Facebook has expanded a test of mobile ads for app developers who are looking to drive installs, a bright spot in the paid mobile media landscape. The beta program was announced in August, with a select group of developers including Kabam, Fab, TinyCo and Big Fish.
As of today any developer can sign up to run "Mobile App Install Ads," and it seems likely based on Facebook's massive mobile reach (600 million globally) and the early results from its beta partners that they will do so in droves. Those partners reported click through rates and conversions significantly higher than their current mobile channels, says Facebook. CTRs were 50% higher in the case of TinyCo, and Preferred Marketing Developer Ad Parlor achieved 1 to 2% CTR from news feed ads. Facebook says these users were "looking for iPhone and Android games that their friends were playing."
Another PMD to test the app offering is Nanigans, which focuses on the gaming and e-commerce verticals. It says clients achieved 8-10x reach compared to other mobile ad buys. (More in Facebook's blog post)
"Nanigans is seeing mobile app install ad campaigns with average CPCs ranging from $0.18 - $0.60. In some instances, Nanigans has seen CTRs on mobile app install ads that exceed 3%... For game apps, Nanigans is seeing mobile app install ads generate 20% higher CTRs and 22% higher CPCs than achieved with mobile Sponsored Stories.
"It is important to note that the ad unit is new, and early results are subject to change as the product matures."
That last note is significant since any new ad type tends to perform better, and at lower cost, in the weeks and months after it is introduced.
The expanded program puts Facebook into pitched competition with established mobile ad companies serving developers that are willing to pay for installs. That space includes companies like Apsalar, Flurry, TapJoy. A big challenge in that arena is guaranteeing post-install engagement, since the longer people own smartphones the more app fatigue they experience and the less they may be inclined to interact with apps they have. It will some time before Facebook proves itself in that regard.
This is Facebook's latest attempt to boost mobile revenue, a goal it's also pursuing through a mobile ad network experiment involving the placement of Facebook interest-targeted ads on mobile ad inventory sourced on exchanges (AdExchanger story).