January 10 16

What Is Incentive Traffic – Best 10+ Sources

The ever-changing marketing industry sometimes leaves beginners in frustration with tons of both existing and turning up terms. "Incentive traffic" and "non-incentive traffic" are used quite often, yet still marketing forums have numerous threads asking to clarify these two terms. If novices try to learn the differences and benefits of incentive traffic, experienced marketers continuously search for incentive traffic sources. We’ve recently clarified the term "non-incentive traffic" and listed its pros and cons. Now it is high time for incentive traffic to have its momentum.  

So, below you will find a definition of incentive traffic, its advantages and disadvantages, and a list of ad networks that work with incentive traffic.

Incentive Traffic: Definition

Incentive traffic (aka incent or incentivized traffic) is traffic generated through a system of rewards to users from advertisers. Users receive a bonus for performing a specific action, for example, clicking on a link or downloading an application. Incentive traffic is usually used to generate a large volume of traffic in a short time. Incents may be in the form of prizes, bonuses, discounts, e-books, video tutorials, whitepapers, money, etc.

In fact, incentive traffic is much more cost-efficient compared to non-incentive traffic. However, there are some pitfalls that we will discuss below.

Incentive Traffic: How It Works

Marketers can’t find a consensus on incentive traffic. Some criticize it for being not authentic because users are attracted with various rewards (aka incents) compared to non-incentive traffic, which is considered high-quality and of higher value in the long run. But the truth is that incentives are still widely deployed.

  • Offer walls and rewards. For gaming sites and apps, a user can be rewarded with bonuses (i.e., tokens, extra lives, etc.) in exchange for extra information (email) or access to social media followers.

  • Content locking. To get access to the content (app page, article, or offer) a user has to make an action, for example, to subscribe to email news, participate in a survey. Besides content lockers, there are other types of lockers, such as video lockers, file lockers, URL lockers, and offer walls.

Example: Business #1 offers visitors interesting content on relevant topics and invites them to subscribe to email news at the end of every article.

Business #2 also provides relevant content but at the end of every article offers readers to download a free PDF with a relevant case study via a provided form. In this case, the PDF file is an incentive for users to leave their email addresses.  

As a result, business #2 will acquire a larger email database than business #1.

As you might know, the number of installs significantly influences the app rating for both Google Play and App Store: many users should install the app in a short time to boost the ranking. Later, when the app is listed in the "top apps" or "top free apps", organic traffic appears.  

Incentive traffic ad campaigns help small businesses compete with larger companies. Actually, incentive traffic can be generated via all types of ads using various traffic sources. Motivated users are more prone to download apps, subscribe to newsletters, or join contests consequently improving the app’s ranking.

Incentive Traffic: Pros & Cons

The quality of incentive traffic may vary greatly and depends on what engagement is incentivized and what reward is deployed. Actually, this may determine the good and the bad in incentive traffic.  



  • Cost-effective. Let’s say if for non-incentive ad campaigns every new customer might cost around $3-4, for incentive ad campaigns the cost can be as low as $0.70.
  • Time-effective. As mentioned above, you can generate a larger traffic volume in a shorter period.
  • Increased traffic volume. Naturally, incentive ads users are convinced faster to make a purchase or install an app. If you receive a discount coupon for an item you plan to buy, you are more likely to purchase it at once.


  • Lack of true interest. This aspect explains why incentive traffic is often considered low-quality traffic or even fraud. It is quite clear that many users are here just to get the reward.
  • A higher rate of dropout. The challenge for incentive traffic campaigns is in retaining users’ interest. Many users can be interested in the reward and not in the product. This may have a negative impact on website analytics and, consequently, the SERP ranking.
  • Many affiliate programs do not allow using incentive traffic. This explains the decline in the number of advertising networks that provide incentivized traffic.  

Incentive Traffic vs Non-Incentive Traffic

Both traffic types, incentive and non-incentive, have advantages and disadvantages. The choice depends on the business that requires traffic.

