Facebook App Install ads are a simple and low-cost way to bring new users to every app – including yours.

There are many benefits of using Facebook App Install campaigns over other paid app marketing tactics:

  • Facebook App Install campaigns are easy to set up
  • The App Install campaigns are highly trackable and measurable
  • You don’t need a huge budget to get started with promoting your app

Moreover, Facebook ads tend to have a great cost-per-install compared to other advertising channels.

According to AdEspresso’s data, Facebook App Install Ads cost around $1.2 per app install. I’ve also seen many App Install Campaigns with a CPI lower than $0.80.

cost per mobile app install

App installs cost $0.80 on average – Image source

Facebook’s also the top advertising platform when it comes to reaching a large audience of potential app users. With more than 1.3 billion monthly active users, it’s the perfect ad network for reaching your target audience.

daily active users of mobile apps

That’s a lot of potential app users – Image source

So it’s a no-brainer that if you want to promote your mobile app and have more people install the app, Facebook App Install Ads are a surefire way to get new users.

After working with several App Install Campaigns, I’ve learned that there are multiple best practices that always apply.

After reading this article, you will know:

  • What is a Facebook App Install campaign and how it differs from other campaign types?
  • How to set up and manage a Facebook App Install campaign?
  • What are the best practices for running a successful app marketing campaign?
  • How to get more app installs at a lower cost and optimize your campaigns?
  • How to set up Facebook SDK to track and measure in-app events?

Note to readers:

If you’re an advanced app marketer, you may want to scroll down to the “Hacks” section. If you’re just starting out, read the entire guide to get a complete overview of how App Install work and how to set up your first campaign.

Alright… Ready to learn to create winning App Install campaigns? You better read on!

What is a Facebook App Install campaign?

Let’s start from the beginning and see what exactly differentiates the App Install ads from other Facebook campaigns.

You can usually recognize App Install ads by the “Install Now” call-to-action button.

Perhaps the most important factor is that the App Install campaigns lead people straight to the App Store, instead of a landing page.

So as you click on an App Install ad…

facebook app install ad example

That’s how an Facebook App ad looks like

You’re taken straight to the App Store.

app store example

You’ll land in the App Store

Why does it matter? Why is it better to lead people straight to your App Store page?

Put simply, by skipping the landing page and taking people straight to the App Store, you can:

  • Avoid the friction – people are taken directly to the App Store.
  • Avoid slow landing page loading – people need to spend less time to get to your app’s download page.
  • Better track conversions – you can integrate your app with Facebook’s conversion tracking.

If your goal is to get new app users via paid advertising, it’s always the best practice to use App Install campaigns. You will get more new app users at the lowest cost.

How to create a Facebook Mobile App Install campaign?

Before you start setting up your first Facebook App Install campaign, think about the following questions:

  • What is the goal of my campaign?
  • How can I get the maximum number of people convert on my ads?
  • Do I have the correct tracking set up – is your app integrated with Facebook?

Once you know the answer to these questions, the likelihood of you going crushing the campaign (in a good way) is significantly higher.

Karate Cat gif

Totally pawsome – Image source

When marketing your app, you can have multiple goals:

  1. Get new app users
  2. Engage existing users
  3. Retarget potential leads

In this article, we’re going to focus on the first goal: getting new app users.

However, here’s a quick overview of which Facebook campaign types you can potentially use for all three objectives:

  1. Get new app users – App Install campaign
  2. Engage existing users – App Engagement campaign
  3. Retarget potential leads – App Install campaign / Website traffic campaign

But let’s just assume that your goal is to get new people to install your app and start using it. In this case, when setting up a new Facebook ad campaign, you should select the “App Installs” campaign objective.


Select “App installs”

Tip: It’s easiest to create your first campaign in the Facebook Ads Manager, where there’s a guided setup process.

After you’ve chosen your campaign objective, you’ll be lead to the next stages where you can set up the following campaign elements:

  • Your ad sets
  • The apps you want to advertise
  • Your target audience
  • Placements where your ads will be shown
  • Your campaign budget and schedule
  • Your ads
  • Your advertisements’ names
  • Your ad’s format (images, videos, carousel ads, etc.)
  • Ad designs
  • Ad copy
  • Call-to-action buttons

We’re going to learn how you can proceed in each of these steps to maximize your campaign’s success rate.

