App marketers can customize the creative aspects of their ads using Twitter's Promoted Tweets and app cards formats. Those formats support either a custom image and app description or an app’s default icon and description. And landing pages for app re-engagement ads can be a deep-linked page that can be opened directly from Twitter.
Facebook's program is the gold standard in the install ads category, and Twitter's new formats take a few pages from its rival's playbook.
Just as Facebook did, the company has set up partnerships with a bunch of app analytics firms to track the effectiveness of its Twitter campaigns. Kochava, Fiksu, HasOffers, Grab, AppsFlyer, Adjust and Criteo's AD-X Tracking subsidiary are all empowered to track installs and post-install actions that are derived from the Twitter platform.
To further support tracking needs of app install advertisers, Twitter has introduced a new pricing model, called cost-per-app-click, that only charges for clicks that lead a user to an app store, or open an app if a user already has the app installed.
"Traditionally Twitter has used a cost-per-engagement model that charges advertisers and campaigns that use any kind of engagement. But mobile app marketers are … only interested in paying for specific actions," said Kelton Lynn, a Twitter product manager who guides the company's efforts around mobile app promotion.
June 30 happens to be the end of Twitter's second quarter, following a couple of earnings calls that have not gone especially well for the company. While the install program won't generate material revenue for Twitter this quarter, it may help management make a plausible case for revenue acceleration in 2014 when they present second-quarter milestones later this summer.
There's no question the app opportunity is large. King.com, publisher of Candy Crush Saga, spent $377 million in 2013 to promote its apps, and dozens of app marketers are believed to invest in excess of $10 million monthly each in app promotion. While much of this investment goes to game promotion, a growing fraction is used to support adoption of branded apps as well, from banking utility apps to music streaming apps.
Twitter aims to roll out a self-serve interface for the ads, but for now advertisers will need to work with a Twitter rep to get their app marketing campaigns live.