Google launches app install features to DoubleClick to counteract Facebook’s rising mobile challenge

Google has unveiled a host of new features that will let users download both Android and iOS apps directly from both its search function, as well as other web properties, in a move that can be read as a rear-guard action against Facebook’s growing strength in the mobile space.

In a blog post published today (2 February) Google unveiled new tools to enable app install campaigns that will more easily allow app owners, both small-scale app developers as well as large brands, to boost downloads of their mobile properties – an increasingly crucial part of brands' marketing mix.

The new features, available via the DoubleClick Marketing Solutions suite, let app developers promote their wares across its assorted web properties, via DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) using search, display, and video ad formats.

Advertisers can also use DBM’s new features to create a custom list of apps that their ads will appear in, the apps that will drive the best performance, as well as ‘blacklist’ ones where they’d rather not have their brand appear.

In addition, it also allows advertisers to target users using mobile device IDs, as well as identify "lookalike audiences", or “affinity segments”, as Google terms them.

The newly unveiled features can also allow brands and developers to automatically track downloads, from both the Google Play Store as well as Apple’s App Store via integration with third-party app tracking platforms.

In a blog post, Steve Chang, a product manager at Google’s DoubleClick unit, wrote: “Having your branded app on your customers’ phones means you can be front-and-center [sic] on the screen that people check over 150 times a day, leading to increased brand awareness and mindshare.”

He went on to say: “Running app install campaigns can help drive more customers to your branded apps, paving the way for a deeper connection between your customers and your brand.”

Google’s parent company Alphabet yesterday reported revenues of $21.33bn for the last three months of 2015 based on the back of a strong mobile performance, and overtaking Apple as the most valuable company in the world in the process.

However, it is simultaneously facing a strong challenge from Facebook and its DoubleClick-rival Atlas when it comes to mobile ad budgets. A week prior to

Facebook reported an equally impressive performance for the same quarter (in terms of revenue gains) based on the back of its strong mobile performance, with revenue generated by ads on mobile devices accounting for 80 per cent of its total $5.8bn for the period.

Although Facebook is increasingly introducing video ads (which are deemed more akin to brand advertising campaigns), market sources accredit the bulk of Facebook’s mobile ad revenues to app install ads.

Google, which has historically seen the emergence of mobile web usage have a negative effect on its average cost-per-click, is also in the process of shoring its mobile positioning. According to reports it will integrate the ranking of webpages developed under its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) scheme from later this month.

The AMP scheme was read by many as an initiative by Google to help stem the tide towards audiences consuming content on their mobile devices via apps – a consumer trend that is read by many that could threaten its dominance of the digital advertising market.

Ronan Shields

I cover digital media trading and martech for The Drum magazine, plus I write my own opinion pieces, I don't really commission them.

All by Ronan