With the year 2024 beginning, it’s a fitting time to rethink your approach to Facebook Ads (Meta Ads).

Times have changed – aggressive growth with paid ads is more difficult than it used to be (pre iOS 14) and investor money is hard to come by.

In reality, most app advertisers struggle to break even with ads. 

Here are my suggestions on how to achieve profitable Facebook App campaigns in 2024. Btw, these points are also very relevant for other DTC businesses such as e-commerce!

1. Ad creatives are still key but UGC (User-generated content) isn’t as impactful as it used to be. 🎥

2023 marked a period where we saw an absolute rocket of growth for user-generated content. You can spot UGC in almost every Facebook Ad library nowadays. This makes it harder to stand out. People are also used to seeing UGC used as ads, thus reducing their performance.

This means that you will have to work smarter to create winning ads. The time of throwing sh*t at the wall and hoping it works isn’t a viable option. 

How to work smarter and waste fewer resources? Do it by avoiding ad cancer! 🛑

So much money and time could be saved if you learn how to avoid ad cancer (the aspects of a video that make it not perform well) and develop the skill of identifying winners before they get put in the ad account. Having this skill and knowledge helps you massively increase the probability of creating a winning ad. Whether it’s by creating a brief that helps the creator avoid ad cancer or by creating a script that includes the aspects of a winning ad.

While video is still key, static creatives can still work very well! In fact, most of our recent growth in FB has come with static ads. While the lifetime of a static ad is shorter compared to UGC video, they are much cheaper and faster to develop. This makes it useful especially for smaller businesses. Statics can work well if the key benefit and function that your app offers is easy to grasp. 

Statics follow a similar trend as video ads. Image ads that don’t look like ads can work very well – think memes, screenshots of people endorsing the brand and its solution on Twitter, screenshots of text in the iPhone notes app, etc.). 

These are some of the formats that have worked best for us

For creating winning ads, remember the term: Edutainment – educating users via entertaining ways. People love to be entertained but they also love to learn something that adds value to their lives. Humor always works well. If you can make the user laugh or chuckle, they will already be much more interested in the product you are offering.

The best example I can think of is the brand TrueClassic. While not an app, they have nailed what engages with their target audience. Have a look at their ad library and thank me later!

2) Copy the strategies of apps that spend millions of dollars to find winning ones 📊

This is something that will remain relevant every year. Copying and getting inspiration from other businesses isn’t something you should shy away from. Especially if you are a smaller app that doesn’t have loads of budget to test every small aspect of user acquisition.

As a smaller business, you should absolutely try to observe and analyze the strategies of bigger apps in similar categories. Mark down their approach to creatives, paywall, web-to-app approach, onboarding, retention and email funnels. Study them and start testing them on your app. Take big swings instead of testing small changes for the biggest impact. 

Ways to stalk have also increased this year… Facebook Ads library has more filters that help you to guess winning ads and certain tools that even show you the ad spend of specific creatives nowadays (such as AdScan).

Besides Facebook Ads, you can find ad libraries for pretty much all the main ad platforms nowadays. Here are all the links for different ad platforms:
Apple Search Ads Ad library
Meta Ad library
Google Ad library
TikTok Ad library
Microsoft Ad library

You might think that copying will cause you to lose out on growth since you are using strategies that other apps use and therefore you won’t stand out. In most cases and especially for smaller brands, this isn’t true. As a smaller player, you don’t have the freedom to waste thousands of precious ad dollars on creatives that might have a low probability of performing. 

3) Get your SKAN strategy right

iOS campaigns on Facebook nowadays perform much better than iOS campaigns on Google (in general). For advertisers with smaller budgets, iOS campaigns in FB still offer a great challenge in terms of tracking and optimizing for in-app events and revenue.

There are privacy thresholds which means that if you don’t achieve a certain amount of installs then you won’t see all of the results inside the FB Ads dashboard. And if you want to optimize for app events, you will need even more installs and events for the optimization to work. Consolidating campaigns and countries is the way to go in most cases as you can’t go too granular with your approach.

SKAN is a complex topic and the best strategy can’t be summarized within a couple of sentences. The best strategy is also very dependent on each app’s specifics. If you wish to explore more, there are lots of webinars and blog posts out there going deep into the topic. If you want to get our feedback on how to set up your SKAN then feel free to write to us and we can take a look!

SKAN 4 postbacks
SKAN 4.0 (not yet released for FB Ads, but hopefully will be soon). Source: Singular

4) AI, AI, AI 🤖

What kind of 2024 post will it be if I don’t mention AI? 🙂

Yes, AI will change the way ad creatives are produced and might be the golden opportunity to produce winning creatives at scale. It might also be a time waste for now and bring no increased performance to your ad account. As with every new technology, finding a way to make it work can take a lot of effort. Prompting is a skill that has to be developed as there are no tools that would do all of the work for you (yet, as far as I know of).

(source: BoredPanda)
I guess the result the AI gave of prompt “Wiener Dogs Race” wasn’t a fail after all but a masterpiece 🙂

If your ad creatives are very mediocre, creatives made with AI could already outperform your current creatives. If not, well then you have to be very skilled at prompts and really know what your audience would engage with. 

I don’t think that creatives made with AI will replace regular creatives yet. For statics, AI can do a pretty good job already but for videos, I have yet to see video ads made by AI that would really impress me. I am sure there are some out there, but so far it’s something that few can achieve. Editing already existing static ads and creating many variations at a scale similar to the best-performing ad could be something useful you could already do if you have the know-how (I don’t yet :)) 

We will likely see a big improvement in AI tools specifically made for creating and editing static and video ads in 2024. I am sure keeping my eye on new tools popping up and I hope you will too!

SUMMARY: Creatives are still the biggest lever to pull which could help you succeed with Facebook Ads in 2024. While getting growth with mediocre UGC ads was relatively easy in the past, it’s getting much harder and more competitive now. Besides ad creatives, don’t forget to keep testing new strategies with your paywall, monetization, and retention. Privacy and tracking will continue to be an important aspect and AI will offer new growth opportunities.

We are currently offering a few apps an opportunity to get a free growth audit for 2024. The audit will consist of us taking a look at your current ad campaigns and giving our ideas for how to improve them. If you are interested, just pop an email to: [email protected].