How to Improve Mobile App User Acquisition in Q1 2019

Facebook has over 2.27 billion global monthly active users according to a recent report by Statista. With so many users, it’s no surprise that Facebook is also the world’s largest advertising platform and a great place to find prospective customers for your business. However, social advertising certainly has its nuances, and your team needs to take this into account to fully capitalize on the full potential of Facebook to drive mobile app user acquisition efforts.

The details matter. The effectiveness of the ads you place, audiences you target, bidding structure of your campaigns, and the creative you deploy all affect the success of your campaigns. Let’s take a look at a few best practices you can use to accelerate your user acquisition efforts in Q1 of 2019.


Mobile App User Acquisition


Understand Your Objective

The Facebook platform has three different advertising objectives that can be used for mobile application ads: App installs, traffic, and conversions. For customer acquisition purposes, consider mobile app install ads, which immediately direct users to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download and install your app. You can also deliver ads to consumers who are most likely to take action after installing your app with Facebook’s App Event Optimization feature. This way, you can track both installs and conversions using one objective.

Pro tip: When using the mobile app installs objective, make sure to implement Facebook SDK and mobile app events within your application. By implementing these features, you’ll be able to track installs, re-engage existing users, and drive conversions.


Build on the Right Campaign Structure

Choosing the right campaign structure can make or break a Facebook advertising campaign. A platform best practice is to have the smallest number of campaigns in the account as possible with limited or no overlapping audience targets. In accomplishing this, it is also best to create campaigns that are tied to a particular geography, buying type, and bidding type to minimize overlap and competition between ads.

When choosing a buying type, you have two options:

  1. Auction
  2. Reach & frequency

With the mobile app installs objective, it is best to use “auction” as your buying type, as it will give you more control over the target audience and duration of your ad, as well as ad budgeting.

Make sure to choose the right audience and avoid audience overlap between ad sets to minimize ad competition. With acquisitions, we want to target potential new users who are likely to be interested in your content. A great way to do this is to create Lookalike Audiences. This allows you to reach potential new users that are similar to your high-value customers and thus likely to be interested in your content. You can target audiences geographically to ensure languages are optimized as well.

Our user acquisition experts have determined that the best way to maximize Facebook ROAS is to optimize creative and test. It is a best practice to create many ad sets that target specific audiences (that do not overlap), have different campaign objectives, and employ different bid types. This will allow you to efficiently release user-specific ads, drive minimum auction competition, and scale ads at volume.


Use Automation to Manage Ads

The Facebook algorithm allows for auto-bidding, auto-placement, and auto-budget. This allows you to let automation work in your favor, limiting the need for daily interactions and changes.

  • Auto-bidding lets advertisers train Facebook on which users are most valuable. The algorithm then performs real-time bid changes for you so less time is spent on intraday bid changes.
  • Auto-placement allows Facebook’s optimization system to spend your ad set’s budget based on performance across placements. This puts the right ad, in front of the right audience, at the right time, and on the right device.
  • Auto-budget allows Facebook to increase and decrease your budget. This is based on ad performance metrics and rules for increased performance in real-time.

Automation makes advertising easier for marketers, allowing you to focus on what matters most: creative.

mobile app user acquisition


Employ Optimized Creative 

Facebooks’ advertising and automation features have leveled the playing field for advertisers. This leaves creative (and testing creative) as the primary competitive advantage on the platform. Our research found that 95% of direct response creative fails to outperform a portfolio’s best ad – the control. This means that you have to continually test a large quantity of high-quality creative to find the 5% of winning creative that will help you achieve your business goals, without reaching creative fatigue. For every 20 new video concepts you create, only 1 will be successful.

There are two Facebook features that you can deploy to help you determine your best creative. They are dynamic creative optimization (DCO) and split testing.

