Customize, target, analyze: A Facebook mobile app install ad guide

With the third quarter coming to a close for 2013, there’s little doubt that Facebook will announce yet another increase in advertising revenue from their mobile advertising sales. In the second quarter of this year, Facebook reported that 41 percent of its ad revenue came from mobile, an 11 percent increase from the year’s first quarter.

Along with the rollout of new Facebook mobile app updates and their reported increases of mobile users (819 million mobile monthly active users as of June 30, 2013), Facebook’s mobile advertising is, and will become an even more, important channel for online marketers.

Just under a year ago, mobile app install ads were introduced and since then they have undergone some critical changes that have made it a prominent channel for app developers to market their apps and increase app discovery outside of the ill-equipped app stores for Android and iOS.

While a manual could be written on the topic, I would like to focus on two key components for effectively creating and targeting mobile app install ads.

  1. Optimizing Custom Creatives
  2. Setting Up Campaigns, Ads, and Audience Targeting.

Optimizing Custom Creatives

Ad Parlor, One of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developers, has published a case study on a mobile app install ad campaign that they did for Ultra Interactive’s mobile app, Martini. A key take-away from their study showed that displaying an image of the targeted device in the creative custom was effective in conveying to mobile users the purpose of the ad and the incentive to download the app.

Image source: Ad Parlor’s Mobile Case Study: Ultra Interactive – Martini App.

Along with the device, the custom creative should include an image that is properly targeted for your audience and app’s purpose. If your app is a game, then a game-play screen shot or promo image of your game would be best. If your app is for e-commerce, then an image of a recognizable product would most certainly attract users to install and download.

Your text copy should also attract mobile users to download your app, be sure to include a strong call to action within the first 90 characters of the text and provide a clear, and brief, explanation of what your app is for.

Setting Up Campaigns, Ads and Audience Targeting

Setting up campaigns and ads properly can be a little tricky. First let’s look at the basic components of campaigns and ads.

For a single campaign, you are able to add multiple ads. At the campaign level, you can set your budget and schedules that will apply to all ads. At the ad level, you can set your custom creative, ad copy, placements, targeting, and audience. Since Facebook’s ad system optimizes bids and budgets for ad delivery across an entire campaign, it is recommended that when you’re starting out with new ads to include only a single ad per campaign. This will ensure maximum delivery for all your ads and provide a fruitful set of data insights for the performance of each ad.

You should set up ads based upon device. This means that your ad copy and creative customs should be suited for the targeted device. Facebook’s relatively new targeting options are also important for reaching the most suitable audience for your app. By specifying the particular OS versions and users who are using Wi-Fi, you will display your ad to a narrowed audience of users who are capable of downloading the app to their mobile devices.

Audience targeting includes the basic choices of location, age and gender. Where it becomes interesting, and grounds for testing out different audiences, is when you tap into interests, pages, apps that users have already liked or enabled through their Facebook accounts. This allows targeting to users who have already liked your app page, or who have liked pages similar to yours (i.e. your competitors), or niche interests that are associated with your app content.

To granulate audiences even further Facebook’s custom targeting feature allows you to seek your brand audience on Facebook with your own customer data. Using an email, phone number, or Facebook User ID will allow you to target an audience in which you’ve had a previous interaction with already. This is an ideal tool for re-marketing to users who have previously made a purchase, signed up for an email subscription, or had any other type of interaction that provides you a unique piece of information to target. Therefore, you can be visible to those who are already aware of the brand, and target ads directly towards them.

If there is a simpler way of explaining all of these steps, it would come down to this circular process: customize, target, and analyze. Take advantage of Facebook App Insights to measure the success of your ad campaigns. Adjust your campaigns, ads, and audiences based upon which custom creative, devices, demographics, and niche interest groups are downloading your app.

Andrew Stager is an SEO and Social Media analyst at iProspect, a leading provider of SEO services.  When he’s not slugging away in the SEO trenches, Andrew doesn’t mind reading a good book or two.