App Ads Optimization – Part 1: Google App Ads

Normally, I was thinking to talk about all mobile apps in this post. However, it is a really detailed topic and trying it to fit in one post would be a mistake. Today, I will talk about only Google app ads and how to optimize them. In the coming weeks, there will be separate posts about app search optimization( ASO), Facebook app ads and 3rd Party conversion tracking tools , respectively.

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Universal app campaigns(UAC) or simply app campaigns of Google promotes your mobile apps across most significant Google properties, Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, the Google Display Network, AdMob, Discover on Google Search, our search partners, and many more publishers who host app ads.

PS: When you link your Google Ads account to your Google Play Developer account, you’ll get access to automatically generated remarketing lists for the apps published by the Play developer account and be able to show mobile app engagement ads to users of your app — without having to set up a remarketing tag.

Bidding Options: 

There are 3 different bidding options in Google app campaigns:

Target CPI (Cost per Install): By focusing on app installs, you set the amount you are willing to pay for every new user of your app. 

Target CPA (Cost per in-app Action): By selecting this bidding, you optimize your campaign toward the cost of a specific post-install in-app event. This actions would be buying a product or using specific service on app. Google recommends setting a target CPA based on the average value of a user who completes the action.
Target ROAS:If you optimize your campaign for tROAS, Google Ads will focus on creating in-app action values and people who are likely to generate the best value over time.But this is an advance bidding system, so before jumping to tROAS, test CPI and CPA first.

Suggestions About Bid Optimization for App ads 

  • Try to start with CPI bidding for a new app campaign in Google, by the time the campaign collects data, then optimize it for tCPA.
  • Set your campaign budget at least 50 times higher than your tCPI and 10 times higher than tCPA.
  • Keep your app tCPI campaigns consistent, change bids less than 20% in a day. It’s also recommended that waiting for at least 100 conversions before making a bid change.
  • It is important to set up conversion actions properly. 3rd party conversion tracking tools would help your app campaign analyses immensely. 
  • If you need to switch to another in-app action, create a new app campaign for the new in-app action. Optimal in-app action should provide at least 10 different users every day.

Managing Assets:

In order to create an app campaign in Google, you should provide proper text, images, videos, and HTML5 assets. You can add text assets up to 4 and up to 20 each for images, videos, and where applicable, HTML5. However, keep in mind, Google won’t use these assets directly. Ads will run in different formats and across different networks. App campaigns will customize your ads by taking individual assets and combine them to create a full ad.

If you would like to create A/B tests for your ad assets, you can group them by attaining into different ad groups in App campaigns. Every ad group should represent specific app features or messages you want to highlight. Also be careful to publish the correct language for your target location. Google doesn’t translate your ads into different languages if you target different locations and their local languages. As you are able to select language and locations for your app campaigns, you may want to create different ad groups by language of your ads.

Once a campaign is running, you can see the performance of each asset by looking at your asset report. You can use asset reporting in app campaigns to see which assets are low performing and should be replaced. Assets listed on this report depend on their performance. Waiting” means that the asset is being processed by Google Ads so there is no Performance Grouping status yet. “Learning” means the campaign needs more data before it can rank the asset. Lastly, “Low”, “Good” and “Best” are relative rankings of your assets compared to other assets within the same campaign and of the same type. You have an option to select different timeframes on your report, as well. 

Conversion Delay & Retention Rate:

Once your app campaign runs, you need to track performance in detail before you do any change. There are many metrics you should focus on such as CR,CTR, ROI etc.  However, they are not enough. I would recommend you to check occasionally two more metrics: conversion delay and retention rate. These metrics are related to each other and show how long it takes for users to convert after they click and see your ad. 

Google Ads’ feature Conversion Lag Reports show conversion delay indicator. Conversion lag refers to the delay between when people click an ad and when they perform a specific conversion action (for example: install, purchase, add-to-cart, etc.). It stocks data up to 90 days. To reach out Conversion Lag Report: 

1.In the “Campaigns” table, click the Bid Strategy type column to navigate to the bid strategy report.You may need to add the “Bid strategy type” column if you don’t currently see it in your account.

2.Use the date picker to pick a recent date range; annotations will show on the page if the data selected is impacted by conversion lag. Conversion lag impacts recent data more than old data.

3.View your conversion lag reporting data in the hovercards in the scoreboard.

App retention rate is simply the percentage of people who continue to use your app during a certain amount of time. You can reach retention rate on different 3rd party tracking tools, you can calculate manually and add as a new metric. Let’s say 1000 people installed your app in the beginning of the month, and only 200 are active at the end of the month. Then, your retention rate would be 200/1000= 20%.

Higher retention rate is generally an indicator for finding valuable and related people to your app. Retention rate is the inverse of app churn rate: If your 90-day Retention Rate is 15%, then your churn is 85%. Higher churn rate may cause your app to be ranked lower in the app stores’ search results.

In all, conversion delay and retention rate are indicators of growth of your app. If your goal is to measure your app success for existing users then these are much more insightful metrics than simple downloads or acquisition numbers. Eventually, if you can’t get the value from your current users, it doesn’t matter how many new users you add every day. 

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