Facebook Is Launching New App-Install Ads to Help Developers Find Audiences

14 actions that signal a good fit

Headshot of Marty Swant

Facebook has updated its app-install ads to allow developers to select targeted audiences based on which users will most likely use an app and not just install and forget about it.

The product, App Event Optimization, will allow advertisers to select from among 14 user actions that might signal how likely a person is to play a game, book a flight or buy a pair of shoes. Signifying app events include actions like adding an item to an online shopping cart or wish list, initiating a checkout, purchasing a product, rating an app, searching for an app or viewing content.

According to Facebook product manager Jehan Damji, only a small number of people who download an app provide any long-term value for the company that made it. In fact, he said only six percent of people still use an app 30 days after installing it.

"What that tells us is that not all installs are created equal," Damji said in an interview.

Through its updated event-based bidding process, advertisers can choose whether to pay less for for an install or bid more for someone who is likely to use the app. The updates are also better for users, who could end up seeing more ads for apps they might actually want. (Rather than, say, ad after ad for FarmVille when you're just not a FarmVille kind of person.)

The ads will be available for campaigns running across Facebook, Instagram and publishers using the Facebook Audience Network.

"We know from what advertisers have told us and the way they think about advertising for mobile app ads that they really care about true business objectives and true value, not just installs," Damji said. "And that's why this product was built to actually align with what businesses want. Instead of just getting them installs now, we get them installs and people who are going to be high quality customers in their app, helping them with a lot of retention problems that app developers and advertisers have faced."

App developers that have tested App Event Optimization have seen their costs go down and engagement go up. Parkmark decreased its cost per event by 24 percent, while Smule saw cost per purchase go down 32 percent, even while revenue per user increased 22 percent.

Along with introducing Event Optimization, Facebook will now let advertisers drive app-installs and in-app purchases with Dynamic Ads, which are shown to users after they show interest in a particular product. Developers can also now advertise with Facebook's full-screen Canvas ads that give users a glimpse at what an app is like.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.