Google made several product and feature announcements for app developers Wednesday. The features track to the phases of the app life cycle from driving awareness and interest in a yet-to-be-launched app to re-engaging existing installs.
Of the five new features, four are currently in beta.
Pre-registration ads. Targeted at the pre-launch phase, this ad product is aimed at getting users to sign up for an app that’s launching soon. Available for Android apps, the ads can run across Play Store, YouTube, the million or so apps that are in the Google Display Network and Google.com.
The ads feature a “Pre-registration” button and an opt-in for users to be notified to sign up early for other new games Google thinks they might like. Line Games tested the ad units to promote its multi-player game Destiny Child ahead of release in order to have a critical mass of users ready to play. It had 10,000 users at launch.
This product is currently in closed beta.
Rewarded ads in Play console. Google’s rewarded ads for AdMob have evolved over the past couple of years. They offer another way for developers to monetize their apps by giving users the option to watch an ad in exchange for an in-app benefit like advancing to the next level or earning tokens in a game. Last year, Google introduced rewarded video ad formats for AdMob.
Now, it’s bringing the model to the Play console to make it easier for developers to test how and where the formats will execute while they are prototyping. No need for an SDK or Google Ads account set up. This is currently in beta.
Max Conversions bidding. Already available for Search campaigns, Google is bringing its Max Conversions automated bidding strategy to App campaigns. Its aim is to generate as many conversion actions as possible within budget. It’s designed for marketers who have a fixed budget — and don’t have a fixed target price limit for acquiring new users — and want to drive conversion volume. The system factors multiple signals such as remarketing lists, time of day, browser and operating system into bids. App campaigns already have Target Cost-per-Install (tCPI) and Target Cost-per-Acquisition (tCPA) smart bidding options.
App Campaigns for Engagement. A sister product to App campaigns (formerly Universal App Campaigns), the goal of this new campaign type is to bring users back to engage with an app they’ve already installed. Like App campaigns, the ads can run across Google’s inventory. App Campaigns for Engagement were created to target lapsed user segments who either have never opened an app they installed or haven’t re-engaged lately. Developers can segment their user lists and customize the message and creative. For example, to re-engage users, a developer might offer discounts on in-app purchases. Google said developers in retail, travel, finance and other sectors have seen early success with this campaign type. It is currently in beta.
Smart Segmentation. Google said it is seeing a number of apps monetize with a mix of ads and in-app purchases (IAPs). To help those apps find the right balance, and not miss out on IAPs by showing ads to users who might buy, Google is introducing Smart Segmentation. Less than 4 percent of users will ever make in-app purchases, a Google internal study found. Smart Segmentation uses machine learning to identify that narrow slice of users and not show ads to those users deemed likely to make in-app purchases. This is available to all developers now.
Why you should care. Mobile apps generally, and gaming apps in particular, are big business for developers and for Google. Standing out from the crowded field and figuring a monetization model — or mix — that works is getting more challenging. These new features, announced ahead of Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, offer a range of solutions to address challenges at every marketing phase.