Scaling Social Advertising: A Guide for Game Publishers

Scaling Social Advertising: A Guide for Game Publishers…

Developing and publishing a game has many challenges, and the go-to-market launch plan is typically reserved for the last several months. We’ve noticed that most gaming companies produce creative assets for social advertising campaigns after the game has been designed and is ready to launch. Reusing game elements in social advertising is a crucial issue for game publishers, and it poses a threat to profitable advertising.

Many game publishers do not pre-plan social advertising asset allocation. This creates an enormous challenge when promoting their game in the highly competitive Facebook and Google social advertising markets. Not only will gaming companies need a large number of assets, characters, and environments for the initial launch – they’ll also need an increasing volume of assets to achieve and sustain profitable advertising spend.

We recommend developing a social advertising asset plan that is tied to the game development schedule to avoid any issues. Here’s how:


1. Develop Brand Identity Guidelines to Social Advertising

Whether you’re working with an external agency or in-house designers, it’s important to establish your brand guidelines before moving into creative asset production. This provides consistency, ensures quality, and reduces time spent in creative reviews and approvals for branding changes. Your brand guidelines are a manual signifying how your brand should be presented to target audiences. This can be across many elements, including fonts, characters, color palette, logo size and placement, iconography, and brand voice.


2. Establish a Social Advertising Creative Approval Process

When running a social advertising campaign on a platform like Facebook, social advertisers should have hundreds of ads in rotation at one time in order to surface winning ads that convert effectively. Additionally, creative ad fatigue can set in quickly, so it’s critical that you continue developing and testing a high volume of creatives throughout your acquisition campaign.

To keep the creative development engine running, you need to develop an efficient creative approval process. Consider the following questions when establishing your advertising and approval process:

  • What is the process for sending changes and feedback to designers?
  • Who are the individuals approving creative?
  • What is the SLA (service level agreement) on turning around feedback or approvals?
  • To what extent is brand compliance necessary?

Given the fact that 95% of new creative fails to outperform the best running ad, we recommend developing a company-wide policy that embraces prototype ads, which can be designed quickly and efficiently. The most effective and profitable companies blast out ads that are about 60% brand compliant to quickly test and remove the low performers. If a winning ad is found, new variations are enhanced to be more brand-compliant—and then are retested. This process helps to maximize creative testing, minimize rejections of out of the box concepts and minimizes the financial loss associated with non-converting spend.


3. Prepare Clean Structures & Naming Conventions

Another important process to develop before creative assets are in production is the organization of how files and layers will be shared across internal design teams and with external companies. If you’re working with in-house and external designers to develop a continuous stream of creatives, you will really want to establish the directory structure and naming conventions for asset sharing and layers, as it will save time across resources. You will want to think about how to organize your native files versus those being edited. As well as, how to manage assets in review versus approved files.


4. Design with Layered Files

In image editing, layers are used to separate different elements of an image. For example, separating characters and environment elements from the background. If you’re working with an external creative company, you can save a tremendous amount of time and provide creative flexibility with layered, well-organized, and named files.

This enables any designer to quickly identify which file and layers they should use to develop countless iterations of ads with different elements from a photoshop file. Provided your brand guidelines with these layered files to ensure that the countless iterations, colors, and fonts will adhere to guidelines.


5. Create a Variety of Characters & Sprites

Advertisers should integrate characters or personalities from game titles into creative. By testing 100K Facebook ads, we’ve found integrating characters can result in stronger ad performance. Showcase a wide variety of characters or sprites from your game. Provide ample images to choose from when creating ad units. This makes it much easier for the designer. Also, make sure to save out all character animations, background elements, and environments with transparent backgrounds into well-organized folders, so they can be reused easily.


6. Share Sound and Music Files

Creative including theme music from the game or sound effects typically draw a stronger response from users. So make sure to create a set of ad units that include licensed audio. For editors, provide full songs or clips from the audio track being used in the game. This allows them to easily access and select segments for ad units that reinforce gameplay and brand experience.


7. Leverage 3D Game Environments

By using a game engine (like Unity) or a modeling and animation software (like Maya), you can build and leverage detailed 3D environments from your game. This creative can then be used for your acquisition and social advertising campaigns. There is no better way to showcase your game to prospective players than with the same characters and immersive environments that you have designed in-game. Utilize these assets can help to create higher quality visuals as well as capture user attention.


Developing a Social Advertising Strategy

It’s crucial to think about your social advertising strategy. Especially, early in the game development cycle and ongoing as you’re making an update or adding a new level. Whenever there are assets in production for your game, you should be organizing them for future social advertising campaigns.

Your creative asset development plan should start with thinking about what you want to achieve. For example, you may be looking to build awareness for your upcoming game (perhaps to create pre-registrations or pre-orders). Or you may be looking to drive clicks, conversions, and sales (driving interested consumers directly to the store to buy). Depending on these goals, you will need to create different types of creatives to achieve them.

