Home » Mobile Marketing Tips » Monday Mobile Marketing Tip – Targeting Specific Apps with Google AdWords

Every Monday, I write about something new you can try this week to drive more downloads for your mobile app and increase engagement with your existing app users, based on what has worked (and what hasn’t) for 23snaps.


Google AdWords is, you may be surprised to hear, the world’s biggest mobile ad network; far surpassing Apple’s own iAd and any of the dedicated mobile ad networks.  This is mostly because many of Google’s ads run on mobile devices and desktop devices automatically but hundreds of thousands of apps have actually enabled in-app advertising using Google’s AdSense code. This means that not only can you advertise in search results and normal web pages to mobile users, you can actually display ads insides other applications using the Google platform.

I’ve found this a really effective way to reach targeted users and because Google Adwords offers flexible cost-per-click bidding with no minimum spend (unlike other mobile ad networks which might charge upwards of $15,000 to run a campaign) it’s incredibly cost efficient to test.

Here is how to set up a Google Adwords campaign to run in other Apps.

  1. Create a Google AdWords account if you don’t have one already.
  2. Create a new campaign and choose the option “Display Network Only”. This means that your ads will not show in Google search results, just on third party sites that have enabled Google ads to display in their site or app.
  3. Set your campaign settings. You will have a number of criteria unique to your app, like location, language, device type which are easy enough to set but the most important piece is to select the option Mobile Apps next to Display Targeting, ensuring your ads appear in applications, not on other webpages.create-new-campaign
  4. Choose where to display your ad. There are three ways to place your ad in apps.First, and least targeted, is to chose an app category (like Games, Lifestyle, Photography) and let Google do all the hard work. Any app that is eligible to show Google Ads and is in that category might display your ad (depending on your bids).

    Second, you can search for specific apps by keyword (see the image below). This search functionality is limited and I’ve found I get the same results again and again however this does allow you more targeting than the broad category match and ensure you are advertising in apps that are actually going to show your ad.


    The final way is to manually enter in the IDs of apps you want to advertise in. You can find the app ID in the URL of their App Store listing. This is by far the best way to target the most relevant advertising locations but the problem with this method is that you may try to target an app that doesn’t support Google Ads (in fact, 9 times out of 10 this will be the case). That said, I still prefer to have the ability to choose exactly which apps my ad displays in so I will use this method, and delete the apps from my targeting if they don’t track any ad impressions at the end of the week and add in new targeting options instead.


  5. Add your ad creative and turn on your ad. Be sure you’re not linking the ad to your website but instead directly to the app store. Remember you are targeting app users on their phones from inside another app. If you direct them to the App Store, they can download your app immediately from their phone.

That’s it! You have created an AdWords campaign that shows an ad for your app inside other applications and you only pay if someone clicks your ad. You can even install the Google SDK that will allow you to track conversions to downloads within the AdWords dashboard.

I hope to write more about advanced ways to use AdWords to do effective mobile marketing, but for now;

My Monday Mobile Marketing Tip for this week: create a Google Adwords campaign with a small budget to test advertising your application inside other apps. The more targeted your advertising, and relevant and appealing your ad, the more successful you will be.

5 thoughts on “Monday Mobile Marketing Tip – Targeting Specific Apps with Google AdWords

  1. […] written before about how you can use Google AdWords to place adverts within other mobile applications, and even target ads to specific apps. And with the Google AdWords SDK, it was pretty easy to see […]

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