How PicsArt has Thrived in the Competitive Photo & Video Category

An All-In-One Solution for Visual Creativity and Community

Key Takeaways:

  • PicsArt has experienced remarkable growth in the Photo & Video category and is ranked No. 14 in global downloads for apps (excluding gaming) in 2019.
  • The company’s growth trajectory can be attributed to its focus on organic growth, App Store Optimization (ASO), social media marketing, and continuous product optimization.
  • PicsArt differentiates itself by offering a combination of creative tools, a vast content library, and a thriving community of 150 million monthly active creators.
  • Organic growth remains a key focus for PicsArt, complemented by paid acquisition, co-marketing, and partnerships with influencers and VIPs.
  • The app’s feature-driven approach, with popular editing packs and innovative tools like Replay, drives user engagement and customization.
  • PicsArt stays on top of word-of-mouth and trends by leveraging its passionate team, social channels, and partnerships with popular celebrities and brands.
  • The app’s success lies in its ability to cater to different user needs, such as perfecting everyday moments, expressing passions, promoting businesses, and creating art.
  • Teams looking for success in the mobile app ecosystem should focus on product-market fit, ASO, continuous experimentation, and being culturally relevant.
  • PicsArt’s next phase of growth involves further development of Replay, empowering creators, and expanding its video editing tools to other social channels.
  • The Photo & Video category is expected to continue growing, with social media playing a dominant role in visual storytelling and all-in-one apps gaining momentum.


The Photo & Video mobile category has witnessed explosive growth as users become increasingly fascinated with creative ways to capture, edit, and share visual content with their friends. Among all the categories on app stores, Photo & Video has seen the fastest revenue growth since 2016, with earnings reaching nearly $2 billion in 2019, up from $240 million in 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 100 percent.

While many apps have capitalized on this growth, PicsArt, a San Francisco-based social Photo & Video app company, has experienced remarkable success in recent years. In 2019, the app ranked No. 14 in global downloads for apps (excluding gaming), demonstrating its popularity and widespread adoption.

PicsArt’s Growth Trajectory

PicsArt was founded in 2012 and achieved a significant milestone by garnering 45 million monthly active creators within just two years, primarily through word of mouth and search. Today, the app boasts over 150 million monthly active users worldwide and is available in more than 30 languages. PicsArt’s growth strategies have always centered around App Store Optimization (ASO) and social media marketing, which involve sharing user edits, utilizing hashtags, and mentioning users to create a viral effect.

The company prides itself on being platform agnostic, empowering visual storytelling on any platform. It constantly optimizes its product, unveiling new features and tools that make it even easier for users to embark on their storytelling journey on PicsArt. For instance, the app regularly enhances its share flow to provide a quicker and more intuitive experience. Additionally, PicsArt offers a plethora of one-tap effects, including the globally popular Sketch effect, which even caught the attention of celebrities like Kim Kardashian. Moreover, the app recently introduced a new product called Replay, enabling users to replicate others’ edits on their own photos in a matter of seconds. This feature streamlines the editing process, promotes collaboration, and enhances social sharing.

PicsArt’s Differentiation in a Competitive Landscape

One of the key factors contributing to PicsArt’s popularity is its ability to cater to a wide audience. Unlike niche apps, PicsArt serves as an all-in-one Photo & Video editor with a unique combination of creative tools, content, and a massive community of 150 million monthly active creators. With thousands of editing tools and an extensive content library consisting of free-to-edit images, stickers, photos, and backgrounds, PicsArt fosters social and collaborative photo & video editing. Users can create fan art, remix images from other users, and enjoy the network effect that arises from these interactions.

PicsArt also houses numerous thriving fandoms, providing dedicated communities for various interests, including comics, Kpop, and more. Its vast library of visual content, with one billion images edited monthly, positions PicsArt as an unrivaled player in the market. This breadth of content drives engagement and ensures that users find a creative outlet that aligns with their interests.

Embracing Organic Growth on a Global Scale

Organic growth has been instrumental in PicsArt’s success, and the company continues to prioritize it. While the majority of growth is organic, PicsArt complements it with paid acquisition, co-marketing efforts, and partnerships with influencers and VIPs, including its own homegrown influencer community. With a global user base, PicsArt focuses on staying culturally and regionally relevant to ensure continued engagement.

