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When Will Mobile Ad Rates Max Out?

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse depends on whom you ask, but the inarguable fact for app makers remains: The cost of getting a person to download an app continues to go up.

It’s a trend that has meant big business for Facebook, Twitter and other social networks that are central to mobile ad campaigns and have been cashing in on the rush to attract new users.

But it also creates a landscape that one mobile gaming executive describes as one of “have and have nots,” where bigger companies with existing customers have a distinct advantage over new entrants.

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The cost of acquiring loyal users has more than doubled in two years—from around $1 at the beginning of 2012 to $2.12 in October, according to mobile marketing firm Fiksu. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the cost per install metric had doubled.

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