost Per Install is that it only indicates the initial capture of a new user. Since it’s quite unlikely that you’ll retain 100% of new users, CPI is a snapshot that can become a vanity number if other metrics such as session length and engagement aren’t tracked.

Relevant Mobile App Metrics and KPIs:

If you’re adding Cost Per Install to your mobile app dashboard, you might want to also consider tracking these related mobile app metrics for context.

Industry Benchmarks

The benchmarks for CPI vary significantly depending on the type of app, industry, and country. The global average across all app types is $0.53 USD for Android and $1.24 USD for both iPhones and iPads. For more specifics, see these CPI benchmarks.

Device Type Average CPI (globally as of March 2016)
Android $0.53 USD
iPhone $1.24 USD
iPad $1.24 USD

Additional Notes

For a more precise calculation of CPI that takes into account uninstalls, app ranking, and referrals from paid ads, see this explanation of effective CPI.

Want to create a mobile app dashboard using this metric? Check out this example Mobile App Dashboard.