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Optimizing your creative assets for Google App campaigns

Optimizing your creative assets for Google App campaigns

Performance marketing is moving to a more algorithmic and AI-based approach. This is true for several ad networks, and even more for the 2 giants that are Facebook and Google.


Table of Content


Facebook has AEO (App Event Optimization) campaigns. With Universal App campaigns (UAC), the way to run mobile app campaigns with Google radically changed.

The change is a big adjustment. But some publishers have had their best performing campaigns on UAC (now renamed “App Campaigns”) since they’ve embraced it.

It also seems that Google has a few tricks up their sleeves, with recent announcements regarding video ads on the Google Play Store, similar audiences and playable ads.


The reach of App campaigns

For insights on Universal App campaigns and advices on running your own campaigns, here are some very interesting resources:

We’re putting together a detailed guide that summarizes the advice and best practices Google and advertisers have shared so far.

In the meantime, what you need to know for this post (but we encourage you to read the resources above) is that there are different types of campaigns:

  • Install volume – campaigns that optimize towards driving app install volume (can still factor in data from those who have completed target in-app actions)
  • In-app actions (“value-driven campaigns”) – campaigns that optimize towards cost for specific in-app event(s) post install (reaching X level, a sign up, etc.). For this you will need conversion tracking set up, either with Firebase or a 3rd party like Adjust
  • tROAS (target Return On Ad Spend) – you tell Google Ads the average value you want back for every dollar spent. Your budget is then used to get as much value as possible at the amount you set. This should become publicly available later this year.

It is also not recommended to run campaigns optimized for In-App Events straight from the start. This is something you want to gradually introduce so the algorithm can learn more about the type of users you should focus on and improve performance.

Google recommends to gradually go from installs to in-app events

Before optimizing for ROAS (tROAS bidding), you first want to make sure that your campaigns optimized for in-app actions are successful.


Creatives optimization is one of the most important levers to play on for App campaigns, given that Machine Learning takes care of a lot of manual placements compared to the campaigns you could run before with Google (Google Search Network, Google Display Network or YouTube ad campaigns).

While App campaigns has taken away the manual placement and simplified bidding, it has enabled new bidding strategies like in-app action targeting or ROAS targeting. Making advertisers’ strategy more about engagement and what happens further down the funnel.

This also puts an emphasis on ad assets optimization, because this is what you have the most control on when starting your campaigns: ad text ideas, creative image assets and creative video assets.

Want to talk to one of our project managers so we can put together a proposal for your App campaign creative asset? Contact us here!

By increasing the conversion rates of your ads, you can directly improve your performance in auctions and enable your campaigns to back out more efficiently to your target CPIs/CPAs.

This is why in this article we focus on App campaigns creative optimization.

UAC healthy mix creative assets
This is what Google advises. We’ll see that you can also play a bit with what you provide to limit to certain placements

In terms of creatives for App Campaigns, you want at least: a landscape video, a portrait video and a landscape image.

If you’re looking for inspiration or want to understand where other apps in your niche advertise and which creatives they use, check out our post on how to do a competitive analysis for app install ad creatives.


By the end of May 2019 you should be able to use ad groups in your App campaigns.

Ad groups give you the possibility to have different ad groups, with different marketing themes, within the same App campaign.

This allows you to have themes highlighting different features or benefits of your app.

Examples of different themes for a healthy meals app:

  • Focus on the most popular recipes
  • Focus on the variety of diets available
  • Focus on automatic shopping list
  • Focus on delivery options
  • Focus on social proof (testimonials, endorsements)
  • Special seasonal deal
  • Etc.

You can also upload different creative themes (gameplay vs. cinematic for example, lifestyle vs. app footage), both so you can get a sense of what works best and also because depending on the video placement some creative themes might resonate better than others.

There is unlimited ad groups you can create within a campaign, so technically you’ll have unlimited assets per campaigns (with a max per ad group of 4 text ideas assets, 20 image assets and 20 video assets).

