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How to use Twitter app install ads and creative best practices

It seems that Twitter has come a long way. Along with becoming profitable, they have worked significantly on their Twitter app install ads. Twitter app install ads are still far from being a top mobile user acquisition channel for developers, however if you’re looking to diversify (and it seems this is the case for a lot of people right now, stirring away a bit from Facebook) there are some really interesting aspects in Twitter ads.

Table of Content

Twitter’s Monthly Active Users volume doesn’t compare with Facebook but is still significant
MAU growth has slowed down but Twitter is still used by a lot of users

In this post we start by taking a look at what exactly are Twitter app install ads. More importantly we give you several best practices and tips for running Twitter ads, coming both from Twitter itself and several user acquisition experts we’ve talked with.


On Twitter (i.e not including the Twitter Audience Platform), app install ads display in the user’s home feed in what Twitter calls an “App Card” (similar to Facebook ad creatives and Instagram feed ads).

There are two types of app cards : image app cards and video app cards.

They pretty much display the same way except that the video app card, well, has a video.

Something interesting to note is that as opposed to Facebook feed ads (unless users tap on the video creative), the call to action on Twitter opens the App Store “in-app” (see below). Not a big difference but a split second saved.

Here are the specs for the image and for the video:

  • Images
    • Tweet copy: 256 characters are available (24 characters are used for images).
    • Image size: 800 x 800 pixels (max 3mb) for 1:1 aspect ratio. 800 x 418 pixels (max 3mb) for 1.91:1 aspect ratio
    • File types: PNG and JPEG are recommended. We do not accept BMP or TIFF files. Note that GIFs uploaded will render as a static image.
    • Title/price: Pulled from app store.
    • Call to action options: Install (default if app is not installed), Open (default if app is installed), Play, Shop, Book, Connect, and Order.
  • Video
    • Tweet copy: Media Studio allows the full 280 characters when tweeting, while Ads Manager allows for 256 characters. (24 characters are used for images).
    • Video ratio: 16×9 and 1×1.
    • Title: Truncated at 70 characters.
    • Description: Truncated at 200 characters.
    • File size: 1GB Max
    • File types: MP4 or MOV.
    • Max time: 2 minutes and 20 seconds. (Select advertisers are eligible to request an increase up to 10 minutes)
    • Video codec recommendation: H264, Baseline, Main, or High profile with a 4:2:0 color space.
    • Frame rate recommendation: 29.97FPS or 30FPS. Higher is acceptable. If the available video has a lower frame rate don’t try to “upsample” it.
    • Video bitrate recommendation: 6,000 – 10,000k (recommended 6,000k) for 1080p. 5,000k – 8,000k (recommended 5,000k) for 720p).
    • Audio codec recommendation: AAC LC (low complexity).

Of course we’re biased and like the video format better, especially in a feed that users scroll pretty fast. Sadly GIFs don’t work for this yet, however they can be used with Twitter Audience Platform.

As of June 2017, a quarter of US marketers were running video ads on Twitter, same as Instagram.

Twitter app install ads (in their current form) are more recent, so adoption is not there yet.

Twitter is somewhere in that “Other Paid Installs Network”

Twitter is all about what’s happening right now, more than any other ad network out there.

People follow others because they want real-time bits of information and quick interactions help news (of all kinds) spread fast.

Something important to ask yourself is therefore if and how your app or brand can benefit from these contextual and “real-time” aspect. And how you can leverage them, with the right creatives, to acquire qualified users.

Of course you also need to understand if your audience if on Twitter to begin with. And it might not always be the case.

Percentage of U.S. adults who use Twitter as of January 2018, by age group

To get a better understanding of this, take a look at your app’s audience (or ideal audience) and:

  • Head on to Statista and search for Twitter related stats that are relevant to your vertical.
  • Check if your audience’s favorite brands and influences have a high following on Twitter.

