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Mobile apps are now a key part of the mobile marketing armory.
And as Facebook has become an increasingly mobile company it has invested in developing its mobile app ad format which is designed to drive app downloads from Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
Mobile App Ads are estimated to have generated more than 145m downloads in 2013. And a number of enhancements to the offering to help advertisers use them to drive the most marketing benefit from their apps.
Firstly, Facebook recognised that generating downloads is only part of the challenge of marketing with apps: 66% of app users only ever open an app they have installed between one and 10 times.
Which is why the social network introduced functionality within Mobile App Ads to help encourage users to come back and engage. The ads can display deep-links which can take people to to specific content within an app. This can include promotional offers within the app for example.
The ads can also include a highly visible call to action, such as, ‘Book Now’ or ‘Shop Now’.
Next, to giving advertisers greater control over the Cost per Install (CPI) of apps, Facebook has brought in the Cost Per Action (CPA) bid type for mobile app ads.
This means you only pay when a user downloads and installs your app. The advertiser sets the maximum budget and Facebook automatically optimises ads to maximise installs while keeping within the CPA budget.
While CPI is a useful metric, it’s also important for advertisers to take a longer term perspective when measuring the success of their app focused advertising.
What’s the lifetime value of customers who install a company’s app? Is it possible to identify the characteristics of the highest value audiences and to focus mobile app ad campaigns on these more profitable customers?
By incorporating Facebook’s SDK into their app or working with any of Facebook’s mobile measurement partners, advertisers can measure in-app actions, like purchases and other downstream actions, and understand the lifetime value generated by their advertising campaigns.
Larger images and video
It’s not rocket science to say that mobile ads with compelling images tend to have higher engagement levels. And this is why Facebook enhanced its ad formats to make the most of images.
The top ad types for mobile, including mobile app ads, now all use larger images, with a recommended image size of 1200x627px for mobile app ads and page post link ads, and 1200×1200px for page post photo ads.
And interestingly Facebook tells us that mobile app ads featuring an image of mobile devices generally outperform ads that do not.
But the really interesting addition was Facebook’s introduction of video for mobile app ads. This lets advertisers use video creative within mobile app ads so that potential users can click and watch a video featuring their mobile app prior to installing the app.
Deep targeting is the one of key advantages of advertising on Facebook, and for mobile app ads there are plenty of options. You can choose to show your ad on the mobile news feed and target it to either the Android or iOS operating systems.
Within iOS, you can aim your ad at either iPhones, iPods or iPads. While for Android, you can target smartphones or tablet devices.
There is also an option to target by minimum OS version, so that you are reaching people whose software is compatible with your app.
And there are settings that dictate your ad should be shown only when the device is connected via Wi-Fi – this can be helpful for apps with large file sizes or for users with limited mobile data plans.
Finally Facebook’s Broad Categories allow you to get even more granular. For example, you can target users with new mobile devices or else focus on owners of specific devices such as the iPad Air or Samsung phones.
Don’t forget custom audiences
It’s also worth remembering Facebook’s custom audiences which lets you target ads at your existing customer lists to drive app installs. Or perhaps use mobile custom audiences to target a new deal to existing app users, enabling them to access the offer and convert from within the app.
The increasing number of apps out there means marketers now have to fight hard and smart to make their own apps a success.
The developments highlighted here show that Facebook has invested the necessary time and resources to make sure its mobile app ads can tick the important boxes required to identify and grab the attention of the right target audience - and keep them engaged with an app.