Google Expands Its App Promotion Business With “Universal” App Campaigns And New Media Partnerships

Google announced today a number of new tools and updates designed help app developers better promote their applications across Google’s own network, as well as measure ad performance across a broader set of networks and grow their revenue.

One new product, called Universal Ad Campaigns, is being specifically aimed at smaller developers or those who are new to advertising with Google. This allows developers a simplified way to set up an app promotion that runs across all of Google, including Search, Google Play, AdMob, the Google Display Network and YouTube.

The move is meant to leverage Google’s scale to challenge competitors, like Facebook and Twitter, which also offer app install ads that can be targeted to reach particular demographic or interest groups.

With a simplified setup option that will be available in both AdWords, as well as directly in the Google Play Developer Console which is where app developers manage their apps, campaigns can be quickly created without requiring that developers input a lot of information.

As Google product manager for Google Play Ellie Powers told us, Google wants to make it as easy as possible for developers to say “here is my money and this is what I want to pay per user,” and then let Google handle things for them.

Using Google’s new analytics reports for Play, developers will now also be able to see where their traffic is coming from, analytics from their app listing place in the Google Play store and other metrics in one place to see how well their campaigns are working.

Typically, it takes a lot of work to create the campaigns, but now, developers only need to enter details about how much they want to spend, the audience they want to reach, and what the ad will say. Google then handles ad creation and bidding in order to maximize the ad’s performance across all of these networks.

Universal Ad Campaigns will launch in the “coming months,” Google said, but didn’t provide an exact timeframe.

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This new tool was pre-announced at this morning’s Google I/O developer conference, marking the first time Google has ever made a mobile ads announcement during its keynote at the event. This highlights mobile’s growing importance to Google as it continues to shift its core business to better serve the needs of native app developers in a world where consumers are increasingly spending time using apps instead of browsing the web.

Media Partnerships

In addition, Google also said it’s making it easier for established developers to measure ad performance through partnerships with over 20 ad networks, including inMobi and Millennial Media. With another forthcoming tool, Mobile App Install Campaign Attribution, Google Analytics for Apps customers will have more ways to see how well their ads are working and which networks are providing the best value.

Previously, Google Analytics customers could track the performance of mobile app install campaigns and get information about the lifetime value of an app’s users on both Android and iOS (which is now out of beta). Today’s news regarding data integrations with the ad network partners will allow developers to see metrics, including lifetime value and retention across more networks, and will soon offer the ability to “postback” conversions to referring ad networks to better optimize traffic, says Google.

Google also announced the ability to integrate app install and event data from third-party measurement partners into AdWords, including Adjust, Appsflyer, Apsalar, Kochava, and Tune — a change that Google says will increase measurement accuracy between different AdWords trackers.

Aiming To Be A Cross-Platform Solution

Combined, the idea with the new releases and updates is to make Google a more complete solution for an app developer’s business, and follow on previous announcements focused on helping developers acquire and engage app users. Yesterday, Google said that Search will now also feature content from iOS applications in addition to Android, allowing consumers to surface information from apps and even open them directly from Google Search.

As Google’s Jason Titus told us earlier this week, the company also wants to use this year’s I/O to stress its support for cross-platform development and today’s announcements are a good example for this. “We think there may have been a misconception that we weren’t supporting iOS that much,” he said. “We are trying to make sure that is clear and that it’s easy for developers to incorporate everything from analytics to AdMob into their iOS apps. We want to be a cross-platform solutions for folks.”

Today’s announcements about app ads come at a pivotal time for Google’s business. Google’s share of the worldwide mobile ad market fell to 38.2 percent in 2014, says eMarketer, down from 46 percent the year prior. Meanwhile, Facebook increased its share from 16.4 percent to 17.4 percent last year as global mobile ad market expanded more than 50 percent to $42.63 billion in 2014.