Mobile Apps

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Mobile App Install Ads on Facebook

By March 2, 2019 One Comment

With the help of Facebook ads, Spoon, a Korean radio app was able to increase their monthly active users by 54% and with that their overall revenue grew by 92%. Similarly, HealthifyMe, a health app was able to increase their monthly install volumes by over 5x while achieving a 4x increase in return on ad spend.

High competition across all the major app stores has made it incredibly difficult for apps to get large organic download numbers. As a result, many of the companies are moving towards paid user acquisitions, and the Facebook mobile app install ads seem to be the clear solution.

Facebook has over 1.74 million mobile monthly active users, and if you are not taking advantage of Facebook’s mobile advertising already to get more downloads, then you are missing out on a lot and falling far behind your competitors.

Let’s dive in and discuss everything you need to know about mobile app install ads on Facebook

Designing a high performing mobile app install ad

Let’s dive in and see what it really takes to create an effective and successful mobile app install ad on Facebook:

Choosing your target audience

The ability to target your ideal customers is what makes Facebook ads so effective. Your goal should be to target your app’s smaller, more relevant audience, instead of targeting as many people as possible.

Determine your ideal customer by analyzing the following points:

  • What kind of people would want to install your mobile app?
  • What are the main issues or challenges these people face?
  • How does your mobile app help resolve those issues?

You can target your ideal customers with high precision by taking advantage of the targeting options available which allow you to define your audience’s demographics, behavior, and interests.

There are two ways to create target audiences for your Facebook ads:

  • Custom audience

With the custom audience option, you can target users by their age, location, gender, and other interests. You can also target them by their net income, political affiliation, life events, recent purchases, and other behaviors.

While location, age, gender, and languages are some of the basic options, the detailed targeting section is where you can really target your ideal customers accurately.

For instance, if you have an e-commerce app that sells skin care products for young women, then you could target women between 20-30 years of age who like online shopping and often buy skincare products online.

Custom audience also allows you to reach people who have engaged with your mobile app or business previously. So if you have the email addresses, user IDs, or phone numbers of your current customers, you can upload them to Facebook and reach them with your ads.

If you already have a number of loyal customers through your website, then you could target those customers to let them know that you also have a mobile app now, through the ‘Website Traffic’ option.

Similarly, you can use the ‘App Activity’ option to convert free trial users into paying customers by offering them a discount on your plans.

–      Lookalike audience

With the lookalike audience option, Facebook analyses your selected custom audience or Facebook page and shows your ad to users who are similar to the selected audience in terms of their interests, behavior, and other characteristics. So, if you have an ad campaign that was well received by a custom audience, then you can create a new lookalike audience to reach more similar users.

This option works best when you already have a large user database.

Finding the right ad placement

The next step is to determine the placement of your ad. Now, you can either take the shortcut and choose the automatic placement option which means Facebook will pick the most optimum ad placements for you, or you can custom select the placement for your ads yourself by choosing the ‘edit placement’ option.

Since your ad will only run on mobile devices, a few placement options like right column and marketplace are unavailable.

There are several platforms where you can showcase your mobile app install ads, including:

1- Facebook:

For Facebook, the ad can be displayed in the main news feed, as an instant article, or a suggested video. The Facebook messenger ads were also recently launched, and there are two ways you can utilize them –

Messenger home: Users will see a banner ad for your mobile app on the Messenger home page.

Sponsored messages: These are in-context ads that people can see when they are in conversation with your business through the Facebook Messenger.

2- Instagram

Thanks to Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in 2012, you can also showcase your ads on Instagram and reach over 800 million monthly active users on the photo-sharing platform.

For Instagram, you can choose between advertising your mobile app within the Instagram feed or stories.

3- Audience Network

With the Audience Network option, you can move away from social media and display your ads on third-party mobile apps and websites that are affiliated with Facebook. Your ad on an audience network can be displayed as native, banner or interstitial.

Here are a few more options in the Placement section that you can take full advantage of:

  • Asset Customization: With asset customization, you can add different images or videos for every placement of the same ad. This allows you to save time and cost since you don’t have to create a new ad to display different visuals with the same content
  • Exclude categories: You can choose to prevent your ad from being displayed in certain audience network categories
  • Only when connected to WiFi: In case your mobile app is big in size, users may not be comfortable downloading it using their mobile data. So, you can choose only to display your ad for users who are connected to the WiFi.

