Driving mobile app downloads

  • Mobile app installs campaigns are geared specifically toward getting more people to download your app.
  • AdWords can help customize targeting, keywords, and ads based on your app ID and other information.
  • You can easily gauge your campaign's performance by tracking installs as conversions.
Mobile app install ad

Tip

When more people download your app, you could improve your app store ranking, which in turn can result in even more people downloading your app.

Feature differences between new and legacy campaign types

Upgrading to app installs campaigns

Starting July 2015, Search Network app promotion ads created outside of the mobile app installs campaign type will stop running. If you have click-to-download ads or "App/digital content" ads in your Search Network only campaigns, you'll need to move your ads into a new "Search Network only - Mobile app installs" campaign. See how to upgrade your ads over to an app installs campaign

If you’re currently using an “Ads in mobile apps” campaign on the Display Network, it won’t be affected by the new campaign types. However, you’ll need to create a new app installs campaign to take advantage of the additional features in the table below.

  New mobile app installs campaigns "Ads in mobile apps" campaign
Campaign goals Promote your app and drive app installs. Legacy campaign type to show ads for your website or business in mobile apps.
Bidding
  • CPC
  • CPV (YouTube only)
  • Target CPA
  • CPC
  • CPA
Available networks
  • Display Network
  • Search Network including Google Play
  • YouTube
  • Display Network
Ad formats
  • App installs ads
  • Image app installs ads
  • Video app installs ads
  • TrueView app promotion ads (YouTube)
  • Text ads
  • Image ads
  • Video ads

Where app install ads can appear

When you create your campaign, choose the network type that best matches how you'd like to promote your app:

  • On the Display Network, you can reach people while they're using other apps that are similar to yours with app install ads. These campaigns often get large volumes of impressions, which can increase awareness of your app and attract new app users who may not be actively searching for you.
  • On the Search Network, you can show app install ads to people while they're looking for an app like yours on Google Search and Google Play, or trying to do something that your app makes easier. Search Network campaigns are a great way to connect with people who are actively looking to download an app like yours.
  • On YouTube, you can show video ads to reach people who are interested in content related to your app. YouTube campaigns can help boost awareness of your app with engaging content that grabs your customers’ attention at just the right moment.

Tip

If you’re interested in encouraging people to re-open your app, you can create a “Mobile app engagement” campaign. For app engagement ads, you can track actions within your app, such as product purchases or levels reached, as well as conversions. Learn about increasing mobile app engagement

Create an app install campaign

On the Display Network

Choose your app

When you create a “Mobile app installs” campaign, we’ll ask you to select the app you want to promote right away, so we can help customize bidding, targeting and ad format options for your app. There are a few options for selecting your app:

  • Add an app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store
  • Enter your own app ID or package name
  • Select an app that you’ve advertised before from the drop-down menu
Note: The Android version of an app is different from the iOS version. Targeting and conversion tracking will depend on the operating system of the app you select.

Bidding for app downloads

For Android apps in Google Play, we can automatically track installs as conversions, so the default bid strategy is a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bid. If you have conversion tracking set up, you can set a target CPA bid to match your app’s cost-per-install (CPI) value, and we’ll optimize your bids to help you get the most downloads. Learn more about target CPA bidding.

For iOS apps in the Apple App Store, you’ll need to set up conversion tracking manually, so the default bid strategy is maximize clicks. Learn more about tracking mobile app installs as conversions.

Display Network targeting options

 

For “Mobile app installs” campaigns on the Display network, in addition to targeting by age, gender and placements (specific apps where your ads can show), there are a few additional targeting methods available:

 

  • Installed app categories: Show ads to people who have downloaded other apps in a category that you’re interested in targeting. For this type of targeting, you can opt in to showing ads only to people who have installed at least one paid app from the targeted category.
  • New mobile devices: Show ads to people who have recently activated phones and could be interested in adding new apps. You can choose this option under interest categories, and select the number of days since the device was activated, from a week up to 3 months.
  • Mobile app categories: Show ads in apps within certain categories. Specifically, you can set your targeting to include certain types of apps, like “Games” or “Health".

