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How to Run a Google Ads Campaign for Your App [House of Marketers Guide]

Did you know that there are almost 50 thousand apps launched on Google store every month? And we are talking about the lower end of the spectrum here. 

With such a crowded marketplace, staying ahead of the competition requires a strategic approach that leverages multiple advertising platforms. Google Ads app campaigns offer a powerful way to reach a vast audience and drive both instals and in-app actions.

7,500 Paying Subscribers through Google Ads and Influencer Marketing

At House of Marketers, a creative and performance-driven growth agency, we help our clients find their audiences online using both paid and organic media marketing. While organic growth through content marketing, UGC, and social media platforms has led to exponential growth for our clients, we recognise the unique potential of platforms like Google Ads to find your audience—especially those already searching for you. And that’s how we’ve produced phenomenal results for brands such as Daily Burn. We took over their Google Ads, Meta Ads, Bing Ads and TikTok Ads. You can check out how we achieved 7,500 paying subscribers and 30 Million Impressions for them in this case study here!

Google Ads app campaigns harness the power of machine learning to automate and optimise your advertising efforts, ensuring that your app reaches the right audience at the right time. 

This guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of setting up and running a successful Google Ads app campaign, covering both iOS and Android platforms.

Understanding Google Ads App Campaigns

Google Ads app campaigns simplify the process of creating and managing ads to promote your mobile app. By utilising Google’s extensive network, including Search, Display, YouTube, and more, these campaigns ensure your app gains the visibility it needs. Here’s how they work:

  • Google Ads uses machine learning to optimise your ads for the best performance based on your goals, whether that’s driving instals, increasing in-app purchases, or building pre-launch excitement.
  • Your ads can appear on Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, Discover on Google Search, AdMob, and other partner sites, reaching a wide audience across various platforms.

Source: Google Ads

By integrating Google Ads app campaigns into your digital marketing strategy, you can effectively complement other channels like social media, enhancing your app’s reach and engagement. Whether you aim to increase app installed from new users or drive more in-app purchases from existing users, Google Ads app campaigns can help you achieve your objectives efficiently.

However, some aspects of the campaign still require manual setup. These include:

  • Daily Budgets: Setting the amount you’re willing to spend each day.
  • Ad Group Structure: Organising your ads into groups to target different segments of your audience.
  • Campaign Start Dates: Specifying when your campaign will begin.
  • Target Locations: Choosing the geographic areas where your ads will be shown.
  • Target Cost-per-Install (CPI) or Cost-per-Action (CPA): Setting your desired cost for each install or in-app action.

Types of Google Ads App Campaigns

Google Ads offers three main types of app campaigns, each tailored to different campaign goals:

  • App Install Campaigns
      • Goal: Attract new users to install your app.
      • Features: Automated targeting and bidding to maximise instals at the best possible value.
  • App Engagement Campaigns
      • Goal: Re-engage existing users and encourage specific in-app actions, such as purchases.
      • Features: Target users who have already installed your app to increase their engagement.
  • App Pre-registration Campaigns (Android only)
    • Goal: Generate interest and build an early user base before the app’s official release.
    • Features: Capture potential users’ interest and gauge market demand for your upcoming app.

How to Set Up Google Ads App Campaigns

Setting up a Google Ads app campaign involves several steps. 

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account
  2. Click the Campaigns drop-down in the section menu and select Campaigns.
  3. Create a New Campaign by clicking the plus button, then select New Campaign.
  4. Select Campaign Goal. Choose App Promotion.
  5. Choose Campaign Subtype that matches your goals (install, engagement, pre-registration).
  6. Specify Device Type. Select whether your ads will be for iOS or Android devices.
  7. Enter App Details. In the search field, enter the name of your mobile app and select it.
  8. Name Your Campaign and Add Text Ideas. Provide a name for your campaign and input multiple text ideas for your ads. All text ideas will be used in the campaign and chosen automatically by Google’s algorithm. Ads will rotate to find the best-performing texts.
  9. Add Creative Assets. Optionally, add videos, images, or HTML5 assets to enhance your ads.
  10.  Set Targeting. Define the locations and languages you want to target.
  11. Define Budget and Bid Amount. Set your campaign goal, daily budget, and bid amount.
  12.  Set Dates. Choose the start and end dates for your campaign. If you prefer an open-ended campaign, you can opt not to include an end date.

Source: Google Ads 

Optimisation Tips & Best Practices

To maximise the performance of your Google Ads app campaigns, implement these advanced optimisation techniques:

  1. Advanced conversion tracking helps you with accurate tracking, measure success and refine strategies. Use Google Play Store data, Google Ads API, Google Analytics, Firebase, and other third-party analytics tools.
  2. Setting realistic goals by installing volume vs. In-app actions. Choose the right goal based on your app’s stage and user engagement levels. Ensure your budget aligns with your goals for effective optimisation.
  3.  Allocate enough budget to allow Google’s algorithm to optimise effectively.
  4. Diversify your creative assets because diverse and high-quality assets improve ad performance. Include a mix of images, videos, and HTML5 assets to capture user attention across different platforms. Regularly test different ad creatives and bids to find the most effective combination.
  5. Test different bid strategies by regularly testing and adjusting bids to find the optimal balance for maximum ROI. 
  6. Allow sufficient learning time because Google’s algorithm needs time to optimise your campaign. Avoid making changes during the initial learning phase to allow the algorithm to collect meaningful data.

