Search Ads on Google Play – Are They Working?

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Search ads on Google Play have become more noticed by a lot of developers recently, but there’s still a lot to understand about them before hopping on board. Are search ads on Google Play even working as intended or are there some issues that need to be addressed? We’ll be discussing this in the article below.

What Are Search Ads


In July this year, Search Ads on Google Play rolled out to advertisers and developers who use Search app install campaigns through AdWords. Search Ads on Google Play work similar to standard Google search ads. It is now possible to have your app appear as a featured listing above the other apps that have fought their way to the top of search rankings through app store optimization and increasing download count and user reviews.

From a distance, Search Ads on Google Play sound like a great opportunity to get their apps seen – search ads on Google search works well so there’s a lot of reason to believe that Google Play Search Ads would work just as well. Do they work well though? Let’s find out.

Issues of Search Ads & Are They Working on Google Play

Is it fair? This is one of the biggest questions asked about Search Ads on Google Play. You certainly can’t get a similar option on other mobile operating systems. When you think about it, performing on the app store is almost like playing a game against thousands of other developers worldwide and Search Ads are almost like a big pay to win option.

Does adding Search Ads to Google Play make it an unfair space to compete in? Will Search Ads affect the app store ecosystem negatively, and are more developers going to jump ship to iOS to avoid the unfair nature of Search Ads?

Well, truthfully, Search Ads are fair for two main reasons. Firstly, the top, best-performing apps are still going to appear right under the featured apps and app store users will easily be able to differentiate between an application that has earned its way to the top and another that has paid its way to be featured.

So featured apps do not affect the performance of other apps significantly. What they do allow is for undiscovered applications to get some recognition. Let’s be honest, there is way, way too many great apps in the app store that do not get enough attention and Search Ads on Google Play will help to get your app noticed.

With that being said, the effect of Search Ads aren’t going to be great if you don’t have a good star rating and it may go unnoticed if you have a bad app logo – both of these elements are the things that potential installers will see first on the app store listing.

As you’d expect from Google, you are given a number of great tools to track the progress of your Search Ad campaigns on Google Play. Below we’ve listed a few areas where

They will work –

  • If your app can accomplish the function that is being searched for.
  • If your app is struggling to get recognition underneath competing apps in your niche.
  • If your app is popular, but you’re attempting to reach out to new search phrases or new audiences.

They won’t work –

  • If your star rating is low. (3 or less is a big red flag for app users.)
  • If your app logo is unnoticeable.
  • If your app doesn’t actually function to meet the search parameters you have set.

We’d say that Search Ads on Google Play are working, but only in certain instances. It’s important to understand when and why they can work before using them for your own applications.

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Author: Richard Buettner
B2B SaaS marketing a challenge? Not for me! With my proven track record, I'll execute inbound and content strategies that deliver. Let's grow your business - and enjoy the ride!

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