App promotion targeting optimization

For Android apps using Display Network mobile app install campaigns, enabling targeting optimization will turn on the "Aggressive" version of targeting optimization. These campaigns will automatically expand beyond your selected targeting to other apps and relevant mobile websites. The "Conservative" version of targeting optimization is not available for these types of campaigns.

Example

Jim has a photo editing app, and wants to show his ads in other photography apps. For his campaign targeting, he adds ‘Photography’ under ‘Mobile app categories’. Since Jim’s most common users are tech-savvy professional photographers, he adds people who have installed other advanced photography apps under ‘Apps previously downloaded,’ too.

Keep in mind

On the Display Network, AdWords receives information from the Apple App store using AdWords conversion tracking in order to focus your ads on people who don’t have your app yet. If someone uninstalls your app, we’ll add them back to your targeting.

App install ad formats

After you set up targeting for your campaign, you’ll have a chance to build your ads. These ads are linked to the app store page for your app, so you can get people from click to download even quicker. Here are the available ad formats on the Display Network:

  • App install ads are automatically generated ads, which are also referred to as click-to-download ads. We can build this ad using your app icon and reviews of your app in the Google Play or Apple App store.
  • Image app install ads are created by uploading an image and filling in your text to create a custom app install ad using your own eye-catching graphics.
  • Video app install ads are video ads on the Display Network created using a link from your YouTube account, or automatically generated from your app images, icons, and reviews.
Note: Keep in mind, these ads may show up in different sizes or slightly different formats based on the apps, websites or devices where they appear.

Create your app install campaign

  1. Sign in to AdWords.
  2. On the "Campaigns" tab, click the +Campaign drop-down menu, and select Display Network only.
  3. Add a name for your campaign. To help you find your campaign later, you might want to indicate in the name that this is an app install campaign.
  4. Choose the campaign type Mobile app installs — Ads encouraging people to download your mobile app.
  5. Select the app you’d like to promote from the drop-down menu, or click Add a new app... to enter a new one.
  6. In the "Platforms" section, select the mobile operating systems, devices and network connections where you’d like your ad to show.
  7. If needed, update any location or language settings.
  8. Under “Bid Strategy,” you can choose either CPC bidding, or Focus on installs. We can count installs as conversions for Android apps in the Google Play store automatically.
  9. Enter your budget.
  10. Select any other settings you'd like for your campaign.
  11. Click Save and continue.
  12. On the ad group page, enter the name of the ad group and your default bid. This is the most you'll pay per click for ads in the ad group.
  13. Choose how you want to target your ads (for example, "Interests & remarketing").
  14. Click Save and continue.
  15. On the next page, choose the ad format you want to use.
  16. Provide the required resources and information to create your app install ad and click Review and finish.
  17. You can create more app install ads for your campaign by clicking the "+" sign. When you’re done creating your ads, click Save and continue.
Try it now
On the Search Network

Choose your app

When you create a “Mobile app installs” campaign on the Search Network, we’ll ask you to select the app you want to promote right away, so we can help customize bidding, targeting and ad format options for your app. You can only promote one app per campaign, and the name of your app as it appears in the app store may be used as the headline of your ads. There are a few ways to select your app:

  • Add an app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store
  • Enter your own app ID or package name
  • Select an app that you’ve advertised before from the drop-down menu
Note: The Android version of an app is different from the iOS version. Targeting and conversion tracking will depend on the operating system of the app you select.

Choose your bid strategy

For Android apps in Google Play, we can automatically track installs as conversions, so the default bid strategy is a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) bid. If you have conversion tracking set up, you can set a target CPA bid to match your app’s cost-per-install (CPI) value, and we’ll optimize your bids to help you get the most downloads.

