July 17, 2023

10 user acquisition channels marketers need to know in 2023

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Reward-driven user acquisition channels




Paid social channels



Programmatic advertising channels



Additional user acquisition channels

        Influencer marketing campaigns

        Connected TV


Mistplay knows UA

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If you feel like your mobile user acquisition marketing strategies are no longer delivering the same results that they used to, you’re not alone. Privacy concerns1, economic challenges2, and changing user expectations have fundamentally changed the user acquisition game, and UA channels that delivered high ROAS even a couple of years ago may not be performing as well today.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board. When crafting a user acquisition strategy for 2023 and beyond, start by familiarizing yourself with emerging channels that can boost your UA efforts and, more importantly, introduce your app to high lifetime value (LTV) users. Paid, programmatic, loyalty-driven, organic — these are the user acquisition channels driving UA in the modern mobile ecosystem.

Reward-driven user acquisition channels

The key to long-term profitability in the mobile industry isn’t blindly casting as wide a net as you can; it’s finding dedicated users who come back to the app day after day, make in-app purchases, and tell others about the experience. With millions of apps on the marketplace, many of which are downloaded and then forgotten3, fostering loyalty is absolutely critical at the UA stage, as shown by the emergence and success of these loyalty-driven user acquisition channels.

1. Mistplay

Founded in 2015, Mistplay was one of the earliest pioneers of play-and-earn on mobile and boasts over 23 million installs to date. Here’s how it works: Android users download the Mistplay app which uses a sophisticated AI algorithm to make recommendations from a library of more than 300 mobile games on the platform. As users play new games and spend time in them, they earn units that can then be exchanged for gift cards for brands like Starbucks, Amazon, the Google Play Store, and more. Publishers also reap rewards in terms of performance by tapping into an audience of engaged mobile gamers. Not only does this turbo-charge UA efforts, but it also increases retention and LTV because the players you’re acquiring actively keep coming back to play more, spend more, and earn more.

By continually rewarding players for discovering and playing new games, the Mistplay app fosters long-term loyalty. To learn more about the factors that affect player loyalty, including a breakdown by mobile game genre, download our 2023 Mistplay Loyalty Report.

An illustration recaps an exciting data point from the 2023 Mobile Gaming Loyalty Report by Misplay.

👀 Related reading: Loyalty is the new key to profitable growth for mobile games

2. AdAction

Designed for “quality user acquisition at scale,” AdAction’s performance-based approach to app marketing drives quality installs across the Android and iOS platforms. AdAction creates custom campaign strategies for its partners based on their app verticals, goals, and budgets while offering a variety of pricing models, including cost per install (CPI). AdAction incentivizes mobile users, but with a very different approach: a non-intrusive offerwall that exchanges in-game rewards for users’ attention. AdAction’s offerwall drives engagement at all stages of the user journey, but it’s especially useful for the top-of-funnel efforts that drive user acquisition.

3. Unity

Following a series of smart mergers and acquisitions, Unity has positioned itself as one of the biggest players in the digital advertising space. When it comes to user acquisition, the Unity platform streamlines the process with intelligent automation while offering a comprehensive view of each campaign’s performance. Through ironSource (who also acquired Tapjoy), Unity provides an offerwall to reward users who complete the requirements, such as downloading a new app. This not only helps boost user acquisition, it increases retention: According to the ironSource website, retention among offerwall users is five to seven times higher than non-offerwall users.

Paid social channels

illustration of person scrolling paid social media on phone

For more than a decade, paid social was the ultimate destination for user acquisition, supported by the twin pillars of Facebook and Google. While the big two still have a place in your media mix, mobile marketers should head caution if they represent a disproportionate weighting due to diminishing returns4 and steep competition. According to Thomas Shin of Moloco, “Consolidation is a liability… The real opportunity… lies in spending less within walled gardens and instead investing in a plurality of solutions that treat the mobile ecosystem as a constellation of communities, each with their own unique advantages to offer.” In other words, it’s time to diversify, particularly if you’re trying to reach a younger, more tech-savvy audience.

