In this post I’m going to explain why Facebook App Install Ads are so effective, and at the end of each section I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to do to get cheaper, better quality installs.

FB App Install Ads are one of the cheapest and most effective ways to acquire new users. Not only is it cost effective, it will generate high quality, engaged users that are most likely to be interested in your app. This is something that is often overlooked by publishers using paid user acquisition channels. Users are not all made equal, and high quality installs are what we should all be aiming for.

Highly Targeted Advertising

The real power behind Facebook App Install ads comes from the sheer breadth and depth of data that Facebook holds.

Facebook knows an incredible amount about its users. The beauty of Facebook App Install Ads is they allow you to leverage this data to put your ads in front of people who are most likely to be interested in your product. In our case this is mobile apps.

First, let’s consider the demographic data that Facebook holds that you can use when setting up App Install Ads. You can target Ads based on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Location – Country, state/province, city
  • Relationships – Whether users are interested in men or women, as well as relationship status.
  • Education – Level, Field of Study, Schools, Undergrad Years
  • Work – Employers, Job Titles, Industry, Office Type
  • Financial – Income, Net Worth
  • Home – Home Type, Home Ownership, Household Composition
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents – All Parents, Mums, Dads, Parents of children within a specific age range etc.
  • Politics – Preferred political party etc.
  • Life Events – Things like just started a new job, have an anniversary coming up, newly engaged, just married etc.

This level of targeting alone is impressive. It allows you to really narrow down your audience to just your target market based on demographics. For example, if you are building an app to help young brides prepare for their wedding, you can specify that your App Install Adds are only shown to newly engaged females, aged between 18-30.

It doesn’t end there though. You can narrow down your target audience even further by selecting connections to Facebook Pages, Apps or Events. Target ads based on whether users are connected to a specific Page, App or Event, or exclude users based on these same connections.

Facebook also groups users based on their interests, activities and the pages they have liked. You can select to target your App Install Ads towards users with specific interests. Combined with demographic targeting, this is an extremely powerful tool. As a quick example, let’s say you have a health and fitness app that is designed for bodybuilders. You can target males aged 18-30, in the USA, with an interest in bodybuilding, gyms, nutrition and weight training. That narrows down your audience pretty well!

FB Power Editor - Set up an audience
Setting up an Audience in the Power Editor


What You Need To Do To Take Advantage And Get Cheaper Installs

Here is what you need to do if you want to leverage all of this data.

Understand your audience. If you want to be able to use this customizable ad targeting, you need to know who it is you want to target.

  • You should have analytics built in to your app, and if you don’t this is your first step. Add an analytics tool and start collecting data about your users. While you are at it, include the Facebook SDK in your app update as well.
  • If you already have built in analytics, start to actually look at and understand the data. Find out who your users are. You want as much information as possible. Age, gender, location, language, device they use, time they use the app, whatever you can get.
  • Next, use your understanding and research to come up with interests these users would have and what activities they might like.
  • Once you have this data you will be well equipped to start using the powerful targeting features of Facebook App Install Ads.

Customise Your Campaigns

Highly customisable campaigns give you the flexibility to choose exactly how much you want to spend per day, as well as over the life of the campaign. This allows you to manage your marketing budget and to test different campaigns before ramping up spending.

Tip: Always use the Power Editor to set up Campaigns, Ads Sets and Ads. This tool gives you the most flexibility and customisation options.


Choose what you pay for

Facebook allows you to choose exactly what you pay for in regards to your App Install Campaign. You have 3 options to choose from:

  • Pay Per Impression (oCPM) – Facebook will find people who are likely to be interested in installing your app and display the ad to those users. You are then charged based on the number of people who see the ad, regardless of whether or not they install the app.

This method can be very effective, but it relies on your ability to accurately define and target your audience using the tools I mentioned above. The best way to achieve a low Cost Per Install (CPI) is to narrow down the target audience and create a highly effective ad.

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) – If you choose this method your ad will be shown to people who are likely to click on it, and you are charged based on the number of people who click on the ad. Users do not have to install the app for you to be charged, it is based solely on them clicking the ad.

Personally I rarely use PPC Mobile App Install Ads because I find them to have a higher CPI than the other methods.

  • Pay Per Install (CPA) – By selecting this option you will only be charged when a user installs your app after clicking on an App Install Ad. You also have the option of specifying how much you want to pay per install, or allowing Facebook to get you as many installs as possible at the ‘best price’. Paying on a CPA basis adds some certainty to the paid user acquisition process because it guarantees that money spent on the campaign will result in new users. The downside to this added certainty can often be higher CPI.


Select a Budget

You will have the ability to either select a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your Ad Sets.

If you nominate a daily budget, you won’t be charged more than that amount each day. Once the budget is reached, Facebook will stop showing your ad set until the next day.

If you nominate a lifetime budget, you will not exceed that amount over the lifetime of the App Install campaign. If you don’t select an end date, the ad set will be displayed until the lifetime budget is exhausted. If you do specify an end date, Facebook will do it’s best to adjust your daily spend so that your lifetime budget is reached as close to the end date as possible.

Tip: My suggestion is to start with a small daily budget until you work out how to minimise your CPI. Once you get to a point where you feel you are getting the lowest CPI you can achieve for the campaign you can ramp up spending.


Take Action

  • Consider a budget for your campaign and a time frame. Work out how much of your marketing budget you want to spend on this user acquisition channel and the period over which you will spend it.
  • Decide whether you want to run a daily budget or total cost campaign. If you are experimenting and getting a feel for running FB App Install Ads, I suggest a small daily budget to start with. You can even start as low as $5 per day and work from there.
  • Select whether you want to use CPA, PPC, oCPM method. If you are unsure and just getting started, I recommend using oCPM.

Attribute Installs

As with any marketing campaign, you want to be able to measure your Return On Investment (ROI) as accurately as possible.

Facebook lets you see exactly how well each App Install Ad is performing; on the condition that you have the Facebook SDK integrated into your app. Here is just some of the data available:

  • Reach – How many people saw the ad
  • Installs – How many installs the ad generated
  • CPI – Cost Per Install
  • Gender – How many installs were generated by each gender
  • Age Groups – How many app installs each age group generated

This data lets you see exactly how each ad is performing so you can make informed decisions and get the most from your marketing budget.

Here’s an example from a short test campaign I ran recently. As you can see, the ad was most effective with men aged 18-34 and my CPI was approx. $0.15. Note, this was not for a ‘Tier 1’ country, hence the very low CPI.

FB Performance Sample

Tip: While it’s not mandatory, you should always have the Facebook SDK integrated into an app before you use Facebook App Install Ads. This allows you to attribute installs generated by your Facebook Ad Campaigns. You don’t need Facebook Login functionality enabled for this. It’s a very quick, easy integration.


Take Action

  • Have your developer add the basic Facebook SDK integration into your app. You do not need Facebook Login enabled or anything like that. It should be very quick and cheap to do.


I hope I have convinced you of the potential of FB App Install Ads. If you follow the steps I’ve provided in this post and keep experimenting with your ads, I’m sure you will see some good results.

They key is to start small, find what works and scale up from there. Don’t just assume you know which image or text people will respond to best, you have to test. I am constantly surprised by what users respond to because it’s often the complete opposite of what I expect.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using Facebook to power your app business. I’ll be covering much more on this topic in the coming weeks.

Have you already tried using FB App Install Ads for user acquisition? What was your experience with them? Please let me know in the comments!