Facebook launches new mobile ad unit, prompting users to engage with apps

Facebook’s mobile app install ads have been beneficial for both sides, in terms of app discovery, but the company announced a new line of mobile ads to help boost engagement, once a user has already downloaded the app.

This could be huge for both Facebook and app developers, as these new mobile ads will prompt users to play, listen or shop (among other actions) through an app they currently have on their phone. Tapping the prompt button takes them right to the app or game.

Facebook commented on this new ad tactic in the Facebook for Business blog:

To help drive engagement and conversions, we’ve added new features to mobile app ads that are designed to help businesses reach people that have already downloaded their apps and direct them back into specific features, content or products within the app.

Businesses can now choose from seven different calls to action within mobile app ads. These include universal actions like ‘Open Link’ or ‘Use App,’ along with more vertical-specific calls to action: ‘Shop Now,’ ‘Play Game,’ ‘Book Now,’ ‘Listen Now,’ or ‘Watch Video.’ From these calls to action, businesses with deep links can send their existing customers directly into customized, specific locations within their apps, such as new content, sales or product promotions.

App developers can either create these ads with Power Editor or work with a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer. According to Facebook, this is rolling out to 10 percent of mobile advertisers today, with the rest having this capability on Oct. 8.

Facebook’s mobile app install ads have been a major reason for the company’s success with mobile advertising, but this move could enhance Facebook’s bottom line even further. The company noted that so far in 2013, thousands of companies have used mobile install ads to drive more than 145 million installs.

Facebook wants to solve the problem, as noted in a Developers Blog post, where 66 percent of mobile app users only open an app between 1 and 10 times. Through this new program, app developers could choose between 7 calls to action when building the ad:

More calls to action might be added in the future, as different types of app developers take to the platform. These calls to action can send the user to a specific part of the app, such as the screen for booking a local hotel or listening to a certain artist.

Advertisers could target a wider audience (many mobile app install ads are targeted toward those currently on Wi-Fi, so as not to eat data with an install) and point a user back to an app. This could also remind users to engage with an app they haven’t opened in a while, and do so with a better success rate than notifications (which many app developers have tried to game). There wouldn’t be the barrier of having to install the app, so users would probably be more likely to tap through.

Just like with other types of mobile ads, advertisers can select which OS to target, as well as specific devices.

HotelTonight, a popular app for last-minute hotel bookings, has already been using this feature in a testing phase. Kevin Kwon, the company’s marketing manager, discussed in the Facebook for Business post how successful it has been:

The ability to engage people on mobile by deep linking them into our app from Facebook is very powerful. We’re excited to be working with Facebook on this new feature; it has significant potential to drive bookings in our app.

Readers: How do you feel about this new ad product?

For a complete guide to setting up a mobile ad, click here.

Images and video courtesy of Facebook.