How to Buy App Install Ads on Google

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In the third of our series on buying app install ads on the major social media platforms, we take a look at Google in order to help you to place your ad for your app on the network that reaches an estimated 1.17 billion unique search engine users a month.

Setting Up and Creating Your Ad Campaign
Firstly you need your app available in the App Store and on Google Play. If you’re new to AdWords, visit AdWords and click Get Started Now to create your account. From there Google will guide you through the process and help you setup your first campaign.

Tip: Before considering any type of app promotion, it’s worthwhile to ensure that your app store SEO is finely tuned. It’s also worthwhile creating a website that describes the functionality of your app in detail – you might be surprised at how much more effective this can be in terms of reaching out to your audience and of course boosting app downloads.

How Google AdWords is Structured
Most of what follows next is in the Google guide so we won’t go into too much detail here, just enough  to give you an understanding of the basics that you will need to master for a successful campaign. Before you begin creating your campaigns and ads, it’s important to learn how AdWords is structured to help you create effective campaigns that target the right audience.

AdWords is organised into three layers: account, campaigns and ad groups.

  1. Your account is associated with a unique email address, password and billing information.
  2. Your ad campaign has its own budget and settings that determine where your ads appear.
  3. Your ad group contains a set of similar ads and the words  and phrases, known as keywords, that you want to trigger your ads to show.

Linking AdWords to Google Play
Providing you are already in the Google ecosytem, you should start by linking your AdWords account to the Google Play Developer account for your app.  From the beginning of your campaign you’ll be able to use advanced targeting techniques based on who already has the app and who still needs to download it – which can make your ads even more effective. You’ll also experience all the power of a remarketing list, ie, being able to show mobile app engagement ads to users of your app without having to set up a remarketing tag.

• If you’re a Google Play developer, see how to link to AdWords from a Google Play Developer account.

App Promotion Ads
Screenshot: how large companies such as TripIt are using Google app promotion ads



App install ads are designed to show on devices where they’ll have the most impact. When you create a new campaign to promote your mobile app, your ads show only on phones and tablets (not on desktop computers). App install ads (formerly click-to-download ads) are the easiest and most effective way to drive downloads because much of the customisation is done for you. You can run these ads across search and display using the App/digital content ad format.

In the Google document: types of mobile ads, you will find a comprehensive guide to app promotion ads so here we’ll look at the need-to-know stuff to get you started.

Designing Your Ad
Things to consider for a standard app promotion should include:

  • App name, which appears as the ad Headline for app install ads on the Search Network
  • Description lines
  • App icon that links to the app store
  • App price in the appropriate currency or language, based on the price listed in app stores
  • Download button (with text in the local language) that initiates downloads
  • Star rating and number of reviews
  • Screenshots in a scrollable gallery. Tapping on the screenshots will expand them to full screen on phones.
  • X-button to close the full-screen mode

Mobile App Installs
Google’s Mobile app installs campaigns, are focussed on getting more people to download your app, which is what we want, so here is an overview on how to do it and initiate a successful campaign. Once you are ready to promote your app Google will help you customise the rest of your campaign targeting and ads to increase app installs. Bear in mind that more downloads could improve your app store ranking, which can result in even more people downloading your app.

Mobile app installs campaigns are available on both the Search and Display Networks. On YouTube, you can create “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaign to drive app downloads (we’ll look at that campaign in a separate post).

Video. Understanding your campaign settings

Ads Optimised For Driving Downloads
App install ads are a key part of “Mobile app installs” campaigns. They link directly to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, making it a cinch for people to download your app. These ads are smart: they’re designed to show on devices where they’ll have the most impact. When you set up a new campaign with only app promotion ads, your ads show only on phones and tablets (not on desktop computers). You can also choose to display your ads only on mobile phones by ticking the box next to “Exclude tablets” when you’re creating your ads.

App Install Ads Formats
In this section you should choose the network type that best matches how you’d like to promote your app:

Display Network
Display Network is where you can reach people while they’re using other apps that are similar to yours with app install ads. These campaigns often get large volumes of impressions, which can increase awareness of your app and attract new app users who may not be actively searching for you.