To maintain a strong presence in search results, PicsArt employs effective ASO and keyword optimization techniques. However, the company goes beyond search algorithms and actively stays on top of local, regional, and global trends. By aligning its content, photography, and editing challenges with trending topics, PicsArt keeps its community engaged. Social media channels play a crucial role in amplifying these challenges and trends, allowing PicsArt to reach new users and foster user-generated content.

The Power of Features and Customization

As an app driven by features, PicsArt offers popular editing packs and tools that provide users with extensive customization options for their photos. With one billion images uploaded monthly, PicsArt gains valuable insights into user preferences and interests. This data-driven approach fuels continuous evolution and innovation, ensuring that the product remains aligned with user needs.

PicsArt has also introduced a notable feature called Replay. Unlike simple presets and filters, Replay displays every single edit applied to an image and allows users to apply those edits to their own photos with just a few taps. This feature empowers users to customize their edits at each step, resulting in a unique and personalized touch. Additionally, Replay helps drive larger editing trends and enables users to achieve the signature looks of influencers, as recognized by the App Store.

Fostering Word-of-Mouth and Trackable Growth

PicsArt recognizes the importance of word-of-mouth and other less trackable elements in reaching new users. The company boasts a passionate and agile team of over 500 individuals who are quick to identify trends and bring them to the app’s users as soon as they go viral. Social media channels serve as valuable tools for tracking and highlighting these trends. Additionally, PicsArt gauges the popularity and interest of its fandoms and in-app challenges by monitoring users’ hashtags and challenge submissions.

Partnerships and co-marketing initiatives play a vital role in expanding PicsArt’s user base. Collaborations with renowned celebrities and brands like Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, and The Jonas Brothers have been particularly impactful. These partnerships help drive engagement, attract new users, and establish PicsArt as the go-to app for creative expression.

Takeaways for Success in the Mobile App Ecosystem

PicsArt’s VP of Growth Marketing, Jeff Roberto, shares valuable insights for teams aiming to achieve success in the mobile app ecosystem:

  • Focus on creating a product that people love by understanding and fulfilling user needs.
  • Become an ASO master to ensure visibility in search results and optimize app performance.
  • Continuously experiment and optimize features and strategies based on user feedback and data insights.
  • Leverage learnings across different marketing channels to maximize impact and reach.
  • Stay culturally relevant and trend-focused to keep the community engaged and attract new users.
  • Embrace mistakes and failures as opportunities to learn and improve.

The Future of PicsArt’s Growth and the Photo & Video Category

PicsArt’s journey of growth continues with several exciting developments on the horizon. The company is particularly enthusiastic about the potential of Replay, which empowers creators to showcase their entire creative process and helps them achieve unique design aesthetics quickly and effectively.

PicsArt also anticipates an increase in influencers building their fame on the platform. With expanded video editing tools, creators can leverage PicsArt to enhance their content on other social channels, including Instagram and TikTok.

Looking at the broader landscape, the Photo & Video category is poised for continued growth in the coming years. Social media platforms have become dominant vehicles for visual storytelling, evident from the rise of Instagram, Snapchat, and PicsArt, as well as the continued dominance of YouTube and the emergence of TikTok. In fact, 10 out of the top 20 most downloaded apps in 2019 were related to photo, video, and social media. This category experienced the highest revenue growth between H1 2018 and H1 2019, demonstrating its significance. PicsArt played a substantial role in this growth, ranking as the 14th most downloaded app worldwide in 2019, surpassing popular platforms such as Uber, Amazon, and Twitter.

The future of the Photo & Video category lies in all-in-one apps that provide users with a comprehensive suite of tools and functionalities. Single-purpose apps focused solely on filters or age transformations are likely to lose momentum. As anyone can now be a creator, the emphasis shifts to unique and versatile apps that enable users to accomplish a wide range of tasks from a single platform.


PicsArt has carved out a prominent position in the competitive Photo & Video mobile category by offering a comprehensive suite of editing tools, a vast content library, and a thriving community of creators. By fostering organic growth, staying on top of trends, and leveraging partnerships, PicsArt has successfully attracted millions of monthly active users globally.

With features like Replay and constant innovation driven by user insights, PicsArt ensures that users have extensive customization options and a seamless editing experience. The company’s success is a testament to its commitment to creating a product that people love while staying culturally relevant and trend-focused.

As PicsArt looks toward the future, it aims to further enhance its offerings, empower creators, and solidify its position as a leading all-in-one Photo & Video app. Meanwhile, the Photo & Video category as a whole is set to thrive, driven by social media’s role in visual storytelling and the growing demand for comprehensive apps that cater to various creative needs.

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