For apps everywhere, getting installs is the first step towards app domination. While installs aren’t everything (in truth, they’re just the starting point), they’re essential for boosting your user base and beginning your incredible journey to app success.

App ads comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and styles, but today, we’re focusing on user acquisition ads with the sole goal of upping installs.

What makes an exceptional app ad, and what elements are essential for driving installs?

Let’s take a look at seven examples of real app ads found in the wild, see what they’re doing right, and find out what key techniques we can lift from them.

1. ZipCar – Facebook App Ad

This app install ad from Zipcar shows up in the Facebook app’s news feed, blending seamlessly with the natural, organic posts that surround it.


Zipcar does a great job of using an eye-catching illustration to draw the eye, along with concise, to-the-point copy with a pointed CTA button, “Use App.”

Zipcar uses the top ad copy to highlight the benefits of Zipcar – affordable wheels when you need them – and uses the bottom ad copy to zone in on the desired conversion task while still managing to highlight Zipcar’s value – “Download the app. Get driving.”

What’s Working Well:

  • Blends with organic Facebook posts, creating subtle advertising.
  • Uses familiar brand colors and incorporates a colorful, eye-catching illustration.
  • Drives home the CTA with ad copy and relevant button text.
  • Upfront about pricing – this app install ad highlights the affordable $7/month price without beating around the bush.
  • Social proof is incorporated with the “229,085 people use this” line, showing that many other users have downloaded and enjoyed the Zipcar app.
  • Specifically targets users who are not Zipcar members, allowing the ad to use tailored text that focuses on new, rather than existing, members.

2. Hotels.Com – Twitter App Ad

This app ad from is found amid a packed Twitter feed. As with the other social media app ads, Twitter’s sponsored tweets use native designs, allowing the advertisements to feel natural and blend with the organic Twitter posts.


This ad for’s app features a large, bright banner image that shows a cozy hotel room, conjuring dreams of vacations and getaways.

The copy does a solid job at articulating value without going crazy on copy. Secret prices and “paying less” sound like enough to win over most deal-hunting hotel hounds.

This is another app ad that makes use of social proof, showing the app’s great star rating and the number of users who have already downloaded the app. This integration is fantastic if your app is well-rated in the app store, but can be a detriment if your stars aren’t as stellar. Make sure you’re doing everything in your power to boost your app store rating.

We’re also again treated to a nice “Install” CTA that makes it clear we’re downloading an app, not visiting an outside website.

What’s Working Well:

  • Ad uses a native design that allows the app ad to blend with the natural Twitter feed and not feel obtrusive.
  • Uses a bright, relevant image to appear within the Twitter ad that clearly encapsulates the brand.
  • Focuses on app value with limited copy to highlight main benefits.
  • Showcases social proof with a great app rating and a high number of user installs.
  • Twitter follow button allows users to easily connect with the brand on Twitter, helping grow their social reach while also earning new users.

3. BillGuard – In-App Ad

This BillGuard app ad is a great example of smart audience targeting.

BillGuard is an app that allows users to track and manage their finances. They’re seeking out users who are smart spenders and care about tracking their money. To earn those users, BillGuard placed ads in a complementary app, Slickdeals, which is a deal-discovery app.

This is a great way for BillGuard to tap into the Slickdeals user base because they are exactly the types of people BillGuard wants to attract.


One unique aspect of this in-app ad is that the budgeting app doesn’t even bother to display its name.

It’s a risky move, but maybe it’s a smart one – for smaller, no-name brands, knowing your app’s name might not make much of a difference to users. Instead, the minimal ad copy space is used to show app value via a user testimonial and make the ad feel like a natural part of the user interface.

This user testimonial is cleverly worded, detailing the app’s value, “It saved me $700 and now keeps me updated on all purchases,” while also highlighting a powerful review from a real user to encourage app installs.

What’s Working Well:

  • Great audience targeting – the BillGuard app install ad appears inside another savings-related app, which has the type of users BillGuard wants to earn.
  • Utilizes a user testimonial to serve as a powerful endorsement while also detailing the app’s main benefit.
  • Sacrifices app name to highlight value. This strategy won’t work for everyone, and might negatively impact brand recall, but for small apps where value proposition is more important and their brand name is relatively unknown, this could be an effective strategy.
  • Native placement allows the ad to naturally fit with the design of the app without interrupting the user experience.

4. Abs Workout – Pop-Up App Ad

This app ad for Abs Workout is a pop-up that appears as the user is exiting a fitness app.


The Abs Workout app is a great fit for fitness-focused users already using the 7 Minute Workout app, and the high star rating coupled with the “50,000 Downloads” copy acts as strong social proof.

Instead of the “Install” CTA, we see a “Get From Google Play” call-to-action, which works just as well – maybe even better due to the added specificity. Of course, this CTA would need to be changed depending on the user’s device, substituting a “Get From the App Store” message for iOS users.