Identify all of the social platforms that you plan to use to advertise your game, as a next step. Facebook, Twitter, Snap, Instagram, and YouTube each have standard IAB. They also have custom ad units that you’ll need to plan for in advance. Consider platforms where video ads may perform better and plan on developing video creatives according to the platforms’ guidelines.

Think about what key takeaways or feelings you want audiences to experience by seeing your ads. It is important to think about how you want your advertising to impact your target audience. Regardless, of the goals of your ads (i.e. registrations or downloads). Do you want them to think your game is action-packed and intense? Or do you want them to think it’s a casual, easy-to-pick-up and play, kind of game? 


social advertising


Final Thoughts for Scaling Social Advertising

Construct a plan on when, where, and how your ads will appear to consumers. As a result, you will be prepared to develop your assets and launch campaigns more quickly. Your design teams will be more effective and time-efficient in creating the creative assets you need to win your audiences. Then, ultimately, grow your player base.

Learn more about our Creative Studio and how it can help you build and develop the ad creative you need to win over your audiences. 

Replace Thousands of Videos with the New AdBuilder Express

The AdBuilder tool helps Facebook advertisers create campaigns with a drag and drop system, while also empowering them to edit creatives and split tests quickly. Recently, Consumer Acquisition launched AdBuilder Express, a new addition that can be accessed from the Advanced Reporting dashboard.

AdBuilder Express allows users to make changes to existing campaigns and ad sets at scale. This means that you will no longer have to edit Facebook ads one by one. Instead, you will be able to choose unlimited amounts of creatives and ad sets to combine in a single session.

Follow along as we cover some of the main benefits you’ll gain by using AdBuilder Express, and how to navigate it.


AdBuilder Express Features and Benefits


The Build Cart Function

When you access AdBuilder Express from Advanced Reporting, you can add elements that you’d like to apply to a shopping cart-like feature called the build cart. This combines all of the elements, campaigns, and ad sets into a build, which applies all of the changes at once. These builds also double as templates you can use later.

The first step is to click the build cart icon and choose “Start New Build.” Using the filtering system, advertisers can locate specific ads with options such as:

Ad Options

  • Click-through rate
  • Impressions
  • Cost per mobile app purchase
  • Number of clicks received

Selecting the “Action” and “Build” buttons enables you to then add these to the build cart. Similarly, users can click the various columns like “Ad Set ID” or “Ad Set Name” to sort through ad sets.

Returning back to the “Action” dropdown, advertisers can select the creative they’d like to add to the cart, such as copy, video, calls to action, and dozens of others, including:

Ad Creative

  • Descriptions
  • Headlines
  • Media
  • The destination URL of the ad
  • Carousel options

AdBuilder Express isn’t just able to replace videos on ad sets, but rather any creative element and audience you can see from the dropdown menu on the Advanced Reporting dashboard.

Our system will also notify you if you’re missing any crucial components as you add to the cart. This prevents advertisers from producing incomplete builds.

The cart acts as a fast and convenient method to combine creatives and campaigns, without the need to perform these actions repeatedly. In the past with AdBuilder, you would have to manually visit Advanced Reporting, copy and paste headlines or copy, and repeat this process for every ad set.

We’ve removed this process with AdBuilder Express, effectively speeding up how fast you make mass changes to campaigns. Check out our other AdBuilder Express introduction to view summarized step-by-step instructions on using the software.

Thorough Review Process

After you’ve added the specified ad sets and creatives to the build cart, you will be taken to the creative review stage. Here you will be able to edit any element of the creative, from the text, link, headline, to the call to action or video.

You can browse which Facebook page should be connected to the ad by selecting the “Browse” dropdown menu. Additional pages can be added via the connections settings in Advanced Reporting.

A window on the right shows a live preview of any changes you make to see it in real-time. Under the preview, advertisers can choose between Facebook, Instagram, and carousel options to view how the ad will appear in different formats.

Furthermore, additional creatives of the same format can be made by clicking the red text beside the plus button. These will be added to an entirely new ad within your campaign.

On the final review page, advertisers can review the name, tag, ad sets, and other aspects of the build. Under “Launch Options,” users will be able to choose whether or not the ad will be active upon publishing, select all ads or copies of ads, and save a report.

This can then be published to take effect on the chosen campaigns by clicking the “Publish” button on the top right of the dashboard.

Track and Reuse Your Builds

The builds you make in AdBuilder Express can be saved and named to be used later. Saving them also enables advertisers to track how their builds are performing. Optimizations can then be made to further improve performance. And, good builds can be applied to other creatives or ad sets.

Previous builds can be used by choosing “Load Existing Build” after clicking the build cart icon. This will display all of the preceding builds that were saved to be chosen from.

