The changing face of user acquisition

Mobile Marketing

Brian Bowman, CEO of Consumer Acquisition, looks at how new features in Google App Campaigns will change User Acquisition managers’ jobs for the better.

User acquisition managers’ jobs are changing fast. That‘s mostly because of how quickly Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms are evolving. Just last month, Google’s App Campaigns launched five important new features that will change the way UA managers do their jobs.

The new features are:
Creative Uploading: UA managers can now upload videos and images for their Google App Campaigns directly to their own dedicated media library.

The benefit: No more excuses about not being able to find the right file for a new ad group or campaign. And no more having to upload the same file over and over. All creative assets can now live within your own App Campaigns’ media library.

Asset Reporting: Monitor the performance of individual creative assets including videos, images, ad copy, and playables at the ad group level.

The benefit: If you’re into creative testing (and you should be) this information is gold. You can now easily see which assets are helping your ROAS and which assets are hurting it. And because creative is the best competitive differentiator advertisers have now, the more insight we can get into how creative assets are performing, the better.

Value Bidding: Facebook advertisers have been able to use value bidding, aka “target return on ad spend” for a while. Now App Campaigns advertisers can optimize their campaigns this way as well.

The benefit: Spend less time managing bids and automate bid management without needing access to expensive third-party tools. Note that this is yet another small step toward advertising automation. More in a moment about how this should change the way user acquisition managers spend their time.

Similar Audiences: This is Google’s term for what Facebook advertisers call Custom Audiences. Whatever you call it, Google’s App Campaigns now lets advertisers find new users similar to their existing users.

The benefit: Once again, this is a move towards automation – we’re letting the algorithm go find people similar to our best customers. And if you’re careful about how you define who your best customers are, the algorithm can do an excellent job. Finding similar audiences is also, of course, a way to extend the life of your top-performing creative.

Pro tip: We’ve found these new Similar Audiences can be particularly effective when they’re paired with Value Bidding.

Ad Groups: Advertisers can now set up multiple ad groups within the same campaign and then tailor the assets in each ad group around a different “theme” or messaging strategy for different customers.

The benefit: Put the right message in front of the right people without making your campaigns and ad group structures overly complicated. Simplified campaign structures will become increasingly important as the algorithms continue to do more and more campaign management. In fact, Facebook recently came out and expressly recommended advertisers use a simplified campaign structure.

Good news for advertisers
All these new features are good news for advertisers. Google is giving UA managers sophisticated tools to manage their campaigns and to streamline their campaigns and their work. The teams at Google are not going to sit back and let Facebook steal their market share.

So how should UA managers use their time, now that the algorithms are taking over? We don’t advise user acquisition managers to sit back. Even if it is summer. Facebook and Google are moving toward more and more automated campaigns. And with this latest round of new features, the platforms are getting even more sophisticated.

For us, it’s an interesting evolution. A year or more ago, it was Google that stepped in and made something of a black box out of app advertising automation. Now Google is stepping back from total automation a little bit, giving UA managers more control and more information.

And this is all happening only a few months before Facebook’s massive new change: mandatory Campaign Budget Optimization for all campaigns (unless you use a third-party API, in which case you can continue running your campaigns without CBO until September 2020).

So Facebook started its automation journey by incrementally taking control away from advertisers. And Google started out by basically taking all control away. Now, Google’s giving back some more control, and Facebook is taking control away.

We believe the two superpowers of app advertising will eventually find a middle ground between human-managed campaigns and fully automated advertising. That will probably happen around Q1 or Q2 2020, which is not all that far away.

If you’re a UA manager, and that just sent a shiver down your spine (“pink slip coming, ETA Q1/Q2 next year”), stay calm. The automation isn’t going to put you out of a job – if you can pivot the right way.

Instead of spending all the hours you used to spend managing bids, managing budgets, and managing media buying, let the algorithms run all that. You, as a human, can’t crunch the numbers at the speed the computers can. Let the computers do what they do best. It’s time for humans to switch over to what we do best. And that is… creative.

Facebook and Google still haven’t figured out how to automate creative. They can’t really even automate creative testing yet. Maybe someday they will, but that day hasn’t come. And they definitely aren’t good at analyzing competitive creative, or at generating new break-out, 100x creative concepts.

So take all the time you used to spend with bids and budgets and media buying and shift it to creative. Odds are, you aren’t spending even 2-3 hours a week monitoring and analyzing your competitors’ ads. So shift from bid edits and go do that. Or even better, spend 4-8 hours a week monitoring and analyzing competitor’s ads, and even ads from outside your industry. This research can result in blockbuster new creative concepts – the type of 100x ads that rocket ROAS.

Also put more time into creative testing. This is the secret sauce for better results in 2019. It’s probably one of the highest return on investment actions any business can take – in any department, for any business goal. Creative testing beats out almost everything else when it comes to ROI.

So if you’ve been spending three hours a week on testing, double that. Then double it again. And if you’ve been spending ten hours testing – double that. Then try to double it again. No matter who you are, or how much creative testing you’ve been doing, do more. It’s the single best way to boost ROAS right now.