App Acquisition Ads Best Practices

Instant Game ad units via click-to-play ads are now available for your player acquisition efforts directly from the Ads Manager.

Note: Though Instant Games are not downloadable apps, the metrics for Instant Games in the Ads Manager Dashboard are called “Mobile App Installs” and “Mobile App Purchase” because they rely on existing Mobile App Install Ads system.

Below an outline of recommended best practices for Instant Game ad campaigns. Examples are for illustration purposes only.

Campaign Objective

  • Use the App Install objective.

Budgets and Bidding

  • CPI can vary depending on app genre, audience targeting, app pricing, platform you are running your campaign on etc.
  • Experiment with different ad sets and different bids to optimize your results.
  • Daily budgets allow for greater flexibility in spend, while lifetime budgets allow for ease of allocation and tracking.
  • Many factors affect how much budget is required for desired results including regions, creative, bids, targeting, time of year, placements, etc.
  • If your main goal is to control your cost per optimization event, you can choose a constrained bid strategy and enable us to spend as much as possible within the cost goal.
  • If you use a bid cap or cost target for a conversion-optimized ad set, we recommend setting your budget at least five times as high as your bid cap or cost target.
  • For more information, check out our article on Budgets and Bidding.

Targeting - User Growth


  • If your goal is to grow your user base, be sure to exclude your app or page from the ad sets using the Connections field.
  • Go broad to engage new users, especially if it's a new app in a new country.
  • Target between 5-100 million people for optimal results.
  • Keep same audience types together to avoid narrowing the audience size with 'OR' logic (e.g., a person can fit one custom criteria OR the other to see the ad).
  • Use multiple audience targeting types in the same ad set to apply 'AND' logic (e.g., a person must fit all targeting criteria to see the ad).
  • Custom audiences should be in an ad set with other custom audiences.
  • For different types of audiences, it's best to break them out into separate ad sets to make sure you're capturing all user segments. E.g., build one ad set for Detailed Targeting (Interests and Behaviors), one for Connections Targeting, one for Custom Audiences.


  • Use broad interest and behavior targeting for related interests and keywords.
  • Try to stay under 100MM people per ad set.

Custom Audiences and Lookalikes

  • Building Custom Audiences off specific user behavior, engagement, or types of app events and building a Lookalike audience (LAL) can be effective to find new users who are also likely to exhibit these behaviors.
  • You can build these from app events, pixel events, page engagement, or ad engagement, depending on your campaign objective.
  • Rule of thumb is to have one separate ad set only targeting 'Friends of people who use my app' (and exclude any custom audiences as well).
  • Make sure your app events are set up to create custom audiences (App Ads Helper).
  • Building from App Installs, New Instant Game Users, and Most Active users are the recommended events to use to build a large enough seed audience, if possible. Optimal audience seed size is at least 5,000 people.
  • 1% LALs are the most similar people; try using 1-5%. The higher the percentage, the less similar the LAL. 10% is the highest and least like the original seed.
  • It's best to exclude the seed audience from the ad set that's using the LAL to avoid overlap.


  • Leave as Automatic Placements.

App Install Optimization

  • Select App Installs for optimization. This will deliver as many installs as possible for the lowest price, depending on your objective.
  • Select your conversion window to 1 day after clicking or viewing, or 7 days click (longer time range for attribution, the better).
  • Set your pricing model to App Installs if using an app install campaign.
  • Leave delivery type as Standard.
  • Select bid cap so you can adjust your bids.

Targeting - In-App Purchases


Note: We recommend running growth campaigns first to build a large enough cohort to build purchase audiences from.

  • Create custom audiences from purchase events going back up to 180 days. If the seed audience is not large enough, you won't be able to build a LAL audience.
  • Using behavioral events as proxies to In-App Purchase is also an effective way to build a large enough seed.
  • Exclude People who have used my app from connections targeting.
  • Exclude previous custom audiences that may be contradictory to IAP behavior.
  • Build Look Alike audiences to be 1-5% in size.

Interests and Behaviors

  • Narrow audience targeting is recommended; choose more than one interest/behavior criteria that must be met (e.g., interested in Clash Royale AND has income between $80,000-$100,000).
  • Avoid large generic interests (e.g, mobile games) or behaviors (e.g., online purchases).

