Promote your app and drive app downloads

There are millions of apps out there—how’s yours going to stand out? Here’s a one-stop shop with all you need to know to promote your app and drive app downloads.


The following tips are geared toward people advertising apps. If your primary goal is to drive visits to a website, check out how any advertiser can show ads within mobile apps.


Promote apps by advertising within other apps

Mobile Display campaigns allow you to reach people using apps similar to yours. Showing your ads to those most likely to be interested in apps (people already using them) improves their efficiency, and increased downloads could improve your app store ranking.


Jonathan is a Kindergarten teacher who designs apps in his spare time. He wants to promote HandsRaised, an app that helps teachers keep track of participation grading on the go, with tablets or mobile devices. He creates a Mobile Display campaign and chooses the “Education” category in both the Apple App Store and Google Play. Now his ad will be eligible to show in education-based apps.

Create campaigns that advertise within other apps

Create a Display Network campaign with ads on mobile apps

  1. Click the + Campaign button in your account, and select the Display Network only option.
  2. Choose Mobile apps from the list on the right.
  3. In the “Devices” section, consider targeting particular operating systems, device models, and carriers.
  4. Specify the locations and languages you want to target, and set your budget.
  5. Click Save and Continue.
  6. Select Mobile App

Place your ads in the apps you’d like them to appear in

In order for your ads to be able to appear in mobile apps, you have to choose at least one “placement” (a potential destination for your ad).

  1. Name your first ad group and set a default bid.
  2. Choose the apps you want to show your ads on under Mobile app placements.
    • If you’d like your ads to run on all available apps (in the Apple App Store, the Windows Phone Store, and Google Play), click » to the right of “All Apps” under “Mobile app categories.”
    • If you want to target particular categories, expand the app stores under “Mobile app categories” by clicking + , then choose the categories you want by clicking » next to each one. These categories match the category names in each store.
    • If you’d like to choose specific apps, click Search all apps, and search for those apps in the search box. Then click » next to each app you want your ad to be able to appear in.
    • If you know the IDs of the apps you’re targeting, enter them in these formats:
      • iOS apps: mobileapp::1-<9-digit numeric app ID>
        • For example, mobileapp::1-123456789
      • Google Play apps: mobileapp::2- (You can find the package name in the Google Play store.)
        • For example,
  3. Have a look at “Narrow your targeting further” if you want to target by age, gender, or interests. Be aware that this extra targeting will make your ad appear less often (in other words, decrease the ad’s impressions).
  4. Click Save and continue.
  5. Select Placements
  6. Now you’ll see the app promotion ad template (“App/digital content ad”). See further directions in “Find your app” (under “Create an app promotion ad”) below.


Promote apps in Search results

Mobile Search campaigns help you reach users on mobile devices who are already searching for apps like yours. They’re a great way for your app to be discovered by people likely to be interested in it.


Katrina is the marketing manager of a healthcare technology company. She wants to promote V-Infant, a mobile app that helps pediatric nurses keep track of newborns’ vital signs. She creates a Search ad in the “App/Digital Content” format to promote her app on mobile devices only, and uses the keywords “NICU nurse app,” “nurse app,” and “pediatric nurse app” to reach people likely to be looking for an app like hers.

Create a Search campaign to drive app downloads

Create a Search campaign

  1. Click + Campaign from the Campaigns tab and choose Search Network Only or Search Network with Display Select.
  2. On the “Select campaign settings” page, choose All features. (Standard Search campaigns don’t provide the app promotion template.)
  3. Specify the locations and languages you want to target.
  4. Set your default bid and daily budget. Click Save and continue.

Create your ad group

  1. Name your ad group and choose App / digital content ad.
  2. Enter keywords that people looking for your app might use. Learn more about how to choose good keywords.
  3. Set a default bid, and click Save and continue to billing or Set up billing later.

Make an app promotion ad

  1. After completing your billing preferences (if necessary), you’ll be directed to create your ad. Click the “App promotion ad” template.
  2. See further directions in “Find your app” (under “Create an app promotion ad”) below.


Drive downloads with app promotion ads

App promotion ads (formerly "click-to-download" ads) are the easiest and most effective way to drive downloads: much of the customization is done for you. You can run these ads across search and display using the App/Digital Content Ad template.