  • DCO allows you to test multiple ad components like the headline, ad copy, calls-to-action, and image at the same time. Facebook then will determine the winning combination of elements to drive your best ad. This feature allows you to drive continuous testing and optimization to make sure your campaigns are functioning at their best.
  • Split Testing allows you to run A|B tests between creative to avoid showing the same creative to the same people. While also simplifying the creative testing process and helping uncover winning creative elements.

Leveraging a creative studio to develop ads at scale will allow you to have quality creative at your fingertips.

This team will develop fresh creative concepts and variations of successful content to run across different social networks. They will also be able to optimize future creative to help you achieve business goals more efficiently.


Final Thoughts About Mobile App User Acquisition

According to Statista, there are 2.1 million apps on the Google Play store and 2 million apps available on the Apple App Store.

With so many applications available for download, app companies must employ user acquisition best practices to drive downloads and usage. When tested and executed correctly, Facebook advertising can drive business profitability and lead to the achievement of financial objectives. Don’t risk falling behind other developers. Use these tips to accelerate mobile app installs, increase conversions, and reach your business goals in Q1.

Facebook and Google Third Party AdTech is Dead

As seen on Venture Beat. Consumer Acquisition said it believes Facebook and Google third-party adtech is dead. Or perhaps the way to say it is, “Adtech is dead. Long live adtech.”


Adtech is Dead


During 2018, the optimization algorithms for Facebook and Google Universal App Campaigns (UAC) have dramatically improved, leveling the playing field between advertisers both large and small.

The duopoly’s native adtech has improved such that advantages once held by third-party software-as-a-service adtech providers have significantly diminished. Brian Bowman, CEO of Consumer Acquisition, said in an interview with VentureBeat that his company saw the writing on the wall and decided to change.

Consumer Acquisition is a Facebook and Instagram marketing partner, and it works with Google UAC, Snapchat, Pinterest, and IAC. So it kind of sounds like the company is saying that its own business is dead. But it’s not quite that.

“To be successful, social advertising technology companies must focus on cross-platform campaign management, advanced creative reporting, and workflow automation”, Bowman said. In other words, the bar is higher for being useful as a third-part adtech company.

In direct response to this year’s optimization algorithm improvements from Facebook and Google UAC, Consumer Acquisition has reduced the cost of its platform to 0.7% of media spend with a maximum monthly cap of $15,000.

“It takes a mental leap of faith that this is in your best interest, but their algorithms are more efficient,” Bowman said.

AdRules Self-Service Platform and Google App Campaign

In addition, the company’s AdRules self-service platform now supports Google UAC reporting, which offers mobile app advertisers and lead generators a self-service media buying solution and advanced reporting platform.

Back in February, Bowman said that the company found that the Facebook optimization algorithm
was better and that the native tools for both Facebook and Google UAC had gotten much easier to use.

“People refer to Facebook and Google UAC as the duopoly, but I think what they are trying to do is lower the skills required for successful advertising, and, in doing so, level the playing field between very larger advertisers and very small advertisers,” Bowman said.

The companies simplified how advertisers managed media buying and bidding, he said. And so Consumer Acquisition shifted to focus on the creative marketplace and software that helps advertisers identify and resolve creative fatigue and audience saturation, he said.

“We’re so confident in our approach and the direction that the industry is headed that we’ve radically dropped the fee we’re charging for our self-service software,” Bowman said.

Adtech Market

Consumer Acquisition isn’t the only company cutting prices for social campaign management software in the adtech market. Marin Software, a public company offering digital marketing software for performance-driven advertisers and agencies, also recently announced shifting their model to a flat platform fee, rather than using traditional pricing as a percentage of digital ad spend.

“I wouldn’t go so far to say adtech is dead,” said Jessica Hasenplaugh, head of user acquisition at Berlin-based mobile game publisher Wooga (which was just acquired by Playtika), in an interview with VentureBeat.

Wooga is a customer of Consumer Acquisition, but Hasenplaugh acknowledged things are changing.

