Facebook Beefs Up Its App Install Ads for the Holiday Shopping Season

By David Cohen 

AmazonFireMobileAppAdTargeting650The holiday shopping season often means new devices in the hands of users, and Facebook took steps to help developers get their applications onto those new devices with improvements to its mobile app ads in the areas of buying, creative and targeting options.

The enhancements to mobile app ads announced by Facebook Tuesday were:

The social network offered more details on the new mobile app ads features in a post on its Facebook for Business page:

Starting this week, advertisers can buy Facebook mobile app ads with highly predictable reach and frequency. This allows advertisers to boost awareness while controlling how often someone sees an ad. For example, advertisers can set their app ad campaign to reach 5 million people with a frequency cap of three impressions per person for one week. Since reach and frequency optimizes for unique reach, it should only be used for campaigns with brand awareness goals, like those for app launches or updates.

As more and more people upload, share and discover video on Facebook, marketers are realizing the value of video at every stage of the buying cycle, from awareness to conversion. This holiday season and moving forward, when eligible, video mobile app ads will play automatically in News Feed. Additionally, advertisers are now able to purchase mobile app ads with video creative through Power Editor.

Finally, device targeting on Facebook has been extended to include Amazon Fire tablets. Just like targeting Apple, Samsung and HTC devices, mobile app advertisers can now reach audiences on Fire tablets. To advertise Amazon Appstore apps on Facebook to Fire tablet users, combine Fire tablet targeting with the “new smartphone and tablet owners” targeting group, which can be found under behaviors during ad creation.


On the developer side, Facebook introduced a new token that makes it easier to identify users across multiple apps, and the social network also detailed its compliance with the European Union value-added tax changes that take effect Jan. 1.

Software engineer Jun Li provided more details in a post on the Facebook developer blog:

In April 2014, we introduced API 2.0, which included a Business Mapping API that gave developers the ability to map users across apps owned by the same business. API 2.2 introduced an even easier way to map users between multiple apps without calling the Mapping API. If the app is associated with a Business Manager, and the user has logged into the app, a token_for_business field will be present on the User object and added to the signed request passed to Canvas apps. This emits a token that is stable for the same person across multiple apps owned by the same business.

This new token has a few specific characteristics:

  • It’s a token, not an ID. As such, it cannot be used against the Graph API; developers still need to store and use the app-scoped user ID when calling the Graph API.
  • It will be included in the Canvas signed_request, and also available to be read via the Graph API’s User object.
  • It will change if the owning business changes.
  • As the value of the business token can change (if the owning business changes, for example), it’s very important that developers design their user database storage schema using their own internal identifier as a primary key, and not use the business token as a primary key for the user.

In summary, introducing this token doesn’t remove the need to store and use the app-scoped user ID specific to the app, but it is an additional convenience wrapper that means developers won’t need to make a second call to the Business Mapping API in order to map the user across apps.

For more details on the token_for_business field and the Business Mapping API, including implementation and code requirements, check out the “Mapping the same user across multiple apps” developer document.

As you may have heard, the upcoming EU VAT law change is going into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Facebook will take on the VAT remittance and compliance on behalf of developers for purchases made by consumers in the EU as required under the new law. We’ll also provide the paid VAT amount and user country both in the payments Graph API object and the payments reports. Read here to find out what this means for your app.

Finally, the Facebook for Business post provided five tips for mobile app advertising during the holiday shopping season:

  1. Find new device owners: Smartphone sales grew 25 percent last holiday season compared with the quarter before.New devices mean new opportunities for app installs. Advertisers can reach new device owners by targeting people who have recently used Facebook on a new device. This targeting option can be found under behaviors during ad creation.
  2. Reach specific devices: If your app is optimized for certain devices, you can target people using newer device models such as the iPhone 6, Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Kindle Fire.
  3. Optimize campaigns for your business objective: To get the most efficient delivery for mobile app install ads, choose “Optimize for installs.” For app launches and major updates, where the goal is broad awareness, use reach and frequency buying.
  4. Identify your top app users and find people who look like them: To drive app installs, build a custom audience using the top 25 percent of users. Then build a lookalike audience based off of it to find people with similar characteristics.
  5. Test multiple ad creatives, including video: As new mobile devices are activated over the holidays, this is the perfect time to test new ad creatives. Test five to 10 new concepts to improve overall campaign delivery and achieve campaign goals.

Developers: What are your initial thoughts on these announcements?