Is mobile app marketing is the primary source of customer acquisition? Are you having a hard time getting UACs to work correctly? Are you worried about having less control over targeting options? Read this post to increase your understanding of how Universal App Campaigns (UAC) operate, and which best practices are critical to ace this black box.

As you all knew with UAC, you can promote your mobile apps on the most significant Google properties, including Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, AdMob, Gmail, and the Google Display Network.

Whenever you create a strategy for UAC, always it should be aligned towards Google’s spectacular machine-learning capabilities to get the maximum out of it and then machine-learning will make you meet your goals.

Key terms to remember in Universal App Campaigns (UAC):

UAC — universal app campaign (Google AdWords mobile app advertising campaign type)

tCPA — campaign optimized for a target cost per action/event

Max installs — campaign optimized for a target cost per install only

Max installs advanced — campaign optimized for a target cost per installs first, but users who are likely to complete the specified event second

Learning period — the first 7 days of a campaign’s lifetime, during which it sets an understanding of which users to target and how much to pay for their actions

Don’t be greedy:

Universal App Campaigns (UAC)

Yes, that’s the first thing you need to do before starting the campaigns. In case if you are starting from zero, always start optimizing right from Installs. Don’t jump immediately to the tCPA module.

First list down the numbers of stages you’ve before a user goes and make payment. Don’t miss anything, be precise as much as possible and try to capture each step of the funnel.

Choose install volume as your campaign goal if you want to focus on finding as many new users as possible to install your mobile app. This goal is ideal for all the advertisers who want to start off their UAC campaigns. When you optimize for install volume, Google recommends setting a campaign budget that is 50 times greater than your target CPI.

For example, if your target CPI is INR. 10, you should set a campaign budget of at least INR. 500 according to Google. You also should ensure your campaign is not limited by budget, because Google’s algorithm needs enough conversion data to learn and optimize.

Choose in-app actions as your campaign goal if you want to find users who are more likely to complete conversion actions like in-app purchases.

With Universal App Campaigns, then, it is important to properly set up conversion events so you can track these actions and so Google’s algorithm can optimize for your unique conversion goals.

Google recommends choosing an action that occurs at least 10 times per day and suggests a campaign budget of at least 10 times your target CPI (so if your conversion action is a level-up in a game, you want to make sure that your app is bringing in at least 10 of these per day…and if your target CPI is INR. 10, then your campaign budget should be at least INR. 100.

Sufficient data is vital for UAC targeting algorithms; since running multiple campaigns causes data to be split between each campaign, competing campaigns hinders the ability of each campaign’s targeting algorithm to gather data.

Avoid making a too big bid or budget changes:

Making large bid changes is not good practice with UACs, as this can throw off the smooth progress of the targeting algorithm, resulting in big swings in performance (in both installs volume and CPA).

Conversely, smaller changes result in more consistent performance and fewer wild swings.

Again from a data perspective, the goal of the algorithms is to try to acquire users whose acquisition costs back out to whichever target CPA you set, by adjusting the ultimate bid submitted to the auctions, based on performance actuals.

Universal App Campaigns (UAC)

The algorithms require enough data to be able to do this task properly. By making large bid changes, you will force the algorithms to push into new areas of the auctions where the pricing and user quality dynamics are different, and due to this, reset the learning period.

Manage the auction dynamics appropriately by only making changes within 20% every 100 installs, or for best results 5–10% at a time. Especially so, try not to make changes in the first 7 days learning phase of a campaign — this is a non-skippable phase wherein the algorithm is exploring different bid levels, and if you change your bid too significantly, it can reset the learning phase or kick the campaign off with poor learnings.

Performance does improve significantly after a successful learning phase, so be aware that the learning phase should be a bit more volatile than you may be comfortable with

Run tCPA campaigns for the events with enough data:

The best practice to scaling UACs is often to let them learn with as much budget as can be allocated. Additionally, when they do get enough data, it’s pretty incredible what they can accomplish in terms of scale and ROI.

Universal App Campaigns (UAC)

Ensuring that you have sufficient event volume before kicking off an event-optimized campaign is crucial. This is because events are much more nuanced and the conversion rate of install to an event is often only 1–10%, meaning that the algorithms simply require more data to figure out what types of users will convert. Every user who is acquired helps to tune the algorithms, but users who don’t convert events (e.g. purchase) offer less value than those that do.

Also, at the start of a campaign, the ratio of users who purchase to those that do not will be much lower than after the campaign has been running for some time (recall the learning phase concept), causing performance to improve over time.

The best practice is 10–30 events/day, but optimal performance comes from having even higher event volume. If you don’t have enough volume, try a max installs advanced-optimized campaign (optimized for people likely to complete that event) first.

This campaign is different in that it will not be hindered by having insufficient (because its targeting goal is primarily to acquire installs), but it will, when possible based on auction dynamics, work to acquire users known to be likely to complete your event.

Utilize UAC ad assets fully:

Giving UACs enough assets to uncover which perform the best has been proven to help improve performance overall due to the U in UAC.

The U, which stands for universal means that ads may serve across the universe of Google AdWords inventory, which amounts to a staggering number of placements and types of inventory (and growing by the month!).

Each dimension of an asset (e.g. a portrait vs landscape video) will make your ads eligible to show across different inventory in the Google universe, and each inventory has different auction and user quality dynamics.

Universal App Campaigns (UAC)

For example, portrait orientation (mobile screen) videos serve mostly everywhere videos can serve, except for YouTube, which requires landscape orientation videos. Users on YouTube are often more pricey, but higher quality than other video inventory sources.

By adding landscape, you enable your ads to show on YouTube, thus influencing the ability of your UAC algorithm to optimize towards your goal. So utilize everything in terms of creatives and ad formats.

You’ll provide 4 “text ideas” that need to be standalone and should be able to show in an independent order. Testing different “text ideas” is one of the ways you have control over campaign variables.

You also are able to provide additional ad assets, such as images and video. In order to show in all placements, be sure to add images of various orientation and sizes, and videos of varying duration and size.

Utilise the Creative Asset Report to evaluate the performance of your assets.

They will be listed by performance grouping of “Best,” “Good,” “Low,” and “Learning.” Replace “Low” performing assets with new test assets, and leave “Learning” assets be while Google acquires enough data to give them a ranking.

For additional information on how to put together a Google Universal App Campaign, check out the video here:

Read more: What makes a mobile app successful?