Quickly Launch and Find Winning Combinations

With AdBuilder Express, you will have the power to identify which audiences, creatives, and ads perform the best together. Furthermore, advertisers can quickly launch campaigns with new audiences and fresh videos to make winning ads.

Being able to edit hundreds to thousands of video ads at once also opens the opportunity for improved testing. Apply a new video to existing ads and track every metric through Advanced Reporting to observe the changes. Similarly, users can test different audiences for the same video to analyze how they respond.

adbuilder express video ads

Final Thoughts About Adbuilder Express

AdBuilder Express is made to assist advertisers in editing creatives within hundreds or thousands of campaigns and ad sets. You can access it through our Advanced Reporting product.

Advertisers must first ensure that they’ve created campaigns, ad sets, and uploaded creatives through the standard AdBuilder platform to begin. They will also need to complete the pricing, budget, audience, and placement steps.

The AdBuilder Express process begins by choosing ad sets and creative elements you created prior to combining via the build cart. These are merged together to save you time from performing these changes manually, along with being able to quickly edit and test videos for different ads.

adbuilder express

First, edit the chosen creatives during the publishing process. Then, complete them to apply the changes to as many Facebook ads as needed. Builds are also tracked to measure performance, so you’re always aware of how certain creatives and ads work together.

Get AdBuilder Express today by visiting our Advanced Reporting page.

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How to Conquer Mobile App Marketing on a Budget

For too long, smaller developers have been left out in the cold—a huge loss for the industry and for consumers. The next visionary app should have a fair chance to succeed. Its odds determined not by budget size but by the caliber and capabilities of its marketing partner. If you are an “appreneur”, mobile app marketing might be your greatest challenge. The cost of running a high-powered social ad campaign has given established developers an advantage. Most social ad agencies aren’t built, much less inclined, to serve the little guy with limited media spend.

There are only a few good options in the market. So, small and even midsize developers have to settle for bare-bones service, generic design templates, and figuring it out on their own.

The good news is, you won’t have to settle any longer. Let’s take a look at four ways social advertisers can conquer mobile app marketing on a budget:

How to Conquer Mobile App Marketing on a Budget

1. Use Optimization Algorithms to Their Advantage

Facebook and Google UAC have improved their optimization algorithms so much in recent months that advertisers of all sizes can access sophisticated optimization algorithms without becoming social advertising experts. Both new and established companies can automate the most repetitive aspects of campaign management and achieve comparable financial results.

This means social advertisers are now free to focus on what really counts: creative development, creative testing, and audience selection.

But in each of these areas, there’s still a big service gap for startups and SMBs. It’s difficult to find agencies offering experienced, affordable, robust creative, and rigorous testing in-house—the exact capabilities you need to ensure efficient advertising spend.

To help close the service gap and allow startups and SMBs to compete more effectively, we recently began offering three tiers of managed user acquisition and creative services for Facebook, Instagram, and Google UAC. All mobile app developers and lead generators, regardless of budget size, now have the means to get profitable and scale their user acquisition on Facebook and Google App Campaign.

For social advertisers, this results in a more level playing field:

“Apart from the fact that you are a small fish in a really huge pond, startups have a great challenge when it comes to pushing their app in the market. Competition is very high and tough, considering that there are other app developers with a bigger budget and market experience.

For your app to get downloads, your efforts need to be something like 10% on development and the majority 90% on marketing.”

Mehul Rajput, CEO



2. Employ Tiered Managed Services

With tiered managed services, startups and SMBs can take advantage of the same concierge-style offerings as larger developers: creative development and optimization, ad placement, and ongoing campaign management. Creative and user acquisition experts can enhance everything social advertisers need, from start to finish. 

By elevating the quality and making execution easy, these services are designed to fuel growth and help a smaller advertiser learn how to effectively advertise on Facebook and Google UAC. If an advertiser hits a home run, that advertiser already has the built-in resources and support it needs to rapidly scale.  

The automation features we recently added to AdRules, a self-service platform that works in conjunction with Facebook and Google algorithms, simplifies workflows and reporting. In addition, social advertisers can use advanced reporting to test and tweak their creative, launch and test hundreds of ads in short order and build thousands of custom and lookalike audiences in minutes.


3. Focus on Creative Development

Creative is your most effective lever to improve performance. Especially now that Facebook and Google have effectively taken over intraday bidding and budgeting. We also simplified media buying with improved machine learning algorithms. As a result, advertisers need superior creative to achieve breakthroughs, and experienced Facebook and Google partners can provide it.

The problem for startups and SMBs, until now, has been the expense of creating a sufficient number of high-quality ads to produce runaway successes (i.e., the 5% of ads capable of beating previous high performers) and manage creative fatigue.

A 5% success rate means 19 out of 20 ads will fail along the way. That’s a lot of creative. Without human talent driving the process, social advertisers stand to lose a lot of money in their efforts to strike gold.


