Google goes after Facebook's app ads; WhatsApp hits 500M MAUs

|By:, SA News Editor

Google (GOOG -1%), which already offers app promotion/install ads for its AdWords search ad platform and AdMob mobile display ad network, has updated its offerings to allow marketers to target users based on app usage, as well as offer ads urging users to open apps they've already installed (but might be ignoring).

Much like Twitter's newly-launched app install ads, Google's revamped offering is aimed at Facebook (FB -2.4%), which drove 245M downloads last year via ads allowing developers struggling to get noticed within app stores to promote themselves on news feeds.

Google is also rolling out new reporting, automated bidding, and bulk-action tools for AdWords clients - the company calls them "enterprise-class" - and has confirmed it's testing the use of offline data to measure search ad effectiveness (previous).

Meanwhile, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum says his company has reached 500M MAUs - up from 450M in mid-February, when the Facebook deal was announced. Koum notes India (48M MAUs), Brazil (45M), Mexico, and Russia are WhatsApp's biggest growth drivers, and promises to keep its apps simple and uncluttered; some rivals have a different strategy.

Facebook is lower ahead of today's Q1 report. Pre-earnings commentary has been mixed.