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    Mobile app campaigns in Google Ads are one type of campaign in addition to search results, display advertising, video, and Performance Max with them you can increase the number of installations, reach existing app users, or prepare for the launch of a new app. Until 2017, Google Ads app campaigns were structured the same way as website promotion. So you could use the search network or display network, select targeting, and prepare separate ads. After that period, so-called universal app campaigns were created. In 2019. Google Ads got rid of the name “universal” and until now we simply have app campaigns or app promotion campaigns. That’s it for the historical introduction 🙂 🙂

    mobile app optimization

    How do app campaigns work in Google Ads?

    Mobile app campaigns are divided according to their purpose:

    • purchasing new installations
    • building engagement (in-app remarketing)
    • pre-launch building engagement in the case of Android.

    The first two types of campaigns you can run on both Android and iOS devices.

    What do you need to run app campaigns?

    1. For app campaigns on Android, you do not need additional analytics implementations. You can launch such a campaign by selecting apps from a list and setting a budget.
    2. For iOS, you need to first deploy Firebase/Ga4 or one of the analytics partners, such as Appsflyer or Kochava. The key here is the first_open event, which will be your conversion needed to launch the campaign.
    3. Additionally, to more accurately track iOS installations you should implement SKAdNetwork Otherwise, you will not be able to count some downloads on iOS.
    4. To run campaigns that build engagement you need a minimum of 250,000 installs and deep links set up. Deeplinks are a link structure that will allow you to open a specific app screen when clicked.
    5. Pre-release campaigns allow you to build interest even before the app or game is published. Each user will receive a push notification when the app is published, so they will be the first to know about it.

    App campaign structure in Google Ads

    Each mobile app campaign in Google Ads must have the following key data:

    1. daily budget
    2. location
    3. language
    4. timeline
    5. selected target
    6. optional target CPI/CPA

    In these types of campaigns, you can use ad groups. At the ad group level, you usually build thematic groups, as app campaigns do not have any settings and configurations for target groups.

    Each ad group has what is called a set of resources, or ad materials, that Google Ads can use. These include headlines, ad text, graphics, video, and HTML5 content. Basically, the more diverse resources you add, the higher the effectiveness of the ad you will get.

    How to optimize mobile app campaigns?

    First, you should think about the structure of your campaigns and ad groups. Think about your target audience in the app – exactly the same as for any digital project. Build at least a few segments of your audience differentiated by their character traits and way of communication. This way, you will be able to optimize the outreach to a particular group with the help of ad groups and prepared creatives. How? Well, Google Ads, based on the effectiveness of resources, will quickly understand which target group best fits a given thematic scheme of creatives. This is how you build outreach to your target group in your app campaigns – with the help of ad groups and corresponding creatives.

    In app campaigns, you can’t add audience groups, but you can add exclusion lists using Firebase. So first create such a list in Firebase and then import it into Google Ads. This way targeting can be more accurate. You can also add a feed, a so-called product file, to your app campaign, which will be used to target customers searching for similar products/services or to include ads containing products in the app. The feed can only be added at the campaign level, and Google Ads does not have to use it if it determines that it will not improve effectiveness.

    At the campaign level, you also configure the goals for which the campaign should be optimized. It follows that you should first take care to clearly and accurately configure events for tracking, and their values, if any. When configuring events for tracking, remember to track at least the key user steps in the application such as:

    • registration or data entry
    • activating the service
    • purchase interactions -> product cards, shopping cart, finalization
    • purchases with their value
    • use of a key feature
    • recommendations to other users

    For each event, think about what business value they have for you, which will allow you to determine the maximum CPA for Google Ads. So if each registration is worth 30£, you can use such a target CPA in your campaign settings. One of the new bidding strategies for app campaigns is ROAS If your mobile app is not generating revenue you can give values to each event.

