The Art of Diversification: Alternative Mobile UA Channels for 2024


Mastering Facebook and Google are table stakes in mobile UA. But when the economy faces a downturn, you have to get creative. It shifts from growth-first to more scrutinized, shorter payback windows.

The main benefit is diversification. More channels mean more experimentation and maybe a new and profitable channel. And when one channel suddenly stops working, you’re not completely fucking yourself over.

So without any more bullshit, let’s get to it.

1. Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is borrowing a creator’s audience and reputation to drive installs. I wrote a guide on how to execute influencer marketing campaigns to get you started.

Anyways, more and more brands are investing in influencers – the IAB predicts influencer marketing to grow by 25% this year. I mean, Mr. Beast just signed a $100M deal for the largest competition in television history.

My friends from Media Bodies worked on a recent Mr.Beast video and provided great insights! I found out about it on LinkedIn, so I reached out. When you’re selecting any influencers, one of the key things you’re looking at is to align the influencer’s audience demography with the game’s target audience.

Mr Beast’s majority audience demographic is roughly 73 % male, and over 80% of the audience is aged 18-35 and over 1/3rd in T1 countries; the ideal target audience a battle-themed RPG game like Top Troops would be looking to target for a global launch. A launch also calls for greater reach, which is where larger influencers like MrBeast fit the bill.

Prior performance data from collaborations for similar games serves as a good guide to see whether an influencer may be a good fit; for instance, MrBeast’s previous collaborations with Dragon City provide some reference to expected performance for the Top Troops collaboration. With bigger creators with strong and consistent engagement like MrBeast, and especially when using custom assets, you can ensure you’re optimizing for ROI, but for creators with more varying engagement and views, you can always work on pricing structures hybrid or CPM deals rather than flat fees.

Let’s check Sensor Tower data to see what’s up:

Downloads definitely spiked, but revenue stayed flat. Let’s see how this goes because Mr.Beast and Top Troops collaborated a bit more deeply.

Media Bodies worked with MrBeast for Top Troops’ launch – but it wasn’t just because he’s the biggest content creator today – his viewer demographics fit the precise target audience we were looking for. He has a fantastic engagement for a mega-creator, and he really understands what his audience responds best to. That said, they still took measures to make sure we’re maximizing the ROI – by creating custom assets (MrBeast Challenger, Beast Unit), challenges (MrBeast Challenge), and limited-time rewards to provide an added incentive apart from the regular tracking links and QR codes.

Placing the integration in a popular video style also made a significant difference in performance – the video generated 48M+ views in less than 24 hours.

In the past, they’ve seen these custom in-app integrations with larger creators can produce on average +437% increase in CVR and a +279% increase in ROI, with custom influencer assets seeing 75% better sales than standard in-app items. As you scale or work with larger creators it becomes important to increase performance using these iterations – other examples are gift codes, contests, giveaways.

Producing custom assets from scratch can be expensive, but you can also take pre-existing assets and assign them to influencers to make it seem like they were created for them. Then, you can create events around this for their followers to engage in—this works very well to improve performance, too. Two Dots is an example of a game that used this tactic.

How to win with influencers:

  1. Know who you serve: understand what content your audience consumes, who they follow, and what their interests are
  2. Be meticulous with the legal paperwork: get your contracts and payment agreements in check. Make sure ad disclosure is always in the contract.
  3. Identify the right creators, not the biggest: find creators within a relevant niche and positive engagement rates
  4. Give your creators freedom: and A/B test your creatives to the ground
  5. Craft an enticing offer: be straightforward when reaching out to creators and include your product, promotion type, dates, and payouts
  6. Test, test, test, and measure: ask for creator analytics, utilize custom links and QR codes, and data tools like AppTweak, AppFollow, and AppBot

June’s Journey’s ‘A Party To Die For’ series

Seven episodes of a real-life murder mystery backed by influencers! How about that?

How about the latest Haaland x Clash of Clans integration?

It’s a bit different than the previous examples, plus it definitely had an impact on Downloads and revenues!

Finally, some proper creatives – Wink wink!

2. Podcast Ads

Podcasts are very intimate. No, not like you and your wife. It is intimate like you’re sitting in the room between two best friends or highly reputable artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, etc. Great podcasts build great communities and successful podcasters have a reputation to uphold. That trust takes a lot of time and effort to build.

With tech today, you can programmatically advertise on podcasts with pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads. But with more and more people tending to press the “15 second skip” button, it’s more impactful if the podcaster natively recommends your app to their audiences. Or you can find a balance of the two by sponsoring a read, where the podcast host reads the ad script themselves.

While Apple Podcasts have remained ad-free, Spotify’s tech is pretty impressive. With over 381 million active users, they have Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) that provides audience targeting and ad impression metrics. Expect impressions to cost between $0.015 – $0.025 with a minimum budget of $250.