Below are some slides from Google I/O 2019 where they made the announcement.


The first part of the Ad assets in your Universal App campaigns dashboard are the ad text ideas.

You have to choose 4 short texts (max 25 characters) and value propositions that will be used in ads. This is different from how it worked in the past (Adwords app install campaigns) where you could set as many campaigns as you wished, so make sure you make the most of these text lines and refresh frequently to test what works best.

The feedback so far from advertisers is that texts that focus on benefits rather than technical features typically drive better performance.

When working on these ad texts, you want to keep in mind that they can be used on all types of inventory across the Search Network, Display Network and AdMob.

Some users might be searching for your app on Google, others might be reading an article related to a keyword you inserted in the Ad text ideas.

In both cases, your App title will be displayed. So 2 things:

  • Your app title should be optimized (thought through) so it works both for organic users in the Play Store (App Store Optimization) and paid traffic (UAC);
  • There is no need to repeat the keywords that are in your app title: it’s best to find the complimentary benefits of your app.

As mentioned your Universal App campaign optimization can be done either focusing on App Installs (Install Volume) or specific In-App Events (In-App Actions).

You need to adapt your Ad text ideas based on the kind of optimization you’re choosing. For example:

  • If a campaign is optimized for Install Volume, putting the focus on benefits that come quickly to users might be best. Something like “Free books & bestsellers!” for example. Note that there is already a download button on the ad so using a text line to ask to download would be redundant.
  • If another campaign is optimized for users that register/sign up, it makes more sense to have something like “Sign up for free today!”. Same here, keep in mind there is already an install button.

It’s also important to understand that the texts will be mixed and matched within an Ad Group. This means they should be able to work by themselves (provide a clear value proposition) but also when combined together.

Using punctuation (if a number of characters allows) can help give more sense to the ads when the texts are combined.

Just know that Google won’t combine two text assets that have a “!” in them, as it would then violate Google’s editorial guidelines.


Google lets you upload up to 20 images that will be used to create ads for the Google Display Network. There are many possible image types and dimensions, because there are many placements possible.


The first thing to know is that if you do not upload any video asset, Google will most likely automatically create a video using your Play Store or iOS App Store screenshots/elements. This results in a video where you do not control the messaging (or quality), and where the quality will most likely be lower than what you could create yourself (or have an agency specialized in video ads like us create).

Here is an example of an automatically created video asset:

By uploading your own video ad creative assets, you keep a better control over your messaging and how you present your app.

We might be biased…But both Google and the advertisers shared that videos are the ad creatives that tend to bring the most valuable users.

Videos indeed help better depict your value proposition and anyone who downloads the app after watching a video has a better understanding of your product and therefore will be more likely to be an engaged users.

So we of course recommend to create and use videos that target your audience, have the right messaging and have better chances to perform. Instead of relying on what is created automatically.

Where your App campaign video creatives can be displayed

Just like for the image assets, uploading different kinds of videos (in this case with different ratios) opens new placements.

For App campaigns, you can upload videos in any ratio between landscape 16:9 and portrait 9:16. For example:

  • Landscape 16:9
  • Square 1:1
  • Portrait 2:3
  • Portrait 9:16

The good news? The first 3 ratios above are also supported by Facebook so if you’ve been using video creatives on FB you can test them on App campaigns very easily.

Regarding the actual resolutions, Google does not share a best practice on this though. Here is what we typically use for our clients at Apptamin: 1920×1080 (landscape), 1080×1080 (square), 1080×1620 (portrait 2:3).

We tend to prefer videos in portrait 2:3 rather than videos in portrait 9:16 because the latter might be cropped when displayed on YouTube depending on user’s behavior.

What you therefore want to do if you go with portrait 9:16 (which might be good for the Display Network) is avoid having  core messaging in the top 10% and bottom 25% of the video.

google play app optimization

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