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Gaming remains the largest category for user acquisition on mobile devices — accounting for 50% of all user-acquisition ad spending — according to mobile marketing analytics platform Adjust.

To put gaming’s 50% share of user-acquisition ad spending into perspective, the second-place vertical (e-commerce) makes up just 16%. This is especially pronounced in the Asia Pacific region, where ad spend distribution for gaming apps measured by Adjust reaches as high as 64% (followed by publications at 11%). In North America, that number reaches 57% (followed by fintech at 14%), and in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, it sits at 39% (followed by e-commerce at 27%).

Gaming has long been the top vertical on mobile, as it monetizes better than any other category. And it is continuing to solidify its place by constantly evolving and innovating.

Above: Hypercasual game sessions grew in Asia Pacific.

Image Credit: Adjust

From 5,460 apps across all regions and verticals, Adjust global data shows that the top global sub-vertical is puzzle gaming (16%), but that swaps to role-playing games in Asia Pacific (23%).

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Gaming makes up a quarter of all iOS downloads and 21% of all Android downloads. Adjust’s Global App Trends Report showed that sessions, installs, time spent in-app, and the number of sessions per day all boomed in 2021.

Looking at install costs across these networks globally, Apple leads the pack with $3.86. An install from Facebook costs $1.02, while Google Ads comes in at 91 cents. AppLovin, ironSource, and Mintegral follow at 58 cents, 39 cents, and 19 cents, respectively.

Hypercasual remains a major contributor

Hypercasual games are at a crossroads in 2021.

Above: Hypercasual games are still popular in 2021.

Image Credit: Supersonic Games

Hypercasual games, characterized by their lightweight, instantly playable, and infinitely replayable gameplay models, are expanding the traditional definition of games.

Adjust saw increases of 43% for installations and 36% for session times for hypercasual games in 2020, which is up another 44% in the first three quarters of 2021. Hypercasual sessions jumped as high as 72% above the 2020 average in mid-March as lockdowns started across the globe. Even after this huge jump in 2020, sessions have still managed to grow by another 2% this year — growth that would be 25% if the aforementioned peak would be excluded.

The cost to acquire users has been decreasing across all regions, but U.S. users still come with a significantly higher price tag at 55 cents, when compared to those in Europe, Middle East, and Africa at 15 cents. Globally, the average cost-per-install hovers around 25 cents.

The global study analyzed over 270 advertising networks across nearly 250 countries and 12 verticals. Adjust looked at 6 billion paid installs and 160 billion app opens across the 5,460 apps.

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