Best practices for App campaigns

When it comes to setting up and maintaining your App campaigns, whether they be App campaigns for install (ACi), App campaigns for engagement (ACe), or App campaigns for pre-registration (ACpre), we want to set you up for success. This guide offers an overview of various tips and best practices to help your App campaigns succeed.

  Best practice ACi ACe ACpre
Campaign settings Implement proper bid-budget ratio yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
Raise budgets or bids for constrained campaigns yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
Target one in-app action yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Ensure targeted countries are pre-registration countries     yes, confirmed
Conversion tracking Enable auto-tagging yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Configure the correct conversion settings for in-app actions, if applicable yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Use relevant deep links yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Adhere to iOS best practices, if applicable yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Creatives Ad Strength is at least “Good” yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
One or more approved assets for each asset type yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
Cannibalization Confirm there’s no app-level cannibalization yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
Enable attribution sharing yes, confirmed yes, confirmed  
Changes Avoid certain changes while the campaign is learning yes, confirmed yes, confirmed yes, confirmed
Note: The instructions below are part of the new design for the Google Ads user experience. To use the previous design, click the "Appearance" icon, and select Use previous design. If you're using the previous version of Google Ads, review the Quick reference map or use the Search bar in the top navigation panel of Google Ads to find the page you’re searching for.

 


Campaign settings

Implement proper bid-budget ratio
Check if the bid and budget ratio for your campaign was configured properly:
  • For ACi tCPI and ACpre, the budget should be at least 50 times the bid.
  • For ACi tCPA, the budget should be at least 10 times the bid.
  • For ACe tCPA, the budget should be at least 15 times the bid.
If the ratio isn’t configured properly, adjust the budget or bid accordingly.
Raise budgets or bids for constrained campaigns

For budget-constrained campaigns

Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Having a low budget may hinder your campaign’s performance as ads don’t regularly show up as often as they could. Check the “Status” column for any campaigns marked “Limited by budget”.

If there are campaigns marked “Limited by budget”, you can raise the budget by clicking on the “Limited by budget” button. The weekly estimates tool will pop up and offer recommendations, but you can also set a custom budget. Learn more about how to Fix “Limited by budget” status.

For bid-constrained campaigns

Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Your bid should reflect the value of the selected event to your business. It’s important to ensure that it’s competitive so that your ads have a greater chance of showing. If the achieved CPI or CPA is closely tracking or intermittently exceeding the set tCPI or tCPA, or if the tROAS is consistently higher than the achieved ROAS, then the campaign is bid-constrained. In this case, the bids should be raised, or the ROAS should be lowered. Here’s how to check your bid strategy reports to check if your campaign is bid-constrained:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Tools icon Tools Icon.
  2. Click the Budgets and bidding drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Bid strategies.
  4. Within the “Bid strategy type” column, click on the link to access your bid strategy report.
    • Note: If the “Bid strategy type” column isn't visible, you can add it as a column to the campaigns table.
  5. Under the “Performance history” section, select the parameters applicable to your bidding strategy.
    • For CPI, select Avg. target cost per install and Actual cost / install.
    • For CPA, select Avg. target cost per in-app action and Actual cost / in-app action.
    • For ROAS, select Avg. target ROAS and Actual ROAS.

Learn more about how to Find your bid strategy reports.

Target one in-app action
Note: This best practice applies to the tCPA bidding strategy only.
It isn't recommended to target more than one action as doing so effectively makes your set tCPA a “blended target” for two or more actions with potentially different values. Here’s how to check if only one in-app action is targeted in your campaign:
  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Campaigns.
  4. On the campaign you want to check, hover over it and click on the Settings icon Admin Icon beside the campaign name.
  5. Click the Bidding section.
  6. Under “What do you want to focus on?”, check if “In-app actions” is selected.
  7. Under “Which actions are most important to you?”, confirm if only one action is targeted.
    • Note: If the actions are considered equivalent in value, 2 or more actions can be targeted.
Ensure targeted countries are pre-registration countries
Note: This best practice applies to the tCPpre bidding strategy only.

Make sure that your app is available for pre-registration in the targeted countries in your campaign settings. If your campaign targets countries where your app isn’t available for pre-registration, your campaign won’t show in those countries. You can check where your app is available for pre-registration on Google Play Console.

 


Conversion tracking

Enable auto-tagging
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Auto-tagging is a critical requirement for app conversion measurement and attribution coverage. Here’s how to enable auto-tagging:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Admin icon Admin Icon.
  2. Click Account settings.
  3. Click Auto-tagging to expand the section.
  4. Check the box next to “Tag the URL that people click through from my ad”.
  5. Click Save.
Configure the correct conversion settings for in-app actions, if applicable

Track conversion values for in-app actions

Note: This best practice applies to the tROAS bidding strategy only.

The achieved return on ad spend can only be assessed if we know the value of a completed event. Check the conversion setting for the targeted event to make sure it's tracking value from your analytics provider. Here’s how you can check the conversion value:

  1. Click the Goals icon Goals Icon on the left-hand side.
  2. Click the Conversions drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Summary.
  4. On the top right-hand corner, click View all conversion actions.
  5. Click on the conversion actions targeted in your tROAS campaign.
  6. The “Value” section shouldn’t say “Don’t use a value”. If it does, that means the campaign isn’t tracking a conversion value for the in-app action.

Don't set a conversion value for your install event unless it has some inherent economic value

Note: This best practice applies to the tROAS bidding strategy only.

