Emerging TechnologyMobileUniversal App Campaigns (UAC): What they are and how to use them

Universal App Campaigns (UAC): What they are and how to use them

A complete overview of Universal App Campaigns (UAC), the platform used by Google Ads for developers to connect their mobile apps with the right users.

In 2015, Google introduced Universal App Campaigns (UAC) to their suite of developer tools.

The idea behind UAC was to make life easier for developers to promote iOS or Android apps across Google’s various platforms. Previously, each platform required a separate campaign, meaning it was a time-consuming process.

With UAC, there’s no requirement to set up individual campaigns for both Search and Google Play. Developers can now use a UAC with some text, pictures, and their monetary bid then the service takes care of the rest.

UAC is a simple but very slick service with the campaigns automatically optimized to yield the best possible outcome. In fact, UAC is so streamlined – mainly because of the advancements in machine learning – that Google has moved all app install campaigns to UAC.

6 billion UAC installs and counting

It’s not just Google that loves the new UAC set up either. As of late 2017, there were more than 6 billion installs. And given the speed and ease of the service, that number is probably already much higher.

Google also reports that UAC is delivering more than 50% of all app downloads from ads today. The machine learning algorithm that powers the service has analyzed more than 300 million potential signals in real time. That means the service looks at signals as if it were a person looking at an ad, then it tries to figure out what the person would do.

All of this technology means that UAC is a superb method of finding new users and paying customers for your mobile application.

All Google Ads app install campaigns moved to UAC in 2017

In August 2017, Google wrote in a blog that they’d be moving all AdWords [now Google Ads] app install campaigns to UAC later that year. As of November 15th, existing Search, Display, and YouTube app promo campaigns stopped running. Which means by this point, just over a year later, everyone who has a Google Ads app campaign is doing so via UAC.

True to its name, UAC incorporates all the major Google advertising platforms, from search and display to YouTube or Google Play store. The major bonus, as you already know, is that all these adverts can be managed from one campaign. And machine learning (which is improving day in, day out) is doing everything possible to get you the optimum conversion rate for any given campaign.

Now we know what UAC is, let’s take a look at some of the basics such as how campaigns work, which devices deliver them, along with best practice for getting the most bang for your buck.

In fact, Google claims UAC can help enhance conversions by 140% extra for every dollar spent than other type of Google app promotion.

How does this help me if I’m advertising for the first time?

The aim of UAC is to get your ad in front of as many relevant users as possible, while also limiting your need to perform A/B split tests. And split testing can be a very expensive procedure. UAC saves the developer time and money while getting their ads shown to the people most likely to purchase.

The other huge benefit is that you can advertise across all Google’s platforms while managing them within a single dashboard.

To do this, simply add a cluster of discrete text lines with images or videos – possibly HTML5 assets – then Google generates the ads spontaneously from your arsenal of creative assets. And the best part is yet to come…

In time, UAC discovers your highest performing ad combos and maximizes the exposure they have to target audience. That’s money in the bank all day long!

Another rock-solid benefit of UAC is exclusive real estate for ad placements. In addition to showing your adverts on all the major platforms, there are exclusive spots in Google Play store. That means your ads get shown to hungry buyers actively seeking a new app.

And for those of you who prefer the iPhone or iPad to an Android device, don’t worry. UAC works on both platforms seamlessly.

There must be some manual work setting up a UAC, right?

Yes, there is manual work involved, but not too much. You’ll need to decide on your daily budget and the target CPI (cost-per-install) or CPA (cost-per-action).

Next, you’ll need to choose the target location and languages.

Then you add the text, which is up four separate lines of no more than 25 characters long. You need to choose a start date for your campaign then either specify an end date or just let it keep running.

Finally (and this is not compulsory) you can pop in some creative assets for Google to use, such as images and videos or HTML5. But this is optional. If you don’t add these, Google will take images or videos from the listing of your app in the Play store.

The major factor to consider when you’re building out a UAC ad should be the overall campaign objective.

There are 2 options:

  • CPI: Install Volume
  • CPA: In-App Actions

Whichever objective you choose your campaign will be optimized for that outcome. You can of course run more than one campaign at any given time.

How do you know which objective to choose?

  • Install Volume (CPI)
  • In-App Actions (CPA)

To draw in the highest number of fresh users, opt for Install Volume (CPI). And a general rule of thumb for budget is to shoot for a minimum of 50 times more than the CPI target.

That means if you have a $10 target CPI, the minimum feasible budget to move forward is $500. Then you have the bid amount. The bid amount is the average you want to spend for one person to download and install your app.

Next, if you want your customers to complete a specific action in-app (like an upgrade) then you want to select In-App Actions (CPA). CPA means Cost Per Action. You see where this is going, right?

Note. If you chose CPA then make sure you set up conversion tracking. This allows Google to understand the actions you want the user to take and subsequently optimize for the specific conversion goal.

Budget wise for CPA it’s a rule of thumb to have at least 10 x CPA. If your Cost Per Action were $5, then a minimum budget would be $50.

Remember, your target CPA should equate to the average amount you want to spend every time someone completes your in-app action.

Want to learn more about UAC?

Here is Google’s “Official Guide to Universal App Campaigns.”

They also write about how to create ads and campaigns, and how to do mobile advertising assessments.

You can also watch a tutorial from Google’s Academy on Air:

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