supersonic-logoThe mobile advertising ecosystem has exploded — but it’s also left many overwhelmed and confused. In this series titled “Maximizing Mobile Ad Monetization” and presented by Supersonic, publishers learn how to take back the reins and navigate the intricacies of mobile advertising. See the whole series here.

Last December brought in an astounding 9.2 million iOS app downloads, a 44 percent increase from the year before. App marketers anticipate yet another record-breaking season as they prepare their user acquisition campaigns for the upcoming holidays.

But as downloads climb, so does the competition to garner them. Finding the right audience at the right price will be as challenging as it is rewarding. Here are six tips to help app marketers plan for the holiday user acquisition spree.

1. Plan before December (aka now!)

Competition is fiercer than ever with nearly 4 million titles in the app stores combined. Get a head start by planning your user acquisition campaigns before December. Doing so will provide insight into looming holiday costs and allow time to adjust around KPIs and budget.

If organic uplift is a key goal this holiday season — common with many new apps — plan for a media mix that favors volume. A burst strategy will help boost your app store rankings which in turn can lead to higher app discoverability and more organic downloads.

During the cold season, users are more likely to spend from having increased leisure time and holiday money. App marketers should look to leverage this by structuring sustained campaigns around these high spenders. It’s a great time to target “whales” while re-engaging lapsed users to explore new seasonal content in your app.

For both new and existing apps, plan to frequently evaluate organic growth to make adjustments to your bids.

2. Be wary of ad blocking

While mobile has generally been safe, the recent content blocking capabilities in iOS 9’s Safari are compromising its immunity.

It’s not entirely clear what percentage of users will use this functionality, but it is reason enough to rethink the mobile web as a long-term user acquisition channel. Marketers with extensive budget tied into web should look to shift some budget to in-app — where publishers have more control over ad units and how they are displayed.

3. Pay for performance on peak days

Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas are some of the busiest days of the year for user acquisition. Consider a performance-based approach around these peak dates. Paying for performance will more than likely assure you see a return on each invested user.

It may also help to map out your competitor’s planned bursts when planning your own. Although this information is not entirely accessible, observing other channels such as TV and web can give you some insight. For instance, a sudden increase in holiday TV commercials for a competitor’s game may indicate an impending burst campaign to complete the cross channel effort. A performance-based campaign here will ensure your budget is not diluted and maintains ROI.

4. Avoid over-targeting

The holidays attract a wide and diverse range of mobile users. To capture all this period has to offer, avoid building overly-specific assumptions about your target audience. Over-targeting can limit your campaigns, and discovery of new, potentially more profitable user segments.

Rather, explore broader targeting and let the data speak for itself — you may be surprised. Start by spending small while scaling only top-performing segments, ensuring you’re optimized in both revenue and new audience discovery.

5. Utilize high performing, creative video ads

Imagine the install ad as part of your app’s onboarding process. If the experience is compelling, users will want to engage and learn more, perhaps even go on to install your app.

For this reason, performance and brand advertisers count on video ads to deliver their message. Whether it is to encourage a quality install or communicate a strong brand message, the video format has an innate ability to engage users and promote action. It’s also an excellent format to brand with festive copy and visuals, helping guide users wrapped in holiday nostalgia to value your content over others.

Video creatives take time to produce, so plan ahead and aim to have several options available before the Christmas rush. As always, A/B test and optimize for the highest conversion.

6. Flow into the new year

In an attempt to reserve budget for the winter push, many app marketers will end up leaving money on the table by year’s end. So it’s paramount you’ve found the right partners well before Christmas week allowing you time to max out your top-performing campaigns. Assuming all goes well, justifying larger spend to continue user growth into 2016 will come naturally.

January signifies much more than just a new calendar year. In fact, the first week of January this year raked in over over $500 million in App Store sales. An estimated 10 million iOS app downloads occurred that month, with New Year’s day notching historical highs. Clearly, maintaining your user acquisition activities into January will only be to your advantage. As the first few weeks of an install are critical to retention, January serves as an excellent time to acquire and re-engage users long after the holiday competition has faded.

Got any other holiday marketing tips to share? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @Supersonicads

Terry Koh is the PR and Content Marketing Manager at Supersonic. Supersonic is the mobile monetization and user acquisition platform of choice for the app economy. Connect with us on Twitter @Supersonicads.

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