Google App Campaigns (previously Google Universal App Campaigns) are a great way to find new users for your mobile app. The ad campaign type allows you to advertise on some of Google’s largest ad networks including search, display, YouTube, and the Google Play Store all while managing ads in the Google Ads platform.

These campaigns let advertisers create ads where people can download an app directly from an ad. App Campaign ads – and all the settings available for Google App Campaigns – are designed expressly to generate app installs.

How to Get Started

Campaigns based on app installs can be created in the Google AdWords experience.

  1. Sign in to AdWords.
  2. On the “Campaigns” tab, click the +Campaign drop-down menu, and select App campaign.
  3. Add a name for your campaign. To help you find your campaign later, you might want to indicate in the name that this is a App campaign.
  4. Select the app you’d like to promote from the drop-down menu, or click Add a new app… to enter a new one.
  5. In the “Ads” section, enter up to 4 independent lines of text that can be rotated in your ads in any order. Depending on the ad format, your text may not be used.
  6. Upload image assets for your ads. 
    1. You can add up to 20 image files as .jpg, .gif, or .png with a maximum size of 150KB.
    2. Landscape images can be the most valuable format for native ads, while portrait images can be the most valuable for interstitial content.
    3. Other valuable formats include: 320×50 px, 320×480 px, and 300×250 px.
  7. You can also add up to 20 YouTube videos (including portrait videos) to be used for video ads. 
    1. In addition, AdWords can make a video ad for you using assets from your app’s store listing.
  8. If needed, update any location or language settings. Keep in mind, AdWords doesn’t translate your ads, so you should only target languages that match your ads.
  9. Under “Campaign Optimization,” choose to optimize your campaign for: 
    1. Installs. Get new users for your app.
    2. In-app actions. Get new users who are likely to complete in-app actions that you select. 
  10. Set your target bids. For app installs on Android, you may see a projection of install volume for a range of bid values if you have linked your Play and AdWords accounts. Learn more about bidding in App campaigns.
  11. Enter your budget.
  12. Click Save and continue.
  13. AdWords can count installs as conversions for Android apps in the Google Play store automatically. To track all other installs and key events, make sure to set up mobile app conversion tracking.

 

Optimizing Your Google App Campaigns with Best Practices

Now that you have your campaign live, there are a number of ways that you can tune and improve your campaigns. Although Google’s campaign algorithms do take some campaign management tasks away from user acquisition managers, it doesn’t mean you’ll have nothing to do.

 The following is a list of best practices for optimizing App Campaign ads, based on what’s working now for our clients.

 For a more in-depth review of best practices, see our Google App Campaigns Best Practices Guide.

 

Tips & Tricks

  • Use target CPA (tCPA). If you haven’t tested this bidding strategy yet, start now. We’ve found it to be a very efficient use of ad budget.
  • Use target return on ad spend (tROAS). This feature isn’t out just yet, but it will be available in June for App Campaigns on iOS and Android. Once it’s live, you’ll be able to, say, specify that you want Google to find users who will spend three times what it cost you to acquire them. What advertiser wouldn’t want to do that?
  • Set your daily budget caps at least 50X target of CPI or 10X of target CPA.
  • Don’t change target CPI/CPA bids more than 20% in 24 hours until your campaign is generating 20-30 targeted in-app events per day.
  • Target CPI campaigns’ bid should start at least $4-5, even if your CPI goal is lower.
  • Target CPA campaigns’ bid should start at least 20-30% higher than the goal.
  • Don’t wait until your app has launched to start building your user base: Pre-launch campaigns are available, and they work.
  • Be generous with creative assets. Google App Campaigns work best with a variety of creative – both creative formats and messaging approaches. The algorithm will figure out how to mix and match your images, text, and videos… but you’ve got to give it enough assets to find the ideal combination.
  • Always include video creative. We’ve found that if a campaign hasn’t been using videos, adding just two videos to their creative asset mix can increase the campaign’s conversions by 25%. So yes, maybe videos are a bit more expensive. Maybe they do take a bit longer to create. But they punch above their weight when it comes to ROAS. And besides – if you don’t want to make videos, we can do it for you.
  • When you get your videos made, make sure they can “flex,” as in that they can appear in different views and devices and still look good.
  • Think beyond user acquisition. We’re seeing some really nice returns with retention campaigns. If you do it right, it absolutely pays to advertise to all those people who downloaded your app but then either didn’t use it or never bought from it. They’ve already done the hard part of installing the app – often they just need a little nudge to activate or to make their first purchase.

 

Google’s New Tools for App Campaigns

This summer, Google began releasing new features that look a bit more like Facebook in terms of what advertisers can do to tailor their bidding, creative, and targeting. Here are some of the new tools that you can start exploring once you’ve setup your campaign and followed the best practices listed above.

 

Value Bidding

Value bidding, or Target Return on Ad Spent (tROAS), has been available to Facebook advertisers for some time. With this new Google App Campaigns feature, you’ll get more value out of your ads by paying more for users who will likely spend more and paying less for other users. You’ll also be able to set multipliers for tROAS bids so you can target users who are likely to spend at least twice the cost of acquiring them. If your daily budget is $200 and tROAS is 20%, your goal is to get about $40 of value from your ads.

 

Similar Audiences

This is similar to Facebook’s Custom Audiences, which allows advertisers to target new users who are similar to existing users. Google App Campaigns will use machine learning to Update Similar Audience Lists in Real Time. Pairing this feature with value bidding could radically improve your return on ad spend.

 

Ad Groups

An Ad Group features multiple ads with similar target audiences. Soon, Google App Campaigns will allow you to create multiple ad groups as part of a single campaign, with each ad group promoting a different theme or message for distinct customer groups.

 

Pre-Launch Campaign Tool

Deploy ads before you launch. Google App Campaigns’ Pre-Launch Campaign Tool allows users to register before an app is available and sends push notifications when the app is ready to download. This is an excellent tool that delivers big returns: higher D1 and D7 install volumes, 38% conversion to install on average, and higher conversion than with external pre-registration sources.

 

Agency Partnerships

If you’re tired of managing all the creative development required for high-performance campaigns, Google Ads has now partnered with eight trusted agencies, including us. This allows advertisers to outsource all creative development and management “from design to reporting.”

 

Conclusion 

Google App Campaigns are one of the best tools a user acquisition manager has for growing a user base and monetizing it. If you aren’t squeezing every drop of opportunity out of App ads, it’s time to up your game.