For example many twitter users are in college (28% of Americans with a college degree use Twitter), are likely to have above-average income (30% of Americans who earn $75k or more use Twitter) and live in the city. More stats here.


Below are some type of apps that we see having the most potential with Twitter app install campaigns, and an example for each

News app

Whether it’s “general” news apps or apps focused on specific topics (sports, politic, tech, etc.), Twitter is a great place to try for app install campaigns.

Why? 74% of Twitter users say they use the network to get their news!

Here is an example with the news discovery app SmartNews.

Utility and productivity apps

A lot of Twitter users are tech-savvy and download a lot of apps. And to these users, utility and productivity apps (email, document management, password management, scanners, etc.) that make their life easier are often worth a try.

Here is an example with Dashlane.

Finance apps

What do higher-income users (see stats above) need when it comes to mobile apps? Apps to manage their money or invest. So a lot of finance apps (trading, banks, investments, digital wallets) advertise with Twitter app Installs.

Here is an example with Varo.

Educational apps

If so many users want to know about what’s happening in the world, chances are a lot of them are also interested in learning new things. Educational apps (language apps, audiobooks, etc.) therefore have a card to play with Twitter App Installs as well.

Here is an example with Blinkist.

Event-related apps

What’s great for event-related apps (ticket booking for sports, concerts or theater) is that it makes it easy to find how to target their audience whether it’s by interest or location.

For last-minute ticket apps, they can also leverage discounts.

Here is an example with Gametime.

Casual games

Relative to other ad networks, we do not see that many game app install ads on Twitter.

However it seems that several casual games do advertise there. We reached out to the Twitter app team about the verticals where developers leverage Twitter app installs the most and they confirmed that the casual gaming vertical is strong.

Here is an example with Luminosity.

If your app doesn’t fall in any of these categories it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a closer look, but this gives you an indication.


Optimization options

Here are your optimization options for Twitter app install ads, and how you get charged:

  • App installs: your ads are served to users likely to install your app, within your targeting. You are only charged when a user installs your app
  • App clicks: your ads are served to users likely to click on your app, within your targeting. You are charged when a user clicks into the app store or directly into the app.

Given the name of the article, you’ve probably guessed that we recommend optimizing for app installs and it seems that’s what most advertisers do.

Conversion tracking, attribution window and app events

Being limited to these two types of optimization means that with twitter app install campaigns only, you can not optimize for post-install event like you can do with Universal App Campaigns or Facebook with App Event Optimization.

But like for app install ad campaigns on other platforms or networks, the goal is not only to get installs but more importantly to get engaged users that keep using the app (and purchase, subscribe, etc.).

And that’s why you want to work with your attribution partner (like Adjust, Appsflyer, TUNE, etc.) to set up tracking so you can compare performance beyond just the user acquisition.

As part of this you need to define an attribution window for Twitter ads (period of time in which an install can be credited to Twitter) in the Twitter dashboard. The default is 30 day post-click, 1 day post-view.

2 types of conversions for Twitter attribution windows (source: twitter)

Finally you want to define the in-app events that you’ll be tracking. These events post-install  can be a sign up to your service, a search, adding to a cart, a purchase (in which case you can also send the transaction value), a level completed, etc.

Don’t track too many events, and make sure there are enough conversions for each. For example for Universal App Campaigns about 50 conversions/day are recommended. If you’re not yet doing this for other networks, start with in-app events that are not too deep in the funnel then go deeper as you get a better understanding of the user journey (and more conversions).

Creating tailored audiences

No big surprises here. With tailored audiences you can do things like:

  • Exclude users who already have your app installed;
  • Run lookalike-campaigns based on users that have already installed your app;
  • Do retargeting by reaching subsegments of your current users (based on their engagement with your app) to get them to take specific actions in your app.

To do this, you upload your list of users (IDFAS and/or Android advertising IDS) to Twitter and Twitter then matches with IDs of their users.

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