Facebook has announced App Event Optimization, a new product for developers on its social network that will show mobile app install ads only to groups of Facebook users most likely to complete certain in-app events like registering, moving items to a cart, and completing a purchase.
Facebook noted that about 58% of purchases made via mobile today occur in-app, and that nearly 90% of time users spend on mobile phones is spent within mobile apps.
Early adopters of the tool, including apparel marketplace Poshmark, say it is already helping them produce positive results, such as higher revenue per user, lower cost per purchase and lower cost per app event.
The big number for any app developer or in-app seller here is 58%. As more purchasing occurs via mobile phones, so much of it is happening in-app that developer and marketers must be salivating.
But, there are so many apps out there and apps usage is so transitory that the mobile app landscape often seems more like a wasteland of under-used apps. While Forrester last year found that smartphone users spend over 84% of their time on smartphones using apps, that time is split between only five apps, many of them instant messaging or social media. Facebook steals 13% of U.S. smartphone users' time on their phones, while Amazon sees 3%, Apple 3%, and eBay 1%. Forrester went on to recommend that companies (including retailers) that don't fall into these categories focus on marketing their apps to only their most loyal or frequent customers.
Can a refined targeting tool help other retailers capture other smartphone users' attention, outside of their fans? It could. Facebook is also rolling out a couple more tools in the near future that should further help, including ads that allow a user to sample an immersive mobile app experience.
These tools are examples of Facebook leveraging its tech capabilities to help two parties—the companies that want to sell via Facebook, and Facebook itself. The company long ago realized that if it is hosting a club to which membership is free, it needs to do everything else it can to merchandise its user base and its platform.
Mobile install ads generated almost $3 billion in revenue last year for Facebook. Helping app developers and marketers zero in on customers who are really using apps and buying through them will only help that number grow.