4. Develop Human-Intensive Creative

Developers of all sizes need human-intensive creative at scale. This ensures efficient ad spend and maximizes the odds of market success. In our experience producing more than 300,000 videos and managing over $1 billion in social advertising, we’ve found a way to feed the beast with fresh creative concepts. All while benchmarking and partnering with in-house creative service teams.

It’s all in the way we’re built. Our Creative Studio is a team of veteran Hollywood CGI/Visual Effects directors, artists, and storytellers. This gives us the bandwidth and talent we need to service companies at every level. All the way up to high-budget firms spending seven figures per month.

As Facebook and Google continue to evolve, and our industry evolves, we’re excited about the creative possibilities. At-scale creative services that only major players used to find affordable—from ideation to production and optimization—are now available to companies of all sizes looking to break through and disrupt the marketplace. It’s a heartening development that’s long past due.

mobile app marketing


It’s Time for Startups and SMBs to Get in the Game

In many industries, disruptive startups can gain a foothold with relative ease. Not so in the app ecosystem. Because high-end mobile app marketing services are all but closed off to appreneurs with startup-sized budgets.

We’re determined to change that. We want you competing on a whole new level. With managed services you can afford, the next breakout success could be yours.


How Can You Work with Consumer Acquisition

How can you work with Consumer Acquisition?

We aren’t here to replace internal marketing teams—we’re here to support them.

Instead, we are here to augment your work. We work with companies in building or running internal marketing teams. Our goal is to help teams run at peak efficiency. Consumer Acquisition’s core value is to benchmark these internal teams by:

  • Validating performance
  • Increasing intensity
  • Expanding creative testing abilities
  • Gathering new ideas
  • Sharing best practices


Why Internal Marketing Teams are Important

We believe internal marketing teams should be a core competency for all companies. This team is crucial to maintaining the highest possible net profit. This being said, we have also seen the tremendous strategic value in benchmarking internal teams:

  • Management can verify that they have a great team; they don’t have to lose focus wondering if they could do better.
  • Competition increases within internal teams, but in a way that builds better performance and encourages the sharing of best practices.
  • The internal team (and the external team) can develop new ideas quickly and build on each other’s work. Both for media buying as well as a creative strategy. This reduces tunnel vision, keeps ad creative fresh, and also keeps the ad performance up.


Who Consumer Acquisition Serves

We have managed over $3 billion of social advertising on Facebook and Google App Campaign for the world’s largest mobile games and apps, helping them maximize profitability from mobile app installs and lead generation.

As direct response marketers, our clients are typically interested in metrics. Such as return on ad spend, average revenue per user/unit, net profit, cost per subscriber, and similar KPIs.

You can see a partial list of the companies we work with here.


What Consumer Acquisition Does for Clients

You can get support with both video and image ad strategy and production via our Creative Studio. Also, we can create high volumes of creative for Facebook, Instagram, Google App Campaign, Snapchat, Pinterest, and IAB ad formats. Even if you need 100 new video ads a month, we can help.

On average, there’s a 95% failure rate for new creative. This means only 1 out of 20 videos will become a winner. This results in a lot of non-performing spend on media testing. So, focusing on a data-driven, quantitative creative testing process is most effective and productive. Data enables us to understand what’s working and what’s not, and use that data to guide our creative process. This will ultimately save you media dollars and time.


Pricing Options

There are two options to our pricing models: month-to-month or a three-month agreement. In both cases, there is no fee for the tool, just a per-unit cost for the creative.

The flat-rate minimum per month is $5,000 (you get four videos per month), as well as discounts for three-month agreements or high-volume video creation. We also offer a $99 Video Ad promotion for your first video, so that you can test us out before jumping in.

All of these videos and image concepts that we design are made for you. This means that you have the right to use this ad creative however you want, whenever you want. Additionally, we can provide resizing services for ad creative.


Managed Services for Social Advertisers of All Sizes

Our managed services bundle together media buying, creative development and testing, reporting, and ultimately, campaign execution. These services are meant for companies that are looking to scale their direct response advertising on Facebook and Google UAC.


Self-Service SaaS Tool for Media Buying

Our self-service ad buying and creative automation tool for Google UAC, Facebook and Instagram focus on three things:

  • Workflow automation
  • Ad building and reporting
  • Creative analytics

The fee for this service is 0.7% of spend, with a maximum of $15,000 per month. If you spend less than $50,000 per month on Facebook or Google UAC across accounts, it’s free.


