Universal app campaigns allow you to find new users for your mobile apps. Now known as Google app campaigns, it is essentially a paid advertising channel that helps app marketers reach a specific target audience. Being a part of Google Ads campaigns, you can leverage the largest ad networks including Google Search, display, YouTube, and Google Play Store while managing ads in the Google Ads platform.

So, without any delay, let’s learn more about universal app campaigns, their different types, and how you can set up a campaign and track it effectively.

What are Universal App Campaigns?

Universal App Campaigns or UAC meaning can be defined as automated ad types in Google Ads. These ads help marketers generate app installs and drive in-app conversions. By leveraging machine learning, the best-performing ads are shown to the relevant users which helps in driving more conversions. 

UAC was launched in 2015. It replaced Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) app install campaigns in the fall of 2017. Universal app campaigns aim to show relevant ads to users while limiting the need to test ads and find the best-performing ad manually. Universal app campaigns provide you with easy access to Google’s network of properties, providing flexibility in driving users to both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. 

Unlike the traditional Google Ads campaigns, you do not need to create separate ads for UACs. For UACs, you create a group of different texts as well as images, videos, or HTML5 assets. Based on these, Google generates ads “on the fly” from your inventory of assets. 

With time, the platform identifies the best-performing ad combinations and proceeds to show them to users. This ad delivery type is similar to that of Google’s new responsive search ads that also utilize machine learning. The only difference is that the latter is shown strictly in Google searches whereas universal app campaigns are displayed across many of Google’s ad properties. 

Where Can You Run Universal App Campaigns?

Before universal app campaigns were introduced, you had to run separate ads on YouTube, Google Ads, and other spaces to target each of Google’s properties. However, this has changed with the Google app campaigns as by using this ad type, you can show up in:

  • Google Search Network (includes Google Search and search partners like YouTube)
  • Google Play (search results, related apps, as well as suggested apps)
  • Google Display Network (Gmail, mobile websites of news and blog sites)
  • Google Discover 
  • YouTube
  • AdMob

Your ad will also be shown in placements exclusive to universal app campaigns, such as app and home listing pages in both iOS and Android app stores. This allows you to showcase your ads to individuals already searching for a new app. 

How Do Universal or Google App Campaigns Work?

With the advent of universal app campaigns, advertisers do not need to create different ad placements. Now, they can simply rely on Google to create ads for them by providing Google with relevant text and digital assets. Google also manages the bidding and targeting process to maximize campaign results for your set goal and budget. 

In order for the UACs to work, you have to provide some mandatory assets. These include text, budget, starting bids, images, videos, and HTML5 assets. Google mixes and matches your assets and creates relevant ads based on the information you provided. 

You also don’t need to provide relevant keywords. The algorithm relies on the Google Play search terms relevant to the app category you are targeting. Therefore, the text assets that you provide for UACs should include relevant keywords as they influence the search on Google Play. It also utilizes keywords you use to optimize your app’s store listing. 

Types of Universal or Google App Campaigns

With universal or Google app campaigns, you can reach a wide range of audiences and use different channels that Google uses to promote the apps. You need to properly set up your campaign and align your marketing goals along with your app value proposition to reach the right audience and elevate app conversions. 

The three types of app campaigns are:

  • App Install Campaigns

This campaign is to get people to install your app. One of the most common ad campaigns, these campaigns are like the GPS for getting your app out there and into people’s phones. 

Imagine yourself as the captain of your app ship. With app install campaigns, you can steer it manually, and adjust the bids and targets. Alternatively, you can also let Google Ads take the wheel and automate the whole targeting and bidding process. It’s basically like choosing between sailing yourself or letting a trusty navigator do the work. 

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It is important to remember that these campaigns are all about seeking out the golden treasure. In this case, it is the new users who would take action in your app. So, whether you are targeting Android or iOS users, these campaigns can help you reach both sets of users through smart advertising. 

Google uses a mix of important elements when creating and serving app install ads:

  • Ad Location: The location defines where your ad can pop up. This could be in Google searches, on Google Play, or even on YouTube.
  • Ad Type: The type of ad can be between choosing an ad with a banner or a full-screen interstitial ad. 
  • Ad Content: How your ad looks significantly matters. You need to ensure your app icon, its description text, and even the app store rating stand out.
  • Action After Clicking: Once someone clicks your ad, they can either land in the app store or even start downloading the app right away. 

Based on the location of the ad, Google can show it to people who use relevant search terms or match Google Play search terms. Google Play can also show your ad to people interested in similar apps. And the users who are browsing YouTube and are likely the best match will see your ad. 

There’s also the Google Play Store listing which provides a preview of your app. The better your app looks, the more likely people are to tap that “Install” button. So, polish up your app store listing to increase the chances of more installs and downloads. 

Once someone clicks your ad, they can end up in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, depending on their phone’s operating system. However, there are situations where users can directly install the app after the ad click, such as video install ads on the Google Display Network. 

