One of the great new features in Facebook Advertising is mobile app install ads. If your nonprofit has a great mobile or tablet app, Facebook is a good way to increase awareness and encourage downloads.
What are Mobile App Install Ads?
Mobile App Install Ads are a type of ad available in Facebook Advertising that promotes downloads of a specific app in the iTunes or Google Play stores. They look just like a normal Facebook ad, but when a user clicks on the ad they are sent directly to the app's page in the app store. All app ads are based on CPC pricing, which means that you'll only pay whenever someone actually clicks on your ad.
How do I create a Mobile App Install Ad?
Despite my professed love for Facebook's Power Editor, unless you want to become a Facebook developer and register your app with Facebook, you'll need to use the traditional ad creation process through Facebook's Ad Manager. First, it asks what kind of results you want from your ad, at which point you choose App Installs. Next, it will ask you for the app URL – that's the iTunes or Google Play URL of the app – that the ad will use as the landing page. Facebook will also use the app store URL to access basic information like the app's name and icon. Note – the app page URL must be live in order for Facebook to accept it (otherwise you'll get an error), so if you're planning a big Facebook ad campaign for the app launch, you won't be able to set up the app ads until the iTunes/Google Play URL is live.
Since Facebook scraped the basic information about your app from the app store link, it has added your app name as the ad's title and the app icon as the icon in the ad. Feel free to change them, though, particularly if your app name is too long or not very descriptive. Write the ad copy as usual (remember to include a call to action!) and upload an image, usually a screen shot of what the app looks like in action. Then choose the targeting the way you normally would for a Facebook ad, keeping in mind that you need to target the user who would actually purchase the app (so if it's an app for kids, you're probably going to target parents or grandparents, who would actually make the purchase).
The ads automatically show only on mobile devices, but you can specify in the targeting whether you want it to show on iOS or Android devices, or which device, like the iPhone vs. the iPad. Make sure you're only targeting people using devices that your app will work on to avoid user frustration once they get to the app store. If you want to get even more specific, under Additional Interests you can target specific devices like the iPad mini or iPad first generation.
Once the first ad is created, you can go back to using Power Editor to create multiple similar ads and save time (select the app ad you just created, hit duplicate, and change the ad copy, or test a different image, etc.).
How did they do?
If you're familiar with advertising apps, you know that tracking conversions is usually impossible. Normally, you'll be able to see who clicked your ad and went to the app page, but all tracking is scraped once the user reaches iTunes or Google Play (if anyone has found a way around this, please share in the comments!). You can get app download reports from the app stores themselves, but they won't have source tracking so you won't be able to tell specifically where people came from who actually downloaded the app. Facebook seems to have a way to track app installs, though it does look complicated (this I don't have personal experience with, as the third step got caught up with our developers).
1. Become a Facebook developer
2. Register your app with Facebook (it can be an iOS or Android app, it doesn't need to be a Facebook app)
3. Add the Facebook SDK (or hire a third party, one of their partners)
If your developers have the bandwidth to go through the steps above, though, it's always preferable to have conversion metrics to see how the ads performed and make informed decisions.