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There are numerous articles and instructions that help with the right approach to app development. However, once the app has been successfully launched in the app store, disillusionment often sets in. Only your own friends and acquaintances have downloaded the app and the dream of having your own Unicorn bursts like a soap bubble (or bitcoin bubble). Even today, development teams are still very naive when it comes to marketing their own app. For this reason, I would like to use this article to provide some ideas and starting points for the structured and performance-oriented marketing of mobile apps. Every app has its own special features that should be taken into account when marketing. For this reason, this article is not a copy-paste strategy, but only serves as a general presentation of the various marketing options.

I will begin with the presentation of the Marketing opportunities via Google AdWords.

App installation campaigns via Google AdWords

Universal App Campaigns (UAC) is the performance marketing solution for placing app install campaigns in the Google network (IOS and Android apps). Since November 15, 2017, UACs are also the only way to reach app installs via Google AdWords. The previous standard solution was app install campaigns, which could be placed via either the search network or the display network. Google's UAC uses machine learning to decide which ads are displayed, where (ad spaces) and to whom (target group). This decision was based on the fact that UAC led to up to 140% more conversions than conventional app install campaigns.

Field report: My experience in running app install campaigns vs. UAC has always been that running search network and display network campaigns separately has yielded significantly better results than running UAC.

Where and how are UACs played out?

With UAC, the app to be advertised is displayed on all major Google platforms, such as Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, search network (including partner search networks such as T-Mobile) and the display network.

When placing UAC ads, it is not necessary to create your own ads. Several UAC ads are displayed and tested using the specified ad texts (4 ad texts of 25 characters each) and the Google Play Store entry. In this way, the most effective ad design is determined and primarily displayed. In addition to the various ad texts, the standard bid and budget must also be specified and the language and region selected before UAC can be placed.

One advantage of UAC is that it can not only be optimized for app installations, but that other events can also be defined. This ultimately leads to UAC ads being displayed to the people who are most likely to perform precisely this action.

ExampleInstead of optimizing for app installation, you can optimize for the "Registration" event to increase the number of actual app users.

Bidding strategy at UCA:

When placing UCAs, there is only the option of bidding on the target cost-per-install (CPI). You tell Google the target CPI and Google will then optimize the display of the ads.

Analysis and reporting options at UCA:

The possible analysis and reporting options are also much more limited with UCA than with conventional mobile app install campaigns. The segmentation levels are as follows:

Campaign level (there are no ad groups)

Terminal device


Time (day, month, etc.)


Facebook App Install Campaigns (Mobile App Install Ads)

The Facebook performance marketing solution to increase the number of app downloads is "Mobile App Install Ads". When running Mobile App Install Ads, you can choose from all of Facebook's familiar target group and ad options. From lookalike campaigns to the placement of Mobile App Install Ads in the Instagram feed, the entire Facebook toolkit can be selected.

In order to run successful Facebook campaigns, the integration of the Facebook pixel is generally necessary. However, when placing Mobile App Install Ads, the Facebook pixel is not used, but the Facebook SDK. To do this, you must first create a Facebook developer account and enter the respective app there. Without the integration of the Facebook SDK, no Mobile App Install Ads can be placed. For this reason, you should allow some time before placing Mobile App Install Ads so that the Mobile SDK can be implemented and the app can be tested sufficiently.

Watch outIf the app to be advertised is based on React, it will not be possible to integrate the SDK and possible events conventionally. This should definitely be taken into account in the time planning, as a campaign launch can be delayed by a week.

Optimize Facebook Mobile App Install Ads for events

In addition to optimizing for the lowest possible CPI values, you can also optimize for other events. Facebook offers a total of 14 standard events that can be optimized for:

App launch

View Content


Payment information added

Added to wish list

Added to shopping cart

Completed registration

Tutorial completed

Initial checkout

Achieved Level

Unlocked achievement


Credits issued

It is advisable to integrate the required standard events via the SDK, as these events are also visible in Facebook Analytics and, after enough people have reached the target project, a custom audience and finally a lookalike campaign can also be activated.

Setting options Mobile App Install Ads

Mobile App Install Ads have the same campaign structure as conventional Facebook campaigns:

1st campaign

2nd ad group

3. display

The familiar placements, such as

  • Facebook Newsfeed
  • Instagram Feed
  • Audience Network
  • Facebook Messenger

can be selected.

Instead of only naming CPI bids as with Google AdWords UAC, the following bidding strategies can be used with MAI:

Cost-per-click (CPC)

Cost-per-mille (CPM)

Optimization for conversion (oCPM)

Advertisement design by MAI:

In addition to the free selection of the respective ad placement, the ad design can also be influenced as usual. In addition to video, single-image or carousel ads, advertisers have a variety of design options that are no longer offered by Google.

The following ad features can be customized for Mobile App Install Ads:

  • Image or video display
  • Single image/video vs carousel ad
  • Title
  • Text
  • Call-to-action

With Mobile App Install Ads, the conventional link description option is no longer available.

Ad placements for Mobile App Install Ads

In principle, the conventional platforms (Facebook Newsfeed, Instagram Feed & Story, Audience Network & Facebook Messenger) can be selected for Mobile App Install Ads to display the ads. The different performance values should be segmented according to ad placement in order to remove unprofitable placements.

Practical tip for the placement of Mobile App Install Ads:

Since most mobile apps have a file size of +20 MB, the probability that users will download an app while they have a WLAN connection is significantly higher than when surfing with mobile data volume.

In the settings options for the ad groups, you can select the option that people are only addressed if there is a Wi-Fi connection. This should always be selected when placing Mobile App Install Ads.

Market the app

Twitter Mobile App Install Ads:

Twitter also offers the opportunity to increase the number of app downloads via Mobile App Install Ads. Mobile App Install Ads work in a similar way to Facebook Ads, except that Twitter does not have the wealth of data that Facebook has, which generally leads to poorer results than Facebook campaigns.

An interesting function that Twitter offers is the display of advertisements to users who watch a certain TV series and tweet about it.

In order to analyze the success of Twitter Mobile App Install Ads, a mobile SDK must be installed, as with Facebook.

Further performance marketing channels for app marketing:

In addition to the three well-known platforms for increasing the number of app downloads, there are also platforms such as Amazon, Snapchat or Lovoo, which can lead to an increase in app users. However, before these platforms are used, the full potential of Facebook and Google AdWords app campaigns should be exploited.

Tobias Dziuba

My name is Tobias and I am the founder and managing director of the Amazon agency Adsmasters GmbH based in Düsseldorf.

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