The Mobile App-pocalypse: What’s it mean for Digital Advertising via Google Networks?

We’ve likely all heard about the rise of Mobile and are all too aware of the subsequent proliferation of mobile apps that are sapping the battery life of smartphones worldwide. Most of us can say we are riding this wave and have become subconscious advocates for its growth purely through downloading or using apps that help us manage our days, map our workouts, or communicate. It’s a part of our everyday lives and has become second-nature to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable to be stuck in a public space without your mobile device there to take the social-edge off.

But, what does this all mean for businesses who have, or are thinking of developing, a mobile app product? How can you promote or monetise your app without spending a disproportionate amount? Is it even worth travelling the mobile-road in the first-place? These are all relevant questions especially when you consider that mobile internet revenue is set to increase 300% to $700 billion by 2017. The good thing is, there are numerous products/platforms out there to help you answer these questions and implement mobile strategies with a good degree of control and measurability. For the sake of brevity, lets take a look at what Google has to offer.

3, 2, 1, LAUNCH

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On April 22nd 2014, Google announced a set of developments and updates for the existing AdWords platform. Included was the revelation of their new mobile app-focused features that help advertisers promote app installs, boost re-engagement, and measure conversions across the lifecycle of an app. This was mainly a response to increased competition from Social Media giants like Facebook and Twitter, but nevertheless a necessary development to cater for an increasingly connected world defined by digestible applications acting as everyday life-tools. Since April, improvements have been made and the features are gradually rolling-out to the point where advertisers now have the opportunity to promote their apps across Search and Display Networks, as well as via YouTube ad-formats.

Google’s ability to facilitate app promotion and monetisation has largely been helped by the existence of its AdMob Network platform. Built as an easy and accessible platform, advertisers can promote their apps across a network of over 300,000 apps with the added benefit of accessing Google Analytics via the AdMob interface for convenient data and performance analysis. There are certain restrictions in terms of creating an AdMob account, however if you already have an AdWords or AdSense account then you’re good to go!

Alternatively, advertisers can access these new features via the traditional AdWords interface. If you’re familiar with the inner workings of AdWords such as setting up a campaign, then you can be happy to know that creating a “Mobile App Install” campaign, for example, is just as simple. Mobile app campaigns are similar to standard campaign-types but with specific differences such as tracking for different operating systems (Android and iOS) and bid-strategies/cost-models (again, dependent on the operating system) with different metrics to consider such as CPI (Cost Per Install) and the widely accepted mobile revenue metric eCPM (Effective Cost Per Thousand ad impressions). The great thing about advertising via AdWords is its flexibility in control from Automatic to Manual bidding options depending on how you want to manage your app campaign. For example, if you’re wanting to limit your media spend for mobile app promotion it may pay to run a campaign on the Search Network using manual CPC (Cost Per Click) bidding so that you can adjust your bids accordingly especially if you want to maintain a good CPI. Unfortunately, the mobile app engagement campaign feature is not yet available here in little old New Zealand but won’t be far away (I’ll save that gem for another post).

The other great offering to Google’s app promotion suite is its improvement of mobile app insights via Google Analytics. Advertisers are now able to delve into the depths and analyse things such as user behaviour and engagement, version performance, and most importantly conversions and in-app purchases. This is especially important for those developing apps who can assess and measure the performance as they build and make changes.

Android vs. iOS

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For Google, campaigns for Android apps could not be more simple. As Google IS Google Play (the Andriod app-store), custom integration is not required which means that conversions such as app installs and other engagement goals are recorded natively inside the AdWords and Analytics interfaces. On the other hand, iOS campaigns require some customised setup in terms of installing tracking codes inside the app and measuring conversions/installs. The good news is that Google is working on solutions in partnership with the app companies themselves and, as with any tech-product, updates will continue to roll-out.

Convinced? Excited? Still Confused or Unsure about Mobile?

Obviously, mobile apps are not relevant for every industry but they very well may be in the near future as business-leaders keep innovating and developers keep tinkering. But I encourage you, if you do have an app or are considering a mobile-first strategy as a viable step, not to be shy and bury your head in the growing documentation of mobile’s rise and expansion. Mobile app advertising specifically is still in its infancy, yet it is developing at a very high rate with businesses jumping at the opportunity to ride the wave and learn as much as possible.

Now is the time to consider how your business or product will capitalise on the connected consumer who is actively searching, purchasing, and learning on-the-go.