App Ads and Social Media

These days, there is really just one thing that people will feel good buying on their small screens: apps. And what resulted from people's love for apps is this overpopulation in app stores which does not bode well for developers trying hard to get their creations discovered. Then the app install ad came into picture.

Unlike the classic banner ads which started during the dawn of the Internet age, app install advertisements are seen as more effective when it comes to mobile ad because:

- Apps are easier to buy. Almost all smartphone users have their credit card linked to their OS' app store so there's no need to input anything every time they feel like buying. With the wide range of apps, there's a big chance a user can find several that appeals to him or her. And since apps are priced cheaply and can be used instantly, many users are tempted to buy on impulse.

- Tracking installs is convenient. Compared to conversions of mobile adverts promoting stuff meant to be bought offline, conversions for install ads in apps are way easier to measure. This is a huge advantage because advertisers would naturally want to at least see some evidence of ROI on their advertisements in order to continue. Typically advertisements' conversions will be difficult to keep track of since there's no way to know if one of those led to someone buying the product from the grocery. With app install ads though, there are the social media sites and SDKs that can accurately measure when one of their ads led directly to an install.

Google realized the importance of advertising on mobile devices early on. In 2009, it purchased the ad giant AdMob for USD 750 million. A year after, Apple has followed suit with its acquisition of Quattro Wireless that they relaunched as iAd. Unfortunately for Facebook, it did not see the huge shift from desktop to mobile earlier so they only made efforts on mobile advertising in 2012.

But since selling ads alone would be inadequate -- after all, in order for users to download the app, developers have to make it known to the public first -- Twitter and Facebook created a strategy on app ads as they both do not have OS like Google and Apple. Their aim is simple: to offer quality tools and services for developers to start a connection that could eventually lead to buying ads. Now, Twitter has its MoPub, which tracks all apps on a phone in order to effectively target ads, while Facebook has its Parse.

As for Google, it seemed like it grew complacent with gaining the AdMob platform, which is a bit understandable as it has no need to rush like Twitter and Fb -- all they need is to improve their ad conversion. And sure enough, earlier this year, Google has launched improved app install ads that effectively utilizes its data trove concerning apps that people buy, use and download for free. It could eventually join Twitter and FB in providing app engagement ads based on various data it can collect from users.

With the inevitable overcrowding in app stores, app install ads would surely be more significant and evolve into new forms such as engagement ads. A good example of this is Facebook's video ad from LiveRail which shows how useful or fun an app is. Another one is the launcher app of Android that shows contextual home screens and customized recommendations of apps a user may need.

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