Read more: 12 Facebook Features that 95% of Marketers Don’t Know About

What’s the best App Install ads campaign structure?

First of all, let’s make a super quick stop and revisit the Facebook campaign structure.

There are three levels in every campaign:

  1. Campaign
  2. Ad set
  3. Ad
Facebook campaign blueprint

Facebook campaign blueprint

While for most Facebook campaigns, you can start out with a single ad set that includes multiple ads, the Mobile App Install campaigns are slightly different.

Here’s why.,

There are two App Stores – one for Android and one for iOS. There’s a high chance your app’s present in both.

app stores

Two main app stores

This also means that when setting up your Facebook App Install campaigns, you’ll need to create a campaign with two ad sets:

  • Ad set 1 for your iOS app
  • Ad set 2 for your Android app

You can select the app and App Store you want to advertise in the campaign setup phase.

select your mobile app

Select the app you want to promote

Tip: Add the app type (Android / iOS) to your ad set’s name so that you can differentiate the two ad sets later.

How to integrate your mobile app with Facebook?

In the image above, I was able to select the app because it was already integrated with Facebook.

If you haven’t yet integrated your app with Facebook, you won’t be able to set up the App Install campaigns.

No Facebook integration, no App Install campaigns.

panda gif

That’s the point where many marketers give up – Image source

Fortunately, integrating your app with Facebook isn’t too difficult. Still, you’re going to need your developer’s help.

Go to the Facebook for Developers page to add a new app. Here’s a Quick Start link.

Integrate mobile app with Facebook

Integrate your mobile app with Facebook

Next, follow the instructions that include copy-paste’ing the tracking code into your app’s code and setting up app events you want to track. You might want to assign this task to your development team.

ask for developers’ help

You better ask for your developers’ help

Here are two additional how-to guides by Facebook

  1. For integrating an iOS app
  2. For integrating an Android app

Optimize your campaign on the right app events

Once you’ve successfully integrated you App Store pages with Facebook, you can:

  • Set up App Install campaigns
  • Track relevant in-app events (e.g. registrations and purchases)
  • Optimize your campaign on specific in-app events and benefit from Facebook’s auto-optimization algorithms

Here are the 14 standard app events you can track:

Facebook standard app events

Facebook standard app events

When running a Mobile App Install campaign, you can optimize your ad delivery on these events.

As you scroll down in your ad set setup page, you will find the Optimization & Delivery section.

Here, you will have the option to optimize your ad delivery on:

  • App Installs
  • Link Clicks
  • App Events
  • Video Views

I always suggest my clients to optimize their ad campaigns on conversions. For App Install campaigns, it either means app installs or specific app events.

As you optimize your ad delivery on conversions, Facebook will show your ads to people most likely to complete the action you need them to: download your app, register as a user, make a purchase, etc.

As you optimize your Mobile App Installs campaign on app events, you’re 95% guaranteed to get the lowest cost-per-install. (As Facebook will automatically show your ads to the most potential customers)

Optimize on App Events

Optimize on App Events for best results

How to select your target audience?

When setting up your Facebook ad campaign, you can target three types of audiences:

  • Saved Audience – best for new campaigns
  • Custom Audience – best for Facebook retargeting
  • Lookalike Audience – best for reaching people similar to your users

Start by targeting a Saved Audience – this means targeting people based on their interests, demographics, etc. Even when running a low-budget Facebook campaign, you should keep your audience sufficiently large to leave some room for automatic optimization.

You can see your audience’s potential reach in the right-hand corner of the page.

audience’s potential reach

See how many people your mobile ads will reach

Here are three audience targeting best practices you can follow:

  1. Keep your potential audience reach at 20,000 people at least
  2. If you’re promoting an innovative mobile app, target technology early adopters
  3. If you want to target different audiences, create separate ad sets for that (it’s easier to evaluate the results)

How to select your ad placements?

