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Retargeting for Apps on Google AdWords

As you may know, Google shocked the mobile app industry in Q3 2017 when they announced that starting October you won’t be able to promote your app on Google AdWords, unless you use Google Universal App campaigns. The tricky part is that this new rule only applies to mobile app installs, not re-engages. Until Google implements their re-engagement UAC, here are some guidelines and recommendations for creating a re-engagement campaign for your mobile app on Google AdWords.


Before you get started, you should first decide which audience to target. It could be users who have reached a certain level of app usage, registered users, or people who have just installed your app. Once you have completed your target audience, you need to set the control group, i.e. set aside a certain percentage of users to act as the control group, just like in the lab. These will not be targeted and will only be a baseline of re-engagement.

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After you have users to target, it’s time to make a list. In AdWords, there is a difference between the list of data you upload to the UI. With email you can only run YouTube campaigns, while with IDFA/AID you can only run Display campaigns. Also, the list size must be large enough for the campaign to run properly. As an aside, I would add that search is not recommended for re-engagement, as in our experience it can affect your UA efforts, as it appears that on search, Google encounters problem distinguishing between users who installed the app and users who installed the app. have not done so yet. The best way to choose audience lists to target on Google is to use dynamic lists. This is done through the AdWords conversion tag, which is implemented in the app itself. This allows users to dynamically include and exclude users from the list, based on how well they fit the list’s criteria or if they’ve converted in the meantime.

Unfortunately, most 3rank Party cell tracking providers do not support this feature with Google. Hopefully Google will address this by the time interactive UAC comes around again.

See also  Understanding The Role of a UI/UX Agency

Before you start

With all of this said and done, you’re ready to launch your campaign, optimize against the campaign’s progress, and measure performance against the control group’s baseline results. Remember to set KPIs specifically for retargeting, due to the fact that it’s fundamentally different from a mobile app install campaign. Segment your audience by their position in the funnel (e.g. registered and purchased users, registered and non-purchased users, etc.). Then show them the right message to make them convert to the next KPI in the funnel and measure that particular segment against that KPI. The process can be a bit demanding at first, but the results are well worth the effort!



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