Are you a Facebook user acquisition (UA) expert with piles of UA cash sitting around, waiting to be spent? If ‘yes,’ then this post will provide zero value. Stop reading and start launching campaigns!
This blog is intended for scrappy game developers looking to understand how to launch and test paid Facebook UA campaigns in the most cost-effective way.
1. Get tracking
A dollar spent on UA without tracking is a dollar wasted. Make sure you have the most current Facebook SDK implemented in the app. Doing so allows for:
a) Install, in-app event and retention tracking via Facebook analytics
b) Creation of Mobile App Custom Audiences (MACA) to be used for building high-value custom audiences and their respective lookalikes
c) App event optimization (AEO) campaign creation
2. Start with a soft launch campaign
It’s no secret that high-value Facebook users exist in high-income earning countries like the AU, CA, UK and the US. These geos usually offer the greatest return on ad spend (ROAS) for MAI (Mobile App Install) advertisers.
However, these same countries are also the most competitive auctions. Compared to other geos, they require aggressive bidding and tolerance for higher CPIs (cost-per-install).
The solution: instead of buying directly in these markets, consider launching with worldwide targeting.
Worldwide targeting offers extensive campaign reach, meaning ads are placed in larger and consequently less competitive auctions. This targeting feature will provide more cost-effective CPIs. Therefore, you’ll be able to acquire more users per dollar spent.
By prioritizing building a user base over immediate ROAS developers can build up DAU (Daily Active User) count, test for app stability and monitor cohort retention post the day of install.
3. Invest in creative
Creative is one of the most important levers when it comes to Facebook UA. Improvements in CTR (click-through-rate) lead to a decrease CPIs and an increase in ROAS. So, do not skip this part. Focus on quality creative, it pays off.
One can never be too sure what creative sticks with your target audience. Make sure to test a variety of creative concepts. Prioritize in-app gameplay and creative that complements the app store description.
When producing ad creatives, always keep in mind that creative optimization is an iterative process. For this reason, don’t worry too much about launching with perfectly polished creatives off the bat.
Make sure to test both Mobile App Image Ads (MAIA) and Mobile App Video Ads (MAVA). As a rule of thumb, MAIA drives more cost-effective CPIs, while MAVAs produce a higher CPI but offer a stronger ROAS.
4. Understand K-factor
While return on ad spend (ROAS i.e. revenue from paid installs/marketing budget) is the primary metric mobile advertisers use when measuring performance, it doesn’t provide the complete picture.
Experienced mobile marketers measure the effect paid UA has on organic traffic. To do so, they use a metric called K-factor. Thus, when you calculate your ROAS bake in K-factor to appreciate the full value brought by Facebook UA.
5. Experiment with broad targeting
If you’re not 100% confident of who your target audience is, you’re better off initially launching with broad targeting. The more one segments ads by age, gender and targeting parameters, the more permutations you’re forced to start with.
Would you rather spend your $1,000/day budget across 10 ads or 100 ads? For most initial launches, the former choices are best.
Spreading your daily budget against fewer ads means you’ll be able to collect data more quickly, and understand the ad’s value.
6. Use granular insights from Facebook reporting even with broad targeting
Facebook reporting can include targeting breakouts beyond the broad targeting parameters. For example, if you launched with ‘All’ gender targeting (men + women + undefined/unknown gender) with 18-65 years of age, Facebook reporting can show more granular data on impressions, clicks, installs, revenue distilled between specific genders and age breakouts.
7. Be creative with keyword targeting
KW targeting is a great tool to define your target audience. Doing it right, however, requires creativity. One common mistake is to just target direct competitor products.
While this is a valid approach, it’s usually the most expensive. Your competitors are probably bidding on these keywords as well.
A better strategy is to employ a workaround targeting. To put it more simply, try KWs that are indirectly related to your core user base. Workaround targeting for an MMO advertiser could be: ‘popular gamer energy drinks,’ ‘action movies’ or ‘console devices, for example.