Apps are big business, and the sector shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. According to figures from App Annie, consumer spending exceeded $86 billion in 2017 (up 105% from 2015) as customers downloaded a total of more than 175 billion apps. According to Robert Tercek, author of Vaporized, there are 2.9 million apps in the Apple app store with 5 million apps expected by 2020.

Those are some staggering numbers, but the most exciting thing about them is that they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

In fact, with the increased adoption of smartphones, we’re only seeing the beginning of the growth of the app market. Google’s move towards its new Universal App campaigns (UAC), which is designed to unlock the potential of machine learning, is also fuelling the rapid growth of the app ecosystem.

So what is UAC and how can machine learning help to promote your app? Here, we take a look at what Google’s new platform means for developers.

What is UAC?

As of October 2017, Universal App campaigns are the only way that you can advertise mobile app installs on Google’s products. Tapping into the billions of users who can be found on Google’s network – including Google.com, Google Play, AdMob Display, AdMob Video, Gmail, and YouTube – the platform helps identify the right users for your app and market it to them.

It does this by harnessing the power of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. By analyzing over 300 million different combinations of signals in real time, it helps you to optimize your bids and ads in order to find the best app users for your business goals. As a result, UAC is able to not only identify quality leads but also engage with them no matter what platform they’re on.

Unlocking the power of machine learning

The good news for developers is that this automated system should help to drive scale, as well as efficiency.

Traditionally you’ve had granular control over your search and display campaigns, but with Google’s new platform you simply input your data and let the AI do its thing. Right off the bat, that reduces the input that is required with a campaign of this nature, helping developers get in front of more potential users at a lower cost.

In fact, in the campaigns we’ve already run using UAC, we’ve been amazed by the results we’re seeing — and the low cost-per-download that’s being generated for our clients. In some cases, we’ve even seen a 60% decrease from our initial estimates. But the new platform doesn’t just help to streamline the process — it also helps put you in front of users who might have never engaged with your app otherwise.

Today, users are finding apps in more moments and locations than ever before, and not just on one platform either. UAC helps identify these users and their behaviors, helping you get in front of them with the right message, on the right platform, at the right moment. Again we’ve already seen this in action with our campaigns, with the machine learning crunching the numbers in the background and identifying new opportunities and users for our clients.

The importance of expert input

The shift towards automation means that UAC is certainly easy to set up. As a result, you might be wondering whether to go it alone rather than engaging an agency to help market your app.

But despite the AI at play under the hood, it’s still vital that you understand the human input that goes into successfully utilizing UAC, and the expertise that’s required to ensure that your campaigns are set up to perform.

To succeed at UAC, it’s vital to keep in mind how much an install and a subsequent in-app event is worth to your company in order to set the right CPI or CPA targets. Along with your internal KPIs, it’s important to understand how your bid and your daily budget will affect the networks that you run on. A slight change in bid or budget can mean the difference between success and failure on UAC.

As a Google Premier Partner agency like Major Tom, we have in-depth experience in what it takes to succeed on these platforms and can help set you up to excel on them. We also have a longstanding partnership with Google themselves. During the development and launch of UAC, we’ve worked closely with them, using our close relationship to ensure that our clients stay ahead of the curve and unlock all of the potential benefits that UAC has to offer.

Lastly, the importance of creative shouldn’t be overlooked. Google’s new platform does a lot of things automatically, but compelling creative isn’t one of them. Great creative that is regularly refreshed and tested is the foundation on which strong conversion rates are built. You also need to understand which ad sizes to upload, which formats and the types of messaging that can affect the ad auctions that your UAC qualifies you for, resulting in differences in performance.

In Google’s new AI-assisted advertising world, it can be tempting to ignore the value that an agency can bring to your app’s advertising campaign. But now more than ever, it’s vital that you choose the right people to partner with, those whose expertise can help you to utilize the full scope of opportunities that UAC and machine learning offer.

If you’d like to know more about machine learning and UAC, contact us to find out how our experts could help put you app in front of the right users.