App Marketing

Instagram ads hold huge potential for lifestyle apps - adjust reveals early results

Simon Kendall
Head of Communications

How are Instagram Mobile App Install Ads looking? We’ve just completed a study here at adjust, showing that Instagram users spend 70% more time and stays 20% longer in apps than other consumers, primarily in the Lifestyle category on iOS and Android.

The adjust data science team surveyed 106 apps selected by Facebook for beta testing in the past month. The sample consists of big names across different industries (gaming, e-commerce, travel, social and lifestyle apps) such as PLAYSTUDIOS (of myVEGAS), Zalando, Flixbus and LOVOO.

The research focused on the performance of Instagram’s new actionable ad format that includes ‘install now’ buttons for apps, allowing users to promptly install or launch them within the Instagram platform. The new formula opens the possibility to build on Instagram’s current display ads offering, and represents a shift for advertisers seeking a more sales-efficient marketing capability inside the image-sharing network.

Across the board, performance in apps originating in the Lifestyle category, which includes dating apps like Tinder, shopping apps like Zalando or Amazon, and fashion apps, is significantly higher when the users are acquired over Instagram than other comparable sources.

Users acquired on Instagram spend more time in-app.

  1. Chart: 70 % higher time spent among Instagram users

    The amount of time users spend in-app per channel - calculated exclusively by adjust’s business intelligence platform - displayed clear trends that the time spent by Instagram-acquired users on Lifestyle apps is on average 70% longer than other channels.

    This can be explained by the audience fit between Instagram and the advertised apps - being a popular network for audiences that are also interested in e-commerce and fashion apps. These audiences may be more difficult to target on other platforms. The native ad formats in social apps like Instagram tend to perform better, as the ads are less disruptive to the overall flow. As a consequence of more relevant content, apps using Instagram ads take better advantage of the previously untapped audience.

    Instagram leads the retention rates among sources.

  2. Chart: Instagram leading in retention rate

    Data extracted by adjust also provided insights into the retention rates of users acquired through Instagram (the percentage of users that still use the app for a determined amount of time after install). Instagram ad campaigns show 20% higher retention rates by day 14 after initial install than other channels.

    Users acquired on Instagram use the advertised apps more often.

  3. Chart: Significantly higher sessions-per-user from Instagram users

    The number of distinct sessions that were measured in the apps were up to 15% higher when the apps were advertised on the picture-sharing network, compared to the average for other types of advertising.

“Ads that integrate well with the flow of apps, and with messages that resonate with the audience, generally perform much better. That’s what we’re seeing with Instagram,” said Christian Henschel, CEO and co-founder of adjust. “For us this is a relatively routine analysis, but the data holds considerable value for our clients as they put together their marketing and advertising strategies. ”


Starting from adjust’s extensive in-app analysis datasets, the team pulled aggregated data on Instagram and other sources (such as other social channels, SEM, or display campaigns) from the entire month of August. After having attributed each user to a source, each segment was further sliced by the day on which the user first installed the app.

The performance from each segment was indexed by the organic baseline, zero days after install, and those indices then averaged across the 50 apps with the greatest Instagram volume. Category values were pulled from adjust’s sister service, apptrace, that fetches daily App Store data directly from Google Play and iTunes. These were then corresponded to the lifestyle category in the iOS App Store.