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What is Cost Per Install (CPI)?

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

Cost per install (CPI) is a model of bidding or pricing used in mobile app ad campaigns. In a CPI model, digital ads are served by publishers on multiple platforms to drive installs of the mobile app being advertised.


CPI is important as it is the market price used in campaigns to measure the impact of the amount of money spent on the ad: it is the cost that an advertiser pays for a single install.


Some ad networks operate on a CPI basis, meaning developers agree ahead of time on a fixed price. However, this is not the only model, as other ad networks operate on a CPM (Cost per Mile - 1000 views) or CPC (Cost Per Click) models. In order to make CPI accurately comparable between all ad networks, you can calculate the eCPI (effective CPI).


In order to calculate the eCPI of a campaign, you divide the total amount spent on ads over a specific period of time by the number of new installs attributed to the campaign during the same period of time.


Here is the formula for calculating eCPl:

eCPI=Total Ad Spend / Total attributed installs


For example, if you ran campaigns for a week on Facebook and have a total spend of $300 and 100 total attributed installs, your eCPI will be $3.


This ensures your ad spend is fully optimized and encourages ad networks to promote your app as they get paid only once the app is installed.


What Could Affect My CPI?

You should bear in mind when you’re calculating your CPI that there is a short list of factors that will inevitably influence your CPI metric, including:

  • Geolocation: More developed GEOs will have a higher CPI. For example, in the United States, the average CPI will be very different to the average CPI in Latin America.

  • Channel: Some niche channels that have a very select audience are able to demand a higher CPI compared with mainstream channels.

  • App vertical: Some app genres are more competitive than others. The CPI for hypercasual games is usually drastically lower than other gaming verticals such as casual and hardcore games.

  • Cost of ad unit: A CPI might be higher for some of a publisher’s inventory – especially if it is more in demand.

What are the benefits of the Cost Per Install Model?

  1. Track the cost and effectiveness of your ads.The biggest benefit is that you get what you pay for. If your goal is to boost app installs, you can adjust the CPI to increase the number of installs you’d like to get from a certain channel. Alternatively, you can adjust the price to better hit your ROAS targets for a certain channel.

  2. Boost your rankings in the app stores. If you spend a lot on paid acquisition, this can lead to more downloads. And a boost in your app ranking. Leading to an uplift in your app’s visibility.

  3. It’s low risk for advertisers compared with other pricing models. To install an app, there must be high user intent. Meaning, advertisers know that they are paying for users who are generally interested in their app and more likely to engage with it. Meaning, CPI pricing model reduces wasted marketing efforts, time, and money.

Are you looking to elevate UA for your game?

Using a self-serve dashboard to handle your campaign is an easy and beneficial solution to elevate your UA, as they are user-friendly and put you in full control of your budget and provide extensive targeting options.


The Gamelight advertising platform is one of the leading mobile marketing platforms with an easy-to-use self-serve dashboard. Working on a CPI basis, the Gamelight advertising platform delivers direct traffic from a self-published mobile game recommendation platform. Plus it only takes 5 minutes to set up your account and launch your first campaign!


Click HERE to check the self-serve dashboard of the Gamelight advertising platform.


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