You can also cut a deal directly with podcast networks who have their own independent inventory of podcasts. Or you can use a self-serve ad network like Acast, StackAdapt, or AdvertiseCast.

Looking at public data

Games like Best Fiends, Dragon Ball Legends, June’s Journey, Lily’s Garden, and Fishing Clash all run podcast ads.

Media Bodies currently has 10 mobile games running Podcast campaigns with budgets varying from $20k to $ 1,000,000. CPMs typically range from $22 to $26, and ROI d360 consistently comes in at around 110%.

The community-building and host authority benefits make podcast ads really effective from a creative perspective. Still, the pixel-based tracking and live optimization capabilities podcasts offer also make their impact measurable and primed for ROAS, which makes this a really sought-after UA channel.

Podcast ads examples:

Tactile Games Lily_s Garden x And That_s Why We Drink

June’s Journey

Game of Roses x LilysGarden

Pretty cool, huh?

Podcast Publishers or Agencies typically have show catalogues and databases similar to influencer talent rosters. These shows are categorized based on niches like True Crime, Sport, Comedy, Business, Politics, Commentary, etc., depending on their content area of focus, each with unique audience demographics.

The fundamentals of Podcast advertising

It’s very similar to influencer marketing. Start by simply defining your basics: Target demography (Age, Gender, Geo), Audience Interests, and Budgets.

The next step is to match your target audience profile to show listener profiles to find the best fit. Publishers, Agencies, or shows themselves are typically able to provide this data if you don’t have access to specific tools.

Some shows and publishers may even allow you to target specific Geos and devices within a specific show’s audience, but this is dependent on the show’s overall reach and audience and publisher setups.

There are tools like Podscribe that can help you conduct a deeper analysis and study advertiser spending to see what your competitors are doing. You can also view stats like ‘Show Renewal Rates’, etc., which give you an idea about the average effectiveness of ads on a show.

Depending on whether you opt for host-read or programmatic ads, there may be additional steps related to producing the script and ad, but publishers, networks, and agencies typically also do have resources to help with this. Actual ad production is obviously an additional cost but an option if you’ve got stricter brand control guidelines.

Pixel-based tracking is a cookie control-proof way to measure your campaigns and is definitely recommended for measuring and analyzing the impact. Still, this setup can take a few days, so this is a good factor to keep in mind when you’re planning campaign timelines.

Once your campaigns go live, you’ll see live tracking data, and can even reallocate spend from one show to another within the same publishers if you see one show outperforming another, extending significant programmatic capabilities to podcasts as a channel

3. Connected TV (CTV)

Netflix, Peacock, Disney+, Hulu, Max. You’re probably subscribed to at least one. Advertising on streaming services and devices is cheaper than before thanks to programmatic advertising and smart TVs. CTV ads are measurable and can reach very large and targeted audiences. 94% of American households are reachable via CTV – spending an average of 2 hours a day watching streamed content.

Types of CTV ads:

  • In-stream video ads: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll
  • Interactive video ads: QR code, CTA buttons
  • Display ads: overlay while content is streaming
  • Picture-in-picture: ad displayed in small box in the corner on top of streaming content

Ways to advertise:

That’s a whole lot of options, which is a nice way to say fragmentation. That’s why brands with the strongest UA campaigns are choosing to work with programmatic DSPs with vast inventories of premium, niche, and local channels as well as live sports league content, all managed under one “roof.”

This type of channel consolidation allows for better targeting, measurement, and optimization, especially when supported by MMP (Mobile Measurement Partner) integrations, which help measure incremental reach, brand lift, cross-device attribution, and campaign ROI.

As 95% of CTV viewers engage in dual screening (watching TV with a phone in your hand), conversion opportunities are much higher than you might expect from a non-clickable medium. In fact, because Streaming TV viewers are granularly targeted with relevant ads, CTV is increasingly becoming a performance UA channel, especially for mobile and gaming brands.

What about creatives for CTV?

Today, quality CTV ad platforms like our friends at can run profitable UA campaigns at scale, optimized in real-time to drive ROAS and lower CPIs. This is a great way to enhance your overall marketing mix as the halo effect of CTV is real. Your social and search campaigns can get positively impacted by having always-on CTV campaigns.

