Tapstream

Tracking app downloads on AdWords

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Even though AdWords remains one of the most important channels for app marketers, populating the AdWords dashboard with performance data for your campaigns is challenging.

From an app marketer’s perspective, AdWords traffic can be divided in to two types: traffic that promotes your app from within other apps (i.e., the AdMob network), and traffic that doesn’t (i.e., AdWords search, mobile web display, etc.)

Tapstream tracks all types of AdWords campaigns, and lets you send conversion data from your app to AdWords for all traffic types, for free. Sign up instantly if you don’t have an account.

Using Tapstream to track AdWords Mobile App Install campaigns

These instructions apply if your AdWords campaign targets “Display Network Only”, with the “Mobile app installs” option, as shown here:

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Ad groups that you create in campaigns of this type will only be shown inside apps via the AdMob ad network.

Creating an AdWords conversion type

First, create a new AdWords conversion type for your app.

  • Log in to AdWords and choose Tools, then Conversions
  • Press “+ Conversion”
  • Give the conversion a name that’s meaningful to you (e.g., “App Install”), and choose “Mobile or tablet app”.
  • Press “Save and continue”
  • Select your app’s platform
  • Enter a conversion value. Even if it’s just an estimate, this will make your AdWords reports much richer. Press “Save and continue”.
  • Select “I use an app analytics package”

AdWords will then provide you with a conversion ID and conversion label. Save these two values; we’ll be using them later.

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Creating your Tapstream campaign URL

Now that you’ve created your AdWords conversion type, you can create a Tapstream Campaign URL for your AdWords campaign.

Log in to your Tapstream dashboard, and head to the Campaigns tab. Press “Create Campaign”, and choose “Ad network” for the campaign type.

Pick “AdWords” from the Ad Network, and fill out the resulting form. You’ll need to supply the name of your Tapstream install event, as well as the conversion ID and conversion label from the previous step.

Make sure that your app’s URL is set to be either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

Your completed form should look something like this:

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Press “Create Campaign” when you’re done.

Tapstream will then provide you with an AdWords campaign destination URL.

Use this URL as the destination URL in your AdWords ads. (The display URL, if you’re prompted, should be itunes.apple.com or play.google.com.)

Tracking app installs from AdWords Search and other sources

These instructions apply if your AdWords campaign targets anything other than “Display Network Only” + “Mobile App Installs”, like Search campaigns. We’ll be using AdWords’ support for “Offline Conversions”.

Creating an AdWords conversion type

First, create a new AdWords conversion type for your app.

  • Log in to AdWords and choose Tools, then Conversions.
  • Press “+ Conversion”
  • Give the conversion a name meaningful to you (e.g., “App install”), and choose “Import”. Make sure to remember this name.
  • Press “Save and continue”.
  • Enter a conversion value. Even if it’s just an estimate, this will make your AdWords reports much richer.
  • From the “Count” dropdown, select “Unique Conversions”
  • From the “Conversion Window” dropdown, select “90 days”
  • Press “Save and continue”
  • Press “Done”

As a side effect of this process, auto-tagging will be enabled in your AdWords account. Auto-tagging adds a unique ID to each click AdWords sends to your destination URL. Tapstream saves this ID with any resulting conversions.

Creating your Tapstream campaign URL

Log in to your Tapstream account and navigate to the Campaigns tab. Press the “Create Campaign” button, and choose “Custom” for the campaign type.

Give the campaign a name and destination URL (e.g., the app store), and press “Create Campaign”. Tapstream will give you a campaign destination URL. Use this as your AdWords destination URL.

Extracting conversion data from Tapstream

Now that your campaign is flowing, you can pull data from Tapstream’s Reporting tab and import it in to AdWords.

This process is a bit hairy, and involves some spreadsheet work. Tapstream will make it easier in the future.

Log in to your Tapstream account, and navigate to the Reporting tab. Select a time range that covers some activity on your AdWords campaigns. For the report configuration, choose:

  • Dimensions (in order): Campaign, Campaign Parameter Name, Campaign Parameter Value, By Day
  • Metrics: Attributed Installs
  • Filter by: Campaign, Exact, and then select your AdWords campaign

Your report setup should look like this:

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Press “Generate Report”.

When your report is generated, download it as a CSV by clicking the down-arrow icon that appears above the report table. Open the CSV in your spreadsheet application; it will look something like this:

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This is a list of Google click IDs that resulted in app conversions, and the date on which they converted.

Google expects dates in the format “YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS”, so we need to munge this data a little to get it to match AdWords’ expected format.

In your spreadsheet application, make sure that the dates in the “By Day” column are formatted as Text, not Date.

In a new column, in the first row of your data, enter the following formula:

Expand this row so that it covers your entire data set.

Your spreadsheet should now look like this:

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Now we’ll use this data to populate your AdWords account.

Importing the conversion data in to AdWords

Now that you’ve extracted your conversion data from Tapstream, head back to your AdWords dashboard.

Choose “Tools”, then “Conversions”. Press the “Upload” button that appears.

Download the CSV template. We’ll be filling this in with your Tapstream data.

Following the instructions inside the spreadsheet, replace TimeZone=HHMM in cell C7 with your timezone’s offset.

From your Tapstream spreadsheet, paste in your Google Click IDs below the header (cell B9 and down).

Paste in your munged dates in to the “Conversion Time” header (cell D9 and down).

For each row of your data:

  • write “add”, lowercase and without quotes, in column A
  • the exact conversion name that you chose when you created this conversion type, in column C
  • optionally, conversion values and currecnies in columns E an F

Your completed spreadsheet should look something like this:

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Save this CSV, and head back to your AdWords dashboard. Press “Choose file…”, and select the CSV.

You can upload and preview your CSV before committing to it. This is a good idea – conversions added through this mechanism are permanent.

Once you upload and apply your CSV file, Google will process it and add conversions to your account’s performance reports where applicable.