Therefore, setting up the app install campaigns is easy but you need to keep an eye on how the results you are getting. By regular monitoring, you can optimize the bidding process if you are not getting the desired results. Make sure to align the campaign with your goals and expectations and how much bidding control you want to have. 

Bidding Strategy: You can target cost-per-install (tCPI) and decide if you want to set it up, or you will use Google to maximize the conversions according to your budget. As per this strategy, Google’s machine learning analyzes the outcome of previous install auctions and determines the probability of an install in the current auction. 

Budget Recommendation: Google recommends implementing a daily budget that is 50x your tCPI. For example, if your desired cost per install is $5, then your daily budget should be $250. 

  • App Engagement Campaigns

The app engagement campaigns focus on the existing user base and encourage them to complete a specific in-app action. Setting up these campaigns is like learning a new game; it might seem difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can enjoy the gaming process.

These campaigns are like nudging your app users to do something special within your app. It can be encouraging them to snag the premium items, or promoting a live event. Mainly, it’s all about maintaining the app engagement which you can target for both Android and iOS users. 

If you want to run an app engagement campaign, you need to abide by Google’s guidelines. It requires you to have a minimum of 250,000 app installs, deep links installed, clicks attributed, a defined audience list, and compliance with remarketing privacy and EU user consent policy. 

If you successfully satisfy all these requirements, you can get the pass to start working on the next steps which is working on the assets for your engagement campaign. Here, you need to provide relevant text for your campaign along with high-quality images and videos for it to be more effective. 

The conversion window is the critical aspect of this campaign. It is the time frame used for recording a conversion after a user interacts with your ad. And finally, you need to curate an audience list to target with your engagement campaign. Choose if you will target all users, a specific set of inactive or active users, or users who have completed some actions. 

Google provides you with the option to be very specific when you are targeting your audience. So, you can choose the exact actions used as the main segmentation criteria. Once your campaign is up and running, you need to monitor how it is performing and optimize certain actions to get the best results. You can adjust the bid, do asset testing, update your Google Play Store listing, conduct geo-targeting, and more to get a high return on engagement (ROI) and ensure your app’s value grows. 

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Bidding Strategy: You can utilize target cost-per-action (tCPA) to elevate this engagement campaign. With this strategy, you can make the most out of your budget and ensure it provides you with effective results. 

Budget Recommendation: As per Google, your daily budget for this campaign should be 10x your tCPA. For example, if your desired cost per in-app action is $4, then your daily budget should be $400. 

  • App Campaigns for Pre-Registration 

The app campaign option is only available to Android users where you can target people to sign up for your app that is in the pre-registration phase in Google Play. 

The sole purpose of this Google ads app campaign is to create a buzz for apps that are in pre-registration. Imagine this to be like setting the stage for your app’s grand entrance in specific markets. Pre-registration campaigns in Google Play Console allow marketers to test the waters before the official launch. It gives you the scope to trial-run your app and ensure it gets a warm welcome in the targeted regions.

When it comes to the actual app campaign, the key metric is to track the cost-per-pre-registration or CPpre. Think of this as the cost for each user who signs up before the big reveal. Your target cost metric here is tCPpre. 

Once the user clicks on the ad campaign, they are taken to the Google Play Store to pre-register for the app. Whoever pre-registers gets a front-row seat before the show begins. However, the catch is you have 90 days to publish your app after activating the pre-registration.

Here’s a successful tip to make this campaign a success. Think about the goodies and value you can offer to the early birds who pre-register. Sweeten the deal by offering rewards, thereby, attracting more audiences. And if you expect your app to be the next big thing, kickstart your pre-registration campaign early. Use the entire 90 days to your advantage to reel in as many users as possible. 

Bidding Strategy: You can focus on the approach to maximize conversions for our app. Adjust the bids for each auction to bring in as many pre-registrations as possible as per Google’s algorithms. 

Budget Recommendation: Your daily budget could be around 20-30 times your target cost-per-pre-registration (tCPpre). So, if your tCPpre is $2, consider a daily budget range of $40-$60. 

What are the Three Tracking Solutions for Google App Campaigns?

Properly setting up app campaigns and understanding your conversions can lead to their success. However, if you rely on the wrong data, it can negatively impact your goals and ROI. As you already know, you can implement any of the app campaigns for your app. It’s important to understand how to do conversion tracking for the campaigns to evaluate their success. 

