Grow Your App With Universal App Campaigns

Reading a book, learning a new language, finding a date; there is an app for everything – literally e-very-thing! And, with an average of 11 thousand apps uploaded to the app stores each month, the competition to reach the top is insane; let alone, having your app being noticed among the millions of options. To push your app to the front of the app-battlefield, you could think of App Store Optimization (aka ASO) to get there free-of-charge. But, what if the ASO trick didn’t bring in the results you’ve hoped for? Well – if you are willing to pay to get your app in the hands of your users, Google AdWords has the perfect solution for you; Universal App Campaigns.

A Universal App Campaign, UAC in short, is a way to promote and advertise your app across Google’s biggest properties, including Google Search & Display Network, YouTube, and Google Play – and, all at once! To set up a campaign, all you need are a few lines of text, some assets, a bid, and you are good-to-go; Google will handle it from there!


Besides; after running a Universal App Campaign, your ASO performance can improve too due to the increasing traffic and downloads that you’ve gained. As high number of downloads are one of the criterias to organically rank well in the app stores, we definitely would say it’s a win-win.

So, How Do Universal App Campaigns Work?

With self driving cars and automated journalism on the horizon, Google couldn’t stay far behind; that’s why robots make and optimize the ads for you.

Uh, Robots? Well, not exactly the kind robots that you see in science fiction movies, but more as in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through automation and dynamic learning, Google wants to help app-advertisers to better manage the complexity of the advertising campaigns, and maximize app installs at your set cost-per-install. So; “robots” test different versions of your ad texts and assets, determines which ones perform best (based on what you want to achieve with this campaign; more app installs or app engagement), and displays those the most!

Unlike the good-old Mobile App Install Campaigns, in UAC there are no keywords involved. So then, how does Google know who your target audience is and most likely will download the app? Here are the robots again; they scan your app in the app store, discovers search terms relevant to your app and its category, or keywords that have led people to your app before, and determines a target audience accordingly. After serving your ads to this target audience for a while, AdWords learns – along with which ads are most favorable – the user behavior, conversion data and demographics of the ones downloading your app and creates a more specific target, to display the best performing ads to.

So at the end, the right ad is shown to the right audience at the right time. Instead of optimizing your app campaign on your own, Google takes care of everything; all you do, is watch your app being downloaded over and over again – hooray for machine learning!

Here’s What You Need

Setting up an Universal App Campaign is super-simple and you only need a few mandatory things to start with; (1) an app – obviously, (2) four text ideas, (3) a target location & language, (4) a goal, and (5) a daily budget & bid. Optionally, you can add up to 20 videos, 20 images and 20 HTML5 assets – that’s a lot of combinations to be tested!

We would say that one of the most important things while establishing a UAC, is selecting the right performance goal; AdWords optimizes your bids and target according to that goal. You can either set a goal concentrating on getting more app downloads, or one to focus on driving in-app actions. After deciding on the goal, you can start thinking of a bid, budget, add your assets and voilà! – your campaign starts right away.

Going to fast? We’ve got you; below we will tell you exactly what to do, step-by-step – but first, let’s share some of our best practices & examples with you. After a lot of testing and optimizing done by us, we think we might have some exciting things to tell you about what works well.

Our Best Practices

In terms of reach and conversions, we experienced that the Google Display Network is the most successful property – which means that the focus especially should be on the ad images and videos you add to your campaign. Right? However, we also noticed that more quality downloads and higher conversion rates came through Google Search – meaning your ad text ideas. So, let’s give our best practices on each one of them:

* Ad images: in all of our UACs, we noticed that the banner size 1200×628 has by far the most impressions, most clicks, and the most downloads, compared to the other banner sizes. Banner sizes that did not perform very well and resulted in only a few downloads are the smaller ones; 300×250 and 300×50. When it comes to ad images, we suggest you to create a couple of banners in at least 4 different sizes, in order to find out what works well for your campaign.

* Ad videos: videos have always been one of the best performing assets in the Universal App Campaigns that we’ve run. Whether the videos were long or short, and funny or informative, they generally all performed well; the most important thing is that you capture the attention of the viewers right from the start.

* Ad text ideas: for the text ideas we discovered that the sentences should be short and snappy, easy to understand, and have a clear call to action – people should immediately get an understanding of what your app is about and what they can do with it. In general, the ad text sentences are the best performing assets in our campaigns, so; make sure they grab the attention!

Now – let’s go to the secret weapon of our Universal App Campaign successes; Optimization.

Once our campaigns are running for a while and Google got enough insights, we go through the list of assets we’ve uploaded. When we see that some of our ad texts are performing low, we rewrite the same sentence by using different wordings and CTAs. The same goes for ad images; if a certain text is performing bad on any banner size, we change the text; and if it’s a single banner size that does not get too many clicks, we decrease the amount of banners in that size, and add more of the best performing sizes with new ad texts and designs. We always aim to having “best performing” assets in the campaigns only! But note: pay close attention to the conversion rate, too; an asset can be marked as “good performing” but still haven’t brought in a single download. So, take it as a combination; replace both low performing and low converting assets.