As you already know, your Mobile App Install ads take people straight to the App Store.

This means that all your Facebook ad placements must be mobile – you can’t target desktop placements with this campaign type.

However, this still leaves you with plenty of placement options:

  • Facebook mobile newsfeed
  • Instant articles on mobile
  • Suggested videos on mobile
  • Instagram feed
  • Facebook Audience Network
  • Facebook Messenger home
Facebook ad placements for app ads

Facebook ad placements for app ads

I recommend that you start out with Automatic Placements and later, based on your campaign reports, optimize your campaign by excluding some low-performing placements.

Mostly, I’ve seen app installs coming from three ad placements, so I would encourage you to test at least those three to begin with:

  • Mobile newsfeed
  • Instagram feed
  • Audience Network

According to AdEspresso’s research, the cost-per-install is lowest in the Audience Network. The Instagram ads cost has been dropping in time, especially compared to other ad placements.

cost per app install

Different placements have different costs – Image source

Facebook App Install ads budgets and bidding

As you reach the Budget & Schedule section of your ad setup process, you can select between two options:

  • Daily budget – tell Facebook how much you’d like to spend every day.
  • Lifetime budget – tell Facebook how much you’d like to spend in total.
budget and schedule

You can select between Daily/Lifetime budget

Which on of these Facebook features is the best option?

It’s hard to tell as both options have their advantages.

Advantages of using a daily budget:

  1. You can leave your ad campaigns running indefinitely.
  2. You’ll know exactly how much you’ll spend every day.
  3. I find daily budgets easier to evaluate and manage.

Advantages of using a lifetime budget:

  1. Facebook will allocate your budget based on a larger timeframe, potentially lowering the cost-per-install.
  2. You can only set up a custom ad schedule when using a lifetime budget.
  3. You can cap your spending and won’t forget the campaign running.

Important! No matter which option you select, you won’t be able to switch the budgeting options after publishing the campaign. However, you will always be able to edit the size of your budgets.

If after all this information you’re even more confused…

confused gif

Confusing? – Image source

I recommend that you use the daily budget as it’s easier to measure and increase/decrease when needed. And let your ads run 24/7 to begin with, especially if you want to maximize the number of new app users.

Tip: Among other 2018 Facebook updates, a feature called Campaign Budget Optimization was introduced.

This new feature allows you to set campaign-level ad budgets and let Facebook algorithms allocate it between ad sets. You could use this feature to optimize the budgets between your iOS and Android ad sets.

Creating your Facebook App Install ads

The next step in the campaign setup process is creating your ads. Arguably, this is the most difficult challenge of creating a Facebook ad campaign.

At least it usually is for me. You need to get right so many different elements:

  • Ad image/video
  • Headline
  • The main ad text
  • Call-to-action button

Let’s take a quick look at how app install ads look in Facebook’s mobile newsfeed and as Instagram ads.

app install ads in Facebook and Instagram

Here’s how Mobile App Install ads look

The main difference between App Install ads and regular Facebook ads leading to a landing page is that there is no link description under the headline.

In Instagram ads, your ad copy will appear below your image as the title for your image.

So how can you assure that your ads look great and convince the audience to download your app?

Follow these nine rules:

  1. Think of your USP – Unique Selling Proposition
  2. Write a strong yet short headline
  3. Create original images and avoid stock photos
  4. Show your app / app screen in the image or video
  5. Include the App Store icons in the image
  6. Write actionable ad copy
  7. Use the “Install Now” or “Sign Up” call-to-action button
  8. Test multiple ad formats
  9. Check out deep linking

Let’s explore each of these suggestions a little more in-depth…

9 hacks to create irresistible Mobile App Install ads

Before we get to each of the nine points, you may want to check out the article that lists 142 best Facebook ad examples – it’s a great resource for inspiration.

And now, let’s learn all the Facebook advertising hacks to create magical App Install ads.

pusheen gif

So magical you’ll get new users almost for free – Image source

1. Find your USP – Unique Selling Proposition

Two great advertising legends, David Ogilvy and Rosser Reeves believed that having a strong USP is the key to successful ad campaigns.

