Mobile apps are a great tool for marketers and online retailers. Some users prefer to use apps to viewing mobile sites, and in some ways, they can provide a better user experience. However, one of the problems with mobile apps has been that it’s difficult to get users to download the app in the first place or to get people to the right place on the app after being brought their from ads. Besides all the other great reason to use the platform, Facebook recently launched a free, open, cross-platform standard that can be used to link directly to mobile apps, letting users immediately download the app or go to a particular page on the app. App Links, as the platform is called, has been highly received in its short lifespan and Facebook has announced a few good changes to the system.
App Links was already a big deal just by virtue of it’s implementation, but another feather in Facebook’s advertising cap came from the a milestone regarding their recently launched mobile ad platform. App Links was just launched back in the end of April and gave developers their chance to make apps that worked directly with the Facebook mobile app. Last week, Facebook announced that more than a billion links had been served through App Links. In less than three months, hundreds of apps have adopted App Links, including Spotify,Hulu, Redfin, Goodreads, Live Nation, and Vimeo.
Sasha Aickin, the CTO of Redfin described their use of the platform this way, “When you are on your phone and click on a Redfin link, App Links takes you to the Redfin app for a more seamless home shopping experience. This is obviously great for our customers and it solves a frustrating development problem that my team — and every other mobile developer — has faced over the years.”
Using App Links makes it possible to create a seamless move from the link on the Facebook app to the app from the developer and to quickly move back again. In time, this will make it easier for marketers to directly sell products from Facebook ads without forcing the user to quit one app, open another, and vice versa. In the near future, App Links could be used to get consumers to quickly fill out forms, enter contests, sign up for newsletters, and more.
One of the key features of App Links is that once it’s set up, marketers can send users directly to their app (or to where the app can be downloaded) from a Facebook stories on the page, direct links to the stories and on the app . Better still, business owners can now use App Links in mobile app ads through Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developers. As was mentioned in another article on this site, Facebook can now send ads to certain mobile advertising networks. By using this system, marketers can get ads for their app included on some of the most popular apps, games websites on mobile devices.
It’s also important to note how easy it is to start integrating App Links. All it takes are a few lines a code to the website header, and the link will be ready to use in Facebook posts. For business owners who have already spent a large amount of money on getting an app developed, it’s good that they can direct traffic to their app from Facebook without having to make heavy changes to the app itself.
“Publishing App Link metadata is as simple as adding a few lines to the <head> tag in the HTML for your content,” begins the documentation introduction. “Apps that link to your content can then use this metadata to deep-link into your app, take users to an app store to download the app, or take them directly to the web to view the content. This allows developers to provide the best possible experience for their users when linking to their content.”
The metadata only gets people to the app or app download. To get the full benefit of the seamless integration shown by companies like Redfin, the app will need to use the App Links navigation protocols which allow marketers to create links that direct users to certain pages on apps. Using these protocols are great for retailers who want to advertise a certain item and want a single click to bring them from the ad to the correct page on the app.
App Links is an important advance for marketers who use a dedicated app to market their business. Being able to directly link Facebook users to an app download or a particular page exponentially increases the usefulness of apps as a marketing tool. Add to that the ability to advertise an app to people who are already using apps on their mobile device (i.e. highly likely to download and use apps), using Facebook for marketing app-based services and specials is a good idea.