Global smartphone shipments will outpace feature phone shipments for the first time in 2013, according to a recent report by IDC, and smartphone penetration just recently surpassed feature phone penetration in the U.S., according to recent data from ComScore MobiLens. We know it from our own personal experience, and the data confirms it: smartphones are the future, and the future is already here. Now more than ever, marketers must embrace the latest developments in mobile, test new advertising opportunities, and incorporate these learnings into their overall mobile marketing initiatives.

For organizations with native mobile applications, one of the latest mobile marketing opportunities comes in the form of Facebook’s mobile app install ads. These ads mobile app install facebookcan be used effectively to drive awareness and installation of a brand’s mobile applications.

The ads appear in the mobile newsfeed on iOS and Android devices, and users click directly to the Apple App Store or Google Play to install the app.

Here’s how to get started.

The first thing you need to do to start leveraging mobile app install ads is to register your app with Facebook. You do this by linking your mobile app to an existing Facebook app or by creating a new Facebook app for your mobile activity from within the App Dashboard.  You will be prompted to fill in a variety of information about your app.

create an app on Facebook

If you have an iOS app, you’ll need to include its App Store ID. This can be found at the end of the URL for your app in the App Store. (Here’s an example: If you have an Android app, you’ll need to add your app’s Package Name, which can also be found at the end of the URL for your app in Google Play:

Next, you need to go to the App Details page to add a display name for your app and an image to represent your app.

Don’t get overwhelmed by the app setup process in Facebook. It’s really much easier than it sounds, and you can always call on your IT folks for assistance!

Customize your message and images.

Once you’ve registered your mobile app with Facebook, you’re ready to get started building and running mobile app install campaigns. Facebook makes it easy to create mobile app install ads from within its standard Ads Manager, Power Editor, as well as the App Dashboard. You may also be able to create and manage your mobile app install campaigns from within the interface of your favorite Ads Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer (sPMD), such as Kenshoo Social. ;-)

When creating your mobile app install ads from within the Facebook Ads Manager, you’ll be given the option to add a custom message up to 130 characters as well as a 600×360 image. Be sure to test a variety of custom messages with clear calls to action to understand what resonates most with your audience and drives the most installs. Plan to refresh your images every 2 weeks or so in order to prevent ad fatigue.

customization facebook ads

Choose your audiences.

Once you’ve customized your message and image, you are ready to choose your audiences. Facebook provides extensive audience targeting options for mobile app install ads. First, you select the operating system (OS) you want to target and then the minimum OS version, such as iOS 5.0 and greater. Mobile OS version targeting is useful for apps that may not be compatible with older OS versions or provide advanced capabilities and performance on newer OS versions.

You will also be prompted to select the specific devices you would like to advertise on, such as iPhone, iPod or iPad. You should test targeting ads independently, specific to each device so that you can customize copy for each device and measure the effectiveness of your ads (or your app!) on different devices.

You can also choose to target all mobile users or users who are currently using WiFi. Targeting users on WiFi is particularly relevant for brands and app developers whose apps require significant data usage or have a large file size. These users are more likely to engage with the ad and complete the app install with a positive experience, especially if the user has a limited data plan on their mobile phone. It’s also helpful if you want to target iPad or other tablet users who only have WiFi access.

In addition to OS, device type, and WiFi targeting, you can target mobile app install ads using any of the demographic and interest targeting options available in other Facebook campaigns. You can also target using Custom and Lookalike Audiences.

For example, you may want to use Custom Audiences to target your existing desktop customers and migrate them to your mobile app. Or, you may want to create a Custom Audience of your highest lifetime value customers and use Lookalike Audiences to target similar Facebook users. Be sure to test and learn about your audiences and microtarget your ads over time to drive the most installs and to make your campaigns more efficient and effective.

facebook targeting mobile app ad

Measure Performance.

Facebook provides many of the same reporting metrics for mobile app install ads as it does for other ad types on desktop as well as mobile. However, if you want to directly measure the volume of installs driven by your campaigns and the Cost Per Install (CPI), you’ll need to integrate your app with Facebook’s latest Software Development Kit (SDK) for iOS or Android or work with a Facebook-approved mobile measurement company.

While the steps for working with the measurement companies vary, it generally includes some level of integration as well. (This is definitely where you’ll want to call on those IT folks, i.e. your app developers!)  Suffice to say it’s highly recommended to do the work necessary to track volume and CPI; these are your most important performance metrics.

The bottom line: get started now.

If mobile applications are a key part of your overall marketing and customer relationship strategy, now is the time to start testing Facebook mobile app install ads. This new advertising opportunity provides one of the best methods to drive awareness and installation of your brand’s mobile applications on the world’s largest media channel.

By integrating your app with Facebook’s SDK or a 3rd-party measurement company, you can directly measure the bottom-line impact of your mobile app campaigns. (Just remember, as with any new ad campaign, you should take a test-and-learn approach.)

– Todd Herrold

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Todd Herrold
Todd Herrold has over 15 years of digital marketing experience and is currently Kenshoo Social’s senior director of product marketing. In this role, Todd leads the product marketing team for Kenshoo’s global social media platform, a technology solution that helps agencies, brands and performance marketers illuminate and activate the full value of their social media investments. Prior to this, Todd served as Kenshoo Local’s director of product strategy & management, leading overall strategy and product development activities for Kenshoo’s leading search engine marketing (SEM) platform for aggregators of high volumes of SMB and local online advertisers. Before joining Kenshoo, he served in various product, marketing, business development, and general management roles at companies like Yodle,, AT&T, Time Warner, MarketWatch, and IDG. Todd holds an MBA in marketing and finance from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Wesleyan University.