The New Realities of Facebook Mobile App Advertising

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Facebook mobile app install ads

A new chapter is being written in the evolving mobile app marketing challenge. With the unveiling of its mobile ad network, called Audience Network, Facebook has made clear that it views mobile app developers as key to its long-term growth.

Not to be outdone, both Twitter and Google have recently upped the ante with their own focus on mobile app install ads.

In April, Twitter launched its offering for mobile advertisers on MoPub Marketplace, which enables marketers and developers to drive app installs and app engagements.

Google, which has long operated its own ad network — AdWords — has also started providing mobile ad network-like capabilities for advertisers. It now offers targeted app install ads on mobile search and YouTube.

Clearly, the app install ad landscape is heating up, and so too are the efforts from Facebook, Twitter and Google to capitalize on that demand.

While it remains to be seen how beneficial Facebook’s Audience Network will be for app developers’ monetization efforts, two of Facebook’s other recent ad-targeting tools — Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences — have proven to be useful for improving the performance of mobile app install ads.

In an ultra-competitive app install marketplace, exact targeting is crucial to ensuring quality performance of each and every app install ad. Here is what mobile app developers need to know about the new realities of targeted app monetization advertising on Facebook.

Custom Audiences

Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool is a dream come true for mobile app publishers. Custom Audiences can be used to find potential users both on Facebook and via consumers’ offline activities. Using email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs or mobile app user IDs to make the match, Custom Audiences lets you find the exact people you want to talk to and serve specific offers to them that match their customer profile.

In addition, the new Custom Audiences for Mobile Apps feature gives developers the ability to target specific audiences directly from the Facebook SDK without uploading external user data. This is beneficial for app developers that want to reach people that have taken specific actions within their app with ads almost immediately after they do so.

Custom Audience is particularly useful for publishers of apps that are targeted for niche consumer audiences, such as a language tutorial app. The publisher of such an app could use Custom Audiences to build a Facebook mobile app install ad campaign that targets potential users based on specific offline data, such as email addresses acquired from a third-party data provider. The app publisher could then test a variety of ads to specific user groups to see which performs best across specific data sets.

Lookalike Audiences

Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences, an offshoot of the aforementioned Custom Audiences ad solution, enables mobile app publishers to reach new users who are likely interested in their app because they are similar to a customer list already cultivated. This ad offering is crucial to finding and targeting the right app customer on Facebook.

Here’s an example of how Lookalike Audiences works from a mobile app publisher’s perspective: An app developer uploads to its Facebook account a list of users that purchased an app from it within the last five years. The app developer instructs Facebook to generate a list of users that display similar commonalities to those from its existing customer list. Facebook finds users that display overlapping interests and characteristics. This increases the likelihood that the app developer will be able to move users further down the sales funnel since the list has been built by Facebook around users that display similar commonalities and demographics to users that have already made a purchase with the app developer.

In short, Facebook does the hard work of finding and targeting the right audience for improved performance in customer acquisition.

Lookalike Audiences is good for new app installs, whereas Custom Audiences is best for user re-engagement, especially when launching a new app to a set of users that have previously purchased one of your apps.

Facebook has long been a friendly venue for mobile app publishers seeking new users. Now, with its new mobile ad network and more advanced ad targeting and performance solutions, it offers several methods for achieving higher performance from mobile app install ad campaigns. App developers that don’t effectively adopt these new advertising solutions will lose valuable information about the type of users they are targeting and the performance of their campaigns.

Erez Gross, the author of this post, is senior vice president of mobile and display advertising at Matomy Media Group, a global digital performance-based marketing company. He can reached here.

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