Search Ads Go Live On Google Play, “Universal” Ads That Run Across Google Properties To Soon Follow

Google is today opening up a program that allows developers who are running Search app install campaigns on AdWords to advertise their apps within Google Play’s search results. In conjunction with this, Google is also launching a new conversion-tracking solution that will track when users install and then launch an app after clicking on a search ad.

The program is an expansion of an earlier effort that began in February. At that time, Google announced the launch of a pilot effort that would allow mobile application developers building for Android the ability to advertise their applications directly in the Google Play store.

Initially available to those advertisers who were already running search ads on, these mobile app ads appear when users search for a particular keyword or phrase – like “hotel apps” or “coupon app,” for example – in the Google Play store.

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Early testers for this program included companies like and Nordeus, who have already been promoting their apps using these ads. Those companies aren’t sharing the results of their efforts at this point, but Tomislav Mihajlović, CMO of Nordeus, did say that his company was using the apps to reach “high-quality” users and they’ve “already seeing significantly more app installs from Search with the addition of Google Play inventory for our game Top Eleven.”

By “high-quality” users, what Mihajlović means is that those who are typing in a specific search term in the app store itself are more likely going to be interested in a relevant mobile app search result compared with those who are being sent to the app through a mobile ad campaign (like those that run within other apps), or perhaps those who were prompted to try a new app from an ad appearing on a social media, like Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.

This same concept of allowing an advertiser to bid against search terms is what made’s ad business on the web so profitable in the first place, and now the company is expanding its business to mobile.

Rolling out today, Search Ads on Google Play will allow Android app developers to run advertising campaigns that reach the over a billion people using Android devices across more than 190 countries, says Google. The option will only be available to those developers who are already running Search app install campaigns on AdWords.

Related to this, the company is also introducing “Android first app opens,” which is a new conversion tracking solution that measures when a user first opens an Android app they’ve installed after clicking on an ad.

Because first app opens are a standard conversion measurement in third-party solutions, Google notes that it’s working with key partners like Tune, AppsFlyer, Kochava, Adjust and Apsalar in order to ensure data consistency while also allowing developers to use the reporting and optimization features across AdWords along with the third-party solution of their own choosing.

Soon, Google will also launch something it calls Universal App Campaigns, which will make it easier for developers running ad campaigns to target all of Google’s properties at once, including the Google Play Store, Search, YouTube, the AdMob in-app network and the over 2 million sites on the Google Display Network. Google says Universal App Campaigns will be available in a few weeks.

Search is becoming an increasingly important way for users to find apps to install, as the app stores continue to grow. Google Play today has somewhere north of 1.5 million, which means users are just as often turning to search as they are the top charts to find apps matching their interests.

It’s worth noting, too, that the ability to target users at the point of an app store search is something that competitor Apple is not doing. Though Apple has tried to point users in the right direction by way of related search suggestions and has even on occasion used search to promote its own apps, it has yet to offer an ad solution where developers could bid against users’ searches directly.