Blog How to succeed in Google App Campaigns p...

How to succeed in Google App Campaigns post-IDFA


Google App Campaigns have long been a staple in advertisers’ marketing tech stacks. Whether you’re new to the realm of mobile app advertising or trying to pivot in light of privacy shifts in the industry, you’ll benefit from our overview of Google App Campaigns. Starting with a timeline, walk through how Google App Campaigns has developed into what it is today and what it offers app marketers. Get five best practices for a successful Google campaign as well as insights into how a mobile analytics platform can significantly amplify your marketing efforts.


A brief history of Google App Campaigns

2015: Launch of Universal App Campaign

Google launched its Universal App Campaign (UAC) platform, today known as Google App Campaigns, in 2015. The aim of Universal App campaigns was to provide advertisers with a unified system from which to promote their apps across different platforms. The platform was built to give advertisers a self-optimizing campaign tool, comprising all of Google AdWords' search and YouTube activities.

2016: Inclusion for iOS

Initially launched for Android, in 2016, Google introduced UAC for iOS. From this point, advertisers could optimize campaigns for both Android and iOS. Note that to this day, Google recommends advertisers operate separate campaigns for each device platform.

2017: Google Adwords incorporated into Universal App campaigns

Then, in 2017, Google migrated all of its app install campaigns for Google Adwords to Universal App campaigns. In doing so, the newer system allowed advertisers to run ads for YouTube, Google Search, and Admob together, rather than separately, as before.

2019: Platform rebranded to App Campaigns

In a move to simplify the name, Google renamed its “Universal App Campaigns” to “App Campaigns”. The renaming did not affect any campaign features or functionality.

2020-2024 Google moves towards privacy

In 2020, Google announced its plans to depreciate third-party cookies in Chrome. Delayed twice already, Google now states the phase-out will occur in the second half of 2024, ultimately removing the ability for Chrome to track users across the internet.


How do Google App Campaigns work?

Google App Campaigns is a platform you can use to drive app installs and in-app conversions using automated Google Ads. These ads can be displayed across Google-owned channels, including Search, Discovery, Display, YouTube, AdSense, and Google Play. The platform operates on machine-learning algorithms to identify the prime placement for your ads.

To set up a Google App Campaign, you simply need to select target locations, determine budget and bid, set campaign goals, and provide creative assets such as different ad texts and formats. Then the algorithms will determine which of your assets will be shown as well as the placements of your ads.

Campaign types

What are the Google app campaign types?

When setting up your campaign goals, Google will provide you with three types of campaigns:

  • App campaign installs (ACI): The focus for this campaign type is downloads. For ACI, Google adjusts your bid to display ad elements based on what will bring the most app downloads to your app. Install volume ads operate on a cost-per-install (CPI) pricing model.
  • App campaigns engagement (ACE): This campaign type’s goal is to drive more higher-value users to take specific in-app actions within your app. ACE uses a cost-per-action (CPA) pricing model.
  • App campaigns pre-registration (ACpre): Only available for Android users, this campaign type can be used to drive awareness for your app before it’s released on Google Play.

For more information on getting started, check out Google Ads’ page on App Campaigns.


5 tips for success with Google App Campaigns

While the machine-learning algorithm of Google App Campaigns is incredible, so is the amount of other apps your app is competing against. Therefore, consider these five insights to maximize the success of your campaigns.

1. Provide various assets

The greater variety of creative assets you can provide, the greater the potential for Google’s machine learning technologies to match your creatives to the right audience for best engagement. From different creatives and ratios for a static ad to videos of differing lengths and topics, feed Google App Campaigns with an assortment of options.

2. Don’t forget localization

Did you know that even among non-native English speakers of high proficiency, 65% of this group prefer content in their native language? If you’re targeting non-English speaking countries, take the time to localize the assets of your ad for each region. In fact, Google recommends running separate Google App Campaigns for each region you’re targeting as language, cultural preferences, and tone can differ among regions.

3. Analyze and optimize

It’s imperative to monitor your campaigns’ performance. While Google App Campaigns will likely provide the best ad placement out of the assets and parameters provided, it’s still up to you to track performance and decide when and how to make changes. Which creatives are well-received and with which audience on which channels? The job of an app marketer or developer is never stagnant but an unquenchable quest for app growth, requiring constant interations of marketing campaigns and strategies.

