The number of downloads on the iOS App Store hit a record of 7.1 million daily downloads in March, up 41 percent from a year ago, according to mobile app marketer Fiksu.

The Fiksu data also shows that the cost of launching new apps on iOS dropped 10 percent from February to 17 cents, while Android dropped 5 percent to 10 cents.

Although traffic was high, marketers were able to keep spending in check through programmatic buying, the automated purchasing of mobile ads in a targeted way. The decrease in cost per app launch —  the cost of each repeat app launch over time, which focuses on engagement and life-time value of mobile users — is due not to the increase in devices in the market, but to the dramatic increase in app usage.

The Fiksu App Store Competitive Index measures the average aggregate daily download volume of the top 200 free U.S. iPhone apps. eMarketer believes that growth rates for both Android and iOS will be almost identical in 2014, so Android downloads are likely following the same path.

Fiksu cost per loyal user

Above: Fiksu cost per loyal user

Image Credit: Fiksu

When app usage grows, there are more app launches and more time spent in the apps. At the same time, it is still challenging to attract loyal app users, those who open an app three times or more. The cost per install on iOS rose 20 percent in March from a year ago, while the cost per loyal user rose 7 percent. That means marketers are getting smarter about leveraging the right ad formats, ad creatives, and targeting tools so they reach the right users.

If it weren’t for those tactics, the cost per loyal user would have risen 20 percent.

“The March indexes tell us that while the market is only getting bigger each month, it has also grown volumes in terms of maturity,” says Micah Adler, CEO of Fiksu.

“With the addition of programmatic and optimization technologies, marketers have the tools to market their apps better and can do so without breaking the bank. As we’ve seen with major players like Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo! getting in the game, the industry has certainly come a long way in the last year, and what was once a challenge for app marketers is now an industry standard.”

To date, Fiksu has accumulated more than 252 billion app actions including launches, registrations and in-app purchases.

Fiksu app downloads for top 200 apps.

Above: Fiksu app downloads for top 200 apps.

Image Credit: Fiksu