Chartboost: Canada and Australia most expensive countries for user acquisition, Japan and South Korea much cheaper

The most expensive places to advertise a mobile game are Canada and Australia, not the U.S., the U.K. or lucrative markets like Japan and South Korea,  according to cross-promotion network Chartboost. 

The company found the highest Cost Per Install (CPI) bids were for Canadian and Australian users. Chartboost attributes this to the practice of using those markets to “soft launch” games, since user behaviors in Canada and Australia are very similar to those in the U.S., but the markets are smaller and less risky. To that end, developers are more than willing  to acquire users in Canada and Australia to ensure their pre-launch testing is successful.

Chartboost also reports that countries like  Japan, South Korea, China, UAE, Spain, Brazil, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Thailand all tend to have CPI bids less than $1.50, and that many many large advertising campaigns  skip these countries entirely on the assumption these smaller secondary markets “won’t monetize.”

This is an interesting finding, given the fact that many developers and publishers have told Inside Mobile Apps that Japan and South Korea are some of their most lucrative markets. In its most recent quarter GREE reported net sales of 40.08 billion yen ($508.6 million) — its North American studio was only responsible for $16.8 million of that. DeNA (which earned 47.6 billon yen or $609 million in Q1 2012) told us earlier this year that 10 to 15 percent its Japanese audience pays money — a very different picture to the West, where developers would be happy to see three percent of their users convert.

In South Korea, both Com2uS and Gamevil have reported bumper earnings this year, a large portion of which has come from their domestic userbases.  The difference for all these companies is the option to charge in-app purchases through carrier billing in South Korea and Japan, a practice which allows for much smoother monetization and boosts the average revenue per user (ARPU) in those countries quite significantly.

Interestingly, when Chartboost analyzed the CPI campaigns and compared them to CPC (cost per click) campaigns it found that while CPI bids vary significantly by country, but CPC bids tend to be similar worldwide. Finally Chartboost also reports Android bids tend to be worth 80 percent as much as iOS bids are on its network, but the 20 percent gap between the two operating systems appears to be narrowing.