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Let's talk about Google's Universal App Campaigns

Google’s Universal App Campaigns (or UAC) is making waves in the mobile marketplace. Soon to become the default campaign type for mobile advertisers looking to buy ad space with Google as of November 15th, Google’s UAC has provided advertisers with more than 6 billion installs, delivering well above 50 percent of all app downloads from advertising.

In light of the incoming transition to UAC, it’s time for Adjust to put together a primer, including some new best practices. Read the full article below to discover more about Universal App Campaigns.

What is UAC?

Universal App Campaigns launched in 2015. It’s Google’s way of making it easier for developers to promote their apps across different platforms within a unified system, replacing app install campaigns for Google Adwords on October 16th, 2017, though a full migration occurs later in November.

The big difference with UAC is that you don't design individual ads. Instead, Google’s system uses text and assets from your app's store listing to design a variety of ads across several formats and networks. In practice, this means that when creating a Universal App Campaign, you’ll upload creative assets which become the “building blocks” that the campaign uses to create ads. As such, it’s important to provide as many different kinds of text, image and video assets that align with your campaign goal (i.e., install volume or in-app actions). That way, UAC can create a relevant ad for every moment — in every possible format for every channel. Google’s systems test different combinations - showing ads that perform best most often.

If you want to find out more about UAC, click here.

Why did Google introduce UAC?

Previously, with the old system, you used to have to run ads separately on YouTube, on Search, and with Admob. This presented a cannibalization problem for Google, as each platform was vying for the same user, making it hard to find the right ones manually.

UAC is intended to bring the best signals into one campaign, and it’s best for marketers because they have access to the full funnel. It allows Google to be more efficient, and helps advertisers find cheaper and more valuable installs.

Beyond that, machine learning drives the background functions of UAC - this means better automation for identifying valuable users. With more channels than ever driving installs in a diverse marketplace, Google wanted to find a way to analyze all the different ways users found apps. Furthermore, they wanted to display effective advertising that users really like. So, they created UAC, which has now become the prime way for mobile advertisers to reach prospective user bases with Google.

How to migrate

Let's look at the steps that need to be taken to migrate all you Adwords app install campaigns to UAC:

  1. Begin by reviewing all of your current AdWords app promotion campaigns. You can do this by logging into AdWords, then clicking on the Ads tab. From there, identify your top performing text, banner and video ads, and save them yourself.
  2. Create a new campaign with UAC, setting a new performance goal. You can build a new UAC by clicking the Campaign drop-down menu from the Campaigns tab, then select ‘Universal app’. Copy and paste any top performing creatives, including images and videos into your new UAC.
  3. Set up AdWords conversion tracking through Adjust to find more of your high-value users.
  4. Next, choose the bidding option that supports your business or campaign goals.
  5. Finally, it’s time to set the right bids. Calculate the average CPI, CPA or ROAS of your existing campaigns as the starting point for your UAC performance goal. Then, monitor your new UAC and adjust bids over time to meet your goal.

You can find the full guidelines here. Watch the video below if you’d like to learn more.

A video primer of UAC

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Four best practices

It’s time to talk best practices. Here are some tips to think about when it comes to using UAC in the real world.

  1. With campaign bidding, make small, incremental changes and measure your performance before and after the event. Adjusting your bid incrementally can be a good way to find out if you’ve been paying too little, and not receiving as many installs as you could be.
  2. Never forget that icon and app title are part of your UAC ad - and they’re everywhere. These need to be updated in case of a change, but, more importantly, they can’t be customized for individual ads. Therefore, test, test, test, and make sure that the copy and app elements blend well together.
  3. Google recommends that advertisers run campaigns at the country level, and with budgets set to 50x the CPA. However, this is a blanket recommendation, and it’s best to experiment by limiting budget and also splitting up targeting to sub-country (such as state) levels. Going further (into cities for example) may also perform well alongside specific targeting campaigns.
  4. The creative levers available to Google Universal Campaign advertisers include:
  5. Five (25 character) ad text spots
  6. Up to ten display images
  7. An optional set of up to five Youtube videos.

While it isn’t possible to report on (or optimize) any of these creative inputs individually, you can run A/B tests on your creatives with a manual pre-post analysis. You can do this by starting with a single change, then report on your chosen KPI, analyzing the difference pre- and post-change.

A final reminder

If you're not running UAC campaigns already, be aware that all your app install campaigns will soon be running this way soon. We hope this primer helps you get started with the experience, and we'll be there to support your integration with UAC if you need any more help.

We’ve created our first-ever Partner Benchmarks: Performance Insights for Data-Driven Mobile Marketers, an interactive report which provides decision-makers with the insights needed to inform their buying strategies and build out a perfect channel mix. Learn more here: Partner Benchmarks

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