How Google App campaigns for engagement helps you retain more app users

Samuel Harries

Posted Mar 13, 2019

Do you see a drop in customer engagement in your app over time? Google’s new app promotion solution -- App campaigns for engagement -- aims to help you engage existing app users with relevant ads across Google to get them to come back to your app and take action.

App campaigns (formerly known as Universal App campaigns) are a one-stop-shop for promoting your mobile app with Google. Many advertisers have seen success with App campaigns, and now Google is growing app businesses throughout the lifecycle by increasing engagement with existing app audiences through the new campaign type.

In this post, you’ll learn about how App campaigns for engagement work, and how Adjust’s clients can get started.

What is Google App campaigns for engagement?

App campaigns use Google’s machine learning technology to help you find the users that matter most to you, based on your defined business goals—across Google Search, YouTube, and over 3 million sites and apps—all from one campaign.

App campaigns for engagement are designed to give marketers a simple, automated solution for re-engaging various types of users - from those proven to be high-value to the ones who’ve installed but never opened your app. You can find further information by reading the official App campaigns for engagement launch announcement.

As we’ve often talked about, re-engaging your users has helped advertisers improve retention rates and increase long-term revenue. If these benefits appeal to you, read on to learn the initial set up and how to make full use of the tool.

How to set up App campaigns for engagement

Before getting started, please note that you need to get whitelisted by Google. Reach out to your Google Account Manager for information about applying whitelisting. It is also necessary to have deep linking and conversion tracking enabled to use App campaigns for engagement. Google supports App links & Custom schemes for Android, and both Universal links and Custom schemes for iOS (though Universal Links are preferred). It may also be useful to read our post about the difference between deep links and universal links, and our guide for deeplinking with Adjust.

Here’s how to get started with a new campaign:

  1. Even if you’re already running an App campaign, you’ll need to set up a new account for your App campaigns for engagement.
  2. Log in using the CID Google has whitelisted for you, then click:

+Campaign > App Promotion > App > App engagement

  1. Link Adjust with Google Ads. You can find our documentation for Adjust’s API integration with Google Ads here.

  2. You may find some measurement differences between Google Ads and Adjust that need to be reduced. For example, this could due to different conversion windows, data ranges or time zones.

  3. You’ll also need to ensure that Google Ads matches your re-attribution window, and that the inactivity window is set to 0 days. If you do not set the inactivity window to 0 days, you’ll experience discrepancies.

  4. Send a full list of your events to Google Ads, along with gclid. For this, you should create (and send) session_start events. Remember to import all conversions (a full list of your in-app events) into Google Ads so their models can learn more efficiently.

    Note that advertisers need to ensure their SDK is tracking deeplink events or else there is no way to report on ads that link into the app.

  5. Define and set up your target audiences. Note that your Google Account Manager will be able to supply a comprehensive guide for creating audience lists.

  1. You can now choose an event that you want to optimize towards. The more conversions Google models see, the better they will perform in helping you reach your marketing goals. As a rule of thumb, make sure to choose an event, a budget and a bid that helps you get 100 Google-attributed conversions per week and campaign.

When bidding, choose an event that you can reasonably quantify with the value for your business. Also keep in mind that your total Cost per Action (tCPA) should reflect the value of this event, and that Google’s algorithms will try to hit your tCPA and win as many conversions as possible for that tCPA over time.

See Google’s full guidelines here to learn more.

Now that you’re ready to implement your campaigns, let’s have a look at some of the recommended practices we’ve heard from Google.

App campaigns for engagement: 5 expert tips

1. Tracking with minimum discrepancies

As we mentioned in the set-up guide above, you’ll need to import all conversions that are being tracked into Google Ads to allow their models to learn more efficiently. This is an important practice that can eliminate potential discrepancies and tracking issues.

The best method here is to send session_start (with gclid), because Google cannot perform conversion tracking on Search without gclid. “Use Google Ads Attribution” also needs to be enabled in Adjust, so that Google Ads and Adjust have the same lookback window.

You then need to verify that your app is making the correct SDK call, and view measurement stats in Adjust. Because Google now sends campaign type = “UACe” in their postback to us, you’re able to view stats in Adjust when segmenting by campaign type.

2. Setting up a supported audience list

To set up a supported user list, you should ensure that such a list is large enough for good reach, and is supported by App campaigns for engagement. A list size of 250k device ids is recommended.

If your user list is too small (even if it meets the minimum size requirement), it could be for the following reasons:

  • Some listed users may have uninstalled
  • Some listed users may have stopped using a certain device.
  • There could be additional targeting on your campaign that filters your user list. For example, if you were using a global user list even if you’re only targeting a single country.

Increasing your audience list will also increase reach.

3. Providing all formats: Video, text and full image

When using App campaigns for engagement, providing the right assets is imperative. With this in mind, here’s a quick run-down of the necessary specs:

  • Text: There is a character limit of 30 for headlines and 90 for descriptions. Within those limits, Google recommends that you make the text as long as possible.
  • Images: These are an optional asset, with a file limit of 5MB. The following image sizes will be accepted: 320x50, 320x480, 480x320, 300x250, 1200x628.
  • Video: Your creative assets should include at least one video. All videos must be at least 10 seconds in length. App campaigns for engagement supports both landscape and portrait videos.

4. Defining conversion events and importing all conversions to Google Ads.

For best results, in-app actions can be sent and defined as conversion events in Google Ads. This is recommended because your campaigns can then be optimized for a particular event.

Because different events are relevant to each vertical, what you define as a conversion event will also depend on your vertical. For example, a gaming app may include a ‘level X reached’ event, while eCommerce apps will include ‘add to cart’. So you should ensure that all of the conversions you want to be tracked are imported into Google Ads.

As a general rule, the more events Google receives, the better their models can perform. Once a full list of in-app events is sent, Google’s models are likely to make better predictions and consequently perform better.

5. Optimized options for bidding and budgeting

For both bidding and budgeting, your total Cost per Action (tCPA) should be aligned with the value of the conversions you’re optimizing for. So, the recommended practice is to ensure that your bid is based on the actual Cost per Action (CPA) achieved for in-app events.

Note that your daily budget should be a minimum of 50x your total CPA for shallow events (frequent events that occur towards the beginning of the customer funnel), and 15x your total CPA for deep events (which are less frequent, occurring further down the customer funnel).

If your conversion rate is low, you can increase your tCPA bids to let Google’s models participate in more auctions, meaning they would gather further data and learn what works for your app more efficiently.

With these tips in mind, you can get the most out of Google App campaigns for engagement. To get a more detailed guide for this new solution, take a look at Google’s complete guidelines. You can also gain insider tips by watching Adjust’s webinar with Google.

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