As the social media landscape continues to evolve with new social networks, it’s easy to forget that YouTube is one of the OG apps that set a precedent for social media advertising. For consumers, it’s still the leading ‘go-to’ destination not just for video entertainment but for learning just about anything.
In fact, YouTube is still the number one video-sharing social network in the world, having generated $28.8 billion – Business of Apps’) in 2021 alone—a 46% increase from the previous year. These trends make it a great platform for app marketers looking for innovative ways to increase brand awareness, app installs, and even app re-engagement. Whether it’s linking to your app from a YouTube video ad or linking to your app from YouTube profiles or specific videos, with the right ‘app-to-app’ link, you can open your app from YouTube at just the right moment to the right screen or the right app store, making app re-engagement and app downloads easy and more immediate.
If you tried linking to your app from YouTube with a regular web URL that has been enabled with standard app deep linking technologies, you may have noticed that the link can’t open the app when it’s already installed, and it may even send your customer to the wrong app store or an unnecessary landing page.
URLgenius lets marketers create special ‘app-to-app’ link experiences that have advanced routing intelligence already built in. It’s easy to create URLgenius links immediately and test them. You simply need to update the link that you’re currently using with YouTube so that it can open your app directly from social media. URLgenius links can open your app from any social media platform (not just YouTube, but also Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.). When you think of ‘app-to-app’ linking, think of URLgenius as your solution that will smoothly get your customers from one app to another.
Remember, when optimized with these special app deep links, your YouTube ads will not only send your current app users to the right destination within the app itself when it’s already installed, but the same link can send potential customers to the right app store on their smartphone device (iOS or Google Play) so that they can download the app. (Two birds, one stone!)
Oh, and a word of caution, friends—beware of free or low-cost alternatives to URLgenius that have major limitations. If you use free, alternatives link generators, the links you make are likely to be broken, unreliable, and lack all the features you need for your social media app-to-app marketing strategy to work.
Not only will your URLgenius deeplinks take users from social media platforms like YouTube into your app, but our platform gives you the ability to append Google UTM tracking tags to those very app links—exactly the way you do for a standard web URL——so that you can measure the success of your campaign.
And lastly, we want to emphasize that it doesn’t matter what kind of app you’re promoting, URLgenius links can support any app—from car rentals and fitness to retail e-commerce. All in all, deep links that open your app from social media are the perfect way to increase revenue because that’s where your current and potential customers spend a lot of their time.
Okay, so how do you want your ad’s link to behave when considering the context of your campaign’s goals in the grand scheme of things?
To start, the behavior of the link should be directly related to the customer at hand—do they or do they not have your brand’s app downloaded?
If yes, then the link should take them to your already-downloaded app on their phone to the proper screen, right? Right.
If they don’t have the app installed, they should be directed to a screen in the app store where they can immediately download your app. This is key if your goal is to get more people to install your app, and part of this is taking any extra landing pages out of the equation.
So let’s get back to the specific act of clicking on your YouTube ad’s link—what does the sequence of events look like?
Well, regardless of whether or not your app is installed on their phone, they’re going to either be sent to an unnecessary landing page or even to your website’s login page within YouTube’s embedded browser. Far from ideal.
The result, ultimately? You’re not going to like the answer: Lost customers. Lost app installs. Lost revenue. And unfortunately, this is an industry-wide problem that we refer to as “friction” in the customer journey from an app to the ideal destination. Removing this friction and getting the user to the right place (the right app store or the right screen in the app) is the secret to achieving your campaign goals.
This issue is not necessarily the link’s fault. The problem is with the technology behind the default link. It wasn’t made to directly open your app or send the user to the right app store, which is what you wanted to do with your app campaign.
Now let’s switch gears for a moment—let’s say your marketing goal for this YouTube advertising campaign is in fact to increase revenue, regardless of the customer’s preference of app or browser. In this case, the ideal fallback destination of the link would be the default web URL when your app isn’t installed.
With the URLgenius app deep linking platform, you are given all the power to set the exact fallback destination for your campaign link, and you can even change it at any time without having to create a brand new link.
But really, why is your link not opening the app? Explanation coming up!
Now, we did touch on this briefly earlier on. Even if you have an app link that has deep linking capabilities, that does not mean it will work for every use case. Instead, when any given customer clicks on your ad’s link, their shopping journey is brought to a complete halt by something called the “walled garden.”
The best way to explain this phenomenon is through the illustration of an example scenario. Let’s say a young woman—say her name is Ashley—is watching one of her favorite influencers’ latest makeup tutorials. In the middle of the video, she’s targeted by a Forever 21 ad for their new clothing campaign that features American pop star Madison Beer as the face of the new line, who happens to be wearing a dress from the line.
Oooh! Ashley loves both Forever 21 and Madison Beer! On top of that, the dress that the singer is wearing is exactly Ashley’s style and an absolute must-have. So she clicks on the ad, ready to be taken to the corresponding screen in the already-installed Forever 21 app on her phone.
She’s already signed into the Forever 21 app, and she was expecting the app would just open to the right product screen so she could immediately buy it. Welp. Ashley is instead taken to a web page where she can sign up for an account and sign up to receive emails from the retail company.
Ashley decides at that moment that she doesn’t have the time to navigate the website or even jump over to the app herself to find the dress she wants to purchase. And there it is, folks. A lost sale and lost app re-engagement opportunity. All because of the walled garden phenomenon—i.e., that very moment that Ashley is “walled” within the confines of YouTube because the regular Forever 21 link cannot open the app directly to the product.
