Trend Micro’s Year-Long Mobile App Advertising Strategy Succeeds in Maintaining Increased Conversions and Reducing Cost

Trend Micro introduced two innovative targeting methods: It targeted users with new devices, who have a higher rate of conversion, and introduced Conversion Optimizer to optimize cost-per-install (CPI). As a result, it increased installs by about 60%.


  • Increase installs of the VirusBuster Mobile free trial app
  • Reduce install cost to within budgeted levels
  • Efficiently reach potential customers


  • Specifically target certain users with a high chance of conversion using a specialized campaign
  • For the remaining users with little chance of conversion, use Conversion Optimizer to automatically optimize bids


  • Reduced install cost to 1/3
  • Increased installs by approximately 60%

Trend Micro Incorporated develops and markets security-related products and services throughout the world. With smartphone and tablet numbers increasing at an exponential rate in Japan, the company released its new VirusBuster Mobile app, hoping to protect against potential mobile security threats in its home country.

In this case study, we’ll take a look at Trend Micro’s enduring success in boosting app downloads through strategic use of Conversion Optimizer and user targeting with Google Display Network (GDN) mobile app ads.

Background and strategy

Users don’t actually buy mobile security apps unless they clearly understand why the apps are needed and useful. This is why Trend Micro decided to give users a 30-day free trial of VirusBuster Mobile, allowing users to install and learn to use the app before paying.

However, the company had limited advertising budget for this free version. Trend Micro realized that under traditional methods, the cost-per-install (CPI) was more expensive than it had planned for. Raising the budget wasn’t an option, so the company introduced targeting to attract users with new devices, who have a higher rate of conversion. Conversion Optimizer was also introduced to improve the conversion rate.

Essential points

In viewing the rate of free app downloads over the term of smartphone ownership, it’s clear that users with new devices download far more apps than existing users (Figure 1). Trend Micro therefore decided to divide the users into two groups and create separate advertising campaigns for each one.

(Figure 1) Ratio of respondents who downloaded more than five free apps to time since smartphone purchase

The first group consisted of users who had been using their devices for up to 90 days. These users were actively downloading apps and thus in greater need of improved security. The first campaign was targeted at this group and led to a significant reduction in CPI, thanks to the improved likelihood of reaching potential customers.

The other group included all users with over 91 days of usage. For this far more varied group, Conversion Optimizer was brought in to take advantage of GDN’s mobile app reach. It introduced full automation and optimized bid adjustments, maximizing acquisitions while staying within Trend Micro’s CPI target.


This program led to a dramatic efficiency improvement in the promotion of VirusBuster Mobile. Compared to the average CPI before the two advertising campaigns, the CPI was reduced by 69% for users of new devices and by 70% for users with more than 91 days of use (Figure 2). In addition, new installs increased by 60% (Figure 3).

(Figure 2) & (Figure 3)

It should be noted that even though these campaigns have been running for more than a year now, advertising efficiency has been maintained and acquisitions continue to increase. The secret to this success is likely in appropriately narrowing targets, continuously reviewing plans, and automating operations. Google’s tools are the perfect match for these tasks, able to produce campaigns that generate stable and long-term results.

Future prospects

Thanks to this program, many users downloaded VirusBuster Mobile onto their devices, increasing the overall user base. The next step in improving marketing operations is to encourage more free trial users to convert to paid users. To this end, Trend Micro is currently analyzing the data it has gained for new strategies to promote the usefulness of the product to free trial users, such as announcements regarding new security risks.

“Our product characteristics and Google’s products were a perfect match, and as a result I believe we’ve achieved great results here. What’s quite remarkable inthese campaigns is that we’re managing to maintain good advertising efficiency and acquisitions. The ability to run a long-term campaign in a stable manner allows us to optimize management and reduce costs,” says Miyuki Tsuruga, account manager, online sales division, online business promotion department, Trend Micro Incorporated.

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