For iOS apps in the Apple App Store, you’ll need to set up conversion tracking manually, so the default bid strategy is maximize clicks. Learn more about tracking mobile app installs as conversions.

App install ads

On the Search Network, you create your app install ad right after setting your bids and budget. These ads are linked to the app store page for your app, so you can get people from click to download even quicker.

App install ads are automatically generated ads, which are also referred to as click-to-download ads. We can build this ad using your app icon and reviews of your app in the Google Play or Apple App store. Your ad headline may be generated from the name of your app as it appears in app stores. Check out other types of app promotion ads

Keywords and targeting

After your create your ad, you’ll select your keywords. Try picking keywords that correspond to search terms used by people looking for apps like yours on Google Search and Play — you might add the word “app” to descriptions of what your app does.

For app install campaigns, AdWords may extend the scope of some of your keyword match types in ways that are specific to apps. Here's how this can work:

  • For exact and phrase keywords: AdWords may make small changes (like adding or removing the word ‘app’) to search terms to better match with your targeted keywords.
  • For broad match keywords: Adwords may use app category information to improve both your targeting precision and reach.

Did you know...

The keyword suggestion tool for app install campaigns has been fine-tuned for apps. It shows you keyword ideas based on the top search terms used by people looking for your app on Google Play.

Create your app install campaign

  1. Sign in to AdWords.
  2. On the "Campaigns" tab, click the +Campaign drop-down menu, and select Search Network only.
  3. Add a name for your campaign. To help you find your campaign later, you might want to indicate in the name that this is an app install campaign.
  4. Choose the campaign type Mobile app installs — Ads encouraging people to download your mobile app.
  5. Select the app you’d like to promote from the drop-down menu, or click Add a new app... to enter a new one.
  6. Under “Bid Strategy,” your recommended default bid will depend on the operating system and app store for your app.
  7. Enter your budget.
  8. Select any other settings you'd like for your campaign.
  9. Click Save and continue.
  10. On the ad group page, enter the name of the ad group and your default bid. This is the most you'll pay per click for ads in the ad group.
  11. Create your ad. App installs ads can automatically pull in your app icon and reviews from your app store.
  12. Enter keywords for your app install ads. Keywords for “Mobile app installs” campaigns are optimized for targeting app-specific searches.
  13. Click Save and continue.
  14. Provide the required resources and information to create your app install ad and click Finish.
  15. You can create more app install ads for your campaign by clicking the "+" sign. When you’re done creating your ads, click Save and continue.
  16. If you’ve already set up conversion tracking for your campaign, it should appear under “Conversion tracking”. If not, you can edit your conversion settings by clicking Manage conversions.
Try it now
On YouTube

Choose your app

For “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns, we’ll ask you to enter the URL of the app you want to promote and your YouTube video, so we can send people to the appropriate app store to download your app straight from your ad. You'll enter the app URL from your app store while you're creating your campaign.

Note: The Android version of an app is different from the iOS version. Targeting and conversion tracking will depend on the operating system of the app you select.

Set bids for video views

On YouTube, you set cost-per-view (CPV) bids. You’ll set bids for your “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign when you set up targeting. Any interaction with your video (other than skipping) is counted as a view. This can be when someone watches at least 30 seconds of the video or clicks on the "install" button or link, whichever they do first.

Video ads for your app

In your “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign, you create your ad right after you set your bids and budget. These ads are linked to the app store page for your app, so you can get people from click to download even quicker.

TrueView video ads for mobile app promotion are video ads that run on the YouTube mobile apps, created using a link from your YouTube account and your app ID. You can choose to show ads in formats that are optimized for app promotion. The app name, icon, price, and ratings are shown next to the video ad and visible in the ad preview.

Targeting on YouTube

“TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns allow you to reach people on YouTube who view content relevant to your app, or who have interests related to your app. When you’re creating your campaign, you can target specific video topics after you set your CPV bids.

