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What makes a successful app ad campaign?

For clients with apps, paid app advertising is essential. One of the main platforms you can drive app installs through is Google Ads, with their product, Universal App Campaigns (UACs). UACs started out as basic. Once linking to your app, you add creative assets, assign a budget and target cost per lead (CPL) and you’re off! Google’s algorithm then finds users who are in the market for your app and serves them an ad. The number of things you could do with UACs was limited, however, Google’s H1 product kick-off highlights quite a few emerging features in the app space, including:

  1. New formats – Including carousel style ads
  2. Ad Groups – More granular structure and control
  3. Feeds – Using 1st party data to ‘guide the machine’
  4. Max conversions – New bidding strategy, allowing maximisation of installs within a budget

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UACs should be an essential part of any app campaign. They are easy to set up and the algorithm can be pretty much left to achieve the goal you’ve set.

However, a successful app campaign shouldn’t rely on UACs alone. Some consideration should be:

  1. App tracking – The Google Ads platform alone will not give you the insight you need to understand how much UACs are contributing to your business goals. App tracking solutions (e.g. Firebase, Adjust or Apps Flyer) will allow you to track all traffic coming to your app. You will then be in a better position to assess how valuable your paid activity is and what’s driving ‘lifetime value’.
  2. IOS – As Android is Google, we find volumes for Android on UACs are a lot higher and efficiencies are better. However, IOS takes up more than half of the market in the UK, so that’s a big gap you could be potentially missing out on! Platforms such as Apple Search Ads would allow you to bridge this gap in the market.
  3. Transparency – There’s a lack of information you can get from UAC campaigns. You can’t see where you’re showing, who you’re showing to or how much UACs are contributing to your business goals. If you need tighter control of who you’re showing to and where then there’s a lot of other platforms and 3rd parties which can give greater transparency.

So, when Google’s H1 product release contained a full 6 slides on UACs, we jumped for joy! Generally, more and more features have been coming out in recent years and it looks like Google are keen to keep growing this product. From our point of view, more features mean more to test and more opportunity to grow campaigns. However, even with new features, you should never rely on just UACs to drive a successful app campaign.