How We Slashed Once Upon’s Cost Per Install (CPI) with Different Apple Search Ads Strategies


year-over-year decrease in cost per install (CPI)


ROI in 2021

The Challenge

Once Upon launched in 2017 and represented a new frontier for the photo books industry, being app-only. After several years of sustained organic growth Once Upon was ready to add to its app product and expand its customer base. The motivated team wanted to acquire as many new customers as possible, however it was important to maintain a low cost per install and cost per engagement. For Once Upon, the key engagement metric is known as cost per second post. This is very industry-specific and refers to the second time a user posts a picture in the app. Phiture, who manages Once Upon’s app advertising, was tasked with finding a solution that could reduce the costs of such engagement while still keeping pace with ambitious acquisition goals.

“In Phiture we found a partner who could guide us with their expertise to quick wins. They massively helped to decrease our cost per install while their strategic thinking also drove engagement with users on our platform: a double-edged success.”

Johan Schiller, Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board@ Once Upon

The Solution

Phiture’s Consultants took time to analyze Once Upon’s existing identifying Apple Search Ads (ASA) as a key strategic area for improvement for Once Upon, and presented Skai’s App Marketing solution as a great fit for their needs. To increase volume at an efficient cost per acquisition and maintain a profitable ROI, Phiture tested different strategies in different markets, including experimentation with distribution order rules, targetting returning users, and launching weekend campaigns. These experiments quickly improved the performance of Once Upon’s ASA campaigns and drove outstanding results. In addition, for the first time, Once Upon’s mobile measurement partner data was organized with advertising performance data in a single platform. This allowed for high-level optimization and data-driven decision-making, ultimately contributing to more awareness and business for Once Upon.

The Results

Phiture drove big improvements to performance which included a dramatic 32% year-over-year decrease in cost per install and a 61% year-over-year decrease in cost per second post. This represented a ROI of over 100% in the first months of the engagement in 2020, while for the whole of 2021, Phiture achieved an incredible ROI of approximately 240% Additionally, Phiture nearly tripled the number of Apple’s App Store targets in the process testing over 12,500 keywords.

Once Upon allows its users to quickly, easily, and beautifully make photo books from pictures on their phones, and was launched on the App Store and Google Play in 2017, in Skellefteå, Sweden. Once Upon has print shops in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia while the app is available in 12 languages and has nearly three million downloads. Once Upon photo books have been sold in 109 countries worldwide.Client: OnceUponWebsite: https://onceupon.photoServices: Performance Marketing, Apple Search AdsProject period: 2022