“I would definitely say we are saying a lot of automation within the work we have historically done within the two biggest ad networks, Google and Facebook,” she said. “We are focusing on things that can be done, like focusing on creative. Creative is one of the things that can’t be automated by big ad networks. There are other things that we do like leveraging our data, which is getting better, and better understanding our user base. We find where we are wasting and eliminate that, and we deal with ad fraud. We focus on other networks where we can benefit if we put some time and effort in.”

She acknowledged that you won’t have to make so many campaigns for a single game and change those campaigns on the fly as much as in the past.

Bowman believes that any adtech company that simply tries to keep up with Facebook and Google native tools capabilities, or those that have built proprietary optimization or AI algorithms, will see the value of their solutions rapidly drop to near zero.

adtech is dead

“Before February, our old strategy was running a high number of ads, and we were doing may five to 10 changes per ad per day,” Bowman said. “That technique no longer worked. It was both good and bad, as it radically simplified the way we were running on Facebook.”

Making frequent changes using third-party tools was no longer efficient.

“Before February, it was about how smart your quantitative folks were at changing things,” Bowman said. “Now it’s easier to run the ads. So that means creative is the most important part of advertising. You can control that. In the past, most adtech partners were not creative platform partners. They were not good at it. Now there’s less value in the adtech stacks. So the creative has to step up.”

One byproduct of that is Consumer Acquisition is hiring more talent that is good at creative advertising. Rather than simply focus on AI to improve creative materials.

“This is going to be a human-driven business for five to 10 years,” he said. “We brought in 50 editors and trained them. For the foreseeable future, humans will do the work in creative analytics. The opportunity is to become good at creativity. The question is how you evolve your creative thinking.”

Hasenplaugh added, “You might try to automate things, but that will just open up questions. And the people who work on this will try to find answers to the questions. I don’t see AI eliminating our jobs.”


Consumer Acquisition’s AdRules software optimizes the social advertising processes with workflow automation, bulk ad creation, bulk audience creation, and creative development at scale.

Advertisers can reduce time spent on competitive tasks. Such as building ads and adjusting bids and managing budgets due to AdRules’ automated capabilities.

AdRules also offers a creative analytics solution with reporting views not available on Facebook or Google’s native tools. Advertisers can see images, videos, and graphs with rolled-up data, cohort reporting, and advanced tagging. They can also view key performance indicators (KPIs) from multiple sources in one dashboard. Including APIs, measurement partners, and proprietary business intelligence data.

Additionally, to maintaining financial performance, the platform can deliver fresh videos and images sourced through its Creative Marketplace.


Consumer Acquisition

Consumer Acquisition was founded in 2013. Its customers have used its tools to create more than 300,000 videos and acquire more than 150 million app installs. Its customers include Glu Mobile, Wooga, Ember Entertainment, Ford, Checkout51, Autogravity, and more.


Facebook App Advertising: 8 Tips for Great Campaigns

Want to blow some advertising budget? Facebook is a good place to do it. If you aren’t following the most recent Facebook app advertising best practices, you can easily burn through hundreds – even thousands – of dollars in just a few minutes. (This article was covered by Chief Marketer.)

At first, your Facebook ads might look like they’re doing okay. You may get a lot of clicks. You might even get some app installs. Unfortunately, your final outcome might end up not being worth the cost, because you’ve wasted most of your ad spend reaching the wrong people, or because you’ve spent $20 to get a customer who won’t ever spend more than 99 cents within the app.

Facebook app advertising doesn’t have to include some much-wasted ad spend. It can be a massive, reliable source of new usersand that’s especially true after the improvements Facebook has made to their automation and campaign management tools over the last year.

To meet your social advertising goals and get the users you need, you just have to follow a few of Facebook’s advertising best practices. Each one of these tactics can reduce wasted ad spend and maximize your user acquisition budget.


1. Choose the Right Type of Facebook App Advertising

If you’re starting a campaign from scratch, try Mobile App Install (MAI) ads. These ads let people download and start using your app with just a few clicks.

Minimizing clicks is good, but the real benefits happen if you’ve set up the Facebook SDK. With that tracking set up, you’ll start gathering information about how people are using your app and who’s using your app. That data can be used to optimize other campaigns later on.

