Facebook ramps up push for mobile app install revenue with autoplay videos

Advertisers can now serve autoplay video promotions within Facebook’s mobile apps as part of their app install ads, one of a string of buying, creative and targeting tools the social network hopes will boost demand for its mobile app advertising offering.

While the ability to run video ads already existed, the automatic playback feature increases the chance of them being viewed within an app.

This holiday season and moving forward, “when eligible, video mobile app ads will play automatically in News Feed”, the company said.

Although it has not yet defined what an “eligible” video for autoplay is, it could select those videos most relevant to users’ preferred devices or with specific apps installed. For instance, the social network is giving advertisers the ability to reach Amazon Fire devices to try and lure them away from the Amazon App store.

The move is bolstered by a flurry of other services Facebook is rolling out to convince advertisers to use its mobile app ads.

It is guaranteeing campaigns “highly predictable reach and frequency”, letting brands reach as many people as they want with as many ads they feel necessary. For example, advertisers can set their app ad campaign to reach 5 million people with a frequency cap of three impressions per person for one week, the company said in a blog post.

The format should only be used for campaigns with brand awareness goals, the social network has warned, like those for app launches or updates.

Facebook expects the features to swell its advertising coffers this Christmas, a time it has said is “one of the best to market mobile apps”, since many people receive new devices as gifts.

It is a strategy dependant on how well Facebook combines personal data with native app install formats that fit seamlessly into their content.

For Facebook and its rivals, mobile app installs are set to become a key battleground in their efforts to raise the value of their mobile inventory. The social network said app installs had been one of its top-performing ad products in its first quarter, driving over 350 million installs at the time. The spike in demand lifted overall ad prices for all installs and that those that made purchases from the ads were not just gamers but more broadly based.

Much of the growth is coming from brands showing an interest in the channel. Facebook has said that while many observers think mobile app ads are the domain of developer in actuality they are now being used by “some of the largest branders and marketers in the world”.

To help promote its own efforts, Facebook has given brands an early Christmas present with five mobile marketing tips:

  • Find new device owners. Smartphone sales grew 25 per cent last holiday season compared to the quarter before.1 New devices means new opportunities for app installs. Advertisers can reach new device owners by targeting people that have recently used Facebook on a new device. This targeting option can be found under Behaviors during ad creation.
  • Reach specific devices. If your app is optimised for certain devices, you can target people using newer device models such as the iPhone 6, Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Amazon Fire.
  • Optimise campaigns for your business objective. To get the most efficient delivery for mobile app install ads, choose “Optimise for installs.” For app launches and major updates, where the goal is broad awareness, use Reach and Frequency buying.
  • Identify your top app users and find people who look like them. To drive app installs, build a Custom Audience using the top 25 per cent of users. Then build a Lookalike Audience based off of it to find people with similar characteristics.
  • Test multiple ad creatives, including video. As new mobile devices are activated over the holidays, this is the perfect time to test new ad creatives. Test five to 10 new concepts to improve overall campaign delivery and achieve campaign goals.

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