When it comes to promoted app ads, Google changed things in a big way a few weeks ago.  

We know that it is always trying to appease both the developer and the Android consumer and these changes are another push in that direction.

The first big change is the addition of a second ad placement for non-branded searches in the Play Store (see below).

Before the change, there was only one promoted ad at the top of the search and now two appear in the results. This gives advertisers more inventory in the Play Store and mirrors the number of placements advertisers have on Google.com.

This is a slight blow to your non-brand App Store Optimization (ASO) efforts as you lose another spot to those with the budget for ads.



The second and much bigger change Google made involves brand searches.

Before we get to the implications, let’s check out the changes.



You can see the big change is in the ad position, the brand term goes up and the paid ad moves down to the second position.

Competitors seem to be winning the promoted ads for brand searches, meaning Google appears to be pushing (and suppressing those who own the first ad position) more competitor based searches.

My assumption is Google expects to make up lost revenue from advertisers not having to pay for their own brand terms with this higher quality competitor traffic. 

So what should you do with these new changes?  

1. Test competitor traffic again

This inventory might come cheaper since Google is suppressing developer’s brand terms, so it might make sense as an evergreen strategy.

Be very careful with these terms as they can get pricy for lack of relevancy. 

2. Conquest yourself

If you have another relevant app, leverage apps against each other to push competitors out. 

3. Invest more in your best Android keywords

There is additional low funnel inventory in Google Play now.

If you can spend more on keywords that are driving quality installs, you should see a better conversion rates.

4. Get ready

Did you see a drop in brand Android installs and quality from your SEM campaigns?

You should get most of these installs for free from organic, but if you are buying search you are going to lose some quality from your channel from being pushed out of the auction.

So what do you think of this move? 

For more on this topic, see:

Brett Patterson

Published 4 November, 2016 by Brett Patterson

Brett is a digital marketing strategist at Double Down Interactive. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)


Gabe Kwakyi, CEO at Incipia

You can't target specific play store keywords via UAC and app install ads don't show in the play store. UAC ≠ SEM, so the only way to adjust at all for this change or UAC in general is to try to influence where you show via ad text or your app listing, or to raise/lower bid/budget.

over 1 year ago


Gabe Kwakyi, CEO at Incipia

I'd rescind the previous comment but I can't find a way; it slipped my mind that app install for Android does place ads in Play Store search results :)

over 1 year ago

Brett Patterson

Brett Patterson, Digital marketing strategist at Double Down interactive

No Worries Gabe :)

over 1 year ago

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