Christopher’s recipe app for men, Dude Chew, has been popular for years, but he’s noticed a gradual decline in downloads. He uses the app promotion ad template to make an ad for Dude Chew: the icon for Dude Chew is pulled right from the Apple App Store or Google Play. His ad headline, “Dudes can cook too,” sends people to the App Store or Google Play (whichever is appropriate for their device), and a download link will begin downloading Dude Chew right from the ad.

How app promotion ads work

App promotion ads link directly to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, making it a cinch for people to download your app.

These ads are smart: they’re designed to show on devices where they’ll have the most impact. When you set up a new campaign with only app promotion ads, your ads show only on phones and tablets (not on desktop computers). You can also choose to display your ads on mobile phones only.

  • Ads for Android apps only show on Android devices, and iTunes apps only show on iOS devices
  • On Search campaigns, ads for tablet apps exclude mobile phones automatically
  • On Display campaigns, you need to specify the device, device model, and operating system version you’re targeting.

Customization of app promotion ads

Ads built using the App Promotion template are customized with the following features for you (these might vary in different device formats):

  • App title
  • Description (25-character title and two lines of 35-character text)
  • Clickable square app icon that leads to the app store
  • App price, displayed as “FREE” (in the appropriate language) or in the appropriate currency, based on what’s listed in the app stores

When these ads are shown in other apps, they may also include:

  • Blue download button (with text in the appropriate language) that initiates downloads
  • Star rating and number of reviews (only appears if the app is rated at least three and a half stars and has more than thirty reviews)
  • Up to four screenshots that will appear in a scrollable gallery. Tapping on the screenshots will expand them to full screen on phones.
  • X-button to close the full-screen mode (the area around the X-button, usually on top of the app icon, will not respond to clicks)
Create an app promotion ad
  1. Select the Ads tab in the campaign of your choice. Search campaigns must include “All features” to offer app promotion ads.
  2. Click + Ad and choose App / digital content ad.
  3. Select App Promotion Ad
  4. Select App promotion ad from the templates offered. [Note: If you want to promote your app using an image, select the ‘Image App promotion ad’ template and upload the appropriate image file.]

Find your app

  1. Choose an app platform (e.g., Android, iOS) from the drop-down menu.
  2. In the “App ID” or “Package name” field, type a few keywords to look up your app, or enter the ID or package name manually.

    Android: Find the package name by looking up the app in Google Play, where the package name is listed. Or, you can copy the text after “id=” in the app’s URL.
    iOS: Find the App ID by copying the text after “id” in the app’s URL. e.g.

  3. Now that you’ve found your app, write your 25-character title and two lines of 35-character text, and fill out the destination URL.
  4. If you want the ad to only run on mobile phones (no tablets), click the “mobile preferred” checkbox.
  5. (Display campaigns only) By default your ads will show both as banners and interstitials. If you want to only run interstitials, go to the Display Network tab and click + Exclusions under “Campaign exclusions.” Select “GMob mobile app non-interstitial” to exclude banner ads from your mobile app campaign.
  6. Click Save. Your app promotion ad will start running as soon as it’s approved.

Keep in mind

New apps might take up to 24 hours to appear in the app promotion ad’s search results, so if you can’t find the app you’re looking for, just try again later.


If your primary goal is to drive clicks to your website, but you have an app you’d like to give searchers the option to download, you can set up App Extensions for your Search ads instead. This means that clicks on the ad headline will direct to your website, while clicks on the extension will direct to the app store (Apple or Play). Learn how to set up app extensions, and how to make them mobile-specific.


Track download performance and set automatic bidding

You can measure the impact your app promotion campaigns are having on your download numbers, and see how much you’re paying to drive each download, with conversion tracking. Conversion Optimizer can take this one step further: it uses these conversion stats to make the best possible bids for your target cost-per-install.


George wants to maximize downloads of his bird watching app for Android, HawkSpot. After creating a new campaign targeting Android apps in the “Nature” category, he turns on conversion tracking to see if it’s driving HawkSpot downloads. Once his campaign has driven enough downloads, George hands over the bidding to Conversion Optimizer, which will drive as many downloads possible with the cost-per-install he can afford, which is $2.50 per download. George closes his laptop, and looks back toward the sky.

Conversion tracking shows if your ads are paying off, and Conversion Optimizer does download-focused bidding for you. Learn how to set up conversion tracking, and turn on conversion optimizer for your app campaign.

Next steps