 

Note: Your ads will only run on YouTube mobile and tablet apps; they won’t run on desktop.

Create your “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at https://adwords.google.com.
  2. If you've never created an AdWords for video campaign before, click New campaign and select Online video above the campaign table.
  3. If you've created AdWords for video campaigns before:
    • From the "All video campaigns," view click the Campaigns tab. You should see all video campaigns within your account.
    • Click +Campaign above the campaign table. You can load the settings for a previously created video campaign after this step.
  4. Enter a campaign name.
  5. Enter a daily budget.
  6. Choose your target locations and languages.
  7. Enter the YouTube URL for the video about your app.
  8. Next to "Ad Formats", select the option, Use video ad formats optimized for mobile app promotion.
  9. Next to "Your Mobile App", enter the URL of your app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. This will allow people to install the app directly from your video ad.
    • The app name, icon, price, and ratings are shown next to the video ad and are visible in the ad preview.
  10. In the "Device Targeting" section, consider targeting particular operating systems, device models, and carriers.
    • The operating system of your app will be selected by default. These ads will only run on YouTube smartphone and tablet apps; they will not run on desktop.
  11. Click Save and continue.
Find the right audience and context for your app promotion video ad.
  1. Name your targeting group.
  2. Select your cost-per-view (CPV) bid. Learn how to set CPV bids.
  3. Let us know how you'd like to target your ad. YouTube offers a few ways to reach particular audiences:
    • Demographic: Reach people by their age or gender.
    • Interests: Reach people based on more specific interests.
    • Video topics: Reach people watching videos in certain topics.
    • Learn more about targeting your video ads in AdWords for Video.
  4. As you save your targeting criteria and update your settings for each option, your traffic estimate will update, too.
  5. Click Save targeting group.
Try it now

Keeping track of your app downloads

Use conversion tracking to help you see how effectively your “Mobile app installs” campaigns lead to app installs and in-app activity. For Android apps distributed by Google Play, AdWords can track your app download conversions automatically. For iOS apps in the Apple App store, you’ll need to set up conversion tracking to count downloads as conversions. For both Android and iOS apps, you can also use 3rd-party conversion tracking systems to keep track of your app downloads.

Because these campaigns are optimized to count app downloads, there isn’t a waiting period for Conversion Optimizer. As soon as you've set up conversion tracking, you can use Target CPA bidding to get more installs at your goal cost-per-install.

Click tracking on the Search Network

If you're promoting an Android app on the Google Search Network, any URL added to the "Tracking template" field will not be used for your ads. This is because click tracking redirects are not available for Android app promotion ads on the Search Network.

Reporting

You can see the results of your app install ads on the Campaigns tab. The “clicks” column refers to the number of clicks through to the app store to download your app. If you’re using conversion tracking to count app installs, you can customize the columns to see the number of downloads resulting from your ads. See how to use columns to see specific performance data.

  • For Display Network "Mobile app installs" campaigns, you can see a breakdown of the app installs conversions for each targeting method in the individual tabs. Learn more about your Display Network reporting.
  • For Search Network "Mobile app installs" campaigns, reporting for app install ads appears as conversions in your statistics table. You’ll see the number of downloads that were driven by your ads in the conversions column for each keywords that triggered your ads to show.
  • For "TrueView for mobile app promotion" campaigns on YouTube, you can track campaign performance in the reporting tables under the Campaigns, Ads, Videos, and Targets tabs in the "All video campaigns" section. One difference in reporting in “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns is that interaction with the video (other than skipping) will increase the video’s total views. Learn more about reviewing the performance of your video campaigns.

Accounting for conversion delays

Conversion numbers may take several days to show up on reporting due to delayed interactions between a person’s device, Google, and any third party tracking services you might use. When reviewing your conversion reports, note that the previous 3 days of conversion data may not be complete yet.

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