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Tried-and-true methods for deploying cross-promotion ads

April 21, 2022
Margot Miller
Brand Content Manager
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We’ve already shared a bit about why we think cross-promotion is an essential part of any app marketing strategy in 2022. Now we’d like to shed some light on how best to deploy cross-promotion creatives to gaming audiences.

Cross-promotion ads focus on users that are likely to churn, but choosing where and when to display a cross promotion ad isn’t so straightforward. It results in a tradeoff:

  • In general, likely-to-churn users should be shown cross promotion ads as soon as possible in order to maximize the chances of converting them to another game before they actually churn.
  • However, displaying large ad formats too soon in the game journey may disrupt the user experience and degrade organic retention.

There isn’t one magic format that will always result in a conversion. The most consistent element, no matter which ad format, is that creatives should have a one-click install. This will minimize the time between the user viewing the creative and the eventual install, increasing the conversion rate and offering a seamless user experience. One-click installs can be compared to adding deep links in a typical retargeting ad, which result in much higher conversion rates.

In our research and consultations with gaming companies running cross-promotion, there are three main ad formats that each serve a different purpose in the user funnel: banner ads, interstitials and mid-sized creatives. Each has its pluses and minuses, but deploying them at the right time leads to higher conversion rates and more successful campaigns.

Banner ads

Example of a banner cross-promotion ad on a phone screen with a large cartoon egg next to it

This is the tiniest of all formats, guaranteed to avoid disruption within the game experience. We recommend displaying banners on the home page as soon as the app is opened in order to maximize awareness and the chances to convert the likely-to-churn user to another game.

The average CTR for banner ads is somewhere between 0.8% and 1.7% depending on the content. Overall it’s generally lower than larger ad formats, which are more amenable to video and playable creatives. However, its purpose is to maximize the user’s awareness of the target game as soon as possible, and hopefully gain an install later in the journey.


A cross-promotion interstitial ad on a phone screen that reads "Dragon Mania Legends, I'm Hungry" and "Feed your dragon" with a red cartoon dragon. Two cartoon eggs are on either side of the phone.

This is the largest of all formats. It guarantees the highest click-through rates, and can be used to promote another app in the portfolio with a fullscreen video for example. However, it appears over the source app and hides it completely, therefore in general we recommend displaying interstitials at the end of a game session (for example, when the user comes back to the game menu). It is also possible to leverage this format in a reward scenario, meaning that the user voluntarily displays the ad in exchange for an in-game reward (coins, etc.)

For mobile games, interstitial ads can drive a CTR of 3.3%, depending on their content. As mentioned, rich media creatives such as playables and video are likely to drive higher engagement than static.

Mid-sized ads

An example of a mid-sized cross-promotion ad on a phone screen; a red dragon and the words "Dragon Mania Legends, I'm Hungry, Feed your dragon" with two red cartoon dragon eggs on either side of the phone

As an alternative to the banner or interstitial formats, mid-size formats take up only half the screen (in portrait orientation). This format has the best of both worlds in some ways: it increases visual awareness compared to banners, but maintains a low-disruption experience as the user can still see the game behind the ad. Mid-size format ads are ideal for second-time visits to the homepage in case the first banner display didn’t lead to a conversion.

The conversion rate of this format depends on its content: for example a rich media mid-size format will generate a higher CTR than static. 

Why cross-promotion?

Cross-promotion is still evolving as a tool for user retention in performance advertising. What’s clear is that this year, a cross-promotion strategy is essential for gaming app marketers serious about maintaining an engaged audience. Between the increasing number of M&As and the reduced collection of IDFAs, app developers must adapt to the ever-changing world of ad tech in order to stay relevant. Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can help boost the portfolio-level LTV of your app audience.

Ready to learn even more about cross-promotion?

Read our white paper here, and listen to Cameron Thom talk about the importance of cross-promotion for app marketers in 2022 with Upptic and Business of Apps!

Margot Miller
Brand Content Manager
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