Mobile App Install Ads Tutorial Checklist

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You’re probably already aware that Facebook’s Mobile App Install Ads is getting hot. According to Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, over 3,800 developers and advertisers have used Mobile App Install Ads to drive over a combined 25,000,000 IOS and Android app installs, and a whopping 40% of the 100 top-grossing apps are already taking advantage of this new ad format.

If you are thinking about getting on this bandwagon and testing the comfort of the ride, then the following 10-step tutorial checklist will definitely relieve some of your anxieties for takeoff 🙂

Early bird gets the warm

During Google Adwords’s early days, people enjoyed extremely low CPC because they got in early before all their competitors jumped in. Adwords ad policies were also a lot looser, which created many arbitrage and affiliate opportunities. Affiliates made millions and all they did was “direct linking.”

It was dream land. In this story, it was the early birds that got the worm. The second mouse didn’t get the cheese, so to speak.

You can also call it “the first mover advantage.” Andrew Chan wrote a post called “the law of shitty clickthroughs” which went into greater details about this concept.

So if you have a great app and Mobile App Install Ads delivers the metrics you are looking for, you want to maximize its potential before everyone else jumps in and pushes up the CPC.

Be aware of daily budget limit

Follow this link to get started. The steps are easy to follow so we won’t waste time here.

But one thing you want to be aware of is that your Facebook Advertising account will have a Daily Spend limit automatically imposed. For most advertisers, the daily limit starts at $50. After a few successful payments, it will be increased gradually up to $1,000. After that, you’ll need to talk to a Facebook rep to adjust it higher.

So, if you have aggressive plans, definitely reach out to a Facebook sales rep first and ask them give you a high daily limit to start off so you can fully stretch your wings.

Now, some practical tips when you run your campaigns…

Use lookalike segment

One of the amazing technologies behind Facebook’s ad platform is their “lookalike audiences“. This feature is available for your non-mobile Facebook ads as well such as sponsored posts.

It is no secret that Facebook knows pretty much everything about everybody. As a matter of fact, it probably knows more about you than you do yourself. Using information Facebook collects about us using Open Graph, including your profile information, interests, and even offline behavioral data, FB can create “lookalike audiences” based on files you upload to Facebook via Power Editor.

If you think of an email list of your most loyal and highest LTV customers as the perfect customer for your business, “lookalike audiences” will be like a “clone” of it. And so far, I’ve seen great results from this feature.

I am not surprised by the effectiveness of this feature, given the amount of data FB has on us. Plus, Facebook engineers are very smart … and nosy. They must love digging into our “private” stuff. Honestly, I don’t mind. It helps us discover things we’d be interested in but would otherwise not able to find out on our own.

To create a “lookalike audience,” you first need to create a “custom audience” and then click on “Create similar audience” once you have the custom audience selected.

One campaign per targeting segment and one ad per campaign

That is because Facebook automatically gives a lion’s share of impressions to the highest CTR ad in your campaign.

There are two main problems with that:

  • CTR doesn’t necessarily mean higher ROI or ROAS, or whatever metric is most important for you.
  • You won’t get a chance to split test your segments, ad copy, and images because all traffic is going to the highest CTR ad.

Just a quick note: your targeting segment can be any combination of interests, broad category, age range, sex, country, location, custom audiences, IOS version, bidding option, and any other variables.

Treat every Segment (unique combination) as if it is a “keyword” in an Adwords campaign. This level of granularity will help you calculate and optimize bids for each segment.

Given the specific needs and nature of the business, you can come up with a list of unique targeting combinations beforehand. If you aren’t already using a paid third-party ad creation and management tool, you can create ads in bulk using a Power Editor template .

Heck, if you’re budget constrained and you follow this process, you may not even need a third-party management tool.

Testing bidding option inside same campaign

Facebook offers several bidding options and instead of recommending “the one” to use, I recommend that you duplicate the same ad and only vary the bidding option.

This way, you can get insights specific to your own product/service which are most relevant and actionable.

Balance the granularity of segmentation

Whether you are using a paid tool or just using Power Editor, you want to establish a balance between the granularity of your segmentation and the amount of time it will take you or your team to manage.

Let’s say we are only interested in creating segments by combining age, interests, and sex:

  • Age ranges from 13 to 65 on Facebook (ignoring “No Max” choice for simplicity), so on the most granular level, you can have 65-13+1 = 53 segments.
  • Now, if you have a small list of 20 interests you want to target, now you will have a combination os 53 * 20 * 2 (male or female) = 2,120 targeting segments.

