With a wide range of promotion options for online spaces, Google's role as the origin of nearly three-quarters of all searches makes it a key player in all forms of digital marketing – including app promotion.
With Universal App Campaigns (UACs), Google has refined and streamlined its app marketing tools.
An Introduction to Google UAC
Universal App Campaigns use Google's machine learning technology to optimize and automate app install ads. They are designed to more quickly and easily put the right app ads in front of the right people at the right time.
Instead of designing individual ads yourself, Universal App Campaigns take the text ideas and other assets you provide to create a range of ads and display them based on your bids and other settings.
UAC continuously tests and adjusts bids, ad content, and ad design to optimize downloads of your app.
These ads will show up in relevant placements on Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, the Google Display Network (GDN), Google's search partners, and other publishers.
Popular Alternatives to Google UAC
While one of the most prominent platforms in the app marketing space, Google is far from the only solution for promoting your brand's mobile application.
Social media sites, most often accessed on mobile devices, are a natural fit for app marketing. Facebook, in particular, allows you to create targeted app install ads to drive new downloads. Facebook app ads display on Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network, linking audience members directly to the appropriate app store to install your app.
Another solution designed specifically for marketing mobile apps, TapJoy focuses on an audience of mobile gamers. The service's "interplay" ads display as the viewers play, offering in-game incentives for interacting with the ads. This focus on engagement especially works well for advertising gaming apps but can be used to demonstrate the features of other app types.
Comparing the Different App Marketing Formats
Nearly all app marketing solutions have the same core functionality – allowing you to create advertisements that promote your app and displaying them to an audience of potential users.
From there, each platform varies on how it approaches app marketing, including where your digital campaigns will display and the level of control you have over the individual ads.
The following information can help you identify the platform or platforms that are the best fit for your particular needs.
Of the options mentioned above, Google offers the largest potential reach with over 200 billion monthly active users on Android devices. Your actual reach will depend on the level of targeting that you use, but with advertising opportunities across the search giant's properties as well as its multitude of partners, Google UACs can reach a significant audience.
TapJoy's growing audience is significantly smaller but is more specifically targeted to mobile users, reaching nearly 600 million mobile users last year.
While previous iterations of Google's app advertising tools proved complicated for some, Universal App Campaigns are clearly designed for simplicity. With Google's UAC, the day-to-day maintenance of your ads is entirely automated, saving time but also giving you less control over how, when, and where your ads display.
Meanwhile, Facebook's Ad Manager appears geared toward less experienced advertisers. The platform walks new users through a step-by-step process starting with a campaign objective and ending with the ad content, providing tips and additional information along the way.
TapJoy also features a simple interface to make the process of creating an ad easier. In this case, the app-install ads themselves feature a streamlined structure with an offer icon, title text, and call-to-action. They may be faster to create, but this does limit your ability to customize ads.
The actual cost of your app marketing campaigns will depend on your budget and other settings, but on average the global cost per install (CPI) for a mobile app is $0.86 on iOS and $0.44 for Android devices.
For Google UACs, Facebook App Install Ads, and TapJoy, the cost-per-install model allows you to determine the amount you want to pay for each install, promoting your app based on that target amount.
You can also choose to bid based on in-app actions (Google UAC) and engagement (TapJoy).
According to Google, Universal App Campaigns resulted in 140% more conversions per ad dollar spent than Google's previous app marketing programs.
In one case study, a UAC provided Thailand's TrueMoney with a 60% decrease in cost per install, with a CPI that is 62% lower than the finance industry standard. Similarly, Wordscapes owner PeopleFun was able to maintain top 10 category status and reach a rank of 34 in US free games, while keeping a CPI rate that was 28% lower than their target.
Playrix, the maker of the Gardenscapes mobile game, used rewarded video ad placements on Facebook to get 7% more app installs and a 55% higher return on ad spend (ROAS).
On the other hand, Tapjoy promises positive results for marketers with a 3% click-through rate and a .45% average conversion rate.
There are many ways to marketing your app to get those coveted installs by individuals who will have a high lifetime value.
Regardless of the platform that you choose, whether Google UAC or another promotion service, the key to success will still lie in thoroughly understanding your audience and creating your ads and campaigns accordingly.