Win Win Win Situation: Facebook’s new mobile app ad revamp to drive revenue while benefiting brands and consumers alike
In the past few months, Facebook has made a virtue of killing off ad formats. Streamlining down the numbers was needed. At thirty or so different species even paid social specialists were having a hard time telling them all apart, let alone explaining them to the uninitiated. So to take a significant step in the opposite direction, with the announcement of a new, highly specific mobile format, further emphasises Facebook’s key revenue focus. Widely cited as a weak spot after the rather bumpy IPO, the social network has made dramatic progress in mobile over the last year.
The new mobile app engagement ad shows in a user’s news feed and is a development on the app install ad, with one key differentiator. Instead of landing the user to the relevant app store, ready for download, the new format will deep link to content within the app itself. Taken at face value that doesn’t sound revolutionary, but in combination with Facebook’s custom audiences it unlocks a whole new specific market segment, and one that should in theory be most receptive to advertising, and most likely to convert.
Prior to this change, let’s say a brand – a retailer, for the sake of argument – wanted to use Facebook to drive mobile commerce. One of the best tactics would be to encourage downloads of the app, in the knowledge that once installed on a handset the brand has considerably lowered the barrier to ongoing spend from that consumer. Great news for the retailer but not so much for Facebook, as once the user has installed the app they’re effectively done.
In the new scenario, the retailer uses a list of existing app downloaders from its own CRM database, then retargets them using Facebook custom audience. The ad links to the new season’s range, or a flash sale. The range of calls-to-action available for use at launch rather gives the game away here: ‘shop now’ and ‘book now’ stand out in particular.
As the user already owns the app, they’re pre-qualified as customers, and the odds of a conversion direct from the click look good. At a stroke, Facebook has become really, really relevant not just to recruiting the customer as an app user, but to driving their on-going value for the brand. From the user’s perspective, meanwhile, being targeted in newsfeed for new content in an app you already own is much less likely to strike a false note.
The new format looks like a smart move. It’s a sign that Facebook is getting much cannier about how exactly they can monetise the mobile platform – but without overloading the newsfeed and alienating users. Simultaneously, it’s making the media spend on the platform link directly to an advertisers’ ROI, and this process can be repeated as often as makes economic sense for the advertiser. It’s not hard to see why Facebook felt like it was worth making an exception to the streamlining rule.
Angus Wood, head of earned media at iProspect