About bidding in App campaigns

In App campaigns, you’re able to optimize your targeting and bidding for specific campaign objectives like getting more app users or more in-app actions from your new users, and even a target return on your ad spend. This article describes the different optimization and bidding options available, and how to set those bids based on your objectives.

Before you begin

If this is the first time you're using an App campaign, it's best to start by reading about App campaigns. When you're ready to create your campaign, you can follow the instructions in Create an App campaign.

How it works

When you create your App campaign, you can choose to optimize your campaign based on which type of user is most valuable to you. Before you can optimize for in-app actions, you'll need to set up those actions as conversion events within Google Ads, or using Firebase. Learn more about mobile app conversion tracking

The simplest way to track all of your app conversions is to use Google Analytics for Firebase for your app reporting. Once you've linked Firebase and Google Ads, you'll be able to bid for in-app events that you've set up as conversions. Learn more about tracking mobile app conversions with Firebase

Bidding Strategies for App Campaigns

Let’s take a look at how you can plan your campaign strategy around specific bidding types.

All bidding strategies for App Campaigns are “Target” strategies which seek to deliver the selected performance over the period of your in-app event’s conversion window. Auction fluctuation may cause performance that is above and below your target in a given day; however, the campaign will seek to deliver the selected performance over time.

Focus on getting more installs (Target cost per install & Maximize conversions Campaigns)

For campaigns focused on app installs, you can choose to set a bid or not set a bid. If the checkbox to set a bid is checked, this is called a target cost per install (Target CPI) campaign. It lets you choose how much you're willing to pay to acquire a new user for your app.

When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads the average amount you'd like to spend each time someone installs your app. Keep in mind that your budget will be used to get as many installs as possible at your set amount. So, if you set your average daily budget for $100, and your target cost-per-install is $2, you're aiming for about 50 installs per day from your ads.

If the Cost-Per-Install checkbox within Campaign Settings is not checked, this is called a Maximize conversions campaign. This campaign type will automatically set the right bids for you to provide you with the highest install volume at scale for your campaign’s budget.

Note: For Maximize conversions campaigns with small budgets, the optimal bid per conversion may be higher than your budget. Maximize conversions campaigns with small budgets may not be able to get any conversions. Learn more about Maximize conversions bidding

Focus on driving selected in-app actions (Target cost per action Campaigns)

For campaigns focused on in-app actions, you'll set a target cost for driving in-app events. This is called the target cost per action (Target CPA). It lets you choose how much you're willing to pay for a new user for your app who is more likely to complete the in-app event you selected.

When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads average amount you'd like to spend each time someone installs your app and performs the specific in-app action. Keep in mind that your budget will be used to get as many installs as possible at your set amount. So, if you set your average daily budget for $300, and your target cost-per-action is $10, you're aiming for about 30 actions per day from your ads.

Focus on driving pre-registrations

For campaigns focused on pre-registrations, you’ll set a bid for pre-registrations of your app or game. This is called the target cost-per-pre-registrations. It lets you choose how much you’re willing to pay to get a new user to pre-register for your app or game. 

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.  This campaign type uses the Target CPA bid strategy to help you get the most conversions at or below your target cost-per-pre-registration

Determine your bid strategy for in-app actions

When it’s time to pick a bid strategy, use a budget-weighted average of your existing in-app action bids as a starting point. This section will walk you through how to find that average.

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the reporting icon .
  3. Click the plus button , then select Table.
  4. Enter “Conversion” in the search field, then drag Cost / all conv. into the center of the page.
  5. Click the filter icon Filter, enter “Conversion” in the search field, select Conversion action name, then click Apply.
  6. Find the action that relates to your campaign optimization strategy, then look at the “Cost / all conv.” column for that action to see your average.  

Use the Bid Guidance widget

The Bid Guidance widget is designed to help you set the right bids to achieve your App campaign goals.

Learn more about the Bid Guidance widget

Focus on hitting a return on ad spend (Target return on ad spend)

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.
Note: Target ROAS is currently in beta for app campaigns, and requires optimization of in-app events from the Google Analytics for Firebase SDK that also pass a dynamic revenue value.

This bid strategy is recommended if you seek a specific Return-on-Ad Spend from your app campaigns.

For campaigns focused on achieving a return on ad spend, you'll set a target return on ad spend value as a percentage of value per spend. It lets you choose how much dollar value you want back for every dollar you spend.

When you set your target ROAS, you're telling Google Ads the average value you want back for every dollar spent. Keep in mind that your budget will be used to get as much value as possible at your set amount. So, if you set your average daily budget for $300, and your target ROAS is 20%, you're aiming for about $60 of value from your ads over the time window associated with your in-app event.

Depending on your campaign’s daily budget, it's important to note that a trade-off exists between your Target ROAS and campaign scale. A higher ROAS target will narrow the pool of potential installs, whereas a lower ROAS target will typically enable the campaign to have more potential to scale.

Here is an example of how trade offs work while using Target ROAS.

Setting a recommended initial Target ROAS if you are currently using Target cost per action campaigns

If you have run Target cost per action (tCPA) campaigns in the past, your historically achieved Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) is recommended to be used to calculate your initial tROAS target.

When creating your Target ROAS campaign, we recommend the below steps to set an initial Target ROAS that is reflective of your tCPA campaign’s historical performance. This will assist the campaign to initialize appropriately.

  1. First, identify your biddable in-app event’s conversion window.
  2. Then, identify your comparable* campaign’s performance over the duration of that window (for example, for a 30 day window, only look at metrics more than 30 days old).
    • *Campaign that is promoting the same App ID, using the same biddable event, with the same location/language targeting settings.
  3. To do so, enable the “conv. value/cost” column.
  4. Whatever your achieved ROAS (conv. value/cost) for the comparable campaign is a recommended starting target ROAS.
    Note: This final step in understanding your starting tROAS target may not be applicable to all campaigns.
    • Make sure you factor in your target inflation rate (if applicable) in setting your initial ROAS target:
      • Within your historical Target CPA campaign: If your Target CPA is consistently higher than your campaign’s actual cost per action, you will want to apply a similar modifier to your prospective Target ROAS bid.
      • For example, if your campaign’s actual cost per action is $3, and your Target CPA is set to $6, you will need to apply a 50% modifier to your evaluated ROAS to appropriately set a starting Target ROAS bid.

After a baseline volume in your campaign has been established, you may choose to adjust your tROAS target. Target ROAS will aim to hit your intended ROAS target over the period of your in-app event’s conversion window.

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