Have you ever seen ads for those fantasy game apps like Forge of Empires or Tribal Wars? Well, that’s Dennis Makowsky. He’s the senior online marketing manager at Innogames.
In 2017, apps had 3 different Google campaigns they could run. Now, it’s Universal App Campaigns or nothing. Apps must learn to succeed with UAC if they want to stay on Google.
HOW TO: Build a Universal App Campaign that drives scalable user growth
1. Why is UAC so challenging? Because you have no targeting and no data
You can set your goal (installs or in-app actions), budget, bid, and location. Beyond that, it’s out of your hands. You can’t control the final creative or target audience, and you get no data on where your ads are being shown.
But if you want to feature ads in Google Search, Display, Play Store, and Youtube, it’s your only option. The good news? With diligent analytics, you CAN crack the code. So, get started →
2. To begin, only target Android devices — forget about iOS
Google owns Android, so they have way more user data to help match you with top audiences. You’ll see better results and can optimize your campaigns before taking on iOS.
Set device targeting right at the beginning of a new UAC campaign. It’ll look like this →
3. Use single geotargeting and set your CPA bid to be at least double your eCPA
Single geotargeting lets you efficiently allocate your budget, while setting your bid at 2X your eCPA will guarantee you’re competitive in the auction. Both will help generate a stable flow of high-quality traffic.
eCPA stands for effective cost per acquisition; here’s the calculation →
You can learn more about the metric here→
4. When building a UAC in a new geo, start with just text assets
The Google algorithm is trying to optimize your ads — the fewer the variables, the faster it can test them. You’ll be able to tell if that new geo is a good fit, while minimizing investment and risk.
Text assets feature heavily on Google Play. If stuck, look at the assets your competitors are using →
5. Optimize for the channels that deliver high-quality traffic, not just high quantity
Asset mix determines traffic mix. Innogames got most of their traffic from Youtube at first, but the quality was terrible. By changing their assets, they were able to shift their ads towards the other channels.
Make sure your image assets match Google’s recommended specs →
6. If your goal is in-app action, rigorously test different events and time frames
Innogames found their sweet spot to be an in-app purchase in the first 30 days — your app may be different. Test different event/time frame combos, and allow a few weeks between variations to collect reliable data.
Create a baseline of your users’ current in-app behavior so you can track any changes →
7. Be patient and set clear expectations with executives beforehand
Innogames spent 6 months testing without profiting from their UAC. In month 7, they launched their newly-optimized campaigns and became profitable immediately. Patience + data is the only way to succeed.
Track retention and install-to-purchase rates on a weekly basis. Create a custom dashboard to track these and other key metrics against your campaign goals over time →
8. Stay current with Google’s ongoing UAC updates
In 2019, Google will be adding value targeting into the optimization setup and increasing the importance of the “instant apps” button in the Play Store. These shifts will force you to change your approach, so make sure you stay up-to-date.
You can follow Google’s blog, or just check in periodically for UAC-specific updates →