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November 7, 2017

Updated December 2017

Since Google announced the great migration from AdWords to Google Universal App campaigns (UAC) effective October 16th, we’ve received more and more questions about the channel. In a short series, we tackled many of those questions regarding bid types, budgeting, and creative assets. We also published a comprehensive eBook that shares our learnings and best practices.

Google UAC Basics:

Before we get started, it’s important to note the difference between Google UAC and other paid social channels. If you know anything about Google AdWords–and now Google UAC–you know that much of the heavy lifting is carried out by Google’s algorithm. Google UAC takes that simplicity to the next level, providing an all-in-one channel for advertisers to reach the entire Google network through singular campaigns.

That having been said, there are a few levers at advertisers’ disposal–we help our clients make the most of those levers with continuous creative testing and optimization.

In this blog series, we’ll dive into the three most important levers–bid types, budgeting, and creative–sharing our recommendations and tips along with Google best practices. Today we’re kicking off the series by diving into UAC bid types–what they are and when to use them.


UAC Bid Types: What to Use and When?

While Google UAC uses automated targeting and bidding to find the most profitable CPI, there are levers at your disposal to get the biggest bang for your buck. There are two different bid type options–on installs, and more recently, on in-app events.

Depending on the nature of your app and business, as well as your growth objectives and capabilities, you might opt to optimize for one over the other. In this post, we’ll uncover how each of these work, and when you should be using them.


Optimizing for App Installs:

When bidding for installs, AdWords will optimize your bids and targeting to help you get the greatest number of new users for your app. This option is pretty self-explanatory, and has been the default bid type in Google UAC until recently. There are two options under install bidding–optimizing for all users, and optimizing for in-app events.

The first option will give you the largest volume of users to target.

The second option narrows the volume, targeting users that are most likely to complete in-app events while still optimizing for CPI.

In our next Google UAC post we’ll dive further into how to set the appropriate bid, but in general, the bid you set should be how much you’re willing to pay to get a new user for your app. When driving installs optimized for ‘users likely to perform an in-app action’ you’re still bidding for CPI, but you should set your bid 10-20% higher.

🐼  Pointer: To give the Google algorithm a learning boost, we suggest you start optimizing for app installs. This way, you’ll have more demographic and behavior data to create a solid foundation. 


When to use app install bidding?
App install bidding is a great option for you…

  • to drive app install volume (if that wasn’t obvious before).
  • if you don’t have a lot of downstream data.
  • to learn what type of downstream performance you can expect from UAC.
  • to drive less expensive CPI. (NOTE: Keep in mind that downstream events may be more expensive)


Optimizing for In-app Events:

Moving beyond app installs, Google UAC’s newer optimization option lets you drive success for the conversion events that matter for your business. Also known as ‘engagement campaigns,’ these ad campaigns give advertisers the opportunity to focus on a downstream event–whether it’s adding items to a cart, posting a user review, or making a final purchase.

AdWords will focus on people who are most likely to complete the specific in-app actions you’ve set up and selected for this campaign. Set the target CPA (cost per action) to be the average amount you’d like to spend each time someone performs the selected in-app action in your app.


Choosing your in-app events:
In Google UAC, you have the opportunity to run multiple campaigns for in-app events. To help the Google algorithm learn about your users’ profiles and behaviors, Google recommends optimizing for at least three separate events, and for each campaign or funnel, optimize for just one.

The events you optimize for need to balance volume and value. While on the one hand, you want more users who look like your highest LTV user (i.e., top reviewers, multiple purchasers), the volume may not provide enough data or may be more expensive. Google recommends that you choose events that 5-50% of your users have completed.

🐼  Pointer: Depending on your application’s conversion volume, you should choose in-app events that align most closely with your high-value customers’ value, as well as a healthy conversion rate. We’ve found success when optimizing for in-app events with ~20% conversion rates from install. ​

When to use in-app event bidding?
In-app event bidding is a great option for you…

  • to find and convert more high-value users.
  • if you have clear in-app events tied to conversions or user monetary value.
  • if you have good downstream conversion volume.
  • to potentially drive down CPA. (NOTE: Keep in mind that CPI may be higher)


Additional Considerations:

Time is your friend. Be sure to give the Google algorithm plenty of time to learn about your app and your users after you launch campaigns or make UAC changes.

🐼​  Pointer: Don’t make too many changes too quickly. We recommend giving any changes to your Universal App campaigns at least two weeks to run their course before making additional updates. ​


Install Windows:
Installs are set for 30-day conversion window, but for in-app events, set a longer conversion window based on your average purchase cycle–recommended 15-25% more than your average conversion time.


Bid type is certainly a powerful level to utilize within Google UAC, which is made only more impactful by setting your bid and budget appropriately. In our next post, we’ll dive into FAQs around setting your Google UAC bid and budget, as well as troubleshooting if you aren’t meeting your desired acquisition or cost goals.


What Results Can Google UAC Drive?

When executed thoughtfully, Google UAC can be a powerful tool for advertisers to reach a broad audience, drive acquisition efforts, and ultimately, attract high LTV users. We’re helping our clients achieve scale on this channel and are committed to sharing many of our newfound Google UAC best practices in the coming weeks. (Subscribe to receive updates!!)

We worked with one of our clients, ChimpChange, to launch this channel and within weeks they saw tremendous app install volume, a decreased CPI, and improved in-app conversions.

Interested in optimizing your Google Universal App campaigns? Learn more about Bamboo’s Google UAC services >

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