How To Work With Consumer Acquisition

We offer three different tiers of managed services:

  1. Fully-Managed Services: Social advertiser spending is less than $100,000 per month with many creative demands. The fees for this are 15% of spend or $15,000/month, whichever amount is greater. In addition, the term is 90 days for unlimited video and image production. We also offer discounts if spend exceeds $100,000 a month.
  2. Managed SMB: Designed for social advertisers who spend less than $50,000 per month, this helps those seeking guidance with user acquisition and creative production. Our fees are 15% of spend or $15,000/month, whichever is greater, but we also offer discounts if spend exceeds $100,000 per month. The term is 90 days and we bundle unlimited video and image production which is necessary to achieve and sustain scale. Any additional creative is available for an incremental fee.
  3. Managed Startup: This tier is designed for true startups who need to get their ads working on Facebook and are spending up to $25,000 per month. If you are looking for a quick 30-day test to experiment with Facebook ads, this is the plan for you. We use your creative and then cut our usual rates for creative by 50% for the first ten videos.


How We Work

Based on how involved the creative team would like to be in the process, we create a customized strategy for each client. A typical engagement would include the following:


Creative Strategy Development

We begin by auditing your existing primary account(s). Based on your creative history, we put together a strategy. This takes into account the number of videos requested and the available budget for testing.


Transparency in All Communication

We believe in 100% transparency in all communications. This means that we share all our ideas, all our strategies and the ideas that shape them, all our tests, and all performance reports with the client to create the best possible plan of action.


Your “Creative History” and “Media Buying History” Documents

We document all creative testing and then share the results with clients so they have a roadmap of everything that’s worked or not worked. We create documents like this for all creative development and testing, as well as for all our media buys and audience targeting. Clients own this document and are free to keep it with them.


Daily and Weekly Communications

We also make sure to conduct calls on a weekly or biweekly basis. This is where we share what we’ve done in the past week. We also discuss strategy and tactics for the coming week. These calls help clients to stay on track. But they also help us gain insights into clients’ priorities. In addition to any strategy changes or other shifts that may affect the performance of their ads. For intraday communications, we use Slack channels so clients can reach us instantly.


Creative Reviews and Approvals at Consumer Acquisition

Our Creative Studio includes a Trello-like interface, where the client can review creative throughout the course of its development. This makes it simple to see what’s being done and allows for easy reviews of creative.

At Consumer Acquisition, we know how critical it is to make creative reviews as simple as possible. We work with several companies that have intellectual property holders, like television shows, feature films, celebrities, or athletes. So, there are often many outside sources who need to access creative and give feedback and approval. Our system is designed to gather comments and feedback. This way, reviews are centralized and approvals are as efficient as possible.

Of course, having all this in one interface also keeps it out of email.  Every evolution of creative and piece of feedback is easy to see, track, and archive as development moves forward.


Fully-Managed “Bake-Offs”

It’s really easy to get stuck in a rut with direct response creative. One of the things we do to minimize this is with agency “bake-offs”. These are head-to-head competitions where we benchmark your internal team’s performance or complement their work with new ideas. The idea is to help improve performance for both media buying and creative concepts and variations.

We have conducted 59 competitions like this—and haven’t lost one yet.

So why a bake-off?

  • Creative Sharing: Consumer Acquisition documents and shares the best creative and UA practices. We share everything we learn with you.
  • Fresh Concepts & Strategies: Generate fresh creative concepts and new media buying strategies. If your ad creative begins to go a bit stale, but you have to preserve ad performance, a bake-off is a way to gather these fresh creative concepts and new variations.
  • Variation Creation: New variations can be created based on winning concepts and high-performing competitors reduce non-converting spend.

Here’s how we conduct our bake-offs:

  • The length of each bake-off is 30 calendar days.
  • Each partner (us and your internal team) gets $50,000 to $100,000 of budget.
  • Each team needs to spend two-thirds of its budget on iOS and one third on Android or they automatically lose.
  • Mobile app engagement ads are not allowed during a bake-off.
  • Each team begins with a fresh account at exactly the same time—presenting no account history bias.
  • Audiences are split 50/50 between teams—which Facebook can set up.
  • Each team starts with the same seed creative as well as the same audiences.
  • Once the first day has passed, teams do not share creative, audiences or account access.
  • Metrics are shared every Tuesday and Friday.
  • Performance is measured by net profit—with our fees included in that calculation.
  • The winner is ultimately determined by the account with the highest net profit.


The Creative Benefits of Working with Consumer Acquisition

As mentioned above, all of our best creative practices are always shared and documented. Many companies utilize us for the development of new creative concepts. In order to eliminate the team’s tunnel vision, we help to generate endless fresh creative concepts.

Once we have a winner, that creative is sent directly to clients. Then they can use it as soon as possible. This being said, when social advertisers get a winner, they also reciprocate and send it over to us as well. This helps to harbor a collaborative environment—where both teams can build off each other’s’ work. This leads to better results than ad creative developed independently. As a result, you can reduce non-converting spend even further. Just have your internal teams easily create new variations.

