App Links, Facebook’s initiative to make it easier for developers to link to specific content within an app, is about to become a lot more useful for developers who rely on Facebook to direct users to their apps.
In a blog post, Facebook announced today that developers will now be able to utilize App Links to send people straight from ads in the Facebook mobile app to specific points within their apps. There’s a catch though: for now, they’ll only be able to deploy these ads if they’re working with one of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developers.
As TechCrunch’s Josh Constine wrote in his summary of this year’s F8 developer conference, it’s pretty clear that Facebook launched App Links as a way to sell more re-engagement ads. Developers have already found that Facebook’s mobile app install ads can drive a massive number of installs — 350 million as of April — so the company is looking to take advantage of their newfound mindshare to become a major source of user engagement as well.
While many dislike targeted advertisements, the advantage for users in this case is that ads will now be able to point to something specific that you might be interested in rather than sending you to an app that you then have to search through to find something appealing.
A lot of users try out apps once and then never go back because they didn’t find something that hooked them. With re-engagement ads, you might install an app from an ad, check Facebook later that day, and instead of seeing “install now” as an option, see an option for a particular piece of content you might be into.
Of course, App Links works for more than just Facebook’s mobile app install ads. Developers who have enabled App Links will also send users who click links shared by other users, Pages on Facebook, or even other apps to specific points within their apps. Now that it sells in-app ads via the Facebook Audience Network announced at F8, Facebook will benefit from more app engagement in general, not just that generated from its ads.
Notably, Facebook isn’t the only one stepping up its mobile app install and re-engagement ad business. Yesterday, Twitter began its global rollout of out both kinds of ads across its mobile apps. In addition, it acquired mobile ad startup TapCommerce, who specializes in getting users to get back into the apps they’ve already downloaded.