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In today's article, I will be discussing the possibility of using Facebook App Install Ads to increase the number of app users. There are already numerous articles circulating about how Facebook ads can be used to increase sales or website visitors, but no detailed presentation of the possibilities of Facebook App Install Ads.

Facebook's App Install Ads are one of the most effective and easiest online marketing measures to increase the number of app users. After reading this article, you should have understood both the approach and the requirements for running Facebook App Install Ads.

What are Facebook Mobile App Install Ads?

Facebook Mobile App Install Ads are ads in the Facebook advertising system that have the objective of downloading a mobile app. These are usually characterized by the call-to-action "Download" and are only displayed on mobile devices (smartphone & tablet).

The campaign target can be selected as usual in the Ads Manager under Consideration → App installations.

Facebook App Install

Mobile app install campaign vs mobile app engagement campaigns

An important distinction that we need to make for the rest of the process is the difference between mobile app install campaigns and Mobile app engagement campaigns. The aim of mobile app install campaigns is to convince a new customer to download the app and, if necessary, to carry out a desired action (so-called events). Of course, it also happens that existing customers are App users to perform a certain activity in the app (purchase, registration, etc.).

Mobile app engagement campaigns are used to address existing app users and guide them to a specific location in the app. In order to run mobile app engagement campaigns, the same basic requirements apply as for app install campaigns, except that a Deeplink must be added to the respective location in the mobile app and that mobile app engagement campaigns cannot be set up via the campaign objective "App Downloads", but via App conversion campaigns.

Mobile app engagement campaigns

I will not be discussing mobile app engagement campaigns any further in this post. It may well be the case that I will also describe the topic of mobile app engagement campaigns on my blog in the near future.

What requirements must be met for mobile app install campaigns to be placed?

In order to promote your mobile app (IOS & Android) via the Facebook advertising ecosystem, it is necessary that the Facebook SDK is built into the app.

The Facebook SDK enables usage data and user data to be transferred to Facebook. The Facebook SDK can be seen as the equivalent of the Facebook pixel for apps.

Before you can start installing the Facebook SDK, you must first create a Facebook developer account be created. The new app must then be registered. Facebook Analytics, which provides detailed information on user behavior in the app, can only be used once the Facebook SDK has been installed. You can find detailed instructions on Facebook Analytics here here.

In addition to installing the Facebook SDK, it is generally recommended that you also make use of the standard events for app tracking.

The following standard events are available:
  • Level reached
  • App launched
  • Payment information added
  • Added to shopping cart
  • Added to wish list
  • Registration completed
  • Tutorial completed
  • Initial checkout
  • Purchase
  • Rated
  • Search query
  • Credits issued
  • Unlocked achievement
  • Side view

The existing standard events are designed especially for eCommerce and gaming apps, but Facebook does not prevent anyone from using the standard events for other apps.

Mobile app install campaigns setup and adjustment

When creating a mobile app install campaign, the app to be advertised is defined at ad group level. The event for which the respective campaign should be optimized is also determined here.

It is possible to optimize for the following events:

  • App installation
  • Links-Clicks
  • App Events
  • Video views

The basic recommendation is to optimize for app installations, at least until 50 app installations per ad group have been reached.

Since both an IOS and Android app are usually to be marketed, a separate ad group must be created for each operating system.

For this reason, a mobile app campaign looks like this:

Mobile App Install Facebook

The perfect target group for mobile app install campaigns

Probably the most important success criterion for making a mobile app install campaign a success is selecting the right target group. Only if the app is played out to the right people will performance KPIs, such as cost-per-install, fall in the long term.

In the following, I would like to present my preferred target group selection options:

  1. Target group: Retargeting campaigns based on website visitors:

If you run a website that already reaches enough monthly visitors (+ 1000 / month), then you can use the Facebook pixel to create a Website Custom Audience which can then be played out with retargeting campaigns for mobile app install ads. In my experience, this type of campaign is a very effective way to generate the first downloads.

  1.  Target group: Lookalike audience based on website visitors:

Once a website custom audience has been created, it makes sense to create a lookalike audience from this source audience. This audience is particularly recommended for scaling app downloads.

  1. Target group: Retargeting campaign based on email newsletter subscribers

Do you have an email list of people who might like the app? Then we recommend creating a custom audience and targeting these people with mobile app install ads.

  1. Target group: Lookalike audience based on email newsletter subscribers

Once the custom audience of email newsletter subscribers has been created, the next step is to create a lookalike audience in order to address other people.

  1. Target group: Lookalike at app installations or other app events

By integrating the Facebook SDK, app activities such as downloads and registrations can be tracked. This also makes it possible to create a custom audience of users who have carried out the respective activities. As these users are already using the app, a retargeting campaign is of little use. However, we can use this custom audience to create a lookalike audience (LA-App-Install or LA-App-Reg).

  1. Target group: Top 10% of app users

My absolute favorite target group for mobile app install ads are the top 10% of app users (IOS and Android separated). In this target group selection, only the app users who belong to the top 10% of users who have spent the most time in the app are included in the custom audience. In the next step, we can create a lookalike audience based on the top 10% app users. I will show you how this works below:

  1. First we select the Facebook Ads Manager, the target group section. Here we then select "Create target group" → "Custom Audience".
  2. Now we select app activities as the source.


Lookalike Facebook App

  1. StepNow we select "Most active users" in the drop-down menu and can now select the respective percentile and the time period of the user observation.


Custom Audience Facebook App


And we have already created a custom audience of the most active app users. Now all that remains is to create a suitable lookalike audience.

Selection of the right ad placement in the Facebook ecosystem

In principle, the placements for mobile app install ads differ very little from conventional campaigns. Only the desktop placements (desktop newsfeed & right-hand column) are omitted for mobile app install ads.

Facebook placement App Install Ads

As usual, you also have the option of choosing between "Automatic placement" and "Edit placement". Segmentation by placement is undoubtedly one of the most important and should therefore be observed when analyzing the campaign evaluation.

Mobile App Install Ads ad format

Of course, in addition to the target group selection, the design of the ad also plays an important role in the success of an app campaign. The procedure for app campaigns is identical to the design of other campaigns (link clicks, conversion, etc.).

At the ad level, you can choose between one image/video and several images/videos. The components of a mobile app install ad are the image/video, the text & title and also the call-to-action button, which is specially designed for app ads.

Call to Action App Install Facebook

The only difference in the design of mobile app install ads is that the newsfeed link description is omitted. Otherwise, all conventional components can be used in the design of the app ad.


The placement of mobile app install ads does not differ greatly from other campaign formats. The biggest difference is that the Facebook SDK must be implemented. Otherwise, the only thing that can be said is that all assumptions (target group, placement, creatives) must be tested in order to find the perfect combination.

Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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