Introducing Google’s Universal App Campaign

September 18, 2015

With Google AdWords it’s always like an Easter Egg Hunt. You just find new goodies popping up everywhere. So what is it this month? It’s a whole new campaign type called a Universal App Campaign. What’s that!? It’s not search, it’s not display, and it’s not video – it’s all of the above, and only for apps…

universal app campaigns

Anyone with an app knows that to promote app downloads in the past, you would have to create a search campaign that linked up to your app with a whole set of keywords, then a separate display campaign that targeted audiences, mobile app categories, installed app categories, etc. Then you’d have to add YouTube video display ads if you had them. Then create a TruView campaign that pushed traffic to app downloads. Let’s just say there were are lot of diverse campaigns to manage.

How the New Universal App Campaign Type Works

Back in May this year Google announced that it would be releasing a new type of campaign called Universal App Campaigns. And they just started showing up in the UI this week! (Google typically rolls new features out slowly, so be patient if you don’t see it in your own account quite yet.)

So if it’s an all-in-one campaign with search, display, YouTube, adMob and Google Play, how does it work? Does it have keywords? No, it doesn’t. Does it have display audiences and targets? Nope. Does it have YouTube targeting? Not that one either. It looks like Google released the set-it-and-forget-it version of app promotion. You don’t even have access to all the normal tabs; your settings are limited to:

  • 4 ad text ideas
  • YouTube Video
  • Location
  • Language
  • Budget
  • Target CPA

universal app campaigns in adwords

How to Create a Universal App Campaign

You simply create your campaign by first linking your app, which is as simple as searching the name of your app and selecting it.

creating universal app campaigns

You are then allowed to add 4 lines of “ad text ideas” (25 characters each). These need to be independent from each other because Google may mix them up to create different ads. You are also given the option to add a YouTube video if you have one.

universal app campaign ads

Lastly tell Google your desired CPA and budget. That’s it – then it just runs! You just set it and forget it. It will then be eligible to serve on Google Search, mobile app network adMob, the Display Network, YouTube and the Google Play store.

universal app campaign bid strategy

Although we had all hoped that Mobilegeddon was over, it’s only the beginning, with app downloads and mobile searches rising year after year and mobile search volume finally surpassing desktop. We have all seen the many pushes that Google has made to enhance paid ads on the mobile SERP, with mobile bid enhancers, mobile-specific ad extensions, mobile landing pages … just about everything is tailored to mobile these days. The other biggest part of mobile is apps. After all, what’s a smartphone without apps? It only makes sense to give apps their own campaign type.

set it and forget it

How is this going to help you? Do you want more app downloads? Do you not want to take the time and effort to create separate search, display and YouTube campaigns, all with their own targeting settings and new ads for each one? Well then here’s your solution. Just set it… and forget it!

Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community