Our Success Stories & Examples

* Example 1: In 2017, our client Türk Telekom introduced their mobile app Tambu; a keyboard app with culturally localized emojis and themes. After successfully launching a brand campaign, we were ready to increase the download rate by running a Universal App Campaign:

We can say that for this campaign, the most important factor of success was creativity and asset testing. By testing over 50 creatives, videos and text ideas, we gained more than 1 million downloads within a very short period of time. As we were on top of the campaign and constantly tested the ads, we noticed which assets worked well and which didn’t; the ones that weren’t performing good, were replaced by new ones. We tested over 13 different ad designs in various sizes, 13 unique text ideas, and 2 videos, all including different colors, wordings, images, and so on. To give you an example; banner images that didn’t include too much text and showed the app’s benefits clearly were performing much better than the ones that didn’t. At the end, our UAC was responsible for 80% of all app downloads!

* Example 2: Sandvik Coromant developed an app (iFind) that helps its customers to find the right machining tools for their specific metal-cutting machining tasks. So far we’ve run a UAC in Italian targeting Italy, and in Dutch and French both targeting Belgium:

With this example we want to point out that for b2b apps, UACs do work really well, too. The download numbers that we’ve seen were really impressive; before the start of the campaign, the iFind app was downloaded once or twice every month – now, it easily reaches a thousand downloads a month.

Convinced that Universal App Campaigns can do great things for your app, too? Follow the steps below to set up your first UAC.

Your Very First Universal App Campaign

We already have some experience in setting up the UAC and we figured that if you don’t, we would love to guide you through it. Let’s do this together:

Step 1: Create A Campaign

In your AdWords campaign dashboard, click the blue round + button, to get yourself going. As a campaign type, you select Universal App – it then gives you the option to either promote your app listed on the Android platform or iOS, and to find your app on that chosen platform accordingly.


Step 2: Give Your Campaign A Name

Our tip is to come up with a name that right away identifies the app campaign on your dashboard. As we have for some clients multiple app campaigns running, we generally use something that looks like this: [UAC + app name] + [mobile app platform] + [target location or language] – this really helps us to distinguish which campaign is doing what. But of course, you can write anything you like.


Step 3: Time To Add Your Ad-Creatives

This section is the most fun one – at least, that's what we think! Here you have the chance to be creative and come up with catchy words and images to grab your potential app downloaders’ attention. There are various assets you can add, so let’s go through them all.

* First up, ad text ideas. In here you can write anything you like, as long as you stay within a 25 character limit per idea. When writing, use independent lines for each ad text idea that can be rotated in your ads, in any order.

* If you have a video hosted on YouTube, or even a couple of videos (max. 20), this is the moment to add them to your campaign. The video you upload turns into a video ad, and will be shown on both YouTube and the Google Display Network. Either landscape, portrait and square videos are allowed, as well as various length sizes. Note that if you do not upload a video, Google creates one for you, taking parts from your app’s listing page.

* You also have the chance to add up to 20 images – which we definitely suggest you to do! In our experience, image ads generally result into the most conversions when comparing it to the other ad assets. Images will be shown on the Google Display Network; so, make sure you prepare images in different supported sizes, including 1200×628, 320×480, 480×320, 300×250, 300×50, 320×100 and 728×90 for phones, and 1024×768 and 768×1024 for tablets. We recommend to use at least 4 different sizes and prepare 5 designs for each of those sizes in the testing phase, to see what’s working well for you.

* And lastly, up to 20 HTML5 assets can be added to your campaign, to add a more fun, interactive and entertaining layer to your ads. You have to upload your assets as a .zip with no more than 40 files, in the acceptable sizes: 300×250, 320×50, 480×320 and 320×480.


Google will automatically prepare different ad variations with the assets you provide. You already get to see a snapshot of how a possible ad can look like on the Google platforms. Looks good, right!

Step 4: Select A Location & Language

In terms of targeting, the only things that you can control are the locations where your ad will pop up, and for which languages; based on user’s language settings and the language of the site. By default, the UAC campaign targets all locations – so make sure you adjust this, if you don’t want your ad to be shown all over the world.


Step 5: Now Pick That Oh-So Important Goal

Fortunately, there are just two goals you can pick from; whether you want your app to be installed more or you want your users to perform in-app actions. By selecting which goal you want to focus on, AdWords determines the right bidding strategy to make sure that your ads reach people eager to download or use your app.


By focusing on install-volumes, AdWords optimizes the bids to help you find the greatest number of new users for your app. For the in-app actions goal, AdWords will focus on the ones who are most likely to complete the specific app action you’ve selected for the campaign – whether it’s adding items to the shopping cart, making a final purchase, or posting a review.

Step 6: Budget & Bid

For the budget part, decide how much you would like to spend each day. Here you also clarify the delivery method; standard if you want your budget to be spend evenly over time, or accelerated for spending your daily budget more quickly.


After the budget is set, you determine your bid. With bidding you note how much you are willing to pay each time someone downloads your app, or opens it for the first time.


High-Five, You Did It!

Good job – and, you can immediately start checking the impressions, clicks and installs of your just established campaign, too. Note that Google is in a learning process right after you’ve uploaded your assets, and needs some time to understand which assets are performing well. Once you got enough insights, it's time to optimize!

26 Jul 2018

Not happy with your online performance?

Just Get In Touch With Us!

Be our next client

Our team is here to quick audit your ppc campaigns, organic traffic performance or website usability.

Just Get In Touch With Us!