Screenshot: Display Network app engagement campaigns

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App engagement campaigns on Google’s Display Network allow you to show ads within other apps, specifically to people who already have installed your app. These app engagement ads can encourage your app’s current users to open your app and do something specific.

Note: Google say that AdWords will no longer support certain features in Display Network “Mobile app installs” and “Mobile app engagement” campaigns. The following ads will not show to consumers:

  1. Image and text ads created without an app ID.
  2. Ads targeting individual websites and general interest categories.

Google are now saying that all ads in “Mobile app installs” and “Mobile app engagement” campaigns must be App/digital content ads associated with an app ID. To continue to run your ads in your app promotion campaign, you’ll need to recreate your ads as App/digital content ads in AdWords. If you have a lot of ads, then you can use AdWords Editor to add an app ID to many ads at once.

Search Network

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In Search Network, you can show app install ads to people while they’re looking for an app like yours, or trying to do something that your app makes easier. Search Network campaigns are a great way to connect with people who are actively looking to download an app similar to yours.

Search Network app engagement campaigns
App engagement campaigns on Google’s Search Network help you to show ads in search results on mobile phones and tablets to people who already have installed your app. Your ads can encourage your app’s current users to open your app and do something related to what they were searching for on Google.

Note: Google’s app engagement campaigns on the Search Network are only available for Android apps. App developers should also be aware that these campaigns work best for apps with a substantial number of users, since their ads are only shown to people who have your app installed.

ImportantApp or digital content ads on the Search Network can only be shown where paid app content is available.




On YouTube, you can show video ads to reach people who are interested in content related to your app. YouTube campaigns can help boost awareness of your app with engaging content that grabs your customers’ attention at just the right moment.

Upgrading to App Installs Campaigns
One major thing to note it that from this month (July 2015), Search Network app promotion ads created outside of the mobile app installs campaign type will stop running. If you have click-to-download ads or “App/digital content” ads in your Search Network only campaigns, you’ll need to move your ads into a new “Search Network only – Mobile app installs” campaign.

For more info on this go to the following documents: See how to upgrade your ads over to an app installs campaign, Find out more about Google app installs campaigns and Drive app installs on the Search Network.

Screenshot: Ad format details



The Budget 



Once you understand who your customers are, think about how much you want to spend to reach them with your ads and what results you’re expecting for your campaign to be a success. AdWords lets you set an average daily budget for each campaign based on your advertising goals and the general amount that you’re comfortable spending each day.

To get more tips on setting a campaign budget click on this document and follow this link, and if you  are uncertain what you’ll be charged for? follow this link to find out how AdWords calculates costs.

How to Buy App Installs on Google AdWords
Not many app publishers or developers know this but Google AdWords is the largest mobile ad network by far.  “That said, says Mike Vann, head of business development at, “you cannot buy CPI directly through AdWords and anyone who has tested AdWords to drive app installs have likely failed because they lacked app install tracking tech that works on mobile web/search inventory and they also could not optimize and drive CPC costs to a reasonable level.”

That’s why you may need a third party platform to help you buy app installs on the Google networks, which leads us neatly onto our next section …

Third party platforms
Here’s a couple for you to consider if you need help buying app installs on AdWords:

Getit Mobile
Getit Mobile is a leading provider of AdWords CPI app install campaigns.  They will drive highly optimized, high-quality, top value app installs at volume and at low CPI, is their pitch.

Operated by Google, and a leading mobile ad platform that serves more ads to iPhone users than any other network. Admob provides different native ads templates to choose from, including App install ads and content ads on the AdMob in-app network, which reaches 650K active  users

They also provide an integration system – Software Development Kit (SDK) – which allows you to connect across different platforms and access a wide range of ad formats.

So that’s our guide to buying app install ads on Google – hopefully it’s provided some useful tips and you can find out more about other platforms in our coverage of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, so stay tuned!