Author: Anna Priester
– Former App Marketing Content Specialist at Customlytics
“Google App Campaigns are essential for app marketing managers – for relatively small input, you can get a great output with the right setup. Once you set up an App Campaign properly, Google’s Machine Learning is doing the job and spreads the ads across all the essential platforms to successfully catch users. All app marketing managers then have to do themselves is to exchange the creatives sometimes and optimize the campaigns accordingly.” Christian Eckhardt, Co-founder and CEO of Customlytics
Google App Campaigns (formerly Universal App Campaigns or short: UAC) are one of the most effective advertising solutions for acquiring users and increasing the lifecycle of a mobile app. Why? With Google App Campaigns, marketers have the opportunity to place their app not just in the app stores but across Google’s largest properties and thus promote their app directly to the desired users. These platforms include Google Play, YouTube, Discover on Google Search and the Google Display Network. Here, the big advantage is the wide range of inventory from search to display or video.
In this article, you receive the ultimate guide to getting started with Google App Campaigns. We’ll tell you how to successfully market your app and get the most out of the advertising tool to both attract new paying users and drive in-app conversions.
Unlike most Google Ads campaign types, you don’t need to design individual ads for App Campaigns. Instead, Google will use your provided data and automatically design a variety of ads across several formats and networks. Therefore, you get access to Google’s broad reach in a simple way. Additionally, there is the possibility to upload your own banners and text ads. You can find everything about Google App Campaigns at Google Ads Help as well as the YouTube channel of Google Ads. For a general introduction to performance marketing, you can make use of our eBook User Acquisition & Retargeting.
Below are 5 tips for getting started with Google App Campaigns, so that you can rock your App Campaigns and achieve long-term success:
1. Set up your campaign properly
To do so, you really need to think about your marketing goals and the available budget beforehand to determine the campaign type (app installs or in-app actions) and the bids (for your own target CPI (cost-per-install) / CPA (cost-per-actions) and a maximum daily budget).
We recommend you start with app-install-campaigns and gradually introduce campaigns that focus on in-app promotions after one or two months – this way Google can gather more app information and (from about 100 conversions on) optimize ads, bids and budget more specifically. Keep in mind that the whole system of Google App Campaigns depends on machine learning to automatically set bids and deliver ads alternately so that they are presented to the desired target audience and at the right price.
Concerning the budget: Don’t be economical – make sure that you have enough budget allocated to allow your campaign to grow. The higher the first bid, the higher the visibility of your ad and the wealth of data for Google’s machine learning.
For app-install-campaigns, your fixed bid should be the average amount you want to spend per install. By the way: If you see a high CPI (cost-per-install) at the beginning, this may be due to conversion delays, and it may take a few days for Google Ads to collect campaign information.
Since in-app actions are much harder to generate than just an app installation (or occur later in the funnel), the cost-per-action (CPA) will therefore be higher than the cost-per-install (CPI). As a rule of thumb, the budget for this type of campaign should be 10-20x your CPA (cost-per-action).
2. Creative Assets
Creative Assets are “the ingredients” that Google uses to create ads. You can add up to 20 images, 20 videos and 10 text elements along with HTML5-Assets for responsive and interactive ads. The more you offer Google, the more effectively it can mix and match these separate attest to build ads for the different platforms and their users, which brings a higher level of possible conversion. It is reasonable to provide all creative elements from the beginning. Google strongly recommends you to upload at least one landscape and one portrait image, one landscape video, and also HTML5 assets.
Test your creatives before handing them in: Don’t leave the A/B testing to Google’s machine learning, but optimize your assets in advance. Find current users, friends, family members, colleagues or others in your network who reflect your target audience and present them your creative ads. A/B Testing allows you to determine how your ads are being received and select the best performing assets for submission to Google App Campaigns.
Performance of assets in your App Campaigns: Since assets are of such high relevance to your campaigns, it is important to continuously monitor their performance. With Google’s Assets Report, you can view their performance, such as cost, click-through-rate (CTR), CPI, and other data, and get an overview of which assets are having the desired effect and when it’s time to add more assets. The assets are labeled with different labels from “low” to “best”. However, keep in mind that the data is updated daily- so you don’t see changes to the assets immediately.
3. Selection of regions and languages
In addition to setting your campaign type and budget, you have to select the locations and languages you want your ad to run for. Remember that your ads will only be displayed in the countries where your app is available for download. We recommend not to start with multiple App Campaigns in the same region, as they might compete against each other.
Localization of assets: Please note that Google does not automatically translate your ads. You must therefore adapt the assets you submit to the language and cultural preferences of the target region. If you place ads that are “foreign” to the target audience in that region, you are giving away budget and possible downloads. If your app is international, play it safe and offer two languages (home language + English).
4. Track events and send them back to Google Ads
In order to run successful App Campaigns, it is essential to track all conversions – be it conversions from the app install or from other in-app actions. This is the only way Google’s algorithm can optimize the campaigns for you because otherwise, Google can’t even notice which users are actually performing the actions you hope for from the campaign. Additionally, you should use deep links to record other events that lead to a desired in-app action (this is how deep linking works in iOS and Android – for more general information, check out our website). You should then send this data back to Google Ads, as it is further useful for Google’s machine learning.
For tracking, you can use Google’s free solution Google Analytics for Firebase – but we strongly advise you to cooperate with Mobile Measurement Partners (MMP) like Adjust, AppsFlyer or Branch, as they can provide much more accurate data on in-app actions. On our website you can learn more about MMPs and their necessity for attribution tracking.
5. Changes to an ongoing campaign
Try to avoid making too many changes to your campaign once it’s up and running. In general, you should avoid changing the campaign type from “number of installations” to “installation actions” and directly increasing or reducing the budget or CPI by more than 20% in one step. Instead, always make changes slowly and gradually.
The key to success is patience: Google’s algorithm takes its time to learn and collect enough data on the right users, creative combinations and placements to optimize them effectively – if you interrupt this learning phase of about one month, you will harm your campaign. Especially with an in-app campaign, it takes a little more time, because you need at least 50 in-app actions per day to provide Google with meaningful data to optimize your ads. Therefore, you should not make any adjustments to your budget, bids, placements or creative assets until the second or third month, depending on your needs.
Overview of changes: If manual adjustments are necessary, you can check in “All campaigns” or in an App Campaign under “Change history” how the changes made to the App Campaigns have affected the performance of the campaign.
Given all this information, you are very familiar with the possibilities Google App Campaigns offers for marketing your app. To summarize all input for the correct creation of an App Campaign, we have all tips in an overview for you.
Are you ready to start with performance marketing and promote your app across Google’s network? Then let’s take a look together on how you can get the best out of it! Leave us a message via [email protected]. Our app marketing consultants have extensive experience with Google App Campaigns and are happy to share their knowledge to help you generate more installs and in-app promotions for your app.