Mobile App is by no means a singular channel. Much the way we have viewed “non-App” digital marketing for years, we are now using several different channels to fill the funnel to conversion for the App consumer. Google is certainly not the only publisher to make multi-channel marketing possible for our App clients but for today it is the one I will focus on. I will outline the different channels within Google that can be used for App promotion and I will rank these channels strategically based on where I find they fit in the path to conversion (starting at the lowest funnel position).
Search – in the Play Store
These users are actively searching within the Google Play Store. Potential customers could be searching branded or non-branded queries where you want to be visible for the most down funnel action in the customer’s search for the perfect App. We find that customers coming in through Search in the Play Store are the highest converters both to an Install as well as when measuring other in-App actions/conversions. It is also important to note that this channel, while providing good returns, can be highly competitive as there is only one ad space at the top of the screen in each auction making it important to build keyword lists for the highest value terms and then continually optimize to improve efficiency.
Search on Google Search (App Extensions)
This user is searching on Google.com on their mobile device. As to be expected, these users would traditionally be sent to a web experience versus an App experience. With the help of App Extensions, you are able to give your potential customer the ability to choose between a web experience (by clicking on the text ad) or an app/Play Store experience by clicking on the button in the extension. By giving the potential customer the choice, they are likely to choose the experience where they are most likely to convert. We find the App Extension feature to be very successful when we are able to track both web and app conversion actions toward the same KPIs for the most complete measure of true success.
Engage – with Apps (in App Display)
In App ads will show while users are actively engaged on related apps (determined by you, the marketer)! Think of these in much the way you would think about typical Display ads though again, these placements are WITHIN (other) Apps. This is a great way to get your App in front of the right audience. This type of placement is one that falls higher in the funnel and should be used for more branding/awareness type initiatives.
Watch – on YouTube (App Installs)
With YouTube being the second largest search engine, putting yourself in front of potential customers here is essential (1) to increase potential for volume, (2) to engage with potential customers that are actively engaged with related content. With the App Install feature, you are allowing your customers to drive directly to the Play Store to Install your App seamlessly.
Surf – the Web (standard Display w/ App Install component)
Capture users who are surfing the web on related content. This would be more of a traditional Display buy within the Google Display Network, though your ad has an Install component that drives clicks through to the Play Store where the most immediate Install action can take place. These potential customers are usually furthest from an App mindset at the time of initial contact, however, it allows for greater volume and points of contact with a potential customer.
Read – their emails (GSP for App Installs)
Gmail Sponsored Promotions is probably the newest of all these channels, but much like the others, it allows us to market your App to highly targeted, engaged potential customers. Not only are we able to hit a contextually relevant audience, we are again able to send users directly through to the App Store for the most seamless path to Install.
Google has also come up with a one stop shop for App Marketing called Universal App Campaigns. Using this campaign type, App marketers are able to show across all of the previously mentioned campaign types/channels. The idea behind this campaign type is really neat but should be considered and used only after the individual channels are well built out for the best performance. With Universal App Campaigns there is little control or opportunity for optimization once live. With that said Universal App Campaigns can be used effectively if your goal is to scoop up additional volume on top of your current strategy.
For the most robust of App marketing plans there should be consideration for each of these channels. As suggested, some of the above channels are better at driving direct response actions such as Install or even In-App Conversion actions while others should be used to help fill the funnel and ensure you continue to see success and growth by helping to feed your lower funnel channels.