Finding the right mobile app users

Official guide to App campaigns.
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So you’ve built an amazing mobile app. That’s great!

Now comes the hard part: finding the right people to download and use it.

This guide will show you how to use App campaigns to connect your app with the right users across Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Display Network.

App campaigns use Google’s machine learning technology to optimize your bids, build ads, and match them with the right people for your app. With machine learning, App campaigns is able to analyze hundreds of millions of data signal combinations, like where and how people are engaging with an ad to make the smartest decisions for that ad, such as which creative assets would perform best and how much to bid.

Read on to learn the key steps to running a successful App campaign.

1. Set up conversion tracking

Track app installs and in-app activity for Android and iOS apps, and pre-registrations for Android apps.

Why: Conversion data about your existing users helps Google Ads identify patterns about your valuable users in order to find new users who are similar.

Learn how to Set up conversion tracking

Use one of these options to track events and properties for your app:

For pre-registration campaigns, pre-registration as the action for conversion tracking is automatically set once your app receives its first pre-registration sign up.

For app campaigns for engagement, conversion tracking is a requirement. Create an in-app conversion action that tracks “session_start” conversions to Google Ads.

2. Set up App campaigns based on your goal

Determine what type of users you want based on your app’s current goal.

Why: You can market your app to different types of users as your app’s business priorities change.

Goal 1: Build a user base for a new app

Create an App campaign that optimizes for “Install volume” and targets “All users” to get the most installs for a target cost-per-install (CPI).

  • Set a target CPI based on the average value of a new user.
  • Let Google Ads collect enough data without running out of budget, so set a daily campaign budget that’s at least 50 times your target CPI.

Find installs that will also perform a specific action

Create a new App campaign that focuses on “Install volume” but targets “Users likely to perform an in-app action” instead of “All users.” Set a target CPI in this other campaign that’s at least 20% higher than the campaign targeting “All users.” It makes sense to pay more for more valuable installs.

Goal 2: Focus on users who complete in-app actions

Once you’ve determined which in-app action is most valuable to your business, create an App campaign that optimizes for “In-app actions.”

  • Give Google Ads enough data to identify new users who are likely to complete an in-app action. Pick an in-app action that’s completed by at least 10 different users per day in the campaign.
  • Set a target CPA based on the average value of a user who completes the action.
  • Let Google Ads collect enough data, so set a daily campaign budget that’s at least 10 times your target CPA.

Learn how to set up App campaigns differently depending on your goal.

Goal 3: Get pre-registration sign ups for an upcoming app

This campaign type uses the Target CPA bid strategy to help you get the most conversions optimized exclusively for pre-registrations. When you set your bid, you’re telling Google Ads the average amount you’d like to spend each time someone pre-registers for your app. The specific bid is target cost-per-pre-registration, which is automatically set once the first person pre-registers for your app.

3. Upload diverse assets to help App campaigns create ads

Launch every App campaign with a diverse mix of text, video, and image assets that App campaigns will use to create ads.

Why: A variety of assets will help App campaigns personalize your ads for as many ad placements available.

  • Write independent lines of text that vary in length. Different ad placements have different text limits. Use correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Add engaging videos that vary in length between 10 to 30 seconds. Include videos in different aspect ratios, like portrait, landscape and square for the different ways people hold their devices.
  • Upload clear images across the Google Display Network’s most popular sizes to reach more people while they’re browsing mobile websites and using mobile apps.

Learn how to make better creative assets for App campaigns

4. Evaluate performance based on your goal

Focus on metrics that align with your marketing objective.

Why: Adjust your bid and budget based on how App campaigns are performing.

  • Set a time range that’s at least equal to the typical conversion delay of your ads.
  • Check if App campaigns are meeting your target cost per conversion over a time period that accounts for conversion delay.
  • Increase your target bid and budget if you’d like more conversion volume. Decrease your target bid if you'd like to improve your return on investment (ROI).

Learn how to evaluate performance based on your goal

5. Guide App campaigns with new directions methodically

Make carefully controlled changes to improve App campaign performance.

Why: App campaigns needs to collect data to find users who can meet your new target bids.

  • App campaigns can deliver more consistent results as it collects more conversion data. It’s ideal to wait for at least 100 conversions before making a bid change.
  • Make smaller CPI bid changes to see less variation in your campaign’s daily CPI. A CPI bid change that’s less than 20% each day can create steadier results.
  • Create a new App campaign if you need to change your optimization goal, like from “Install volume” to “In-app actions” or you’d like to switch to another in-app action. Your current App campaigns is marketing to an audience who might behave differently than the audience who can meet your new goal.
However, if you're running App campaigns on iOS, note that Apple will soon implement new privacy policies for iOS 14 users. These place limitations on your campaign setup. To achieve optimal performance, run 8 or fewer App install campaigns for each of your iOS apps.
  • Add more creative assets that resemble the assets in the “Best” performance grouping of the Creative Asset Report. Your long term goal should be to add as many different kinds of creative assets that's allowed in App campaigns before replacing any existing assets.

Learn how to guide App campaigns with new directions methodically

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