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Why App Install Ads Are a Mobile Marketer’s Secret Weapon

Written by: Mike Lamy, Director, Corporate Marketing

2,499,999. That’s how many other mobile apps you must battle to win yours a coveted spot in the pocket of today’s consumers. With so many apps available to download on the iOS App Store and Google Play, developers can’t rely on people organically finding their shiny needle of an app in the colossal app store haystack. That’s where the wildly successful mobile app install ad comes into play.

Early mobile app install ads on Facebook
Early mobile app install ads on Facebook

Back in 2012, Facebook recognized early signs of this app overload and enabled marketers to begin reaching its vast mobile audience with highly targeted ads tailor-made for driving app downloads. Instead of hoping for the best, developers could now reliably put their app directly in front of the people who were most likely to download it, love it, and use it every day.

Since Facebook experimented with its first mobile app install ads, the format and underlying technology has radically improved.

Today, app discovery is a natural, intuitive experience for the user, and a powerful, data-rich opportunity for marketers. Here’s a look inside what makes the simple mobile app install ad so effective from both sides of the equation.

User Experience

Mobile app install ads deliver such high value for marketers because they provide an engaging, seamless experience for Facebook users. What’s the secret sauce from a user perspective?

Eye-catching creative

A far cry from the sparse design of Facebook’s first mobile app install ad units, today’s ads present users with a large and engaging image or video integrated right into the flow of the mobile News Feed. Images or videos (which can even autoplay) are a perfect way to highlight exciting in-game moments or the real-world utility of an app. When users get a compelling visual preview of what your app has to offer, they’re far more likely to click that download button.


Social proof

App-Social-Context-RatingSome apps are fun and entertaining, others are useful and engaging. But with so many apps out there, people are bound to stumble across a few duds. Luckily, Facebook’s mobile app install ads give downloaders confidence in the quality of your app right from the start by displaying app store ratings and social context. Showing people how many of their friends already have the app is a proven way to boost conversion rates.

Seamless download experience

Bold, customizable call-to-action buttons give users a clear idea of what’s going to happen after they click your ad. Clicking on a CTA button that says Download, Install Now, or Play Game takes the user directly to the App Store or Google Play within Facebook, where they can download your app with just a tap. The process is quick and easy, fitting naturally into the user’s mobile experience.


Marketer Value

Behind the clean user-facing mobile app install experience is a sophisticated data-rich infrastructure enabling developers to put their app in front of the right people at the right time.

Targeting capabilities

Facebook offers some of the most robust ad targeting in the industry. When mobile app install ads are wired up to the right audiences, the true value of laser targeting is clear. Advertisers can target broad categories (like “running”) and layer on precise interests (like “Nike”) to zero in on users primed to download your app. And with Facebook’s 1.19 billion mobile monthly active users, even the most targeted ads are likely to have significant reach.

Downstream optimization

Using the Nanigans SDK or Facebook’s own measurement tools, you can optimize mobile app install campaigns for in-app actions taken long after the initial download. Want to show ads to people similar to current users who make the most in-app purchases within the first 30 days? Deep in-app event tracking and downstream revenue optimization allow you to not only find more users, but also find the best ones who will deliver the most value over time.

Mobile reengagement and deep linking

After winning a download, how do you keep users engaged during those critical first few weeks? Mobile app install ads can quickly morph into powerful reengagement machines. You can entice lapsed users to reopen your app by showing them highly relevant in-app content and deep-linking directly to it. When you remind users why they initially installed your app, mobile app reengagement ads can keep them coming back for more.


Mobile app install ad revenues in the US alone are projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2019, and there are signs that this ad format will continue delivering strong ROI to performance marketers for years.

As app overload worsens, leveraging mobile app install campaigns through data-driven ad automation software is a smart strategy to ensure your app rises to the top.

The end-user experience is intuitive and the back-end capabilities are unmatched, so arm yourself with the best technology for the job and start scaling your mobile app today.

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