With internal and external teams working together to test new creative, it’s possible to rapidly iterate new ad creative. The foundation of this work is Creative History we put together for every client. That way, clients can bring on new employees or new partners without having them “reinvent the wheel”. Instead, they can build from what we’ve already done.


Media Buying Benefits at Consumer Acquisition

Our media buying at Consumer Acquisition works like our creative services in many ways:

  • Benchmark the performance of your internal team.
  • Document and share any user acquisition best practices.
  • Generate a media buying document that contains all wins and failures from media testing. This allows you to bring on new employees and partners. Thus, share learnings so that mistakes are not repeated.

Consumer Acquisition works as an external team, which means your advertising is now done through two accounts. This does have advantages. If a certain campaign gets wonky or moved into the learning phase, then the other account can take on more traffic. 

For our best relationships, we do a weekly review of both teams—both internal and external. If we outperformed the internal team in terms of net profits, we’ll be given a bit more budget. However, if they’ve outperformed us, we will give some budget back. This keeps some mild pressure on for competitiveness and performance. But, it also helps to smooth out any hiccups in either account.

consumer acquisition

A Guide to Google App Campaign Best Practices

Initially, to streamline the process for advertisers, Google created Google App Campaigns; allowing these advertisers to promote their apps across different platforms while using one system. When creating ads in Google App Campaign, it is inherent that the advertiser uploads their creative assets—because Google’s system utilizes the creative assets from the Google Play Store to design ads that are formatted for different specifications.

It’s important to provide a variety of text, image, and video assets—all of which align with the goals of the campaign. Google App Campaign can develop relevant ads for every moment, in every possible format, and for almost every channel.  Their systems try out different combinations and show which ads will perform the best over time. This allows advertisers to extend their reach across many different channels such as the Play Store, through other apps, in Google search, or on YouTube.

Wondering how to make the most out of Google App Campaign capabilities and features to optimize campaigns? Here are some tips and tricks:

Google App Campaign Best Practices

1. Increase Bid to Budget Ratios

Target CPA (tCPA) is a smart bidding strategy. It sets bids that allow you to maintain your set cost-per-acquisition while getting as many conversions as possible. Because of the advanced machine learning behind this, your bids can be automatically optimized, and auction-time bidding is also offered, which allows you to tailor your bids.


Setting Up Bid to Budget Ratios

In terms of tCPA bidding campaigns, 10X is the minimum that you will want to set so that you can ramp up your campaigns quickly. This being said, for these bid-to-budget ratios, using 20X will often show stronger performance.

When it’s not possible to increase the daily budget, you can cluster your budgets together into one single campaign. To get the best out of this campaign, you’ll want to make sure your tCPA campaign bids start around 20-30% higher than your ultimate goal.

On the other hand, when running CPI (cost-per-install) campaigns, budget caps should be 50X the target to your CPI, with bids starting around $4-$5. This should be the case even when CPI goals are lower.


General Best Practices for Bid-to-Budget Ratios


  • Make sure your daily budget caps at least 50X target CPI or 10X target CPA.
  • Don’t change target CPI/CPA bids > 20% in 24 hours until the campaign is generating 20-30 targeted in-app events per day.
  • Target CPI campaigns’ bid starts at least $4-5, even if CPI goal is lower.
  • Target CPA campaigns’ bid starts at least 20-30% higher than the goal.


Additional Consideration: Geo Expansions

If you’re running your campaigns in a limited set of geos and are looking to expand (but are constrained by budget), focus your efforts on a limited set of geos instead. Although it may seem like you’re missing an opportunity by not expanding, you need to prove success in Tier 1 markets before uncapping your budgets. When you increase your bid-to-budget ratio over time—and get closer to 20X, this is where you can begin to consider expanding to different geos.


2. Market Clustering and Bidding Strategy

Market Clustering for Small Budgets: Markets, tiers, languages, and other factors should all be aspects of your campaign structuring strategy. This being said, it will be helpful to combine ad campaigns if they are in one language and have low bids. This will give you a higher bid-to-budget ratio, as well as more events firing every day. This also allows you to control the delivery a little better—it is best to consolidate until there are larger budgets where you can separate campaigns by market.

Make Small Bid Changes: Another important thing to note is that when you have a smaller budget, you will want to also make small CPA/CPI bid changes. It is recommended to change by less than 20% per day until you are consistently getting about 40-50 targeted in-app events every day.

Set Bids Early in the Day: It is best to set bids during the beginning of the day—it allows you to be competitive. With that being said, you can then begin tapering the bid down once you begin generating enough event volume each day.


3. Creative Best Practices: Adding Images to Every Campaign

Having great ad creative is imperative. In order to take full advantage of Google’s owned and operated (O&O) inventory on display (YouTube, Google Play, etc.) you must add images to your campaigns. Also, video assets tend to perform well, though they are more expensive. The best thing to do is to create a balance between still ad images and videos, as it will help to balance out your ad spend.