4. Go for the opt-in

Since Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework has been implemented, users now have more control over data privacy. When asked if an app has permission to track them across apps and websites, many users today select, “Ask App Not To Track”. As we explain below, you can still succeed on iOS by utilizing aggregated SKAN data to understand the user journey.

Pre-permission prompt and Apple's opt in message

However, as an app marketer, you know the more users you get to opt-in to providing user-level data, the greater personalization you can provide to that user during their user journey. That’s why we recommend utilizing a ‘pre-permission prompt’ to alert users to the benefits of opting-in before Apple’s tracking message pops up. For details, check out Getting the opt-in: Securing user consent on iOS 14.5+. The higher your opt-in rate, the better your overall iOS insights and campaign performance will be. We recommend building a robust opt-in strategy to make up the basis of your entire approach to success on iOS. Next? SKAdNetwork (SKAN).

5. Set up conversion value models for SKAN campaigns

The rollout of iOS 14.5 in 2021 shifted how data privacy is handled in mobile advertising. In a post-IDFA world, it’s essential that app marketers understand Apple’s SKAN and how to gain insights from aggregated data. Advertising and campaign success on iOS is still possible and promising. At Adjust, we’ve built conversion value models for app marketers to choose from in our Conversion Hub: Adjust's all-in-one solution for smart, easy, & effective conversion value mapping.

Why an MMP?

Marketers’ must-have: A mobile analytics platform

A mobile measurement platform (MMP) like Adjust, which also functions as a holistic mobile analytics platform, provides app markets with a unified overview of their campaign performance by collecting, organizing, and analyzing attribution data. Most brands advertise across an ever-increasing number of channels and platforms—not just Google—and, therefore, need a MMP platform by which to synthesize all of their campaign data in one place. But even if you’re advertising exclusively on Google, having an MMP will enhance your marketing efforts in the following ways.

Adjust analytics dashboard

Get unbiased attribution data

A mobile analytics platform acts as a neutral third-party measurement provider, and is, therefore, able to provide app marketers and developers with accurate, unbiased attribution data. This means your data will be free from duplication that can occur from attribution reporting made by networks like Google.

Protect your budgets from fraud

Fake installs from fraudsters can corrupt numbers and consume campaign budgets. Adjust is the only mobile analytic platform, to have a dedicated Fraud Prevention Suite which proactively fights against mobile ad fraud via prevention. Our solution will reject fraudulent installs before you pay for them. Networks, including Google, don’t have the same incentive to provide this data to advertisers.

Create dynamic audiences for smart targeting

Reaching the right audience is key to your app growth strategy. The right users will stay longer in-app, spend more, and churn less often. Once you start working with multiple networks, it’s important to work with an MMP that will allow you to segment your targeted audience and automatically apply those segments across your portfolio. Not only will this save you valuable time, but it will also allow you to create more specific segmentation for enhanced targeting or retargeting. Learn more about Adjust’s Audience Builder direct partner integrations.

Support for SKAN data

Today, many marketers are confused with how to attribute and work with SKAN data. As we mentioned above, success with SKAN will be dictated by whether or not you have a conversion value strategy. If you partner with Adjust, we will support you in understanding SKAN attribution data, setting up conversion value schemas, and remaining at the forefront of privacy-centered attribution.

Scale up faster

If you’re trying to grow your app, it’s likely that you’re running multiple campaigns across several different platforms and networks. Therefore, it’s essential to streamline campaign management. Having the ability to accurately measure and automate campaigns and budgets in one place, like you can with our solution Datascape, will help you to optimize faster to grow at scale.

Stay in the know

Most MMPs stay ahead of the curve regarding tech changes, innovations, and disruptions. Managing your app’s marketing strategy and keeping up with current events in the industry can be overwhelming. Your measurement partner should stay on top of these industry developments and prepare you for any coming changes. At Adjust, we partner with industry leaders to offer support for, and even to bring about these groundbreaking changes. For example, we recently partnered with Google to beta test its Privacy Sandbox API for Android. Why? So we can take part in shaping technology for the benefit of users and our clients, and already begin to develop next-generation solutions.

Now that you’ve learned how to succeed in Google UAC, are you ready to exponentially grow your app? Dig into Part 1 of our guide on Scaling your app to 1 million users where we’ll walk you through app store optimization (ASO) and best practices for user acquisition.

Be the first to know. Subscribe for monthly app insights.