USA TODAY Increases App Opens 386% with Liftoff

Campaign increases app installs 107.3%
on popular news app

The ChallengeUSA TODAY is a national media company that distributes news and entertainment content across print, digital, social and video platforms. USA TODAY’s news sites reach more than 85M unique visitors a month across all of its digital platforms, including their free mobile app.

To further increase reach of its mobile app, USA TODAY approached Liftoff to run a mobile user acquisition campaign targeting Android devices in the United States.Through this campaign, USA TODAY wanted to reach qualified consumers who would download and use its free mobile app, driving new app installs and increasing app opens within their CPI targets.

The SolutionThe first step was to receive all relevant postback data that showed what people were doing in the USA TODAY mobile app from Localytics, a mobile engagement and app tracking platform. With an overall goal of driving installs and remaining within CPI targets, the team tracked app clicks, installs and opens.

Once postback data and tracking was in place, Liftoff’s creative team took direction from USA TODAY to set up numerous A/B creative tests across ad formats and sizes. With a focus on driving a large volume of quality installs who actively use the app, campaign performance really came down to optimizing ad creative. Creative tests revolved mostly around banner and interstitial ads. A/B tests included copy, animation, logo variations and text styles to find the optimal creative combination. The Liftoff team also promoted various headlines, topics and articles from USA TODAY in the ads to determine which themes resonated best with potential app installers.

Finally, Liftoff ran the various ads across all major ad networks and exchanges to get them in front of the right people. Ads were served to potential news readers, with an emphasis on rapidly testing many creatives to ensure the most effective ones were used, continually increasing campaign performance.

I was consistently impressed with the Liftoft team’s proactive attention and interest in my business. By truly understanding my goals, they were able to continuously present campaign optimizations that led to great results for my team. Liz Carboni · Senior Marketing Manager at USA TODAY

ConclusionThe USA TODAY campaign was successful with strong performance metrics. By testing various topics and headlines from USA TODAY content against each other, the Liftoff team was able to identify trends that were then carried out throughout the campaign. In one test, a politically themed ad generated a 79% lift in installs against an ad focusing on an internationally known musician. This insight not only helped performance in the Liftoff campaign, but helped USA TODAY optimize other advertising tactics.

Other fruitful tests for the campaign included testing USA TODAY branded ads against non-branded ones. It’s clear that the USA TODAY brand carries a lot of weight. In one case a branded ad resulted in 53% more installs than a non-branded ad.

With the goal of increasing app installs and opens, the campaign exceeded expectations. Optimizations to creative during the campaign led to an increase in app opens of 386% when compared to the initial four week pilot. Other positive campaign performance results included:

  • CPAs decreased 56.8%
  • App installs increased by 107.3%
  • App opens increased by 386%
  • The ITA increased by 134.4%

Having met and exceeding the original goal of the campaign, USA TODAY plans to test more ad creatives, evaluating more granular post-install activity, and exploring the option of re-engagement campaigns.


USA TODAY is a multi-platform news and information media company. Through its newspaper, website and mobile platforms, USA TODAY connects millions of readers every day and engages the national conversation.

  • Founded in 1982
  • Headquartered in McLean, VA