Incentive traffic works best for businesses that want to earn fast. Motivated with rewards people take actions at once as bonuses might not be available later. However, the downside of incentive traffic is that once the reward is removed the traffic volume is significantly declined.

The non-incentive traffic generation method might take time to roll in but results in a more loyal audience. Returning customers are more valuable for business in the long term.

It is not a new concept to attract customers with rewards, and it is very popular in some niches. Many marketers consider incentives as a powerful tool for promoting mobile apps, particularly in the gaming niche. Various contests, giveaways, and referral models are widely used to generate incentive traffic.

However, incentive traffic sometimes is considered spammy and of lower quality. Thus, many affiliate programs restrict using incentive traffic ("no reward-based traffic"). Hence, when you select an affiliate offer, make sure what type of traffic is required and whether there are any restrictions on using incentives (rewards).

Have you worked with affiliate offers that allowed incentive traffic?
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Best Sources of Incentive Traffic — Advertising Networks

To generate incentive traffic marketers usually use specialized paid traffic sources — Advertising Networks. Below you will find the list of the best ad networks that drive incentive traffic.

  • AdColony. Launched in 2011, AdColony has become one of the leading mobile advertising platforms. With over 1.5 billion users all over the world, the platform is known for its advertising expertise and extensive ad SDK footprint. The primary market is the US.

  • NativeX. A popular mobile advertising platform that helps "in obtaining users that are valuable for you." Besides various ad formats, the platform "offers mobile video for deeper user engagement."

  • TapJoy. One of the most recognizable incentivized advertising networks; it helps to maximize ad campaign performance by "leveraging TapJoy’s data, technology, and expertise (high impact video ads)."

  • Mobupps. The platform was founded in 2008. Mobupps is considered a performance-oriented ad network with multiple ad formats supported (including PopUp, PopUnder, In-App, Native, Banners, Rewards, Offer Wall, Content Lock, etc.)

CPALead. This is one of the most recognizable web and mobile PPC advertising networks that supplies "CPA lead gen offers to Android and iOS Mobile Apps, Content Lockers, Websites, and media buyers." CPAlead provides various ad formats, including native ads, banners, PopUnder, PopUp, content locking, and others.

  • AppLovin. One of the trustworthy platforms with expertise in the mobile apps ecosystem. Launched in 2012, AppLovin represents a platform "where app developers of all sizes can connect with their ideal consumers and get discovered."

  • LiftOff. Launched as a CPA-optimized mobile user acquisition platform for app marketers, LiftOff provides CPI ad campaigns optimization. Besides, the platform offers retargeting and lookalike features to maximize the ad campaign performance.  

  • SmartyAds. This is one more platform for advertisers "who search for safe, supreme-quality push traffic that converts in higher ROI, instant user engagement, and retention." SmartyAds offers a flexible CPM pricing model, third-party impression analytics tags support, API, as well as comprehensive statistics with an in-depth performance overview.

  • CPIMobi. The platform allows marketers to promote mobile apps on a CPI basis (from $0.09 per install). To verify the quality of provided traffic, CPIMobi offers 50 installs for free. The platform strives to simplify the advertising process using innovative marketing technologies and extensive global reach.

  • AdJust. This is a platform for "mobile attribution, campaign automation, and data privacy and protection." The advertising network offers marketers multiple tools for filtering bots, preventing frauds, and building dynamic audiences. AdJust offers three pricing models to choose from — Basic, Business, and Custom.

AppsFlyer. This is one of the well-known advertising platforms with 20 offices worldwide, more than $300 million in funding, and 9k+ integrated partners.


Sure, there are advocates for both incentive and non-incentive traffic; however, many marketers agreed that the optimal strategy combines these two types of traffic. Not all advertisers allow incentive traffic; however, this traffic type is still welcome for app installs, gaming, gambling, and sometimes even for e-commerce. At the end of the day, it is crucial for marketers (and affiliates) to read thoroughly the terms of every offer as it can influence the income.

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