Promoting your mobile app

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.

Choose the right campaign type to advertise your app

Before you create your campaign, think about your advertising goals. Are you interested in getting people to download your app? What about encouraging people to open your app and take action? To review the different campaigns and see which type is right for you, expand the section below.

Mobile app campaigns
“Mobile app installs” campaigns “Mobile app engagement” campaigns “Ads in mobile apps” campaigns
Advertising goal Increase app downloads with ads sending people directly to app stores to download your app. Learn more Re-engage people who use your app with ads that deep link to specific screens within your mobile app. Learn more Show ads for your website exclusively in mobile apps. Learn more
Campaign type
  • Search Network campaigns
  • Display Network campaigns
  • AdWords for Video campaigns
  • Search Network campaigns
  • Display Network campaigns
  • Display Network campaigns
Available ad formats
  • App install ads
  • Image app install ads
  • Video app install ads
  • App engagement ads
  • Text ads
  • Image ads
  • App install ads

Tip

If your primary goal is to drive visits to a website, check out how any advertiser can show ads within mobile apps.

 

Drive downloads of your mobile app

With “Mobile app installs” campaigns, you can focus your entire campaign on getting more people to download your app. Once you select the app you want to promote, we’ll help customize the rest of your campaign targeting and ads to increase app installs. Keep in mind, more downloads could improve your app store ranking, which can result in even more people downloading your app.

“Mobile app installs” campaigns are available on both the Search and Display Networks. On YouTube, you can create “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign to drive app downloads. Learn more about app installs campaigns.

Drive app installs on the Search Network

Ads optimized for driving downloads

App install ads are a key part of “Mobile app installs” campaigns. They 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 by checking the box next to "Exclude tablets" when you're creating your ads.

Example

Christopher’s recipe app for men, Dude Chew, has been popular for years, but he’s noticed a gradual decline in downloads. He creates an app install 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).

Use your app ID to continue showing app promotion ads.

AdWords will no longer support certain features in Display Network "Mobile app installs" and "Mobile app engagement" campaigns. The following ads will not show to consumers:

  1. Image and text ads created without an app ID.
  2. Ads targeting individual websites and general interest categories.

All ads in "Mobile app installs" and "Mobile app engagement" campaigns must be App/digital content ads associated with an app ID. To continue to run your ads in your app promotion campaign, you'll need to recreate your ads as App/digital content ads in AdWords. If you have a lot of ads, you could use AdWords Editor to add an app ID to many ads at once.

If you’d like to use your text or image ads, you can run them in a separate “Ads in mobile apps” campaign. You can copy and paste existing ads into your new campaign.

Important

App / digital content ads on the Search Network can only be shown where paid app content is available.
Display Network “Mobile app installs” campaigns

“Mobile app installs” campaigns on the Display Network let you show ads to people while they’re already using apps similar to yours. Because these campaigns include default targeting, you’ll need to specify the devices, device models, and operating system version for the apps where your ad can appear. See how to create a "Mobile app installs" campaign on the Display Network.

Example

Jonathan is a kindergarten teacher who designs apps in his spare time. He wants to promote HandsRaised, an Android app that helps teachers keep track of participation grading on the go, with tablets or mobile devices. He creates a “Mobile app installs” campaign for HandsRaised on the Display Network, to show his ads in other Android mobile apps. To make his ads more effective he adds “Education” as a category of mobile apps.

Search Network “Mobile app installs” campaigns

“Mobile app installs” campaigns on the Search Network help people on mobile devices, who are already looking for apps or businesses like yours, discover the app you’re promoting. If your app is only for tablets, AdWords excludes mobile phones automatically. See how to create a "Mobile app installs" campaign on the Search Network.

Example

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. To show her ad on mobile devices only, she creates a “Mobile app installs” campaign on the Search Network. Katrina uses the keywords “NICU nurse app,” “nurse app,” and “pediatric nurse app” to reach people likely to be looking for an app like hers. She clicks the checkbox for “Exclude tablets” to show her ads only on smartphones.

Video

Watch a Google AdWords webinar to learn more about promoting your app on Google Search.

Tip

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.

