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About Display Network app installs campaigns

Starting October 16, 2017, you'll no longer be able to create new app install campaigns using the Search, Display, or Video campaign types. Universal App will become the only campaign type available for promoting installs of your app.

Starting November 15, 2017, your ads will no longer be served for any app install campaign that isn’t Universal App. You'll be able to access historical performance data in your AdWords reports. To ensure your app ads continue to serve, upgrade your app install campaigns to Universal App campaigns before November 15, 2017.

This article talks about promoting your mobile app on the Google Display Network, and how that's different from other campaign types. "Display Network only - Mobile app installs" campaigns let you show text or image app install ads on the mobile Display Network, and within other apps.

How it works

On the Display Network, you can show app install ads to people while they're using other apps that are similar to yours. 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.

Choose your app

When you create a “Display Network only - 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, so make sure you pick the right one. 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

On the Display network there are more specific targeting options for app promotion in addition to targeting by age, gender and mobile app placements (specific apps where your ads can show).

Here is some of the more precise targeting just for mobile app installs:

  • 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". 
  • Demographics: Show ads to people in specific age or gender groups. Keep in mind, these groups include people that have "Unknown" age or gender, which is often a big group. It's best to include the "Unknown" group in your targeting.

Within these categories, you can refine your targeting further using the checkbox below your targeting selections.

  • Likely app spenders. Prioritize showing your ads to people who AdWords can recognize are likely to spend money on or within mobile apps in a certain category. Often, these people are also active app users.

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.


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. Since Jim's app costs $2.00 to download, he refines his targeting by clicking the check box for app purchasers. This helps him show his ads to people have a history of app purchases. 

Keep in mind

For iOS apps, 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. This prevent you from showing app install ads to people who are already users. If someone uninstalls your app, they'll be added back into 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. This is the standard format that is similar to what would appear on the Search Network.  

    You can also add an optional landscape image to your app install ads on the Display Network. Your landscape images will show when your ad appears on certain inventory, such as native ads or interstitials. When it shows, it will replace your app store cover picture or screenshots.  Make sure your landscape images meet the following specifications:

    • 1.9:1 ratio
    • Maximum 150KB file size 
    • Minimum 600 x 314 px resolution
  • 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. These are unique to Display Network app install campaigns.  
  • 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 formats based on the apps, websites or devices where they appear.

For more details on app promotion ad formats, review our advertising policies.

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