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Navigating Facebook’s Updated Mobile App Ad Units

Published: August 22, 2014

Author: Juliana Nicholson

To help advertisers better connect with their 654 million mobile monthly active users, Facebook recently rolled out updates to their mobile ad units. While the changes are subtle, understanding these nuances can make all the difference for advertisers looking to drive more efficient app installs and engagement.

What’s changed?

Most notably, mobile app ads now carry social context (e.g. Elise likes this Page) and have like, comment, or share buttons on the ad unit. According to initial reporting, the changes have resulted in higher click-to-install rates and more importantly, lower cost-per-install rates. Not to mention, research shows social context can generate 50% higher recall and can drive a 35% lift in online sales.
Improved performance is something that any advertiser can get excited about, however with new social context comes new responsibility. Comments on ads should be treated just like comments on owned social channels – with timely moderation and quality customer service. To help keep consumers happy, make sure your app install ads are honest about where they’re leading users to. Images should directly reflect the in-app experience.
In order for social context to be a part of app ads, all units must now be tied to a Facebook Page. This update will subject these units to the same frequency caps that Page post ads are relegated to.

Creative best practices


-Mobile app ads are restricted to 90 characters, so don’t beat around the bush. Quickly describe how users will benefit from downloading or engaging with your app.
-People aren’t mind readers. Include a strong CTA in your message or consider one of Facebook’s CTA buttons:  “Open Link”, “Use App”, “Watch Video”, “Shop Now”, or “Listen Now.”
-For re-engagement app ads, consider deep linking to specific in-app experiences with App Links.


-Consistent with Page post ads, app install and app engagement ads now require images be 1200 x 627 px with an aspect ratio of 1.91:1.
-App screenshots can be a powerful way to show users what they’re getting, just make sure the screenshot you use reflects the device on which you’re advertising (Android vs. iOS).
-Minimal text overlay can also help convey messaging. Keep the size of the screen you’re targeting top of mind however, as text needs to be legible quickly in the mobile feed.

Tracking your performance

Not much has changed in terms of how to measure performance with Facebook mobile app ads. App installs or engagements can be tracked by registering your app on Facebook, integrating Facebook’s latest SDK, and measuring app events. For additional performance metrics, consider partnering with a mobile measurement company.
Although social context is now a part of mobile app ad units, advertisers will not be charged for likes, comments, or shares on their mobile app ads, or pay for Page likes that happen from their mobile app ads. Rather, they will only pay for clicks to the app store if using CPC bidding. oCPM and CPA bidding does not charge on a click basis and these bidding types will still optimize towards driving installs.

What it all boils down to

A greater majority of Facebook users are on mobile now than ever before. As this user base continues to grow, Facebook has also adjusted their offerings for more efficient app discovery and engagement. There are over a million apps vying for the eager eyes of mobile users, give yours the attention it deserves.

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