Google is reinventing its App Campaigns with several new features launching in the month of July, including Value Bidding, Similar Audiences, Ad Groups, Media Library and Asset Reporting. Google App Campaigns let advertisers create ads where people can download an app directly from an ad, and are designed expressly to generate app installs. You can use other campaign types, like display ads and even text ads, to advertise apps, but the conversion rates for those campaigns are terrible comparable to App Campaigns. If you want more app installs, App Campaigns are the way to go. Especially now that Google has given user acquisition managers more tools to target their ideal users.

With these new features in Google App Campaigns, advertisers are expected to receive even better results. At the same time, creative will be the primary driver of performance. Even with Google’s AI and its ability to optimize creative elements for different placements and users, it’s essential to provide the algorithm a constant supply of creative assets. Here’s how to leverage each of Google’s new App Campaign features with best practices, while also incorporating an effective creative strategy.

Value Bidding

Facebook advertisers have been able to use value bidding, aka “target return on ad spend” (tROAS) for a while. Now, Google App Campaigns advertisers will now be able to target this way as well.

How it works: Using historical information about your campaign and evaluating the contextual signals present at auction-time, value bidding automatically finds an optimal CPC bid for your ad each time it’s eligible to appear. This bidding strategy uses advanced machine learning to automatically optimize and set bids. It also offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each auction. You define the value that you want to maximize, such as sales revenue or profit margins, when you set up conversion tracking for your account. Google sets these bids to help get conversions that are the most valuable for your campaign while spending your budget.

Similar Audiences

In a similar vein to Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Google App Campaigns will now let advertisers find new users similar to their existing users powered by Firebase. Pairing this new feature with value bidding could radically improve return on ad spend.

Similar audiences work just like Facebook’s – they let you find more users that are like (or similar to) an audience you define. It’s possible to sculpt your audience data in ways that make the similar audiences algorithm work better than it would have if you just used everyone who’s ever downloaded your app as your target audience. For instance, targeting users based on their lifetime value can be a very effective way to generate new audiences and avoid audience fatigue.

This is the same principle that makes in-app optimization so powerful: If you define your “audience” to be the big-spenders of your audience, and then tell Google to find more big spenders, you’ll generate far more ROAS than if you just told Google to find you more people who will install your app.

The big idea behind audiences now is intent. Keywords were the original way Google interpreted intent. Then Facebook showed us that audiences and interest data could sometimes be more effective at determining intent than keywords were. Now Google is stepping up here.

As Ginny Marvin wrote recently in Search Engine Land, “Google has quickly moved from keyword-focused targeting to supporting various types of audience targeting that incorporates a slate of interest and behavioral signals it captures from across its properties. Intent is still the core of search, but Google has been stripping away keyword targeting controls (with more to come), and it’s entirely possible to run Search campaigns based on other signals and no keywords at all….machine learning has advanced to be able to attribute intent in different phases of the funnel.”

Ad Groups

Have you been structuring your Google App campaigns with dozens, maybe even hundreds of campaigns? If so, it’s time to stop. Advertisers will be able to 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. This lets advertisers customize their messaging for different customers. And, of course, it means you don’t need to manage so many campaigns.

Note that this move echoes what Facebook did last February with their “best practices” update. Before February 2018, we optimized our clients’ Facebook advertising accounts by running hundreds, sometimes thousands of campaigns. The best practices update changed that. Suddenly campaigns worked better if there were fewer of them within one account, resulting in less overlap between campaigns. Effectively, this meant that humans had to step back and let the machines (aka machine learning) do more of the day-to-day campaign management.

Media Library

A Media Library provides the ability to manage images, GIFs, and videos for Google Ads accounts. Media assets in the library can be used across App Campaigns. They can also be reused in multiple creatives, eliminating the need to upload the same asset multiple times.

Ultimately, a Media Library makes it easy for you to upload, store and manage all your visual content in a single place, so that it’s easy to create ads in a scalable and consistent way.

Asset Reporting

When you create an App campaign, your ads are built using the assets you add during campaign setup (for example: text ideas, images, videos, and assets from your app store page). Once a campaign is running, you can see the performance of each asset by looking at your asset report.

With this newest feature rollout – UA managers can view asset reporting of videos, images, ad copy and playables available conveniently at the Ad Group level.

Conclusion

Google App Campaigns (previously Google Universal App Campaigns) have come a long way in the last few years.

They 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 and take advantage of Google’s newest capabilities across bidding, audiences, ad groups, media and reporting.

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