App Event Optimization

  • Select App event and Purchases to have the ad set optimize for purchase events. This is best for games with high enough volume of IAP.

Targeting - Retargeting and Retention


  • For retargeting, creating custom audiences of people who played your game but are less active or may not have monetized (App Opens, Instant Games Sessions) can be effective.
  • Exclude people who have already made a purchase and your most engaged users, so you don't continue to advertise to people who have already converted.
  • Use whatever events you like for your custom audiences to drive the desired behavior.
  • Include People who have used my app in connections for all ad sets.

Retention Optimization

  • Selecting the Retention Optimization Delivery option will deliver ads to people likely to open your app on either day 2 (24-48 hours) or day 7 (144-168 hours) after install.
  • Choosing the length of app open will depend on the objective of the campaign:
  • Using the shorter 2 day option may be better for growing an audience quickly with the trade off of engaged players.
  • Using the longer 7 day option may be better for growing an app with an existing audience.
  • Look at the following metrics to help understand your retention performance:
  • Mobile App Day 2 Retention: Number of users who open the app on Day 2 after install.
  • Mobile App Day 7 Retention: Number of users who open the app on Day 7 after install.
  • Cost Per Mobile App Day 2 Retention: Campaign budget spent/Number of users who open the app on Day 2 after install.
  • Cost Per Mobile App Day 7 Retention: Campaign budget spent/Number of users who open the app on Day 7 after install.


a) Static Images. Those are good to use in tandem with video assets because they load instantly. Consider using them in for regions with slower Wi-Fi speeds.

b) Videos. Use video assets whenever possible. Vertical video formats perform best on mobile.

  • Recommended video length: less than 15s
  • Recommended aspect ratios: 4x5, 1x1, 2x3
  • Recommended format: h.264 video with AAC audio in MOV or MP4
  • Avoid 16x9 or landscape videos

c) Thumbnail. When selecting a thumbnail image, select an image with little to no text (20% max) to avoid ad policy penalties that negatively impact delivery.

d) Carousel. If you have multiple images or videos, using the carousel ad format is an effective way to combine assets and increase ad engagement.

e) Ad Copy. Less is more. 30-60 characters is what you should aim for. Be sure to include the name of the game and note that it's an instant game.

f) Identity. Connect your app to your Facebook page or use your Facebook page as the identity (rather than the app name) to avoid "content not found" errors.

Test Your Ads

Preview and Demo Ads Before Launching

  • Send a preview of the ad to your mobile device (both Android and iOS) to test your user flow.
  • Make sure that every clickable feature is driving to the desired landing experience. (E.g., click the CTA button and make sure the game loads properly, click the app/page name to make sure the correct page loads).
  • Creative can render differently on different devices (including iPads and tablets) so be sure to test on multiple surfaces to avoid stretched images.

Test Creative

  • Avoid creative fatigue by testing creative and messaging.
  • Use Dynamic ads for testing multiple creative, ad text, link description, headlines, and CTA combinations within one ad. This option is helpful when there are many different combinations to choose from.
  • It's possible to run multiple ads with different creative combinations in the same ad set to see which ad performs best.

Custom Payloads

Discovery Configuration Tool

We created the Discovery Configuration Tool tool to give our instant games developers a way to associate an Acquisition Ad with a payload. With this tool, developers will know which ad a player clicked and can provide a custom landing experience for them.

How to use the tool

  1. Go to, then go to the main page of the app you want to use the tool with.
  2. Select Instant Games, then select the Discovery Configuration tab.
  3. Click the Add Ads Payload button and fill in the Ad ID field and Payload field. Note: The Payload field only accepts strings in a valid JSON format that represents an object. The flow type is { [string]: number }. Learn more about Flow types here.
  4. Click Submit and confirm your submission.

How to test your ad

  1. Go to the Ads Manager and select the ad you want to review. Click Preview.
  2. In the Ad Preview Dialog, click Ad Preview.
  3. Under View on Facebook, click Facebook Mobile News Feed. The ad will be injected into your News Feed.
  4. Go to on desktop and open the console.
  5. Click the ad you just injected to open the game. Remember to switch the JavaScript context to your in-game context.
  6. Type FBInstant.getEntrypointData() to see the payload you just associated with the ad.

Additional Resources