4. TikTok

Video sharing app TikTok has seen a meteoric rise since its 2016 launch. According to Hootsuite5, it’s been downloaded over three billion times, making it the most-downloaded app in more than 40 countries. With 150 million monthly active users, nearly a third of them in the 25-to-34 age group, TikTok is quickly becoming a top destination for marketers; its business site bills TikTok’s ad platform as “a place where brands of all sizes and industries can be seen, grow their following, foster global connections and achieve big results.” What makes TikTok so effective when it comes to user acquisition? Its users are so engaged that, as the social media platform claims, 92% take action after watching a video on the app.

Our own data confirms that TikTok is one of the top user acquisition platforms in the social media realm. Its video-centric nature makes it an ideal platform for engaging content that connects with mobile users.

A graph from the Mistplay Loyalty Report shows social media networks players use to discuss mobile games.

5. Snapchat

Snapchat has been steadily specializing in user acquisition of younger audiences for a few years. Its creative ad formats encourage widespread sharing, raising brand awareness and introducing a wide swath of users to your products. Like TikTok, Snapchat is a visual-focused social media platform, but its content consists mostly of photographs and images, not videos. Snapchat creates a sense of urgency with timed messages between users that become inaccessible after a certain point (typically 24 hours).

Snapchat is also notorious for pioneering the widely used Stories format, which has since been adopted by Facebook and Instagram. Over 375 million people use Snapchat every day, according to Business of Apps6, and like TikTok, its fans are dedicated: The average user spends 30 minutes on the app and opens Snapchat at least 30 times a day. Mobile marketers can take advantage of a variety of innovative ad formats, including filters and AR lenses, making it an ideal way to drive awareness with the Gen Z and Millennial crowd.

👀 Related reading: How much does mobile user acquisition cost in 2023?

Programmatic advertising channels

User acquisition campaigns can take a lot of focus and hands-on optimization, which is why it’s good to have options that automate the process. Programmatic in-app advertising channels cut down on manual work by utilizing algorithms to serve ads to the right user at the right time. An automated auction process known as real-time bidding (RTB) ensures that ad spend stays within your budget parameters; as Adjust7 explains, “Imagine a gaming app where the player must view an ad between levels. As this happens, the mobile SSP [supply-side platform] runs an auction. Advertisers can then make their bids using DSP [demand-side platform] advertising, and within milliseconds, the highest bidder is chosen, and their ad is shown to the user.”

6. Moloco

Moloco’s unique value proposition is its proprietary machine-learning engine, which optimizes ad campaigns based on each advertiser’s unique goals using real-time, first-party data. Its network of 2.6 million apps installed across 10 billion devices worldwide is designed to help app makers grow their audience and create lasting profitability. Whether your monetization strategies involve in-app purchases, subscriptions, ad revenue, or a combination of the three, Moloco helps its partners drive profitable growth at scale.

7. Liftoff

The not-so-secret ingredient in Liftoff’s formula for user acquisition success is powerful machine-learning technology that puts your ads in front of the right audience at the right time. Liftoff’s advanced tech filters real-time data in order to find the highest-value users for your app, while in-house creative assistance helps you craft high-impact messaging that speaks to your user base. This allows app marketers to attract and engage quality users at scale while ensuring that every dollar of ad spend goes towards measurable results.

Additional user acquisition channels

man watching AD on tv and liking

The evolving mobile ecosystem has given rise to a number of innovative user acquisition channels outside of the traditional web and mobile advertising space. While rewarded, programmatic, and paid social channels will likely always be part of a well-rounded UA strategy, don’t discount other cost-effective, results-driven channels for growing your audience.

