Apps are big business. Consumers are already spending more than $86 billion on them every year.

It’s understandable then that developers are rushing to get a piece of the market, but with millions of products competing for consumers’ attention, how do you make sure your app stands out from the crowd?

That’s where great creative comes in.

Google’s new Universal App Campaigns (UAC) are making it easier than ever for developers to tap into the billions of users who can be found on the tech giant’s network. We’ve previously written about UAC’s potential, and how developers can measure their success through the platform.

But today, we wanted to look at the role that creative plays in attracting attention, and some of the best practices that you can employ to make sure your app gets the downloads it deserves.

Creative is key

Creative is about so much more than just how your app appears in an online store. It reflects who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

It is often the first thing potential customers will see when it comes to your app, the touchpoint through which their first impression will be created and through which their initial opinion of your product is formed.

As a result, great creative is a must in order to stand out in the crowded online marketplace. But you also need a strategy behind it, something that will drive users to take action and hit that download button.

While Google has published a guide to the specifications your UAC ad should follow, there are far fewer resources to help you craft the creative that will prompt users to take action.

At Major Tom, we have extensive experience using UAC and have developed a series of best practices when it comes to crafting compelling text and imagery for successful campaigns. Take a look below for some of the key lessons we’ve learned and how you can put them into practice.

Text

  • Catchy or punchy headlines are a must if you’re going to standout. Remember that you want to attract users’ attention, not overload them with information.
  • Keep the information to a minimum and try to focus on the strongest selling points that will entice users to download your app.
  • Since Google mixes and matches your copy it’s vital that each headline works as a standalone piece of text.

Imagery

  • Google allows you to upload 20 creative assets — which includes banners, videos, and HTML5 ads — for your UAC ad. This gives you the opportunity to mix and match your visuals to ensure that your app always remains fresh.
  • Think carefully about the composition of your images. You don’t want to include too many components and risk them competing against each other.
  • It’s vital that every piece of creative you upload is on brand, ensuring that the impression users have of your app is consistent no matter where they see it.
  • Competition for consumers is fierce and so it’s vital that your imagery is striking enough to distract the user from everything else that is attempting to attract their attention.

Video

  • With our increasingly limited attention spans, you want to focus on making an impression in the first five seconds of your footage.
  • With the ability to upload multiple videos make sure that you mix and match different lengths with everything from short snappy attention-grabbers that are just a few seconds long, to more in-depth clips that show your app in use.
  • UAC hosts video in three different sizes. There is the 16:9 preferred by YouTube, the 4:3 portrait format that is most common on AdMob, and the square 1:1. It’s vital that your video is cut and uploaded in all three formats to maximize the chances that it will be shown.
  • It’s important to have at least one video — otherwise, Google may take assets from your app store listing and create a video for you.

Tracking

  • Google makes it easy to evaluate how your creative assets are performing by using the Creative Asset report. This tool groups your assets according to their performance enabling you to see what is performing well and what isn’t.
  • Armed with this information you’re able to learn and develop your creative, replacing assets that aren’t performing with fresh designs that are based on those that have been proven to attract attention from users.

Google optimization

While great creative is key, it has to be backed up by a sound strategy to make sure your UAC ads are a success. Some of the ways in which you can optimize your activity include:

  • Give your campaign time to succeed: Aim to hit 100 in-app purchases, and run your campaign for at least 30 days to let the model stabilize.
  • Set higher bids to attract high-value iOS users: Note that iOS users spend 2.5x more on in-app purchases than Android users.
  • Wait at least 2-4 weeks to evaluate your first results. You’ve got to give the campaign time to work and account for conversion lag time to get to 100 in-app conversions.
  • If your UAC isn’t scaling increase your bids. In this scenario, UAC has capped out on the number of installs it can drive at the bid you’ve set. But increasing the bid will help you qualify for new, higher quality inventory, allowing you to scale your downloads accordingly.
  • If your UAC delivery drops to $0 then you should also increase your bids. In this scenario, UAC spending was shut off because it couldn’t reach your target CPI. Delivery can also drop to $0 if you make drastic changes to your creative (i.e. if you swap more than five creatives at a time).
  • UAC will mark campaigns that are hitting the tCPI/tCPA goal, and max out your daily budget as “Limited by budget.” This means that UAC sees potential to continue scaling at the current performance.

Bringing it all together

The most successful UAC campaigns we’ve seen exist at the nexus where art and science meets. They are the ones that combine high quality creative with the technical knowhow and strategy to employ them in the most effective way possible.

The key for many organizations is finding the right agency to partner with, a team who will not only be able to craft compelling creative for your app but can help you to set up the right systems to deploy it and measure its effectiveness to ensure that you are getting the results you deserve.

If you’d like to know more about creative and UAC, get in touch to find out how our experts could help your app reach new heights.