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App Marketing on Facebook: How to Leverage CPA Bidding to Drive Mobile App Installs [Case Study]

Written by: Laurie Cutts, Director of Marketing

Mobile app marketers are increasingly adopting Facebook’s cost-per-action (CPA) bidding as they look to enhance campaign performance—ad spend allocated to CPA bidding on Nanigans’ Ad Engine platform has increased by 20% in the last 14 days. We recently worked with an online retailer that achieved significant scale driving mobile app installs on Facebook with CPA bidding, exceeding expectations for meeting cost and performance targets.


The mobile retailer’s goal was to acquire customers with a $5 CPA or cost-per-install. The retailer leveraged Nanigans’ performance advertising solution to spend its budget and drive mobile app installs at scale.


Nanigans and the online retailer developed a strategy that focused on the three components of any successful mobile advertising campaign—creative, targeting, and optimization.


The retailer leveraged Facebook’s mobile app install ad units for the campaign. Their ads featured Facebook’s mobile ad best practices including eye-catching creative featuring in-app images within a mobile device and strong calls-to-action.

Targeting & Optimization

The retailer leveraged customer data harvested from their successful desktop site to create Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences, a best practice for prospecting on Facebook as a channel, especially when branching out to acquire users for a mobile app.

After an initial period of gathering data, the retailer adjusted CPA bids to allow for more volume given market conditions.



The retailer achieved their volume goals in terms of ad spend and impression volume delivered:

  • The retailer was able to consistently spend $3,000-$6,000 per day
  • The campaign delivered more than 128 million ad impressions over the 14 day time period

Performance & Cost

  • CTR’s averaged .96%
  • Install rates averaged 16.32%
  • Average CPA’s were within the retailer’s target range and on average cost $4.02 per install


We recommend leveraging all of Facebook’s bidding options, as a combination of bidding types can be highly effective for driving customer acquisition. Recently introduced by Facebook, CPA bidding allows app marketers to specify a bid amount for an action such as an install, and then pay for the amount of conversions. This is different from Facebook’s CPM or oCPM bidding options, which bill the advertiser for impressions served, or CPC bidding which bills based on the number of clicks on the ad unit itself.

CPA bidding can be effective for app developers who have, as in this retailer’s case, already run mobile campaigns at scale on Facebook. For Facebook campaigns that have run at scale, historical data can be leveraged to reach those audiences who would be most likely to download your app.

CPA bidding can also be used as a tool by mobile app developers who are just starting out on Facebook to better understand how much new customers are worth.

If you are interested in learning more about CPA bidding and  how to scale your mobile advertising campaign on Facebook, contact us today!

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