8. Influencer marketing campaigns

Celebrity endorsements have long been a facet of traditional advertising, but the last decade has given rise to influencer marketing, or partnerships with influential social media users to promote a product or service. Influencers have been particularly impactful in the video game industry, with streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch allowing these personalities to easily create content or share their gameplay sessions with their followers.

While you might automatically gravitate towards high-follower-count influencers, these campaigns are all about authenticity, so it’s vital to partner with users who know the mobile landscape. Reach is important, but so is engagement; a mobile influencer with 10,000 dedicated followers could drive more new users to your app than one with millions of casual fans. In fact, according to Emplifi8, micro influencers – those with follower numbers in the thousands, as opposed to hundreds of thousands – have a 60% higher engagement rate than macro influencers. Finally, make sure to thoroughly research any influencer’s background before moving forward with a campaign to ensure their values align with your company’s.

9. Connected TV

If the word “TV” makes you think of traditional (and prohibitively expensive) commercials with no way to measure results, rest assured that the world of television advertising has changed significantly. The rise of streaming apps has reinvented the way audiences consume entertainment like TV shows and movies. Connected TV and OTT inventory from streaming platforms like Fubo TV, Roku, and Paramount+ capitalize on that evolution by blending mobile-like targeting precision with the creative power of the television screen. This means you’ll be able to target a variety of segments and demographics while taking advantage of that extra digital real estate to create eye-catching ads that reach audiences at a time when they’re relaxed and engaged. 

Connected TV also excels at retargeting campaigns in which ads are shown to viewers who previously interacted with your ads on the web or mobile but didn’t convert into app users.

10. Podcasts

Since 2019, podcast ad spend has increased from about $700 million to over $2 billion, with further growth expected well into 2024, per Insider Intelligence9. With millions of podcasts spanning every conceivable topic and genre available across popular apps like Spotify and Apple Podcasts, user acquisition marketers have myriad options for utilizing the popular audio format. One of the most popular ways is to have the podcast hosts read your messaging, rather than using a pre-recorded ad; this comes off as more authentic and makes listeners 43% more likely to buy a product or service, according to Acast10. For podcasts to be a successful user acquisition channel, you’ll need to find audio programs that match your brand voice, content, and tone.

Mistplay knows UA

At Mistplay, we believe that loyalty is the key to long-term growth and profitability. As the leading loyalty program for mobile gamers, we connect users with new games and reward them for each download. For marketers, this means you don’t just get a superficial UA boost; instead, you’ll find your way to high-LTV users who come back to play day after day. To learn more about how Mistplay can fuel your user acquisition efforts, get in touch.

Need to brush up on your user acquisition fundamentals?  Check out our comprehensive article, “Mobile user acquisition: The modern developer’s guide


  1.  Ruoji Tang, How App Marketers Are Adapting to a Privacy-First Industry, Liftoff, December 2022
  2.  John Koetsier, User acquisition 2023: 12 insights from 5 mobile experts, Singular, December 2022
  3.  Erin Griffith, More Than 75% of App Downloads Open an App Once and Never Come Back, Fortune, May 2016
  4.  Thomas Shin, Why ecommerce marketers should look beyond Facebook & Google this holiday season, Clickz, November 2020
  5.  Stacey McLachlan, 50+ Important TikTok Stats Marketers Need to Know in 2023, Hootsuite, April 2023
  6.  Mansoor Iqbal, Snapchat Revenue and Usage Statistics, Business of Apps, May 2023
  7.  Adjust content team, Programmatic advertising explained: Everything you need to know, Adjust, February 2022
  8.  Jacob Porteous, Micro influencers vs macro influencers: What’s best for your business?, Emplifi, June 2018
  9.  Ross Benes, Podcasts will account for more than one-fourth of digital audio ad spending, Insider Intelligence, April 2022
  10.  Christina Brenton and Heather Gordon, Back to basics: Why host-read podcast advertising continues to be the most powerful form of influencer marketing for brands, Acast, September 2022


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