Google reinvented its Universal App Campaigns (now called Google App Campaigns) with three new features in July 2019:
Facebook advertisers have been able to use value bidding, aka “target return on ad spend” for a while. Google App Campaigns advertisers will be able to target this way, too.
Similar to Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Google App Campaigns will let advertisers find new users similar to their existing users. Pairing this new feature with value bidding could radically improve your return on ad spend.
“Starting in July, you can set up multiple ad groups in the same campaign and tailor the assets in each ad group around a different “theme” or message for different customers.”
From its inception, Google launched Ads so advertisers could promote their apps across different platforms from within one advertising system. That’s still possible of course, but it’s meant that creative is handled in a modular way across the different platforms.
Instead of uploading whole ads, you upload ad elements. And if you want good results, it’s best to upload a variety of creative assets: Text, images, and videos.
This clearly leaves less for us, humans, to do, but that’s the nature of user acquisition right now – the machines have taken over many of the old levers of control, though we believe that creative is still best developed by humans. And even in the case of Google App Campaigns, it’s the humans supplying the creative elements. We just now have to step back and let the machines figure out how to use those pieces of creative most efficiently.
The machines are pretty good at this, too. And given how broad and varied Google’s advertising platform is, it’s not a bad idea to let the AI figure out how best to run your ads across different channels like the Play Store, other apps, Google search, and YouTube.
But even with great creative elements, there’s still a lot of expertise required to run optimal campaigns on this platform.
Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks:
Target CPA (tCPA) is a smart bidding strategy. It sets bids that allow you to maintain a set cost-per-acquisition while still getting as many conversions as possible. Your bids will also be automatically optimized by the AI, and auction-time bidding is available, which allows you to tailor your bids.
Set tCPA bidding campaigns with a minimum of 10X to start with. This will let you ramp up your campaigns quickly. Also, test a bid-to-budget ratio of 20X once you’ve got some campaign history established. 20x bids will often show stronger performance.
When it’s not possible to increase the daily budget, try clustering 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.
That strategy should change if you’re running a CPI (cost-per-install) campaigns. For CPI campaigns, budget caps should be 50X the target of your CPI, which bids starting around $4-$5. AIM for that even if your CPI goals are lower.
Facebook advertisers have been able to optimize their campaigns for a target return on ad spend for a while. As of June 2019, Google advertisers will be able to do the same thing, but with even more ability to fine-tune their campaigns.
This ability to do what we call “value bidding” is a game-changer for user acquisition managers. It means you will be able to target big spenders – people who don’t just make in-app purchases, but the type of user who makes $20 or more in in-app purchases. It’s a far more efficient use of ad budget.
Here’s how Google describes this new bidding feature:
“… you’ll soon be able to bid on a target return on ad spend (tROAS) so you can automatically pay more for users likely to spend more and pay less for users likely to spend less. If you’re looking for users who will spend twice as much as they cost to acquire, you can set that multiplier for your tROAS bid, and it will find you the right users accordingly. tROAS will be available next month for Google App campaigns on iOS and Android globally.
Say you’re running campaigns in a limited set of geographical areas and you’re looking to expand into a larger set of geographical areas (but you’re constrained by budget). Don’t expand into those additional geographical areas. Instead, focus your efforts on a short list of geographical areas.
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 geographical areas.
Don’t wait for launch day to build your user base. Pre-launch Google App Campaigns are an excellent tool that can ensure your app usage is locked in even before your app is available.
Market Clustering for Small Budgets: Markets, tiers, languages, and other factors should inform how you structure your campaigns and campaign strategy. That said, it’s still helpful to combine ad campaigns if they are in one language and have low bids. Combining ad campaigns 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: When you have a smaller budget, make small CPA/CPI bid changes. Avoid bid changes of any more 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. This allows you to be competitive, but it also gives you room to begin tapering the bid down once your campaigns have achieved enough event volume each day.
Great ad creative is imperative, especially now that the AI-enabled features in Google App Campaigns have leveled the playing field and made so many ad tech products unnecessary. We’re proud to be one of Google’s App ads creative partners.
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. But images alone aren’t enough. You’ll also need video assets and HTML5 creative. 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 Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. You can feed your campaigns by maximizing your asset coverage.
Here’s how all those different ad creative formats can be distributed:
Going from even zero to two videos in your campaign usually results in a 25% increase in conversions. And don’t skimp on portrait videos, either: We typically see a 60% increase in conversion rates when advertisers use portrait videos instead of landscapes.
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.
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.
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)|
The name of the game may be user acquisition, but don’t ever forget user retention – it’s often an app’s prime engine of profitability. The new updates to Google App Campaigns make this easier than before. Use automated, cross channel, tCPA product targeting to get users who already have your app to come back and engage again.
Google App Campaigns were good before, but with new features like value bidding, similar audiences and AI-driven audience selection and ad placement, we expect advertisers to be able to get even better results.
As with Facebook advertising though, creative will be the primary driver of performance. Even with the Google AI’s ability to assemble and reassemble pieces of creative for different placements and platforms, it’s essential to give the engine optimal creative assets, and enough assets for your ad campaigns to perform well.