What’s Working Well:

  • Caters to target user base by displaying its app advertisement in a related fitness app.
  • Makes use of timing in order to launch the app ad when, presumably, the user has completed an existing workout, enticing them with a new challenge while they’re in the workout mood.
  • Displays social proof with the use of high star rating and download numbers.
  • Uses an ultra-specific CTA, naming the specific app store users will go to in order to install the app. This unique text could help differentiate the ad from similar app ads.

5. Pokemon Shuffle – Instagram App Ad

This app ad for Pokemon Shuffle comes from an Instagram feed. This app install ad clearly has some smart targeting at work, since I hold a big soft spot in my nostalgia-heavy heart for Pokemon.

While I haven’t interacted with the Pokemon brand on Instagram, I have liked Pokemon on Facebook, and with Instagram’s access to Facebook targeting, that’s probably how they found out that I am an aspiring Pokemon master.


As we note in our post about Instagram app ads, these app install ads are great because they blend well with Instagram’s natural feed full of user-uploaded photos.

The screenshots within the ad show what the game looks like, so users get a taste of what to expect.

Thanks to Instagram’s nice collection of app-oriented CTA buttons, this Pokemon game uses the “Install Now” button to drive Pokemon masters to the mobile game.

What’s Working Well:

  • Ad fits naturally into Instagram’s feed, providing unobtrusive advertising.
  • Screenshots give a taste of the app, so users can sense what the app will feel like and what to expect.
  • An on-point CTA making use of the “Install Now” button text.
  • App ad is full width and allows for engagement through Instagram’s like and commenting options, helping foster good brand relationships while simultaneously advertising the app.

6. Audible – Banner App Ad

Another great banner app ad comes from Audible, which appears at the top of the screen within the Podkicker podcasting app.


Audible focuses on the 30-day free trial as a call-to-action, and rather than an “Install Now” CTA, uses an arrow button that suggests users will be taken to another spot where they can begin downloading bestselling audiobooks.

The real genius in this Audible app ad has to do with relevance. Showing an ad for the Audible audiobook app within Podkicker, a podcast management app, makes for a clever connection. This strong association and relevance means that Audible is reaching their perfect, audiophile audience, and will likely get much higher conversions from Podkicker than any other regular, unrelated app they might advertise with.

Clever audience targeting like this saves money and bumps up installs considerably.

What’s Working Well:

  • Targets a specific app with similar demographics and interest to attract the right audience.
  • Highlights the 30-day trial to push value to hesitant users.
  • Arrow button hints that users will be taken to another spot (in this case, Google Play Store), to download the app.
  • This ad is not overly intrusive and doesn’t compromise the app experience.
  • Bright orange color helps the ad stand out against the the black background.

7. TurboTax – Banner App Ad

Found within the Zedge wallpaper and ringtones app, this app install ad for the TurboTax app appears as a banner at the bottom of the screen.


TurboTax makes sure to include their logo, helping to provide instant brand recognition. The bright orange button with the great “Get Free App” CTA to the right of the text is difficult to ignore and begs to be clicked.

One interesting element of this ad is how the ad message changes – it flips between one banner that focuses on the value gained from using the app (“Do taxes on your phone for $0”) and another message that reiterates how users can use their smartphone to complete their taxes. The second banner even includes a small image hinting at how users will be implementing the app to gather info from their W-2s.

What’s Working Well:

  • Rotating message allows the app ad to have two sets of ad copy.
  • The bright orange rectangle with a targeted “Get Free App” CTA makes for a very clickable button.
  • Incorporates a recognizable logo into the banner ad.
  • Includes a small image showing how to use the app, since some individuals may be confused and question how an app could gather tax data.

The Makings Of an Exceptional App Ad

To recap what we’ve seen today, let’s consider what makes an exceptional app ad that drives installs. Some of the lessons we’ve learned from our in-the-wild app install ads include:

  • Broadcast Your Brand. If you’re a name brand, try incorporating your logo or some other iconic brand images into your ad for instant recognition.
  • Concentrate On Your Call-To-Action. Craft a powerful, targeted CTA that uses specific, app-related language (such as “install”).
  • Make Use Of Multiple Messages. Try rotating text to show users two messages, giving you more space to encourage installs.
  • Implement Images When Possible. Images can help give users insight into how your app works and how they can expect to use it. In addition, the human eye is naturally drawn to images, so incorporating them improves the chance that your ad will be noticed.
  • Slip In Some Social Proof. Consider incorporating social proof into your app ad copy through star ratings, download numbers, or even word-of-mouth user testimonials.
  • Appear Where Your Audience Hangs Out. Make sure that your app install ads are displayed on apps with similar demographics and relevant audiences to save money and spend your acquisition dollars smarter. Apps can work with specific mobile ad networks to ensure that their app ads are well placed.
  • Consider The Value of Various Channels. Different advertising channels will have their own advantages and perks. For example, Instagram and Facebook ads have ability to target users based on their specific interests. Twitter allows for the added social media benefit with the potential to bring in new followers, in addition to installs. App owners should test out a variety of channels and then evaluate which channels brought in the most installs and the most engaged, high-retention users.
  • Tune In With Your Target Audience. It’s important to know and understand your target audience so that when you’re creating the content and design of your app ad, you’ll be able to craft an offer that will resonate with them.