Mobile Advertising assessment study guide

About App campaigns

As an app advertiser, you want to get your app into the hands of more paying users. So, how do you connect with those people? App campaigns streamline the process for you, making it easy to promote your apps across Google’s largest properties including Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover on Google Search and the Google Display Network. Just add a few lines of text, a bid, some assets and the rest is optimised to help your users find you.

This article covers the basics of how App campaigns work. To get started, review the best practices for promoting apps on Google and learn how to Create an App campaign.

Ready to advertise your app? Click here to set up your App campaign.

How it works

Unlike most Google Ads campaigns, you don't design individual ads for App campaigns. Instead, we'll use your ad text ideas and assets, including assets from your app's store listing, to design a variety of ads across several formats and networks. To get started, all you need to do is provide some text, a starting bid and budget, and let us know the languages and locations for your ads. We also strongly recommend that you provide at least one landscape image, one portrait video, one landscape video and, where relevant, HTML5 assets. Our systems will test different asset combinations and serve ads that are performing the best more often, with no extra work needed from you.

To help you get the best value from each download, Google Ads also automates targeting and bidding. You can optimise your campaign targeting to focus on finding valuable users based on actions that you care about, like in-app conversions.

App ads are generated on the fly by our system. To build your ads, Google Ads may combine text, image, video or HTML5 assets that you upload, or assets from your app's listing in the relevant app store. The system rotates your ads and adjusts bids automatically to get the most downloads for your app that meet your optimisation objective, whether that objective is installs, app conversions or target return on ad spend (tROAS). For example, if one line of text is performing better than another, the system will 'learn' to show the better text more often. Learn more about assets and ads in App campaigns

Where your ads can appear

Your ads will be eligible to appear across Google's properties. This includes Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, the Google Display Network, AdMob, Discover on Google Search, our search partners, and many more publishers who host app ads. Here are some of the places where your ads can appear:

Google Search Network

Google search network ad example

Google matches your ad to search terms that are relevant to your app or its category. Google Ads generates your keywords using a number of methods, including using Google Play search terms that have led people to your app.

Google Play

Google Play search results, ad example Google Play related app sectionGoogle Play home page

  • Google Play search results
  • Google Play related apps section: "You might also like" and "Related to this app"
  • Google Play home page: "Suggested for you"

Google can show your ads to people who search for terms and apps that are relevant to your app. Your ads can also show to people who visit the app details page of an app that's similar to your app.


Relevant pages or content on YouTube, ad. example 1 Relevant pages or content on YouTube, ad. example 2

  • Relevant pages or content on YouTube.

Google Ads can show your ads on YouTube where they're most likely to be clicked, and your app is most likely to be downloaded.

Google Display Network

Google Display Network Ad, home screen

  • Gmail
  • Other apps
  • Mobile websites of news sites, blogs and other sites across the Internet

Discover on Google Search

Google Discover Ad example

Currently available only on Android phones with the English language setting.

Your ads can now appear on Discover on Google Search. This means that you’ll be able to serve visually rich ads to users, according to the user’s relevant interests.

Campaign optimisation and bidding

App campaigns offer three different ways to optimise for your marketing objectives:

Focus on getting more installs. Google Ads will optimise your bids and targeting to help you get the greatest number of new users for your app. You can choose to either set a bid or not set a bid for an app installs campaign. If you choose to set a bid, the bid that you set should be the average amount that you'd like to spend each time someone installs your app. You can also target users likely to install and perform a specific action. For this option, you'll still bid for installs. If you choose not to set a bid, we'll automatically set the right bids for you to provide you with the highest install volume at scale for the campaign’s budget.

Focus on driving in-app actions. If your goal is to find more valuable users, and you have the key in-app action tracked as a conversion event, use this option. Google Ads will focus on people who are most likely to complete the specific in-app actions that you've set up and selected for this campaign. Set the target CPA (cost per action) to be the average amount that you'd like to spend each time someone performs the selected in-app action in your app.

Try driving for installs or in-app actions before considering this third, more advanced option.

Note: Target ROAS is currently in beta for App campaigns.

Focus on driving in-app action value. For campaigns focused on in-app action value, Google Ads will focus on people who are likely to generate the best value over time. The bid you set should be the average conversion value (for example, revenue) that you'd like to get for each pound that you spend on ads. This is called the target return on ad spend (target ROAS). If your goal is to ensure that users spend £0.5 of in-app purchases during the conversion window for every £1 of ads you spend, you’d set a target ROAS of 50%.

Apple will soon implement new privacy policies for iOS 14 users. These may impact your iOS campaign performance in Google Ads. If you're participating in our beta for tROAS campaigns on iOS, we recommend that you pause these campaigns and revert to tCPA bidding.
To use this bidding strategy, you'll need to install the Google Analytics for Firebase software development kit (SDK) in your app. The conversion events that you're bidding on (and sending values with) should also come from the Firebase SDK.

Learn more about bidding in App campaigns

Get tips to help you find the right mobile app users.

Changes in performance

You can see how changes that you made to your app campaigns might have impacted your performance. When you’re on the 'All campaigns' page or in an app campaign, click on Change history. You’ll see a record of your changes along with annotations on the performance chart that show you how those changes might have impacted performance.

Was this helpful?
How can we improve it?

Need more help?

Sign in for additional support options to quickly solve your issue