Successful App Campaign Optimisation Tips & Best Practices

To ensure your Google Ads app campaign is as effective as possible, consider the following tips and best practices:

  1. Set Up Proper Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is essential to measure campaign success and identify high-performing elements. Methods include:

  • Google Play Store conversion data
  • Third-party analytics providers
  • Google Ads API
  • Google Analytics for Firebase
  1. Choose the Right Goal

This helps you optimise bids to get the highest number of instals at a target CPI.

Optimises for CPA to increase engagement among existing users. Budget Recommendations:

  • For install volume: Budget should be at least 50 times your target CPI.
  • For in-app actions: Budget should be at least 10 times your target CPA, or aim for 100 conversions.
  1. Diversify Creative Assets

High-quality and varied assets improve ad performance. Types of Assets:

  • Up to 20 static images
  • Up to 20 videos
  • 10 text elements
  • HTML5 assets

Include at least one portrait image, one landscape image, one portrait video, one landscape video, and a range of HTML5 assets.

  1. Test Different Bids

Bids significantly affect campaign performance. Test various bid levels to find the optimal balance. Ensure bids are high enough to secure placements, especially on competitive platforms like YouTube.

  1. Allow Sufficient Learning Time

Google’s algorithm needs time to optimise your campaign. The learning phase typically lasts about a month. Avoid making changes during this period to allow the algorithm to collect meaningful data.

After the initial learning phase, make systematic adjustments to optimise campaigns based on performance metrics.

Additional Tips for iOS Campaigns

  1. Focus on Videos
    • Most of Google’s iOS inventory consists of video formats.
    • Formats to Consider: YouTube (bumper ads, Shorts, skippable videos), AdMob (various video formats).
  2. Understand ATT Shortcomings
    • Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) limits data collection.
    • Effect on Campaigns: Google’s iOS inventory often doesn’t prompt for ATT, affecting deterministic data. This impacts how campaigns are measured and optimised.
  3. Keep NULL Rates Low
    • NULL postbacks in SKAdNetwork obscure valuable post-install data.
    • Strategies: Consolidate campaigns and use ad groups for creative testing to reduce NULL rates.
  4. Test “On Device Measurement” (ODM)
    • ODM enhances Google’s optimisation capabilities by providing more high-quality data.
    • Implementation: Test ODM if you collect user emails or phone numbers.
  5. Measure with SKAdNetwork
    • For multi-network campaigns, SKAdNetwork provides a unified attribution method.
    • How to Use: Use SKAdNetwork to compare performance across different networks, rather than relying solely on Google’s self-attributing data.

Why should you Integrate Google Ads strategy with Social Media Marketing?

Integrating Google Ads app campaigns with your social media strategies can significantly boost your overall marketing effectiveness. Here’s how:

  • Running a campaign on Google plus other social media channels allow you to use insights from multiple platforms about your audience and their behaviour. This gives you more insights about how you can refine your social media strategy on the whole and Google Ads targeting and creative strategies to be specific.
  • Promote your app across both Google Ads and social media platforms to maximise reach and engagement.
  • Ensure your ads convey a consistent message across all channels, reinforcing your brand identity and value proposition.

For example, let’s take a look at some popular apps that are using cross-promotional channels to market their apps. 

Duolingo – Increasing App Instals with AdMob

Duolingo is a widely popular language learning platform offering a variety of courses in multiple languages. It uses gamification to make learning fun and engaging, attracting users of all ages who want to learn a new language at their own pace.

Their goal was to generate revenue without harming the free user experience and automate ads optimisation for the Duolingo language learning app.


  • Duolingo partnered with AdMob to implement ads across all formats, mediation, and bidding.
  • Utilised Google Ads app install campaigns to reach a broad audience interested in language learning.
  • Leveraged a mix of static images and engaging video ads across Google Search, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.


  • Achieved a 70% increase in total revenue through mediation and an additional 20% increase with bidding.
  • Increased eCPMs (effective cost per thousand impressions) by 10% to 20% with bidding.
  • Achieved a significant increase in instals, with a 30% uplift in new users.
  • Optimised cost-per-install (CPI) by leveraging machine learning to target users more likely to download the app based on their interests and behaviours.

Duolingo’s overall success can also be attributed to its cross-platform marketing strategies. For example, the app has effectively used TikTok to reach a younger demographic with engaging, organic content that promotes language learning in a fun and relatable way.

Learn more about how Duolingo uses cross-platform strategies in our TikTok marketing case study.


Google Ads App Campaigns are among the most powerful tools for app promotion, leveraging Google’s extensive network to help your app gain traction and reach your target audience. By understanding the various types of campaigns, setting them up correctly, and following best practices for optimisation, you can significantly enhance your app’s visibility and user engagement.

Integrating Google Ads app campaigns with your social media efforts can further boost your marketing effectiveness, providing a cohesive and comprehensive approach to reaching your audience across multiple channels.

Ready to take your app marketing to the next level? 

At House of Marketers, we specialise in creating and managing successful Google Ads and social media app campaigns tailored to your unique needs. Our expertise in cross-platform strategies ensures that your app not only gains visibility but also engages users across multiple channels. 

Contact us today for a free consultation about how we can help you achieve your app marketing goals and drive exceptional results.

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