For ACi campaigns, check the “Value” field for the install event to determine whether it is tracking a value. Generally, it is advised that no value is configured, unless app installation has some inherent value. Here’s how you can check the “Value” field:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Goals icon Goals Icon.
  2. Click the Conversions drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Summary.
  4. Click the conversion action you'd like to check.
  5. Under “Settings”, check the “Value” field if it states “Don’t use a value”.
  6. If you want to edit the value, click Edit settings.
  7. Expand the Value section.
  8. Choose “Don’t use a value for this conversion action”.
  9. Click Save.

Conversion window for in-app actions should be less than or equal to 30 days

Note: This best practice applies to the tROAS bidding strategy only.

For ACi and ACe tROAS campaigns, you should set an appropriate conversion window to balance timely model feedback and sufficient coverage of in-app revenue. The window should reflect enough time to capture around 90% of your conversions. A length of under 30 days is advised for the conversion windows listed below.

Here’s how you can check the conversion window for in-app actions:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Goals icon Goals Icon.
  2. Click the Conversions drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Summary.
  4. Click the conversion action you'd like to check.
  5. Under the “Settings” section, you can check the conversion windows.
  Conversions window
ACi tROAS Post-install
ACe tROAS Click-through conversion (CTC)

In-app actions should have a longer conversion window than the install event

Note: This best practice applies to the following bidding strategies: tCPI (Users likely to perform an in-app action), tCPA, and tROAS.

For ACi campaigns, the conversion window for in-app events shouldn’t be shorter than the window for the install event since users will complete the download first. Compare the relevant windows for the install event and in-app actions.

Here’s how you can check the conversion window for in-app actions:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Goals icon Goals Icon.
  2. Click the Conversions drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Summary.
  4. Click the conversion action you'd like to check.
  5. Under the “Settings” section, you can check the conversion windows.
  Conversions window
In-app action Post-install
Install event Click-through conversion (CTC)
Engaged-view conversion (EVC)
View-through conversion (VTC)
Use relevant deep links
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Deep links are links that lead to specific parts of your app, and using relevant deep links in your ad can help users get to the right place.

For ACi campaigns, with ad group deferred deep links, you can designate a deep link that’s related to the theme, category, or topic of your ad group. Users will be taken there immediately after they click on your ad and install or open your app. Learn more about how to Set up and edit ad group deferred deep linking.

When creating an engagement campaign, you can choose the option “Set to app homepage” instead of entering a deep link. However, deep links should be included to re-engage users in the appropriate locations in your app.

Deep links aren't automatically set up when you create your app, and they work differently on iOS and Android. Your app development team needs to make changes in the app in order to use a deep link at campaign creation. Learn more About deep links.

The Deep link impact calculator shows web campaign URLs receiving traffic from mobile users, and the conversions you might miss as a result of these not being deep linked. Here’s how you can access this tool:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Tools icon Tools Icon.
  2. Click the Planning drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click App advertising hub.
  4. Click the Deeplink impact calculator tab.
  5. Select your mobile app’s platform in the drop down.
  6. There should be at least one URL listed in the Fully Deeplinked URLs tab.
    • Note: Ideally, all URLs in the non-deeplinked URLs tabs with more than 0 in the “Missed app conv.” column should be deeplinked as well.
Adhere to iOS best practices, if applicable
There are best practices specific to iOS that you should follow so you can more accurately measure your iOS campaign results. Learn more about how to Drive better performance and measurement for iOS App campaigns.

 


Creatives

Ad Strength is at least “Good”
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Check each of your ad groups to make sure the Ad Strength rating is at least “Good”. Ad Strength shows you how well an ad creative follows Google’s best practices for optimal performance. Learn more About Ad Strength.

One or more approved assets for each asset type
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

Asset variety allows App campaigns to create more ads that can resonate with different users. Assets must be in an approved state to ensure they can serve more broadly across ad channels. Go through each of your ad groups and check for an approved text (headline and description), image, and video asset. If you’re having trouble getting your assets approved, make sure your assets adhere to Google Ads policies.

 


Cannibalization

Confirm there’s no app-level cannibalization
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.
Avoid simultaneously running multiple app campaigns that target the same groups of people as this can cause your campaigns to compete. You should avoid running campaigns that:
  • Are of the same subtype (ACi, ACe, ACpre)
  • Target the same app
  • Have overlapping locations or languages
Enable attribution sharing
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.

App attribution sharing enables install and non-install campaigns, such as pre-registration, engagement, and app deep linked campaigns, to share attribution for conversions. It also allows you to track how many total conversions were counted between both campaigns. For attribution sharing to work, these campaigns need to run in the same account and promote the same app. Learn more About attribution sharing for App campaigns.

For any account that’s running ACi and ACe or ACi and ACpre campaigns at the same time, here’s how to check if your campaigns have attribution sharing enabled:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Goals icon Goals Icon on the left-hand side.
  2. Click the Conversions drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Navigate to the App attribution sharing section, and make sure that it’s labeled “App campaigns share conversion attribution across app campaign subtypes”.
    • For accounts with both ACi and ACe campaigns, the box beside “Share in-app conversion attribution across app install, re-engagement and app deep linked campaigns” should be checked.
    • For accounts with both ACi and ACpre campaigns, the box beside “Share install conversion attribution across app install and pre-registration campaigns” should be checked.

 


Changes

Avoid certain changes while the campaign is learning
Note: This best practice applies to all bidding strategies.
Making changes to your in-flight campaign before the first 100 conversions have registered may disrupt learning and result in poorer performance. Here are a few things you should keep in mind.
  • Avoid changes to conversion settings, such as conversion windows and conversion counting options.
  • Avoid changes to high-performing assets.
  • Avoid cycling your bids up and down, and aim for one-time changes if possible.
  • Avoid changes to the optimization goal (campaign focus) or targeted events.
  • Avoid drastic changes to geo-targeting.
  • Avoid changing the targeted install or in-app event.

 


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