After you’ve done some testing with mobile app install ads, shift into app events (AEO) and value (VO) bidding.

Facebook advertising best practices: App Installs and App Events

One caveat: If you’ve just started app advertising on Facebook, you may have to wait before you get access to value bidding. Your account needs to accrue enough app event data for value bidding to work.

The two bid types are similar, but they have key differences:


App Event (AEO) bidding Value (VO) bidding
needs slightly higher quality audiences than VO needs broad audiences
might be more efficient for you as the VO audience pool becomes oversaturated VO is a more finite audience than AEO and will reach audience saturation more quickly.
should be more efficient for new audiences and new creative
2-3 times the cost of a mobile app install 2-3 times the cost of app event bidding


So how can you manage these differences? Create two Facebook ad campaigns: one for each bidding type. Then watch the campaigns carefully, and move the budget to whichever one performs best.


2. Test Multiple Bidding Structures

The bidding structure you pick can make a big difference in results. But the only way to know what will work for you is with testing.

So here are your options: Automatic or manual bidding.

Automatic bids are designed to meet your campaign goals for the lowest cost, while manual bidding lets you have more control over your cost per acquisition on Facebook.

Here’s where the settings are during campaign setup:

Facebook Advertising best practices: App Events

Unfortunately, you can’t always get an apples-to-apples comparison of how the two types of bidding compare. Value bidding currently uses automatic bidding only, though we expect that to change soon, as manual bidding is in beta. In the meantime, try using manual bidding for app events. We’ve found it tends to work better than when we use it with automatic bidding.

Also, test bid types with and without auto-bidding. Just be aware that manual bidding will require manual bid adjustments to maintain scale, and those bid adjustments will trigger “significant edits” (thus affecting your campaign performance) if you change bids by more than 30%.

Here’s a recap of the different types of Facebook app advertising bidding structures:

  • Mobile App Install Ads: Auto and manual bidding are available.
  • App Event Bidding: Auto and manual bidding are available.
  • Value Bidding: Auto-bid is the only option right now, but manual bidding is in beta and should be available soon.


3. Nudge Your Bid Amounts Up Slowly Until You Find the Sweet Spot

Bidding higher doesn’t just mean your ads will reach more peopleit also means you’ll have access to higher-quality inventory. Think CNN versus “Uncle Archie’s Fishing Tips and Movie Reviews”. If your audience targeting is done right, those higher-quality sites could more than pay for themselves.

Bidding higher can be particularly effective if you want to aim for quality over quantity; for instance, if you go after people more likely to pay for a $20 app than a freebie. So, try bidding high to capture paying users via app event bidding.

This being said, increase your bids slowly; try a 10% increase to your bids. If that doesn’t trigger any significant edits, try a 20% change. If you slowly increase your bid like this, you’ll eventually find the tipping pointa sweet spot where you can get just enough exposure to the right audiences to make your target acquisition costs work.

You may also want to test these types of bid changes on small and big-budget campaigns separately. Campaigns with smaller budgets can handle a larger change in bid values without triggering what Facebook deems a “significant edit”.


About “Significant Edits” in Facebook App Advertising

A “significant edit” is any change to a campaign, ad set, or ad that’s enough to cause the Facebook ad algorithm to shift your ads back into the learning phase. If this happens, it can muddle test results. Even pausing your campaigns, ad sets or ads is enough to trigger a significant edit. It’s a problem because your ads won’t perform as well in the learning phase as when they’re in the optimized phase.

The learning phase isn’t exactly like a penalty box, but it can function a bit like one. If you keep doing “significant edits” and repeatedly cause the algorithm to move your ads back to the learning phase, that alone can waste a lot of ad budget.


4. Target Your Audience and Ad Placements

If you’re running an app event or value bidding campaign, use auto bidding and set it so all placements have broad targeting. This will let the Facebook ad system dynamically adjust bids and find the best audience for your app.

