Facebook has launched a new advertising platform within its mobile app, giving developers the ability to advertise their iOS and Android apps via the social network.
As with Facebook’s current mobile ads, the app advertisements appear in the user’s news feed, allowing them to click on a link, visit the relevant app store, and download the software to their phones. The pricing will work on cost-per-click (CPC) basis.
Developers can target their advertising to either Android or iOS users and also target the ads based on what apps users have previously downloaded on Facebook. So, for instance, if you’ve played Diamond Dash on Facebook via your desktop, you might expect to receive a whole load of puzzle game app ads.
Facebook says it already drives over 140 million visits to Google Play and Apple’s App Store, via user news feeds, timeline bookmarks and the Facebook App Center.
Facebook’s new platform – which is currently in beta – will certainly be welcomed by app developers. The issue of app ‘discoverability’ is becoming more and pronounced. With thousands of apps being rolled out everyday, it’s almost impossible to get noticed.
This problem has inevitably led to a boom in app promotion companies that specialise in gaining downloads for developers. Some of this promotion takes place via specific networks, that allow developers to advertise across similar apps from other developers. Other techniques include offering users incentives, such as virtual currency.
The main goal of such networks is to gain valuable users and push an app into a high position in the app store’s charts. Getting into those visible positions can make or break an app, which is why promotion agencies will charge around $30,000 just to get you into the top ten.
The app promotion business – particularly the incentive-based approach – has also come under fire for not delivering valuable users. Many developers have rallied against incentivised downloads, saying that users simply download the app, get the incentive, and then either turn into an inactive user (no ad revenue) or uninstall. Incentivised downloads have now been banned by Apple, after the company said such networks were designed to game app store chart rankings (but they’re still permitted on Google Play).
Of course, Facebook’s mobile app ads aren’t just needed to aid app discoverability. The social network still needs to prove that it’s able to monetise its mobile platform, as more and more users move away from the desktop site and spend more time with the Facebook app.
The question over whether Facebook can make money from mobile was the main concerns investors had during the company’s troubled IPO in June and Facebook stocks are currently trading at almost half the price they started at – wiping $50bn off the company’s value. Will this new mobile app advertising scheme help reverse that decline? We’ll have to wait and see.