Google Universal App Campaigns (UACs) consolidate several Google advertising channels, including YouTube, Google Play, Google Display Network (GDN) and Search, into one simple solution. You no longer have to manage multiple campaigns to reach your audience for mobile app installs or app events. While this approach is convenient from an administrative standpoint, there is also a new set of best practices to take note of.
Choosing the Right Assets
Google's machine learning technology does a lot of work to get your ads placed in the right channels at the right time for your ad campaign. You are hands-off for most of this process, compared to other types of advertising options. Google requests assets from you, rather than finished creatives.
You supply the lines of text, videos and images that could potentially display on each channel. Google mixes and matches them to generate ad creatives until it finds the ones that produce the best results every time the ad is served. The primary focus of UAC is boosting the relevance of the ad so the user sees something related to their interests or needs.
One of the tricks to getting good performance out of your creative assets is opting for a variety of photo sizes and video lengths. You expand the channels that Google will show your ad on and have the opportunity to test out drastically different assets. Account for portrait and landscape modes in smartphones and tablets.
Here are a few aspect ratios and sizes that Google recommends:
• 10-30 second videos
• 16:9, 2:3 and 1:1 aspect ratios
• Photo dimensions of 1200x628, 320x480, 480x320, 300x250, 300x50, 320x100, 320x50, 728x90, 1024x768 and 768x1024
Look into the common characteristics the winning creatives share and build on that for your next advertising campaign. Pay particularly close attention to components that may not seem like they make a big difference. You'd be surprised at the influence a seemingly insignificant detail may have on your audience.
Be prepared to run multiple campaigns at the same time when you want to make changes to the creatives. Google sticks with the top-performing mix out of the assets you provide. Running two or more campaigns together gives you greater insights into how well the assets match your intended audience.
Selecting User Actions
Google UAC targets two primary user actions: installations and in-app actions. Each campaign type has a different place in your mobile marketing funnel. Installations occur near the top or middle of your funnel. The campaign needs to give them enough of a push to go through with the installation. The user may be familiar with your brand already or it could be their first time encountering your app. When you select installations as your goal, Google optimizes your ad spending to attract new users.
In-app actions are further down the funnel. You have users familiar with your product and now you need them to take the next step. Sometimes that's a purchase or using the app in a certain way. These campaigns target users who are likely to perform that action. Typically, your company gains greater value from these users since they're directly generating revenue or otherwise positioning themselves in a beneficial way.
Determine your goals before you launch your UAC. Otherwise, you could throw your ad spending off and go through the budget without the results that you expect. Your assets should also reflect your marketing objectives so they're highly relevant to the targeted users.
Teaching the Algorithm
Google's machine learning algorithm doesn't instantly produce great results for your campaign. You have to give it time to collect data and learn about the users viewing your ads and interacting with them.
The typical lag time between starting a campaign and seeing strong optimization is two weeks.
The upside to this slow start is that you don't need to handle optimization manually. It goes on auto-pilot, allowing you to focus your attention elsewhere.
Plan your campaign launches with this period in mind. You may want to pair it up with other non-UAC online campaigns to complement it. These coordinated campaigns also give you more insights into your target audience. You have two sources of performance data, giving you a broader look at who's interacting with your ads and converting.
Tracking Your ROI
Separate your installation campaigns from your in-app actions one. The first step to calculating an ROI is setting a target price for each goal. The amount that you're willing to pay for an installation is drastically different from what you want to pay per action.
If you're using UACs for the first time, look at your app installation costs on other platforms as a baseline. You'll have more information to work with once you have a few campaigns under your belt. For now, you can limit potential overspending by working toward this number.
In-app actions typically have a higher cost since these users are making purchases or performing other high-value activities as a result of the campaign. You can consult your current paying user data to find the right number for your ads.
One of the most important things to remember with UAC is that you don't want to change your campaign price points often. Each time you edit the campaign, the machine learning algorithm needs to go through the optimization process again.
Google UAC delivers a powerful platform that has several key differences from AdWords. When you want a streamlined way to reach all of Google's advertising network with your app installation or in-app action campaign, these best practices put you on the right path to maximizing your ROI.