Audience testing is essential. If you’re not doing it, you’re almost certainly wasting a lot of advertising spend. So, test several different audience types along with different bid types. This will maximize your ads’ reach but still let you find new users affordably.

Here are some of the audience types and ad placements we’ve found work best:

  • Mobile app installs work well with lookalike audiences.
  • App events pair well with targeted interests plus full-range age targeting 18-64+.
  • Use value bidding with broad audiences and wide-open age targeting (18-64+) to maximize reach.


5. Use Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO)

This one’s simple: Turn on Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO). It will manage your daily ad spend without you having to go in and temporarily pause a campaign (which would be considered a “significant edit” and put the campaign back in the “learning” mode).

Best Practices for Facebook App Advertising: Turn on Campaign Budget Optimization

Of course, you can launch app install ads without campaign budget optimization turned on, but it usually only works if you have some historical performance data to manage the ads by. That performance data will show you which ads have performed or not, so you can do the budget optimization manually.


6. Be Frugal With Your Budget At First, But More Generous Later.

Working with a brand-new account with no historical data whatsoever? Then you need to use a multi-ad structure.

This is easy to do. Just set up at least two to three ads within a single ad set. Use a budget of about $100-$200 for the set. Let that run (with tracking installed, of course) and accrue performance data before you expand the campaign.

Your Facebook app advertising strategy should change if you’ve got an existing account that has enough historical data. In that case, use a multi-ad structure with higher budgets (like $200 or more per ad set).


7. Be Careful How You Scale Up Campaigns

Campaigns with campaign budget optimization do tend to be more profitable, but that comes with an added complexity: CBO campaigns usually hit a spending threshold where the return on advertising spend (ROAS) will start to fall off.

There are two ways to fix this:

  1. Launch new audiences under new ad sets within the same campaign
  2. Launch new ads within the existing ad sets

How To Scale Up Facebook App Advertising Campaigns


8. Minimize “Significant Edits” But Don’t Avoid Them Entirely

We’ve mentioned how campaigns tend to perform less optimally if they’re running in Facebook’s “learning” mode. But there are times when learning mode is a good thing and could reduce wasted ad spend later on.

For example, if you make significant edits while you’re launching a new ad, having the campaign re-set into the learning phase to maximize the ad’s performance makes sense. It could have a positive effect.

Deleting a bad ad is another opportunity for the learning mode to help you out. You don’t want that ad’s bad performance to affect your campaign’s history, so re-setting the campaign in that instance could help, too.

Pausing campaigns, ad sets, and ads also have their place. As mentioned before, pausing any of those three things is a “significant edit” – it will trigger the campaigns being brought back into learning mode. But if an ad (or ad set, or a campaign) had been performing well, but then stopped performing, it makes sense to pause it. If you can’t find some way to fix it, it has to stop running. You can’t just let it continue to waste ad budget.


Final Thoughts About Facebook App Advertising

If you’re in a competitive industry (and who isn’t?) these eight Facebook app advertising best practices are a good starting place for creating an ad campaign for your new app. But really, they’re just table stakes. You and all of your competitors have access to the same settings. Getting the basics right is a good start, but it’s not really a competitive advantage. On the other hand, generating high performing ad creative is. So, after you’ve fixed the issues mentioned here, refocus on developing better creative.

This means you’ll need to get really good at creating new creative, of course. But it also means you’ll have to commit to ongoing, rigorous testing of copy, video, and images. Quantitative creative testing never ends, thanks to ad fatigue and other factors.

We’re not talking about creating one new ad or two a week, either. 95% of your new creative will fail. Only 5% – one in twenty new ads – will outperform your current best-performing ad. To maintain a competitive edge, you and your team need to become a creative-generating machine. And even when you have a new winner, it’s only going to be a winner for so long.

But if you optimize your account with all the best practices, and build a creative and testing machine, it is possible to get the return on ad spend you need.

Learn more about our Creative Studio and how it can help your mobile app gain a true competitive advantage. 



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