If you are like most marketers, automation can make you nervous. Universal App Campaigns are one of the simplest campaigns to set up in Google Ads. Simple is a word you like to hear, but how do you know Google will target the right users? How do you maximize performance and ensure you are getting quality conversions?

1) Form a Strategy

Forming a strategy is a given for any campaign you create. However, due to few campaign settings, forming a UAC strategy is much more limited than any search, display, or shopping campaign. Essentially, there are three strategies Google allows you to choose from:

  1. Install volume
  2. Focus on install volume but optimize for people likely to perform an in-app action
  3. Focus on in-app conversion(s) – less volume but best CPL for in-app actions

Whether your strategy is aimed at install volume or in-app activity, you can decide which users you want to target based on the in-app action. How much you are willing to pay for each in-app action is one additional factor to consider.

2) Create an In-App Funnel

Creating your in-app funnel before you choose an optimization goal will help you select the right goal. If you don’t know where to start, think through the most important in-app actions a user can make. The type and number of in-app actions will vary depending on the app.

Here is a generic example of what your funnel could look like:

  1. Download
  2. Signup
  3. Engagement

Creating more than one in-app conversion is a crucial piece of tracking performance, as it will be the primary guide to making optimizations and any changes to your strategy. We will dive deeper into the “why” in the next step.

3) Optimize

Install Volume Optimization

If you selected “Install Volume” for your campaign optimization, Google will either optimize for installs, or an in-app action (above screenshot). Best practice is to select the in-app action directly after install/download.

If you optimize your campaign based on the final in-app action, Google will cut your traffic because they will only target people that are likely to convert all the way through your funnel. Unless you have strict cost per final in-app action goals, in most cases this will not be an effective strategy.

On the flip-side, if you optimize solely for install volume (you don’t tell Google to target users likely to perform an in-app action), you will have higher install volume, but lower conversion quality. Think about it this way: do you want high impression volume with a crappy CTR, or do you want a better CTR with stronger CPLs?

In-App Conversion Optimization

Optimizing by in-app conversions will decrease your install volume, but increase your conversion quality. As stated above, I recommend that you select the in-app conversion action that directly follows installation.

In-app conversion optimization allows you to test not just different in-app actions, but multiple in-app actions at the same time. However, if you want to optimize based on several in-app actions, I recommend duplicating the campaign and optimizing for one in-app action.

4) Measure In-App Performance

Because Google UAC only allows you to optimize for installs or in-app actions, looking at the right KPIs will help determine whether or not you have selected the right goal. The KPIs that I have found to be most helpful can be lumped into 2 buckets: Impressions metrics and Cost per metrics.

Impression Metrics

What can Impressions Available, Impressions Served, and % Impression Share tell you? If you are new to PPC, they simply tell you how many people have seen an ad for your app. Impression share is going to be a good indicator whether targeting installs is an effective strategy. If you have majority market share, but low install volume, you may need to switch your strategy to target an in-app action.

Cost Per Metrics

Aside from looking at in-app conversion volume, looking at cost per in-app action can really help you see how cost breaks down as you go down the funnel. Here is an example of a report that shows important in-app performance metrics.

5) Maximize Location Targeting

Location targeting settings are the same as other campaign types. You can target all countries or select a specific country or list of countries. If you are targeting more than one location, I recommend creating a campaign for each location; this allows you to better monitor performance in each location. For example, we have a client who is targeting two cities in the U.S. and one foreign country. By creating a separate campaign for each location, we are able to provide our client with reports that have enabled them to better understand their target audience, and help them make more informed business decisions.

Additional Resources

If you need more details pertaining to campaign setup, check out Will Larcom’s Setting Up and Analyzing Universal App Campaigns article.

If you are troubleshooting UAC tracking, check out Kelsey Hadaller’s Tracking UAC Performance Through Third-Party App Analytics article.