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Finding the Right Mobile App Users: Google Best Practices

Decide what’s valuable to your app

Start thinking about the long-term value of a user who completes an in-app action

Before starting a campaign, you should decide what you want more of:

  • New users for your app, or
  • New users likely to complete in-app actions that you select

When optimizing for in-app actions, make sure to pick an event that happens more than 10 times a day per campaign with at least a 5% conversion rate. This will give AdWords enough data to work with. 

If the final purchase event in your app doesn’t happen often enough, pick the closest in-app event that’s higher in the funnel but still a good predictor of long-term value. For example, in a gaming app, it could be anyone who reaches level 5 who’s likely to become a high value player in the long term. For a shopping app, it could be someone who’s added a bunch of high priced items into the shopping cart who’s likely to become a frequent and loyal customer. That’s why it’s key that you track multiple events along the purchase funnel.



Start thinking about how your in-app conversions can be predictive of the long-term value of a user who completes that action. Let's take a look at how you can define value for in-app conversions with an example.

Say you’re promoting a news app that sells subscriptions to its users, but you run into the challenge that subscriptions don’t happen frequently enough to give you enough data. What can you do to optimize for value?

Step 1: Take a look at three events that lead up to a subscription (worth $100 over time), and their respective conversion rates along the funnel:

  • Opens the app for the first time:      100% of users
  • Registers to become a member:      80%
  • Starts a free trial:                                20%
  • Converts into a subscriber:               4%

In other words, for every 100 new users of your app, you can expect 4 paid subscriptions or $400 in revenue.

Step 2: Use your funnel’s ratios to distribute the long term monetary value of the subscriptions to the other events.

  • An app open is worth $4
    4 out of 100 users who open the app become a subscriber so $400 / 100 = $4
  • A registration is worth $5
    80 out of 100 app opens register to become a member so $400 / 80 = $5
  • A free trial is worth $20
    20 out of 100 app opens become a free trial user so $400 / 20 = $20

Understanding how much an in-app conversion is worth can help you determine the maximum you can pay for a user while still remaining profitable.


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