    Google Ads provides several bidding strategies for mobile apps depending on what the app owner cares about:

    1. New installations – this strategy focuses only on new users and installations, it doesn’t matter to Google Ads what the user does afterward, how qualitative they are, and whether they generate any turnover. If your goal is to minimize the cost of installation, this strategy fits perfectly.
    2. Installations with an indication of the event under which you want to optimize your campaigns – this strategy, which we call advanced CPI, allows you to reach new users who are more likely to perform your chosen event such as registrations. A campaign of this type means a higher installation cost, but also a higher chance of a quality user. If your goal is to generate not only installations but also in-app activity, choose this strategy. 
    3. Actions in app is a strategy that focuses only on a selected event. In it, you configure your target CPA, which is the rate you can pay on average to generate one event in the app. The strategy works best for generating quality traffic, but it is also expensive to acquire and very limited in scaling. So you will quickly reach a point where it is insufficient and you will have to use the other options as well.
    4. ROAS – the mechanics of this campaign are similar to the activities in the app, except that the algorithm focuses on the values of selected events.

    Optimize-resources-and-creatives-in-mobile-app ads

    Resources are one of the most important places to optimize mobile app campaigns. You already know that resources within ad groups can perform a substitute function in exchange for determining target groups. When adding components to ads, it is worth remembering that:

    • you can and should add 5 headlines, each up to max. 30 characters
    • you should configure 5 ad texts, each up to 90 characters
    • you can add as many as 20 image resources, video, and HTML5 files

    Google Ads has simplified the formats it uses for its app campaigns o these are now:

    • 1:1 square
    • 1.91:1 panorama
    • 4:5 portrait

    The higher the quality of the graphics the better, up to a maximum weight limit of 5 MB. Currently, only .jpg and .png files are allowed. For HTML5 formats, be sure to add subtitles to your creative, as these formats do not support audio.

    Similar guidelines apply to video content: you should make sure to prepare one video in different formats – this will maximize the effects. It is recommended that videos should be at least 10 seconds long – you must additionally host them on YouTube.

    The videos should be at least 10 seconds long.

    If you find that you want to use HTML5 you can do so, but in our opinion, it is not necessary and it does not change the result in most cases. HTML5 is little used by Google Ads and the reach you get with these materials is too low to spend the time to prepare them.

    Each resource added to a campaign, whether text, graphics, or video will get an effectiveness score after a certain period of time. It can take one of three variations: low, good, and highest. You should replace low-effectiveness materials over time with those with the likeness of the highest effectiveness. And here’s a note, it’s better to have max resources with low effectiveness than to have fewer of them, but with a higher rating. This is because Google Ads can nevertheless use some materials in certain situations and for specific target groups. So if you don’t have swap materials, you shouldn’t remove any resources.

    Google App Campaign advertising resources are one of the basic elements of effective app marketing Try to provide Google Ads with high-quality resources that have value independently and in various combinations. In addition, always make sure that your resources meet the technical requirements and comply with the guidelines provided by Google.

    Analyzing resources is as important as delivering high-quality creatives. It gives you the opportunity to adjust low-performing creatives without holding up your campaigns. Try to determine why one resource works better than another and apply the same scheme to replace a low-performing resource.

    Summary of how to optimize app campaigns

    Want to get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns promoting apps? There is no single effective method, but you can get quite a bit out of them if you focus on the key areas we use every day in digital agency:

    1. Select a few themes, topics, or app use cases and build ad groups based on that. In this way, Google Ads will better understand your target groups.
    2. Choose a bidding strategy that matches your goal. You can run multiple campaigns simultaneously with different strategies to constantly look for the best combination.
    3. Avoid changing your target rates frequently, especially if your budget is unlimited. Let your campaigns run for at least 2-3 weeks in one setting. During this time you may experience fluctuations.
    4. Analyze results by location group. Adjust rates and exclusions as necessary.
    5. Take advantage of the growing potential of iOS by implementing Firebase/GA4 and SKAdNetwork.
    6. Fill in the maximum resources in your campaigns. This will give you more places where your ad will appear, as well as more data on effectiveness.

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    Tomasz Starzyński
    Tomasz Starzyński

    CEO and managing partner at Up&More. He is responsible for the development of the agency and coordinates the work of the SEM/SEO and paid social departments. He oversees the introduction of new products and advertising tools in the company and the automation of processes.