Contrary to what you might expect, the App Store category with the largest advertising presence on social media isn't Lifestyle, nor is it Social Networking; It's the Games category that represents the vast majority of impressions on the major social ad networks.
For this study, Sensor Tower looked at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube to determine if certain networks attract more advertising for certain app categories. Chartboost, for instance, markets itself as the largest mobile games-only network—and because of this, it attracts a lot of Games category advertisers.
Our hypothesis was that Social Networking and Lifestyle category advertisers would dominate the social ad networks because of the relevance of their content, but that wasn't the case. What follows is a look at the advertiser makeup of each social ad network.
We used Sensor Tower's Ad Intelligence platform to inform this study. The data only accounts for advertisers that run mobile app install campaigns; brand advertisers are not accounted for in this study. The data only looks at campaigns directed to the Apple App Store. It represents all activity from December 7, 2015 and dating back to when we started supporting each ad network on our platform.
The starkest disparity between gaming and all other categories of advertising exists on Tumblr. Gaming advertisers represent an enormous 64 percent of all advertising activity on the blogging site.
Tumblr is one of the newer networks to support advertising, so it's not exactly a surprise that gaming—an industry that is known for early adopters of new promotional avenues–has taken to the network so quickly.
Social Networking was the second-largest advertising category on the network, comprising 9 percent of all ad activity on Tumblr.
Facebook is the fastest-growing ad network and the largest player of those we studied in terms of overall impressions. Here, we see Lifestyle and Social Networking advertisers at No. 2 and No. 3 in terms of overall ad activity, at 11 and 7 percent, respectively, behind Games at 28 percent.
Instagram recently opened its platform to all advertisers, and we took a look at the early adopters back in October. Today, the makeup looks much the same, with Games still representing 1 in 4 ads on Instagram. Above you can see the percentage breakdown for Instagram ad impressions. Again, Games advertising is out in front at 24 percent, with Lifestyle and Social Networking coming in second and third at 13 and 8 percent, respectively.
Social Networking app advertisers appear to be less interested in YouTube compared to other networks, representing only 4 percent of all activity (10th in terms of overall impressions). Games, again, represents the majority at 20 percent. Lifestyle and Entertainment were second and third, at 11 percent and 8 percent, respctively.
The most diversified of all social advertising networks is Pinterest. Here, gaming advertisements, while still No. 1 in terms of impressions, only represent 17 percent of all activity. The largest section in the chart below is the "Other" category which includes the 14 additional App Store categories not listed directly on the chart. Included in this group are both Photo & Video and Food & Drink, both at 3 percent.
Looking at this data, there are certainly some key takeaways for mobile advertisers. Firstly, the droves of gaming advertisers that are running campaigns on Tumblr signal that something must be working there. At minimum, it's a channel that's worth testing if you're a mobile game studio.
Secondly, Lifestyle app developers are finding success with user acquisition on social media, as they are the second-largest group on every network except for Tumblr.
Lastly, Pinterest could become an industry standard for those doing mobile user acquisition, much like Facebook has become. It has the most diversified spread of advertisers, with no single category significantly dominating the market.
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