Introducing Google’s Universal App Campaign


With Google AdWords it’s always like an Easter Egg Hunt. You just find new goodies popping up everywhere. So what is it this month? It’s a whole new campaign type called a Universal App Campaign. What’s that!? It’s not search, it’s not display, and it’s not video – it’s all of the above, and only for apps...

universal app campaigns

Anyone with an app knows that to promote app downloads in the past, you would have to create a search campaign that linked up to your app with a whole set of keywords, then a separate display campaign that targeted audiences, mobile app categories, installed app categories, etc. Then you’d have to add YouTube video display ads if you had them. Then create a TruView campaign that pushed traffic to app downloads. Let’s just say there were are lot of diverse campaigns to manage.

How the New Universal App Campaign Type Works

Back in May this year Google announced that it would be releasing a new type of campaign called Universal App Campaigns. And they just started showing up in the UI this week! (Google typically rolls new features out slowly, so be patient if you don’t see it in your own account quite yet.)

So if it’s an all-in-one campaign with search, display, YouTube, adMob and Google Play, how does it work? Does it have keywords? No, it doesn’t. Does it have display audiences and targets? Nope. Does it have YouTube targeting? Not that one either. It looks like Google released the set-it-and-forget-it version of app promotion. You don’t even have access to all the normal tabs; your settings are limited to:

  • 4 ad text ideas
  • YouTube Video
  • Location
  • Language
  • Budget
  • Target CPA

universal app campaigns in adwords

How to Create a Universal App Campaign

You simply create your campaign by first linking your app, which is as simple as searching the name of your app and selecting it.

creating universal app campaigns

You are then allowed to add 4 lines of “ad text ideas” (25 characters each). These need to be independent from each other because Google may mix them up to create different ads. You are also given the option to add a YouTube video if you have one.

universal app campaign ads

Lastly tell Google your desired CPA and budget. That’s it – then it just runs! You just set it and forget it. It will then be eligible to serve on Google Search, mobile app network adMob, the Display Network, YouTube and the Google Play store.

universal app campaign bid strategy

Although we had all hoped that Mobilegeddon was over, it’s only the beginning, with app downloads and mobile searches rising year after year and mobile search volume finally surpassing desktop. We have all seen the many pushes that Google has made to enhance paid ads on the mobile SERP, with mobile bid enhancers, mobile-specific ad extensions, mobile landing pages … just about everything is tailored to mobile these days. The other biggest part of mobile is apps. After all, what’s a smartphone without apps? It only makes sense to give apps their own campaign type.

set it and forget it

How is this going to help you? Do you want more app downloads? Do you not want to take the time and effort to create separate search, display and YouTube campaigns, all with their own targeting settings and new ads for each one? Well then here’s your solution. Just set it… and forget it!


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Sep 19, 2015


Thanks for sharing the news. I made a universal app campaign for one of my app and ran it for couple of days only to zero clicks and impression.
I don't know how it works. :/

Sep 22, 2016

Just set a higher bid...

Sep 21, 2015

This update is available at only some account or for all because I have not found this update in my MCC account.

Eman Battour
Oct 21, 2015

Actually you can now access these from within your developer console account. Under User Acquisitions / Adwords Campaigns.

It company surat
Sep 24, 2015

great tips...thank you

SEO Services Company Surat
Sep 25, 2015

Good news...thank you

Oct 13, 2015

Extra points for the Ron Popeil meme. One of my marketing heroes!

Oct 15, 2015

Hi there, I see universal app campaign is only available for Android, do you then need to create separate search and display campaigns for IOS?

Dec 14, 2015

what is difference between a display app campaign and universal app campaign.


Geoff Marcy
Feb 04, 2016

I'm about to test a Universal App campaign for a client who built an Android App for hailing taxis in Canada. I'll report back on how it performs.

Geoff Marcy
Feb 05, 2016

Already paused this type of campaign as the features blow chunks! It's a blind type of setup where you can't get any optics into where the installs are coming from. My Google Rep even admitted it was weird. Hopefully they enhance the features down the road as it seems extremely basic for any advertiser.

Feb 12, 2016

The Universal App Campaign is showing data (impressions, clicks, CTR, etc...) in Google AdWords but not in Google Analytics. Can you please guide me?

SEO Surat
May 26, 2016

Thank for sharing this blog. This really very helpful for me.

Jun 07, 2017

Hello does anyone know the impression split for App Store placements, Display and Search? I just need an estimate nothing exact is needed, just some type of sense of the impression split.


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