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App marketing isn’t an easy job. With hundreds of thousands of apps competing for attention, marketing has become a race, requiring the ability to quickly navigate through dense thickets of technical knowledge and performance requirements.

One of the side effects of this growing complexity is a professional terminology that’s incomprehensible to outsiders. And if an app marketer doesn’t immediately know how CPI, K-Factor and churn relate to LTV — they may not survive as marketers for long.

But human brains aren’t encyclopedias, either. For newcomers and acquisition ninjas alike, we’ve put together a handy reference of 50 useful marketing terms.

Revenue and Growth

Terms in this section pertain to the app’s performance and profitability. While these terms aren’t part of a marketer’s responsibilities per se, the job does require understanding them.

    • ARPU (Average revenue per user): ARPU estimates the revenue each user brings in by dividing revenue by total number of users.
    • DARPU (Daily average revenue per user): similar to ARPU, but calculated for one day. While DARPU is the most common variant of ARPU, there are other variants as well. For instance, ARPPU (average revenue per paying user) segments the userbase to only paying users, and is especially used by companies that rely on a small subset of high-paying users. ARPDAU (average revenue per daily active user) focuses more on retained or frequent users.
    • Churn rate: A ratio for indicating how many people have stopped using the app.
    • Cohort analysis: a cohort is a group that shared some experience, such as using the app during a specified week or paying for in-app purchases. Breaking the userbase into cohorts can help analyze what does, or doesn’t, work.
    • DAU / WAU / MAU (Daily / weekly / monthly active users): Measures the number of active users per day, week, or month. Commonly used by app marketers to evaluate engagement.
    • LTV (Lifetime value): Vital for budgeting ad spend, LTV is an estimate of how much a cohort of users will be worth in a certain period of time. See our 2-part series (part 1, part 2) on how to calculate LTV for more details.
    • K-Factor: A measure for the virality of an app, K-factor is the number of other users that each user brings to your app, typically a figure such as 0.1 (meaning 10% of your users are virally invited). Developer Vasiliy Sabirov breaks K-Factor down in this post on measuring virality.
    • Retention: Refers to how long a user keeps an app (typically a few weeks or months).
    • Session Duration: The length of time a user spends inside the app. Here are some engagement tips from Leanplum to help marketers increase session lengths.
    • Segments / cohorts: Groups of people in an audience who share traits. For instance, the segment of females aged 21-35 who prefer shorter session lengths is where King’s Candy Crush struck gold.

Marketing Specific Terms

The remaining terms all relate directly to acquiring users. Most jobs only require a subset of the concepts — for instance, a given company may use CPM, but rarely or never use CPC.

    • A / B Testing: Running two or more similar ads to determine the best variation. Mobile ad network Chartboost shares essential steps for efficient A/B test runs.
    • Advertising ID: An advertising ID is a piece of information marketers use to track users, and lets them target users who have taken specific actions in-app.
    • Affiliate: People who promote a product or service and get a cut whenever a user clicks through or views an ad.
    • ASO (App Store Optimization): Similar to SEO optimization for websites, ASO is increasing app visibility in the app store by optimizing text, screenshots, videos, and icons on an app’s page.
    • Attribution: The process of crediting conversions to acquisition sources, such as ad networks. Mobile marketers usually use 3rd party tools to make it easier to deal with data from multiple sources. We hear that Tenjin is an excellent attribution tool 😉
    • Burst Campaigns: Campaigns whose primary goal is to maximize user installs in a limited period of time. Stanislava Todorova of advertising performance network glispa shares seven tips for launching a successful burst campaign.
    • CPA (Cost per action OR acquisition): An advertising pricing model where advertisers pay for specific actions — like a sale or a registration.
    • CPC (Cost per click): A pricing model where advertisers pay each time a user clicks an ad.
    • CPI (Cost per install): A pricing model where advertisers pay each time an ad leads to an app install.
    • CPM (Cost per mille, or per thousand views): The amount advertisers pay for every 1000 views (also called impressions) of an ad.
    • CRM (Customer relationship management): The tools and strategies used to manage user behaviour.
    • CTR (Click-through rate): The ratio between number of ad views and number of users who click the ad.
    • CTA (Call to action): Images, buttons, or text that encourages users to take action. A popular example for mobile are “Install Now” buttons found on most app ads. Or developers can opt for a more creative route, like these 31 sites and apps.
    • Conversion: Desired outcomes from marketing and advertising efforts. Usually in the form of a purchase, install, or registration.
    • Deep Link: A URL embedded in an ad that sends the user directly to a specific page in a website (or app), for instance a product page.
    • Deferred Deep Linking: The ability to send a user to a specific page in an app, even if the app isn’t installed yet. We’ve previously explained the connection between increased ROI and deferred deep links.
    • DSP (Demand-Side Platform): A platform that allows advertisers and publishers to buy ad inventory from various networks through a unified interface.
    • Geotargeting: Serving content based on specific geographical location like state or country.
    • Interstitial ads: A type of ad that covers the whole screen of a mobile phone.
    • Impression: The moment a user sees an ad, counted as a conversion for CPM campaigns.
    • Last-touch Attribution: An attribution model that credits conversions to the last source a user came from.
    • LAT (Limited ad tracking): A mobile setting that opts users out of targeted ads.
    • Multi-touch attribution: An attribution model that takes into account the different places a user might have seen an ad before converting, giving a more complete picture of marketing ROI. There are multiple multi-touch attribution models, listed in detail by procurement platform blur.
    • Native ads: An ad format that blends into its environment, appearing seamless with the app or game to users.
    • NPS (Net Promoter Score): A metric used to measure user sentiment and loyalty. Referral company AppVirality explains how to calculate for NPS in a post about reducing churn.
    • Opt-in: A feature that lets users accept or decline to view an ad.
    • Organic installs / acquisition: App installs that resulted from unpaid methods like SEO optimization or app store features. There are multiple ways to acquire users for free for developers with zero to little marketing budget; Marketing Expo outlines 15 ways here.
    • Post-install event: Any event that occurs after the app is installed, excluding opens and closes.
    • Programmatic Buying: An algorithmic system that optimizes and automates bids and ad placements. Interested developers should check out Google’s 5-step guide on programmatic buying.
    • Reach: Refers to how many people see your ad.
    • Rewarded ads: A type of video ad where users watch ads in exchange for rewards. This format is a huge hit in mobile game apps.
    • Rich Media: Ads with advanced features like interactive elements, video, or audio. Digital advertising agency Millennial Media created a nifty infographic to compare click through rates for rich media ads vs traditional ad formats for different industries.
    • ROAS (Return on advertising spend): While ROI assumes a profit, ROAS does not. It’s simply revenue over advertising spend per campaign.
    • ROI (Return on investment): In mobile marketing, ROI is the profit from ad campaigns. It’s calculated as profit (from the acquired users) over the cost of the campaign.
    • SDK / API: Software development kits and application programming interfaces are the code that connects your app to a service, including advertising networks. Often touted as being extremely simple to use; in reality, software developers will often push back against too many of these integrations.
    • UA (User acquisition): Refers to methods for increasing app users. For instance, paid ads or organic campaigns.

That’s a wrap for now. If you think we left out an important terminology or two, please feel free to put us at As always, thanks for reading!

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