Reeves explained that your unique value offer has three parts:

  1. Each tagline must make a proposition to the consumer that shows a clear benefit.
  2. The proposition must be unique – one that your competition either can’t or doesn’t offer.
  3. The USP must be strong enough for people to take action.

For example, LinkedIn’s Facebook ad clearly states the value proposition to their target audience – marketers: “Attract new customers.”

LinkedIn’s Facebook ad

LinkedIn shows their USP

Think about your USP before creating any ad copy or campaign visuals. Both of these should support your USP, not the other way around.

I know that looking for your unique value offer might seem like an unnecessary, time-consuming step, but it’s really not – I’ve seen so many Facebook campaign results improve once the brand added a strong USP to their ads.

If you’d like to read more about finding your unique selling proposition, check out this article: 18 Golden Advertising Rules by Legendary D. Ogilvy and R. Reeves

2. Write a short yet strong headline

A study by Consumer Acquisition found that 90% people first look at a Facebook ad’s image. Ip next, their attention is drawn to the headline. Basically, many people decide whether to click or not click on your app install ad based on its headline.

How can you write a headline that won’t let you down?

Here are some tried-and-proven headline formulas you can use:

  • Mention the main benefit of your app (the USP)
  • Mention how many users you already have
  • Tell people what your app does
  • Ask a fascinating question to spark curiosity

Here’s an example by Frank, asking a question both in the ad image and headline.

Frank facebook app install ad

Frank asks a question in their ad

Tip: Research has found that by starting your headline with a number, you’re 36% more likely to have people click on your ads.

Here are some numbers you can mention in your mobile app’s Facebook ad:

  • Your App Store rating
  • The number of people using your app
  • The number of positive reviews
headline preferences by gender

People like headlines with numbers – Image source

You can also include emojis in your Facebook ads to drive more attention to the key messages. We tested this with Scoro and the ad using emoji had a significantly higher click-through rate. ?

using emojis in App Install ads

Consider using emojis in your App Install ads

For additional writing hacks, see this guide on copywriting for Facebook ads and social media posts.

3. Create original images and avoid stock photos

Whenever you need to choose between an original design and stock photos, dismiss the latter.

Facebook ads using stock photos blend into the newsfeed and are difficult to notice.

Which one of these two ads catches your attention?

Facebook ads using stock photos

Which ad is more original and attention-grabbing?

If you must use a photo, make sure it’s original.

Tip: Marketing Experiments found that using a real person associated with your product instead of a stock photo increased conversion by 35%.

If you want to learn more about how to create the perfect Facebook ad image, check out this article with 25 Facebook ad design tips and get inspired by these 21 Facebook video ad examples.

4. Show your app / app screen in the image or video

I discovered this rule while working on SaaS (Software as a Service) Facebook ads.

Mobile apps and software products both have this one thing in common: they enable you to take screenshots to easily showcase your product.

As you include your app screen in the Facebook ad image, three things will happen:

  1. People will immediately realize your product is an app
  2. If your app looks great, people will start trusting it more
  3. You can showcase how your app works

You can even take this one step further and create a Facebook carousel ad with several app views like Gusto.

showing app in the add image

Gusto’s showing their app in the add image

If you have a 15-30 second introductory video about your mobile app, you can also create a Facebook video ad. See all the Facebook and Instagram ad specs here.

5. Include the App Store icons in the image

Another way to indicate that you’re promoting a mobile app is to include Google Play and App Store icons in your ad image to indicate that people should install your app.

That’s exactly what Bloomberg Business did in their Facebook app install ads.

Adding app icon in the ad

Bloomberg added their app icon in the ad

Similarly, you can include your app icon (the icon that signifies your app on a smartphone’s home screen) in the image.

