4 Facebook App Strategies to Reduce Costs

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Did you know experimenting can optimize conversion rates further than machine learning? Here's how to improve RSA conversions with proven strategies.

Article originally published on Search Engine Land.

Facebook’s App campaigns are a great way to promote and increase installs for your application across both Android and iOS.

You can promote your app by launching campaigns designed to drive more installs or you can optimize for custom in-app events, delivering ads to people more likely to specific actions within the app, such as a purchase.

This tool also allows marketers to promote more than installs and custom app events.

You can create custom audiences and lookalikes from app installers and any custom in-app events, such as users who have made a purchase within your app in a designated number of days.

These audiences can also be leveraged across other Facebook marketing initiatives, ensuring you’re always reaching the people at the right time in the right place.

But if you’ve struggled with app campaigns in the past or want to improve your overall cost-per-install (CPI), here are four proven Facebook app strategies.

1. Ensure you have iOS14+ turned on

Since Apple implemented significant changes to their privacy settings, allowing iPhone users to simply opt-out of mobile tracking, we’ve had to adapt to how we set up and run campaigns.

Luckily, Facebook has rolled out features that help navigate these changes, such as the iOS 14+ campaign feature. This campaign setting needs to be enabled when you create a campaign. Turning it on allows your Facebook campaign to reach everyone on iOS 14.5 and higher.

More reach allows for more data to be passed back to Facebook’s algorithm to deliver your app ads to the people who are most likely to install and therefore will help to drive costs down. Remember, Facebook needs 50 conversion events per week per ad set to optimize campaigns to its best ability. Hence, why the iOS 14+ campaign feature is so important.

Without this feature, your campaigns only serve a handful of impressions, which can skyrocket your CPIs. For example, before turning this feature on, we saw 42 impressions compared to 5,000 for a single ad set within a 7-day period.

We need to test two RSAs against one another to look at ad-level KPIs, not just copy-level impressions. Ad copy in each RSA should be intentionally limited to just three headlines and two descriptions and the ads should be tested in an experiment.

In this way, you are creating pseudo-ETAs. Once you start recognizing winners, you can optimize performance by turning off poor-converting assets in your non-experimental RSAs.

2. Leverage open targeting

Facebook has one of the best algorithms when identifying who to serve ads.

If you’ve struggled with your audience targeting not producing cost-efficient results, try going broad and letting Facebook do the work for you. “Open” targeting allows you to select your demographics (country and age) and leave the rest blank.

Use this strategy to test on any of your existing campaigns (not just app install campaigns) if you aren’t producing the most cost-efficient results.

Still not convinced? Our agency has seen CPI drop 84% after moving away from targeted ad sets to broad “open” targeting.

3. Catalog ads (DPA Ads)

Catalog ads (also commonly referred to as dynamic product ads) are a game-changer for App Install campaigns.

If you or your client has a catalog feed, then you need to test Facebook’s dynamic catalog ads for app installs. In some cases, we’ve witnessed CPI drop to 75% as soon as catalog ads were implemented for app installs.

To run Catalog ads, you need to set up a product feed. This can be imported or automatically synced directly into Facebook.

You don’t have to be an ecommerce marketer to use catalog ads. You can easily “hack” this format to make it work for you in most cases (i.e. real estate listings, travel listings, education programs, etc.)

Essentially, if you offer products or services in a large quantity, then it’s worth looking into Catalog ads to see if they are “hackable” for you – the manual import.

4. Automation, automation, automation!

Facebook’s algorithm truly does work with automation, which removes most of the heavy lifting – a major plus if you’re a small business trying to promote your app!

Work with Facebook, and make sure you’re set up to work best with the algorithm. 

Ensure that you have Campaign Budget Optimization (CBO) turned on and that you’re kicking off with Automatic Placements.

CBO will automatically drive more budget to the ad sets that are seeing the best results for your campaign. In this case, the cheapest CPI will get more budget.

Automatic Placements works the same as CBO in serving more ads to the placements that are driving the best results. Automatic Placements typically always drive down costs, and you use Facebook’s “breakdown” reports to identify and learn which placements are working best. 

For example, Instagram tends to be more expensive compared to Facebook. However, you can take it a step further to identify where on Instagram you’re spending more than desired for app installs.

Last but not least, when talking about automation, consider Automated App Ads (now called Advantage+ App Campaigns), which offers a sustainable method for driving app campaign performance.

Automated App Ads (AAA) are designed to achieve the best results by using Facebook’s machine learning to identify and deliver the best combination of audiences, ad copy and creative. These can be a great way to achieve the lowest CPI quickly, especially if you don’t have the bandwidth to manage a large volume of campaigns.

While AAA can be a great, fast fix to achieve results, there are some limitations. 

  • You have to give almost complete control to Facebook when it comes to audience targeting.
  • For the most part, you can only control country, language and minimum age and you can also include certain exclusions.
  • You can also only have one ad group associated with the AAA campaign. 

Playable campaigns and instant experiences are not supported ad formats. However, Catalog Ads are a supported format!


Facebook’s iOS 14+ campaign, open targeting, Catalog ads and automation are exceptional tools available at your fingertips to drive success.


*Featured photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash


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