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Creative best practices for universal app campaigns

Joseph Kerschbaum
Joseph Kerschbaum
SVP, Search & Growth Labs
4 min read
25 April 2018

Next on our Mobile App Blog Week is a rundown of best practices for designing your Universal App Campaign ads.

If you’re using AdWords to get app installs, you’re using Universal App Campaigns (UAC). As with any ads that don’t solely rely on text, your creative elements play a huge role in the success of UAC – but most marketers aren’t familiar with best practices that move the needle.

Google has a thorough list of UAC specs that you should bookmark, but those are just requirements to get started. At DEPT®, we’ve tested and run dozens upon dozens of UAC ad iterations, and we’ve come up with the following recommendations for text and creative. Dive in and put them to use!


You can create up to four text variations for your ad. We’ve had success with the following:

  • Using short, sweet, standalone sentences.
  • Featuring one selling point per line.
  • Using punctuation at the end of each line of copy.


You can load up to 20 image variations for your UAC ads. We recommend maxing out this capacity to allow UAC to serve different image types to different users. Other tips:

  • Incorporate simple designs with minimal text, as these ads have little screen real estate to work with.
  • Pull relevant images directly from the app.
  • Use app store badges for recognition.
  • Include a CTA in your text.
  • Upload different sizes of the same asset.
  • Cover high-reach image sizes: 320×480, 320×50, 1200×628, 320×50, 480×320, 728×90 for phones, 1024×768, 768×1024 for Tablets.
  • Upload at least 1-2 landscape images (1200×628) without text for native placements.
  • Upload high-quality images and HD ads. For higher quality, try assets with twice the pixel density (e.g. 300×250 –> 600×500).


UAC supports HTML5 creative, which we definitely recommend using to add a more interactive layer. Tips for using HTML5 (again, you can load up to 20 iterations) include:

  • Show an intro card and/or caption before the playable begins.
  • Make the ad a simple intro for the app.
  • Aim for 90 seconds, and definitely stay within the 30-120-second range.
  • Provide support for both Android and iOS.
  • Use app store badges for recognition.
  • Prioritize portrait ads.
  • Include an end card with a CTA to install the app.


UAC also supports video (one more time: 20-variation max). Some ways to help your ad stand out:

  • Grab attention early by including a CTA at the beginning of your video and creating a big impact within the first 5 seconds.
  • Use app store badges for recognition.
  • Upload videos of different lengths – 30s (for more time to tell your story or demo your app), 6s, 15s, etc.
  • Test different strategies to see what resonates with your audience:
    • Content (e.g. funny vs. authoritative/informative)
    • Creative themes (e.g. game-play vs. cinematic)
  • Remember that YouTube is optimized for landscape (16:9), but 90% of AdMob impressions are portrait (2:3). Make sure you provide both – as well as square (1:1).
  • If no videos are available, AdWords can automatically create 1-5, using content from your app’s store listing pages. Don’t be afraid to test these even if you don’t have the resources to create separate videos.

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SVP, Search & Growth Labs

Joseph Kerschbaum