If you follow our rule set out earlier, you’ll end up with at least 2,120 campaigns if you are only testing one ad copy and one image ONLY. To end this madness, your best choice is break age down to ranges or interests into semantically related groups.

You just have to make a decision that makes the most sense.

Get mobile tracking solution implemented

Spending money without tracking in place is the last thing you want to do.

Using a free Mobile tracking platform like, you can easily track the performance of your campaigns with important metrics that you care about. Apsalar is free to use and they make money only when you run campaigns with them.

There are other options out there, so do some research before deciding on the most suitable one for your needs.

Facebook Power Editor

This editor is very simple and intuitive to use. You can use their “bulk import” feature to create many campaigns with one upload. They have a template for you to use but I normally don’t use it and I’ll tell you why.

What I do normally is create some campaigns manually within Facebook Ads Manager first. Then I would go to Power Editor to export them out into an Excel file.

By doing so, you can save the time and frustration of trying to figure out the format for all the columns in the template. There are many columns and it is simply a hassle to figure it out. Instead, export your existing campaigns so they are laid out nicely for you in the exact format Power Editor will accept.

This way, depending on how you segmented your campaigns, you can create new campaigns to test on the fly.

For example, if you are testing different IOS versions, you can simply modify the “User OS Version” column from 5 to 6 to create a list of new campaigns targeting only version 6 instead of 5.

Try this and you’ll probably agree that you may not even need a paid FB ads tool at all unless you and your team have a gigantic account to manage.

Switch images and/or ad copy when you notice CTRs drop

The name of the game on Facebook is still CTR. The main reason is because of the inherent nature of FB ads.

With Google search, people search out of their current needs and their needs vary day to day, so you are bidding on the same keywords every day. With Facebook, your ads are served to mostly fresh new users daily. So your CTR stays relatively constant as long as the position, copy, and search results layout remain the same. And your CPC will stay relatively constant.

On Facebook, you are targeting segments of Facebook users you’ve chosen and the amount of these users stays relatively constant. So your CTR inevitably will drop every time because the same users are exposed to the same ad over and over again.

Since your CPC can and will rise dramatically when your CTR decreases, you want to try different images and ad copies to position your product or service with different angles to keep the same segment of users interested and engaged (the only metrics you care about). Your mission is to squeeze out as many installs as possible from this segment profitably. Profitability here is defined broadly and should really reflect your initial goal set up.

How often and when to switch out images and ad copies is best determined by analyzing your own data. Please don’t follow a set time frame.

Work flow

It is easy to end up with hundreds of campaigns and ads with Mobile App Install ads because of all the crazy segmentations you can set up. That is why you need a process and work flow to avoid chaos and hectic management.

Just like a high performance individual, you’ll want to set up structures and rituals:

  • Launching campaigns on 6/13/2013? Targeting 35-45 years old? Targeting people who likes your competitor ____ ?
  1. Put it in the name or use a special symbol or letter combinations to represent them. Just make sure you have an Excel file to track all that. By doing so, you will find it easier to establish a ritual to make bid changes and optimize campaigns.
  2. To take a step further, you may want to assign a symbol for each campaign. This way, you can easily identify each segment in your Excel file and not end up having a Campaign name like “App name-6-25-2013-18-25-M-CA-US-Likes-Virtual-Games-Optimize-Conversion”
  • Put your best foot forward: Although copy and images are important, choosing the right Segments is vital. Segments are like keywords in Adwords and you will want to know your customers like the back of your hand to find segments that are highly responsive and converting.
  • Smart Budgeting: If you know you have limited budget, then test your best segments first and squeeze the lemon dry before you start testing ad copy and images. If you really want to test images and copy, choose your best segments and create different campaigns with only copy variations or image variations or both.
  • Remember to adjust bids down on a timely fashion: CPC rises up quick if you don’t refresh your ads and can easily put you in the red. Following a good ad naming structure such as putting the date of launch in the “Campaign name” helps you to determine when to adjust bids.
  • Follow a ritual if possible: This potentially can help you avoid a chaotic situation where time is dispersed through the week and in some cases, having to change bids every day. Lot of time can be sucked up by these “interruptions.” Instead, set Monday, for example, to launch new campaigns and Friday to make bid changes. You can get a lot more done with a lot less time if you create a ritual that makes the most sense to your needs.
  • Lastly, be creative…

Until next time…

I hope you have enjoyed and gotten some value from this.

Please comment below with your thoughts and ideas because they matter!

To your legacy, cheers!

Dylan Hao



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