Whatever campaign you are running, the foremost thing you should do is associate the main conversion with their cost:

  • App install campaigns focus on the installs and cost-per-install (CPI)
  • App engagement campaigns focus on on-app action and cost-per-action (CPA)
  • App campaigns for pre-registration target pre-registration sign-ups in Google Play and cost-per-pre-registration (CPpre)

Understanding the conversion window is critically important. As you already know, it is deciding the time frame for counting the conversions. App install and engagement campaigns have their own settings for this. Based on what you want to achieve, and how the users behave, you’ll want to set up your conversion windows for:

  • Click-through conversions (when users click and convert)
  • Engaged views (when users engage after viewing the ad)
  • View-through conversions (when users convert after seeing but not clicking the ad)
  • Post-install conversions (the actions users take after installing the app)

So, think of conversion tracking as your trusty guide for app campaigns. Focus on the three key metrics known as CPI, CPA, and CPpre, and adjust your conversion windows as required to ensure its success. 

What are the Four Types of Ad Assets Available in Google App Campaigns?

Now that we have covered the different types of ad campaigns, let’s dive deeper into the different assets you need to create these campaigns. The four major types of ad assets are:

  • Text (Headlines and Descriptions): You can incorporate up to five headlines with a maximum of 30 characters per headline. You can also write up to five descriptions with a maximum of 9- characters per description. 
  • Images: The supported image formats are .jpg or .png with a maximum size of 5MB. You can upload a total number of 20 images. 
    • Videos: Videos need to be hosted on YouTube, but Google may take the video from your app store listing. You can also upload up to 20 videos. 
  • HTML5: This news is to be updated in a .zip format. The number of files should not exceed 40 and the maximum size can be 1MB. 
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You also need to follow Google’s guidelines and suggestions when working on your app campaign creatives. Align your ads with your brand’s values, remember your campaign goals, and keep things organized. If you are targeting action game fans, do not mix it up with the puzzle crowd. It’s critical to know your audience to target them accurately. Moreover, use quality assets and engage in app localization as Google does not translate the ads automatically.

Also, look into what triggers your audience’s engagement. Implement the triggers by testing and tweaking your ad creatives so that there’s always something new and engaging. You can also consider the Ad Strength Report to understand feedback on your creative spread. Take the results into consideration and modify or improve your assets to get the results you are aiming for. 

What are the Best Practices for Google App Campaigns?

Follow different tactics and best practices with your Google app campaigns, such as:

  • Constant Improvement: Always look for opportunities to elevate your key performance indicators (KPIs) and campaign ROI. Analyze what works best for you, and if you are not meeting your goals, try to pinpoint issues and how you can eliminate the gap.
  • Proper Linkage: Before diving into campaigns, link your Google Ads and Google Play accounts. Also, you do not need a remarketing tag. Simply skip adding conversion tracking code for actions like purchases. 
  • Goal Alignment: Align internal goals with app goals, and consider objectives like driving installs, increasing user activity, or building awareness in the pre-registration phase. You can tailor your approach based on the target audience, budget, bidding strategies, and metrics like CPI, CPA, and CPpre.
  • Conversion Tracking Setup: Set up conversion tracking to monitor app installs, in-app actions, and pre-registrations. 
  • Asset Management: Upload a maximum number of high-quality assets- text, images, and videos. Let Google’s machine learning system test and select the top-performing versions. Focus on creating clear and compelling assets, for example, the first 5-10 seconds of your videos are really important. 
  • Curating Relevant Message: Align your campaign messages with their focus. For instance, use phrases like “Never miss any important news again” for install-focused campaigns. Opt for CTAs like “Sign up for free today and get a 50% discount” for campaigns optimizing in-app actions. 
  • Audience Awareness: Recognize different campaign types and their different audience base. When starting a new campaign, focus on a new audience type rather than using the same audience of a previous campaign.
  • Goal-Driven Budgets and Bids: Set budgets that align with your goals. Adjust the bids and budget according to your desired conversions. Have patience, in case the conversion occurs after a certain period post-ad-click. 
  • Systematic Optimization: Systematically optimize campaigns as Google’s ML algorithm requires time to learn for optional results. If targeting for app installs, make incremental changes to CPI bids to avoid confusion and monitor the results step-by-step.

How to Set Up a Google Universal App Campaign?

Follow the below steps to step up a UAC:

Step 1: Sign in to your Google Ads account.

Step 2: When you see the page menu on the left, click on “Campaigns.”

Step 3: Click the plus button and choose “New campaign.”

Step 4: Now you need to select a campaign type.

Step 5: Choose the platform for your app which can be either Android or iOS.

Step 6: Name your campaign and start adding the text ideas. Optionally, you can also add images, videos, or HTML5. 

Step 7: Select the locations and languages you want to target. 

Step 8: Set the campaign goal, budget, and bid amount before clicking on “Save and Continue.”


Thus, universal or Google app campaigns help you reach your business or marketing goals for your app. Choose the type of campaign you want based on your goal and requirement and select quality assets for your ads to perform well. Perform efficient conversion tracking to identify what is working and what is not working for your app. Make respective modifications based on the results and implement the best practices so that your campaigns bring you value consistently.

How long it takes Bid adjustment to take effect on Google?

It may take upto 2 minutes for the bid adjustment to take effect. We have tried this experiment on manual CPC bids.