Google is making a big bet on mobile app marketing, judging by the new and improved AdWords features it announced recently.

Innovative new ad formats are designed to drive greater engagement, allow for more effective app promotion, and boost measurement capabilities for companies offering their audience a mobile app.

The updates are likely motivated by rapidly increasing app usage, which is stealing from Web-usage time, and Google's need to shore up Google Play, which made just 13% as much revenues compared to Apple in 2013.

Here are the highlights from the recently announced Google AdWords updates.

Enhanced App Discovery and Installation With New AdWords Features

Engagement is critical, but first, you have to get your app in front of the right audience and installed on their devices. Google aims to make this easier with new ad targeting options that allow advertisers to home in with greater intent on audiences.

Now, you'll be able to see keyword suggestions based on searches from the Google Play store and target users based on which apps they use. For example, a women's clothing retailer with a mobile app could choose to promote its app through AdWords to people who already have women's fashion apps installed on their phones. Even better, Google will consider not only which apps are installed but how often they're used and the user's history of in-app purchases.

That gives brands greater control over their AdWords spend when promoting their app. It also helps expand your potential audience without sacrificing specificity or intent.

App Promotion Comes to YouTube and Google Display Network

Until now, you could only promote app ads in Google Search. This latest update expands the App Promotion ad format to YouTube and the Google Display Network, giving you far greater reach. This is pretty huge for advertisers, considering there are about 25 billion ad impressions per day on the GDN (an estimate based on our internal data).

This is a much-needed update, as the current Google App promotion ad format has been a complete failure. Only a few hundred million apps have been downloaded as a result of Google App Promotion ads. That might seem like a lot, but bearing in mind there have been 50 billion app downloads on Google Play so far, it's only 0.4% or so (which is nothing).

AdWords will now also allow you to direct people from TrueView ads on YouTube right to the app install, instead of to an app landing page.

Boost Engagement With Deep-Linking for Apps

You don't always want to send people to your app download page. This is particularly true when you're trying to boost app engagement or promote offers to people who already have your app on their device.

Google has added deep-linking for apps to AdWords. That means you can use your ad to point people directly to a page within your app. For example, a fitness brand could create an AdWords ad with a promotion on treadmills; with deep-linking, an existing app user's ad click will take them inside the app, to the treadmill product page (or whichever in-app location the advertiser prefers).

People love apps—but the vast majority of installed apps aren't used regularly or they are simply deleted. Using this new AdWords feature to point people inside the app with highly relevant, specific offers is a huge boon for app marketers.

Coming Soon: Conversion Measurement Across the App Lifecycle

Paid search advertisers have to be able to accurately measure ROI, and app marketing is no different. Google has promised it'll soon roll out improved measurement capabilities that will allow advertisers to track and measure each installation, engagement, and in-app purchase.

If you aren't seeing all those new features and functions in your AdWords dashboard yet, fear not! Google will be rolling them out to more users in the coming months.

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Google is betting on mobile apps for increasing engagement and driving sales in the near future... Are you? How do you think these new AdWords features will help solve your app challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Google Goes All in on Mobile Apps With AdWords Updates

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image of Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder and CEO of Facebook Messenger marketing platform MobileMonkey. He is also the founder of WordStream Inc.

LinkedIn: Larry Kim

Twitter: @larrykim