Search Supplement – July 2017

Jake Adams


Welcome to the first edition of your monthly Search Supplement.  This month we are looking at what the updates to Universal App Campaigns actually are and what they mean for us as advertisers.

Following Google’s I/O conference in the states, the engineers have released some exciting new targeting options, further integration with 3rd party tracking tools and even smarter bid strategies to Universal App Campaigns (UAC). Below are the updates and what they actually mean for us as advertisers.

But first a quick introduction into what UAC actually is. Universal App Campaigns were introduced by Google in 2015.  They are search, video and display campaigns all wrapped up into one and are used to promote apps. They work off Google’s ‘Machine Learning Algorithm’ which collates data on users and goes after those who the algorithm believes will be interested in the app through multiple formats.

Additional placements added to the Google Play store

Previously, advertisers could advertise their apps on the Google Display Network (GDN), YouTube, Search network and parts of the Google Play Store. Following the release of Apple Search Ads (Apple’s own version of the search network – learn more here), Google have stepped up their game and added additional placements on the Play Store, most notably on the Google Play homepage. It was a previous misconception that promoted apps would appear on the home page of the Play Store, however with the new update, paid promoted apps are now appearing under the ‘suggested for you’ carousel. Google have described this new placement as a targeting method to reach users who are in ‘discovery mode’. The suggested carousel, now allows advertisers to go after users who are looking for their new favourite app.

So promoted apps now appear on the home page of the Play Store. So what? With this new ability to advertise on the homepage, advertisers are now given even more inventory to play with as well as extending the visibility of the app they are promoting. Currently there stands 2 billion active users on Android and with Apple introducing their own search network for advertisers to appear on, the inventory available is becoming extensive.

Further integration with 3rd party tracking tools 

UAC campaigns can currently be tracked through multiple 3rd party tracking tools and partners, however the data can be slightly misaligned due to the API between the two platforms. Following the I/O conference, Google have announced the “App Attribution Programme”, which sees seven global attribution partners (such as Tune and Appsflyer) become partners with Google. This will allow for seamless integration of data between both the Google UI and said attribution partner. This is important for two reasons, the ability to trust the data to report back to the client on the amount of downloads your campaigns have delivered. Secondly, the ability for seamless data, compliments Google’s last update to UAC, where they have introduced further smart bidding strategies.

Gain more valuable users through new smart bidding strategies

Previously Universal App Campaigns worked off one bid strategy which was a set cost per install model (CPI). Advertisers would set a CPI goal for the bid strategy to work towards and the algorithm would optimise the campaign towards this goal. This bid strategy was great for a client/advertiser who only wanted installs for their app, however the bid strategy did not optimise towards users who are valuable (e.g. users who bet on your app or use the app frequently to order items). Therefore, Google have introduced a new smart bidding strategy that targets ROI. Advertisers can now set a target ROI, for which the algorithm uses its own data to go after users who it knows will spend money or is valuable to the app. This update allows advertisers to set up a range of campaigns to target both volume or installs as well as go after users who will most likely convert within the app.

The updates made by Google in the past few months to UAC have been very positive and the future for app marketing through Google looks set to become even more interesting and creative.