Ultimately, whether you choose to blow your budget on one marquee streaming service like Netflix or hedge your bets with a scrappy programmatic DSP, make sure to work with a robust platform with advanced capabilities like frequency capping, live sports targeting, retargeting, real-time optimization, CPM capping,  and multivariate campaign testing. Here’s how to get started. I actually sat down with Arthur at MAU 2024 to talk about CTV in more depth. Check it out:

4. Partnerships

Partnerships allow you to leverage audiences with non-competing apps that share the same audience. This can be in the form of:

  1. Integrations: Connect your app data with another service. For example: Shazam’s integration on Snapchat.
  2. Comarketing: joint ads like Uber Eats and McDonalds. Or more simply, advertising the app on each other’s social accounts, newsletters, etc.
  3. Affiliates: earn or offer commission for referral traffic
  4. Data sharing: share audience and user data securely via MMPs and data clean rooms
[ x Clash of Clans]

Mini case study: Clash of Clans x

With a shared audience of strategy-loving gamers, Supercell worked with to do a crossover that no one really expected. Clash bots and characters were added to and vice versa. The result? Clash gained over 1 million new users, which Supercell’s head of marketing says turned a toxic community into a game that fans could enjoy again.

5. Communities

I discussed communities’ power in my Beginner’s Guide to Mobile UA. Whether it’s Discord Channels, Slack Channels, Facebook Groups, Whatsapp, or Reddit, online communities are thriving. All of the best mobile games have their own Discord communities, where players can discuss the game, stay updated with news, or provide devs with feedback. That’s why community managers play such an important role in games today.

To succeed in building a community:

  • Stick with a platform that makes sense for your audience. Discord is the most popular among gamers right now. But don’t forget about Facebook groups!
  • Create an organized infrastructure. Who are your mods? What channels are there? Who will get what privileges?
  • Establish clear rules to ensure you’re promoting positivity, leaving no room for trolls or weirdos.
  • Hire a great community manager. They can make or break your community. You have to be active, genuine, and also drive conversation.
  • Engage regularly. Whether it’s answering Q&As or actively posting dev updates – make sure you’re providing value to community members.

Or you can take the paid route with Reddit ads. Redditors are particularly harsh with ads, so you’ll need to put some extra thought into your copy and creatives. Caliber’s ad is an excellent example of how to promote an app with genuine transparency.

6. Organic TikTok reach

Take advantage of TikTok’s crazy reach (before it gets trully banned in the US). It’s a crazy good UA channel right now, if not the best alongside AppLovin. But let’s talk about the organic reach a bit more. Here’s how to win:

  1. Avoid polished videos and go for authenticity unless you establish yourself as a super clear expert.
  2. Study formats of popular creators: the tone, pacing, sounds, and even text placement. Every small detail matters.
  3. Feature people (creators, players, you, your wife, your dog, your kids… no, exclude kids)
  4. Experiment with copy – both overlay and in the caption. It has to be catchy as fuck.
  5. Add a new video every day.
  6. Experiment with lengths. 7-second videos get the best reach.
  7. Always have captions. It makes understanding your content more digestible and more accessible to everyone. Text boxes are used in 86% of all ads. Use them (and use them in your thumbnail previews too).

7. Retail Media

Retailers have really, really ad spaces that haven’t been taken advantage of until today. Beyond Amazon, Target, and Walmart’s homepages – hotel TVs, interactive screens in Uber cars, and inflight entertainment are all new ways to reach your audience.

Most popular retail media networks from most popular to least popular according to the ANA:

  • Amazon Advertising
  • Walmart Connect
  • Target Roundel
  • Kroger Precision Marketing
  • Instacart
  • Dollar General
  • Walgreens Advertising Group
  • Albertsons
  • Costco
  • Sam’s Club

You can get creative with smaller inventories. Anuvu offers 170 games with 87 customer airlines, which are played more than 150 million times a year. Gameloft offers Blokus, Asphalt, Uno, and Shrek Kart on certain airlines.

*bonus* Into the Future: App Stores


After battling Google and Apple to decouple their store from the App Store and Google Play Stores, Epic announced the launch of the Epic Game Store on iOS and Android. Even though Epic lost to Apple and beat Google, this sets a new precedent for devs and advertisers. As alternative app stores begin to appear, understanding how to publish apps, learning its ASO nuances, and optimizing your listings will be critical for UA down the line.

But wait! We also have an Amazon Store & Samsung!

Maximizing Alternative UA Channels: Best Practices

When do you introduce a new channel?

In the past, I’ve advised you to diversify your portfolio when reaching about $20k on one channel. It depends on your budget, especially your CPI to LTV equation. If the cost to acquire a customer is higher than their lifetime value, something is fucky and it’s probably a good idea to try something new. Also, if you’ve already cracked the code on Google and Facebook and have the budget to experiment, diversifying with a new channel has a lot of upside.

Always track your competitors.

Always check the competitors. Use the FB Ads library, TikTok Ad library, Google Ads transparency center, and Don’t only look at their creatives but also how much they’re spending and how they’re spending it. High spend = most effective.

Independent inventory supplies (adding long-tail)

Like commerce media, there are independent inventory supplies that may have smaller reach, but higher quality audiences. Obviously, this is a lot harder to scale, but if you have time and budget to experiment, it’s worth exploring. Ad exchanges, private marketplaces, or direct negotiations with publishers can get started.

What do you think? 

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