Google’s algorithms can optimize the best placements for your ads across multiple channels, such as search, display, YouTube and Google Play. You can feed your campaigns by maximizing your asset coverage. For instance, provide all sizes for videos:

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Square Video

Similarly, provide all size options for still images:

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • 300×50
  • 320×50
  • HTML5 assets

Once your ad creative assets have been running for around 10-14 days, it is easy to identify the highest performing assets. You can then have your team start building new iterations of high-performing assets and ultimately delete the low-performing ones.


4. Maximize Google App Campaign Performance

According to Google, there are three ways to really improve app campaign performance. When advertisers follow these golden rules, it’s possible to achieve creative excellence and maximize app campaign results.  The three rules are to continually run multiple formats of each creative for the greatest reach: Landscape Image, Landscape Video, and Portrait Video.Google App Campaign


Pro Tip: Focus on the top image dimensions to ensure Goolge App Campaign is serving across all networks. Dimensions are as follows:

320×480 (Portrait Interstitial) 320×50 (Banner)
480×320 (Landscape Interstitial) 1200×628 (Landscape Image)
300×250 (Square)   728×90 (Leaderboard)
1024×768 (Tablet) 300×50 (Banner)
768×1024 (Tablet) 320×100 (Banner)


Google App Campaign Conclusion

Google has made significant algorithm improvements that help advertisers identify and target audiences with Google App Campaigns. Because of this, your focus should shift to bidding strategy, market strategy, and creative testing.

Constantly testing creative is crucial to achieve and sustain the return on advertising spend (ROAS). The fact of the matter is, creative rapidly fatigues with increased spend and audience reach. In addition, 95% of creatives fail to outperform a media buying portfolio’s best ads. So, even when you have a high-performing creative, you need to think about replacing it. This year, advertisers need to rapidly develop new creatives and leverage best practices to drive positive outcomes with Google App Campaigns.

Learn more about Facebook and Google App Campaign advertising best practices.  

How to Launch a Mobile App Campaign with Facebook Ads & Google App Campaigns

Launching a new free-to-play mobile app campaign can be difficult if you’re starting completely from scratch. That’s because most resources about how to do user acquisition on mobile app campaign with Facebook and Google App Campaigns assume two things:

  1. That you already have an account history that you can leverage
  2. That you have a customer list that you can use to create lookalike audiences

So, what should you do if don’t have this in place? What if your user lists and advertising accounts are brand new? This article will go into detail about where you would begin this process, and how it can help your new mobile app campaign become successful.

How to Launch a Mobile App Campaign

Do a Competitive Analysis

Competitive analyses are quite simple on Facebook. If you head over to the Facebook page of any of your competitors, you can click “Info and Ads” at the bottom of the left column. This will lead you to a list of all the ads they’ve run.

When looking at these ads, it is important to take note of any trends:

  • Color Schemes: Bold colors? Muted colors? The same colors?
  • Text Placement: We’ve found that text in the top third of the image or video works best.
  • Images of People: Kids? Women? Men? Do they have a character or a celebrity in their ads?
  • Video Ads: Are they using this kind of ad and if they are, what type of video ads? Brand in motion? Benefit in motion? What is the length of the ads?
  • Call-to-Actions: Which CTAs do they use most often?

If you answer these questions across a grouping of selected advertisers, you’ll likely begin to see a few similarities, which should be documented and monitored over time. This shouldn’t be the final word on how your ads will look, but it will give you an idea of what’s working for your competitors and what could potentially work for your ads.

There are also a number of tools that can provide you with a robust database of current and past ads running on Facebook, Google and display networks:

  1. Social Ad Scout 
  2. Connect Explore

These tools can help you identify high-performing ads; reducing the risk of your ads’ failure rate and minimizing non-converting spend that might be created by testing unproven concepts.

These tools can help you identify high-performing ads; reducing the risk of your ads’ failure rate and minimizing non-converting spend that might be created by testing unproven concepts.


Utilize Facebook Best Practices

Before 2018, we were running hundreds of campaigns with super-tight audience targeting. Now, because of the changes to customer acquisition on Facebook and Google, advertisers spending less than $1 million per month tend to run fewer campaigns (50 or so) with broad audience targeting, which gives the algorithms free rein to find the best potential consumers.

We also used to make dozens of changes to bids, budgets, and pause rules daily. But after February 2018, when Facebook switched over to its new “Best Practices” rules, that had to change. All of a sudden, campaigns performed better if we took a step back from intensive ad set management; allowing the algorithm to do its magic.


Choose the Right Campaign Goals

Now, Facebook and Google App Campaigns allow algorithms to manage more aspects of advertisers’ campaigns. This being said, for the algorithms to properly do their job, you still need to give them the right targets: The right campaign goals.

For free-to-play apps, you’ll want to start with Mobile App Install (MAI) ads, transition to App Events, and ultimately make the switch to Value bidding.