Understanding ad budgets

For mobile app install ads, you can choose to pay per link click, per install, per app event (engagement), or per 10-second video views. The most popular of the lot are obviously pay per link click and pay per install.

Paying per app install is more effective, but it’s also more expensive than paying per link clicks.

You should only choose the pay per click option when you are confident that your ad campaign will be able to drive high conversion. After all, if a lot of people are clicking on your ad and only a few are installing it, then paying per click doesn’t make sense.

Facebook allows you to choose how much you want to pay for each install or link click. The bid value for users is set by Facebook according to their behavior. For instance, a user who matches your target audience, but never downloads any apps through Facebook ads has a lower bid value as compared to users who download most apps they discover through ads.

The bidding section on Facebook have also changed recently, and now you have two options —

Lowest cost

Best-suited when you have a restricted budget, the lowest cost gives you the option to set a ‘bid cap’ which is the highest amount you will pay per install or click. Facebook will only show your ad to users who have a lower bid value than the bid cap. But that also means, your ad may not be seen by your ideal customers who may be incredibly interested in your app.

Target cost

The target cost option is only available for app events and app installs, and with this option, Facebook automatically gives your ad an average bidding value. Now if the average bidding value is $3 per install, then Facebook will seek for results close to that value, even if lesser bid values are available.

It may sound like a more expensive option, but it gets your ad displayed to a more ideal audience.

If your targeting is correct, but you are still not able to achieve the conversions that you had expected with the lowest cost option, then you may want to consider using target cost option instead.

You can also set a daily or lifetime budget for your ad campaign along with setting a start and end date.

Selecting the right visuals for the ad

Anybody can create an ad that users scroll right through, but by using compelling visuals, you can make your target audience stop and notice your ad, and in turn, get more downloads.

But before you start designing your visuals for your Facebook ad, you need to know the five types of ads that you can create:

–       Single Image

With a single image ad, you can add only one image per ad. That is why it is crucial to make sure that the image you choose is compelling and it also depicts your brand’s message as clearly as possible.

Facebook allows you to publish up to six single image ads with the same image, at the cost of one. So this is a great way for you to run smaller campaigns to test target audience, scheduling time, and captions.

–       Single Video

Ads with videos give brands more flexibility because you are able to better showcase what your mobile app can do. Since Facebook and Instagram auto-play videos, you are able to drive better conversions with single video ads. But it’s important to use the first few seconds of your video ad wisely because research has found that engagement drops quickly for long videos.

–       Carousel

Carousel ads allow you to upload multiple photos or videos for your ads that users can scroll through. With a higher engagement than single image ads, carousel ads give you more space to showcase the features of your mobile app. You can add up to 5 images to your carousel ad for no extra cost. Each image can have a different headline.

–       Slideshow

Not as used as the other ad formats, the Slideshow ads display a slideshow of pictures you have uploaded, and there is also an option to add background music. If you want to make a slideshow, we would recommend converting the pictures into a video instead and opting for the single video ad because that has a higher engagement.

Here are a few more things you should know before designing visuals for your ad:

  • The recommended image size is 1200px x 628px
  • The image ratio should be 1.91:1
  • Only up to 20% of your image can contain text. To make sure your images are optimal, you can verify them with the Facebook’s Grid Tool.

Creating a compelling copy

Now that you have captured the user’s attention with compelling visuals and made them stop scrolling, it’s time to create an ad headline that can convince them to click on it.

The idea is to share the most helpful and unique features of your mobile in the least words possible. So focus on features that would appeal to your target audience.

For your ad content, you will need:

  • Body (90 characters) – You should use this space to convey your app’s key benefits and convince the users that they need to click on the ad. Your copy needs to be succinct and hard-hitting at the same time
  • Headline (25 Characters) – For the headline, you shouldn’t take the most obvious route by just adding the name of your mobile app there because they can already see it at the very top. Instead, you can use this space to share any offers or sales
  • Call to action – This is your way of telling the user what you want them to do. Facebook gives you the option to choose from more than 11 CTA buttons. While you can go the obvious way by choosing ‘Install Now’ or ‘Download Now,’ you can also choose other CTAs depending upon the type of mobile app you have

With everything else done, all you have to do is preview your ad one last time before you confirm and start running it. After your ad campaign is over, check the analytics to identify places where you can improve to get a higher conversion.


Now that you know everything there is to know about mobile app install ads on Facebook, are you ready to take your mobile app to the next level?



Author Kevin Urrutia

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