About bidding in Universal App campaigns

In Universal App campaigns, you’re able to optimise your targeting and bidding for specific campaign objectives like getting more app users or more in-app actions from your new users. This article describes the different optimisation and bidding options available, and how to set those bids based on your objectives. 

This article also explains how the Android bid simulator works. That's the graph you may see when you create your Android campaign. It can help you set target cost-per-install bids based on projected performance for apps like yours. To see the bid simulator, you’ll need to link your Google Play and Google Ads accounts

Before you start

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

How it works

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

Bidding strategy and budget

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

Focus on getting more installs

For campaigns focused on app installs, you'll set a bid for app installs. This is called the target cost-per-install (Target CPI). It lets you choose how much you're willing to pay to get a new user for your app. In other parts of Google Ads, this is referred to as target cost-per-acquisition (Target CPA). It works the same way, but an acquisition in your Universal App campaign is an install or first-open of your app. 

When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads the average amount that 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 daily budget for £100, and your target cost-per-install is £2, you're aiming for about 50 installs per day from your ads.

Focus on driving selected in-app actions

For campaigns focused on in-app actions, you'll set a bid for 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 event you selected. 

When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads average amount that 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 daily budget for £300, and your target cost per action is £10, you're aiming for about 30 actions per day from your ads.

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.

Choose the Google Ads experience that you're using. Learn more

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the Reports tab.
  3. Click + Report, then select Table.
  4. Enter “Conversion” in the search field, then drag Cost / all conv. into the centre of the page.
  5. Click the filter iconFilter, enter “Conversion” in the search field, select Conversion action item, then click Apply.
  6. Find the action that relates to your campaign optimiation strategy, then look at the “Cost / all conv.” column for that action to see your average.

Focus on driving in-app action value 

Note: Please try driving for installs or in-app actions before considering this third, more advanced option.

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) 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%. 

Here are some tips for setting a target ROAS that helps you achieve your campaign goals.

  • Try setting a target ROAS based on the historical conversion value per cost data for the campaigns you'd like to apply this strategy to. You can find your historical conversion value by adding the Conv. value/cost column from the list of "Conversions" columns. Then, multiply your conversion value per cost metric by 100 to get your target ROAS per cent.  Make sure that you look at an extended period of time and you consider any conversion delays when calculating your target ROAS.
  • Bear in mind that the target ROAS that you set may influence the conversion volume that you get. For example, setting a target that's too high may limit the amount of traffic your ads get so make sure that you monitor over time and adjust your ROAS over time to get the right balance between your ROI and volume.

Use the bid simulator

If you decide to focus on install volume, you may see bid projections for app installs in a graph below the bid value box. These estimated weekly app install volumes show the potential performance of your ad. 

In the charts, you'll see a curve showing the bid value on the X-axis, which is labelled "Total cost per install". In the chart, you'll see the potential performance based on that CPI bid.

  • To see the install volume associated with a certain level of performance (for example, 700 installs per week), you can hover over the dot that corresponds to that number on the Y-axis.
  • To set your bid amount to match that level of projected performance, click the dot in the chart or the "Apply Target CPI" link in the box that appears. Both actions will update your CPI bid value in the "Bid strategy" box above. 

If you don't see this chart, make sure that you've linked your Google Ads and Play accounts and check back in your campaign settings when your campaign has more traffic. With more data, the system may be able to run a projection for your campaign. 

Confidence intervals for estimates

In your chart, you'll see a line with dots for potential bid values and a shaded region. Bids in the shaded region are estimated to be more accurate. The shaded area is also referred to as the "confidence interval" and it indicates a level of certainty behind a prediction or estimate. In this case, it's calculated as the percent likelihood that a prediction is true. 

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