Mobile App Install Ads

As an advertiser of a new free-to-play app, or any new product for that matter, we recommended using Mobile App Installs as your campaigns’ first goal because the ad format allows individuals to install a new app in just a few clicks. This can get you quality installs; helping you to build a user base as well as accrue data on your most valuable users.


App Events Ads

Once you have tested Mobile App Installs for a week or two and have gained at least 5,000-10,000 installs, you can begin the transition to a new campaign optimization goal: App Events (AEO). This will help to target in-app purchases.


Value Bidding Ads

After your campaign has accrued enough AEO optimization data (usually between 750 to 1,000 purchases) you’ll finally be able to do value bidding (VO). Value bidding lets you target the “whales” of your user base—the people who spend, for example, $19.99, instead of the people who just spend $0.99.

If you pair this value bidding with how Facebook lets you define custom audiences with lifetime value data, you can really dial into exactly who your highest value users are—and then let the algorithm go find them.


Algorithms, Campaign Goals & ROI

It will take some time for the algorithm to figure out where your ideal users are. This being said, it’s possible to receive a 10% ROI in seven days from a mobile app campaign—but you have to be patient for those seven days. If you change too much about the campaign by pausing it or changing the budget by 30% or more, you’ll trigger a “substantial edit”, which will shift your campaign back into learning mode. This usually increases CPMs by as much as 30%.

As you progress through these different goals, you should anticipate paying more. Value Bidding conversions typically cost two to three times more than App Events, and App Events tend to cost two to three times as much as App Installs. It’s important to not focus on the additional costs, and instead focus on the return you are getting. Here’s why:

Say your value of average download is about 75 cents—which includes your entire paid user base; even the users who never make in-app purchases. 

If your average value of in-app purchases is $3.00, you can easily afford to spend two or three times more for an App Event; targeting that average purchase price. 75 cents times two is $1.50; 75 cents times three is $2.25—these are still very much below the $3.00 value of an average in-app purchase. You are essentially paying $1.50 to $2.25 for a $3.00 value.

That’s why Value Bidding is so powerful, and why you shouldn’t worry about paying more for higher-quality, higher-value conversions.


Minimize Audience Saturation & Creative Fatigue

By the time you’ve gotten to Value Bidding, your campaigns will have been running for a few weeks, and you’ll probably be profitable. So, you’ll want to scale your spending. The problem is, this is typically where the complications of creative fatigue and audience saturation begin. As you start increasing your budget, you’ll start burning through audiences faster. As more people see your ads more frequently, they will start ignoring your older ads. These ads will start to fade and become an ambient element in comparison to all the others on the page.

High-budget campaigns regularly wear out creative within four to five days. This, unfortunately, is a consequence of spending more. Sadly, this is a bit of a problem for social advertisers, because creative is expensive—and successful creative (the type of creative you need to beat competitors and keep your KPIs looking good) is even more expensive.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of ads we have created and tested, only 5% of new creative passes the success of the old control. This is why it is crucial to create and test twenty or more pieces of ad creative—to find the one ad that outperforms the others.

Winning Facebook creative is so valuable. Now that algorithms manage many aspects of campaigns, creative is the best differentiator that social advertisers have. This is why it is so important to maximize the lifespan of creative assets.


The Importance of Creating Large Enough Seed Audiences

The key to maximizing the lifespan of ad creative is to extract every possible new user out of every possible audience. To do this, you need to generate at least  3,000 new users, although 7,500 is more preferable. 7,500 new users are enough to create quality lookalike audiences; any less than that, and the customer acquisition strategy will not be as impactful.

Having a good-sized seed audience, as well as knowledge of how to split and divide your audiences carefully and systematically enough really helps to extend the life of a piece of ad creative. This exercise is so profitable that we have built a tool to do it—called Audience Builder. It makes creating dozens (or even hundreds) of targeted audiences super simple.


Final Thoughts About Your Mobile App Campaign

Launching a new free-to-play mobile app takes a bit of patience and a significant amount of money. This being said, Facebook ads shouldn’t be leaking money.

If you utilize data from a competitive analysis to launch with strong creative and shift through different campaign goals—from mobile app installs to app events and then to value bidding—you can minimize how quickly you are burning through your budget. Once your campaigns are running, you can get more value from your creative by creating lookalike audiences. This still allows the algorithms to find new users, but it will segment different populations in a way that leaves no cracks unsealed.

Maximizing these audiences is crucial to profitability because it can take 20 or more new pieces of creative to find the one ad that will outperform your control. This amount of ad creative tends to be very expensive; so when you find that high-performing ad, it’s essential to squeeze every possible conversion out of it.

By utilizing all these methodologies, it’s absolutely possible to be profitable with a brand-new mobile app.

Learn more about how to build successful ad creative campaigns

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