Very important tip: Once someone clicks on your Facebook App Install ad, they’re taken to the App Store. To convince them to download your app, your App Store description and images need to be high-quality and your app ratings high.

good App Store page examples

Two good App Store page examples

Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers recommends that you use in your App Store oneliner one of the following elements:

  • Your value proposition / USP, stated as succinctly as possible
  • Your “ideal for” statement
  • A short snippet from a product review: “A must have for moms!” – TechCrunch
  • A short snippet from an influencer review: “A game-changer” – Seth Godin
  • Media mentions: “As seen on ABC News”
  • Reasons to believe: “Free upgrades for life!”
  • Teasers like, “Click ‘More’ to see the screenshot that Angry Birds designers called ‘Sick on a stick’“
  • Star ratings
  • Numbers of downloads or users (if it’s large)
  • Other apps you’ve created: “From the creators of _______”

6. Ad copy: make it actionable

Your main ad copy is what you see above the Facebook ad image.

That’s the place for emphasizing your app’s benefit to the user once more or wooing them with a promising claim.

Your ad copy must convince the people that still need convincing after seeing your ad image and headline.

As it’s the last part of your ad that most people notice and engage with, it makes sense to end your ad text with a call-to-action.

Blue Apron, for instance, sends people to a link and offers them first three meals for free.

Including a call-to-action in ad copy

Include a call-to-action in ad copy

Need ideas for your Mobile App ads? You could end your ad copy by saying:

  • Download [your app’s name] in the App Store!
  • Try it for yourself by installing the app today!
  • Join 10,000+ happy users!

7. Use the correct call-to-action button

When it comes to call-to-action buttons, Facebook has plenty.

Which is the right one to use in your App Install ads?

Facebook CTA buttons

Facebook has many CTA buttons

Mostly, it’s a best practice to select the CTA that’s closest to the action you want people to take.

If your goal is to get people install your app and sign up, it doesn’t make sense to use the “Learn More” or “Shop Now” CTAs, to give a few examples.

As you select the “Install Now” or “Sign Up” call-to-action button, fewer people might click on your ad than when you’d pick “Learn More.” However, as people go to the App Store, fewer are going to install your app after having clicked the “Learn More” CTA – downloading your app is not what they opted in for.

Tip: If you’re running App Engagement ads to increase the current users’ engagement level (that already have your app installed), use the “Use App” call-to-action button.

8. Test multiple ad formats

Facebook Mobile App Install ads aren’t limited to a single-image format.

Here’s a list of all possible app install ad formats:

  1. Single-image
  2. Single-video
  3. Carousel ad
  4. Slideshow ad

If you’re wondering what’s a Slideshow ad, it’s a multi-image Facebook ad where your images change automatically, creating a video effect.

Example of a slideshow ad

Example of a slideshow ad

Which App Install ad format works best?

In my experience, a good old single-image ad usually works best. However, if you’ve already advertised a while for the same audience and ad fatigue starts to kick in, you can add carousel and video ads to the mix.

Tip: Are you also advertising on Instagram? When creating a single-image ad, you can set up a separate image for Instagram. The way it’s used is that you upload a square image (1080×1080 px) in addition to the landscape ad image (1200×628 px).

Adding a square image for Instagram ads

Add a square image for Instagram ads

9. Use deep linking

By now, you should have a pretty decent overview of how to create a Mobile App Installs campaign on Facebook.

Here’s one more hack that you might not know yet: Deep linking

With deep linking, you can directly send people who click on your ads to what they’re interested in (e.g. a specific hotel offer in a travel app) when they open your app for the first time.

Here’s an explanation by Facebook:

  1. Your ad will show personalized content, in our example a vacation to San Francisco.
  2. People will download your app.
  3. Via a deep link people will come back to their point of inspiration, the vacation to San Francisco.
How deep linking works

How deep linking works – Image source

You can find the step-by-step guidelines for creating a deep-linking app here.

Let’s wrap things up

Mobile ads are making up for an increasingly large share of digital ad spend.

Knowing how to create mobile ads that convert on a high level will give you a significant advantage over the competition.

U.S. digital ad spending forecast

Mobile advertising is growing fast – Image source

If you’re looking for additional Facebook advertising best practices for campaign optimization, check out this article: 12 Hidden Facebook Features 95% of Marketers Don’t Know

And should you have any questions about Facebook App Install ads, feel free to leave them in the comments, and we’ll get back to you.

200 facebook ad examples ebook