Best practices for user acquisition campaigns using automated bidding

August 8, 2022 Unity Technologies

Recently, Unity launched a new bidding strategy for install campaigns called automated bidding. It allows you to achieve the strongest results without exceeding your budget as our system limits your spending. This bidding strategy is a new beta feature for iOS install campaigns designed to optimize budget usage concerning the campaign goal.

To help advertisers run successful campaigns with this type of bidding, our experts put together this list of best practices and recommendations to consider, from how to scale and optimize to getting the balance right between your bids. 

Check them out below:


Find the balance between budget and max bids

A common goal for every advertiser is to pay as little as possible for installs. One way you can achieve this when using automated bidding is by setting budget constraints for your campaign so it can spend its budget before the day ends. 

Start with a low daily budget, e.g., $50, and set relatively high maximum bids. Using a low daily cap in the beginning will help you prevent spending too much on high effective cost per installs (eCPIs).

If you experience challenges with cold starts, set a low daily cap and high max bids to get more impressions while passing the exploration phase. Automated bidding will then adjust the bid to optimize purchasing installs for the lowest possible CPI.

Once done, you can adjust the max bid to the maximum amount you are willing to pay per new user or leave it as is if you are happy with the cost per install (CPI) and the results you are seeing from your campaign. 

An automated bidding strategy helps you get the best opportunities during the day, with the campaign applying lower bids instead of max ones.  However, if your campaign isn’t budget-constrained, it will behave the same way as a campaign with a manual bidding strategy with static CPI bids.

Get to an optimal campaign structure

There are some extra things to consider when structuring a campaign using an automated bidding strategy as it affects how the campaign behaves.

For example, it isn’t recommended to run a campaign using both automated and manual bidding simultaneously in the same targeted geographies. This is because the campaigns would start competing against each other, triggering a deduplication process that might result in one of the campaigns not getting any impressions. 

However, you can run return on ad spend (ROAS) and retention campaigns simultaneously in the same geographies with install (manual or automated) strategies. Remember that this might affect the install campaigns' results and negatively impact the quality of the users you get. 

Another consideration when targeting different geographies is to group countries with similar price levels into one campaign. The automated bidding strategy paces the budget usage, making it possible to spend the budget equally between time zones. 

This means you can target countries from different time zones in the same campaign if they are from the same price level. Create region-specific campaigns that group low CPI and high CPI countries together. So, if the U.S is an essential country for you, it might make sense to create a dedicated campaign for it.  

Scale and optimize

When a campaign with an automated bidding strategy is budget-limited, scaling it is as easy as increasing the daily cap. However, consider doing small incremental changes and evaluate their impact on the CPI before making another change. The results may be unstable immediately after the budget adjustment, but you should start seeing results one day after.

Remember that the daily caps are reset at midnight universal time coordinated (UTC). Therefore, it is advisable to change budgets after, not before, UTC midnight for maximum safety. 

When aiming for optimization while using automated bidding, use blocklist or source bids. However, avoid using narrow allowlists as they might significantly limit available opportunities. 

Keep in mind that source bids are treated as max bids as well. Therefore, if you want to favor traffic from a specific source game, you should set a higher max bid for that source than the max bids you use for particular countries.

Be patient

Lastly, be patient with the campaign and give it time to optimize performance. Running acquisition campaigns using any bidding strategy requires testing, analyzing results, and iteration. So let your campaigns run a learning course and adjust all the way to success. 


In summary:

  • Don't use automated and manual bidding in the same target geography.
  • When targeting different geographies,  group countries with similar price levels into one campaign.
  • Using a low daily cap in the beginning will help you prevent spending too much on high effective cost per installs.
  • Scaling a campaign using automated bidding is as easy as increasing the daily cap. Just make small iterations until you find the right balance.
  • Avoid mixing bidding strategies for campaigns running in the same geographies as they can start competing against each other.
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