YouTube Network “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns

“TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns allow you to use videos to describe your app. These campaigns help you reach people on YouTube who are watching or have watched content relevant to your app or who have interests related to your app. Based on the operating system of your app, AdWords will automatically show ads on compatible devices only. Your ads will only run on YouTube mobile and tablet apps; they won’t appear on desktop computers. Learn more about creating mobile app promotion campaigns on YouTube.

Example

Sarah has built a winter fitness app that tracks and maps the distance and elevation that someone has skied in a day. She creates a video that showcases the features of the app to drive awareness and boost app downloads. Using her video, she creates a “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign targeted to skiing-related content on YouTube. People who watch this video ad can install Sarah’s fitness app directly from the ad.

Keep in mind

  • For “Mobile app installs" campaigns, we’ll automatically target your ads to show exclusively on mobile phones.
  • Ads for Android apps only show on Android devices, and iTunes apps only show on iOS devices.

 

Encourage people to use your app

Currently, this type of campaign is not yet available to all advertisers, but will be soon. Learn more about how to increase engagement with your mobile app or get in touch to sign up for early access.

With “Mobile app engagement” campaigns, you can show customized ads to people who already have your app. Ads that are tailored to your current customers can help people stay engaged and continue opening your app time and time again.

Once you connect your app to AdWords, you can focus your ads only on people who already have your app. To keep track of how people use your app, and see which of your ads drove people to act, you can count specific engagement actions in your app as conversions.

Deep link ads to reconnect with your customers

App engagement ads are a powerful tool for reconnecting with your customers. When you create your “Mobile app engagement”campaign, you can build deep link ads that take people directly into your app to complete a specific action. They make it simple to get people from your ad to in-app actions with a click.

Display Network “Mobile app engagement” campaigns

“Mobile app engagement” campaigns on the Display Network allow you to reach people who already have your app with custom image or video ads that appear in other apps similar to yours.

To create this type of campaign on the Display Network, you’ll need to set up remarketing and add a code snippet, called a tag, into your app’s code. The tag allows you to set up targeting to show ads to all of your app’s current users, and count specific actions in your app as conversions.

 

Example

Claire is running marketing for a popular shopping app, and she’d like to get people who already have her app to use the new wish list feature in version 3.2. She creates a “Mobile app engagement” campaign on the Display Network, and adds a remarketing list of all the people with version 3.2 and above to her campaign targeting. Claire creates an image app engagement ad by uploading a graphic of the new feature, and adds text saying “Make a wish list!”, to encourage people to open the app and make lists of their favorite items.

Search Network “Mobile app engagement” campaign

“Mobile app engagement” campaigns on the Search Network allow you to show ads to people while they’re searching for how to do specific activities that they could do more easily in your app. To get started setting up deep links for app, learn more about app indexing on our developer site.

Example

Steve’s map app helps people find water fountains in public parks and cities. He wants to remind people to use his app when they’re hiking or exploring, so he creates a “Mobile app engagement” campaign on the Search Network. He adds keywords for “local hiking trails,” “drinking water nearby,” and “park water fountains.” When people who use his app search for those keywords on their mobile devices, they could see his ad reminding them open his app.

 

Track campaign performance and set automatic bidding

You can measure the downloads from your app install campaigns, and see how much you’re paying to drive each download, by using CPA bids to measure cost-per-install and conversion tracking. For Android apps in the Google Play store, AdWords can automatically track your app installs as conversions. To use a third-party conversion tracking system to count conversions for your mobile app promotion campaigns, enable auto-tagging under your account preferences. Learn more about keeping track of app downloads from your app installs campaigns.

Conversion Optimizer can take this one step further: it uses these conversion stats to make the best possible bids for your target or cost-per-action.

Example

George wants to maximize downloads of his bird watching app for Android, HawkSpot. After creating a new campaign that targets Android apps in the “Nature” category, George checks conversion tracking to see how many HawkSpot downloads are coming from his campaign. To drive as many downloads as possible at an affordable cost, George relies on Conversion Optimizer to keep his CPA around $2.50 per download of his app. George closes his laptop, and looks back toward the sky.

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

Next steps