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Facebook moves toward greater granularity in mobile ad targeting

With Facebook?s mobile app install ads gaining traction, the social network is enhancing the offering to enable marketers to better target their campaigns and improve results.

With the new capabilities, marketers will be able to reach specific versions of Android and iOS mobile operating systems as well as devices on Wi-Fi only connections. The news follows Google?s introduction of AdWords Enhanced Campaigns, which removes the ability to target mobile ads based on device.

?It does appear that at this time Google and Facebook are going different directions with respect to granular device, OS and wireless access targeting options,? said Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing for Kenshoo Social, San Francisco.

?It's unclear ultimately which direction will prevail, or whether both strategies may succeed for their respective companies given unique characteristics of the search or social context,? he said.

?In any case, it's clear that device targeting and OS targeting can work well for certain advertisers and campaigns. Likewise, it seems reasonable that wireless access targeting can be effective in certain situations and for particular types of products.?

Improving performance
With the shift toward mobile, and the rise of mobile-only products and brands, marketers are looking for ways to exclusively reach mobile users.

Facebook introduced the mobile app installs ad unit six months ago. With the new enhancements, marketers now will be able to reach Jelly Bean 4.2 or iOS 5.0 and greater users with a different message based on what is most relevant to the audience using each device.

The Wi-Fi targeting will be useful for marketers interested in connecting with iPad users that only have Wi-Fi access or who prefer using Wi-Fi for data usage.

?The ability to target Facebook users based on their specific mobile operating system version as well as access on Wi-Fi is a very significant enhancement for advertisers using mobile app install ads,? Mr. Herrold said.

?Targeting users currently on Wi-Fi is particularly relevant for brands and app developers whose apps require significant data usage or are very large in file size,? he said ?These users are more likely to engage with the ad and complete the app install with a positive experience, especially if the user has a limited data plan on their mobile phone.

?Mobile operating system version targeting is also an interesting option, especially for apps that may not be compatible with older OS versions, perform better or provide more advanced capabilities on newer OS versions. These new Facebook capabilities provide mobile marketers with greater choice and flexibility for granular targeting which should improve performance on relevant campaigns.?

Reducing false clicks
Facebook is also making it easier for marketers to create and buy mobile app install ads by using its Ads Create Tool. This tool can manage large volume campaigns and will give developers access to all of Facebook?s other ad products.

In a blog post announcing these developments, Facebook also showcased several case studies illustrating how marketers are using mobile app install ads. For example, Social Quantum, a Russian-based international game developer, became the No. 5 grossing app in the United States less than one month after running mobile app install ads as its primary method of acquiring new users.

In another example, O2 ? a British communications company ? used mobile app install ads to support its new app O2 Tracks, which moved up to the number six spot in the App Store just days after launching. O2 reached an audience of more than nine million people during its three-day marketing effort on Facebook.

The enhancements to the mobile app installs ad product could help Facebook attract more advertisers because it will help marketers reduce friction. For example, if an app is only available on iOS, the marketer can target only iOS users and know it is not going to be paying for false clicks.

The Wi-Fi targeting will also help marketers reduce false clicks since the size of many apps requires that they be downloaded from a Wi-Fi network.

?This announcement really is due to the culmination of several trends that Facebook and everyone else is seeing,? said Roger Katz, CEO of Friend2Friend, Palo Alto, CA. ?One is the move to mobile and mobile interaction with killer apps like Facebook by users.

?The second is the popularity and engagement around Facebook?s newsfeed,? he said. ?And third, is that one for the key findings is that in terms of what people do on Facebook, mobile apps are a huge part of it.

?This particular product really taps into those three big trends, so of course it is taking off and it is really successful.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York