What’s worse is that even if Ashley later decides to manually find the dress she wants to buy via the app, your individual social media campaign won’t get the credit it deserves because of the tracking that was lost with the initial opportunity itself. That doesn’t bode well for you in the long run, especially when attempting to convince your boss that the brand should continue to invest in similar social media marketing campaigns—and despite the fact that your YouTube ad technically did succeed.
And again, that’s where URLgenius steps in. Our app deep linking technology is the difference between the boom or bust of your strategy—a boom that comes with a smooth app-to-app sequence of events, and a bust without.
Alright then, it’s time. It’s time to dive into our step-by-step tutorials on how to 1) generate Google UTM tags for your app links and 2) generate those very app deep links.
First, a note about Google UTM tags. You’ll be able to measure how many app installs your campaign link is generating as long as you have the Google Analytics SDK for Mobile Apps for iOS and Android installed. You can track visits to the app store, app installs, app opens, and app re-engagement through social media and other channels without installing or managing another third-party SDK.
You just need to create a campaign link in the consoles, which will append the right tags to your app store links for iOS and Android so that you can track and attribute app downloads to your YouTube ad. Simply follow the steps below to add UTM tags to your app store links.
For iOS, you can generate UTM tags for measuring app installations by creating a campaign link in App Store Connect. Create a new campaign link with the UTM tags for each app install campaign to track and attribute the results to your YouTube campaign.
Under ‘Sources,’ you can see a list of your app install campaigns and their results:
Create a campaign naming convention that corresponds with your plan when producing fresh app store links with tracking.
Your iOS app store URL with UTM measurement tags should look like this:
It is important to note that iOS app store links with campaign tracking include ‘pt’ and ‘ct’ parameters, which stand for ‘Provider Tracking’ and ‘Campaign Tracking,’ respectively. The ‘pt’ field is your provider ID, whereas the ‘ct’ value represents the name of your campaign. These values cannot simply be appended. These tags must be generated in App Store Connect using the campaign tool, or your campaign won’t be measured.
The procedure for adding UTM tags to your Google Play link is quite similar to that of the Google Play Store; however, the application is known as the Google Campaign Builder.
When you construct the campaign URL, Google will detect that it leads to Google Play and will direct you to the Google Play URL Builder.
The process for building app store links with UTM tags for Google Play is similar. Your app store links don’t require UTM tags to create your app deep links, but it is the best way to monitor how well your campaign is performing!
Start at the URLgenius home page, where you will notice a box, where you can add a web URL to generate an app deep link with attribution that opens your app, while falling back to your website or the appropriate app store if not installed by the potential customer. This is the URLgenius app link composer or builder.
Copy and paste your app’s iOS app store or Google Play link into the field on the URLgenius home page. In this example, we’ll make an app-to-app deep link to the Forever 21 app Madison Beer dress page (but this could be any screen in the app that you like):
Fill out all of the sections, including the app store links, as well as the URL scheme (or app address) for the screen you want to open when the app is already installed. If you don’t know what the URL scheme is, leave it blank and enter it later in the link’s settings.
This will not be necessary every time. Once your app is added to the platform, the composer may be configured to identify your app and links, and your app deep link will automatically populate all of the required information. Customize the link’s end to match your campaign, then click ‘compose,’ which will lead you to the settings page where you can copy your URLgenius deep link to use in your campaign.
Scan the QR code to see how the link behaves. You can also utilize your brand’s domain for your links, which is easy to set up in your account’s settings. To access this link later or to change the link settings, go to the menu and pick the link.
There are various advanced options tabs on the settings page. You can set the fallback URL to the website or app store in the routing tab. You can also update or add attribution measurement tags. Remember that your attribution tags must be put to your backup URL as well as the app URL for iOS and Android. If you’d like to see a demo or have any questions regarding adding attribution tags, please contact us.
In addition to reporting, there are further capabilities linked to driving more app installs.
Do you need a QR code for a multi-channel campaign? With every URLgenius deep link generated comes a QR code, and scans are counted independently of clicks. These QR codes are an excellent way to simultaneously track and increase app installs.
Your URLgenius link functions behind the QR code, opening your app to the corresponding screen or directing you to the appropriate app store if it isn’t already installed. Click ‘QR Settings’ to download and personalize a QR code for your app.
So now let’s review what you can achieve with your campaign link!
While planning your social advertising campaign, you may think that you’ll need to create two separate URLs for two ads: one for your iOS app and one for your Android app/Google Play link.
With URLgenius, you can generate a single intelligent link that will lead the user to the appropriate app store based on their device. If your software is simple, there’s no need to send traffic to a landing page first—you just need to bring them to the right app store at that very moment.
Note: The more clicks and processes you remove from your customer’s journey, the more app installs and re-engagement you’ll receive, which means you’ll meet your advertising goals much faster.
If you’re debating whether your app marketing approach should focus on app installs or app re-engagement, we’d ask: Why limit yourself to just one of these goals? When the app is not installed, your visitor should be taken to the app store, but you can also specify which screen the application should launch to when it is installed.
You may want the app to launch to a category screen or other specialized screen where guests can engage with specific content. You can create a single campaign link (i.e., an app deep link) that accomplishes all of the above.
Remember that sending traffic back to the app store is futile if someone has already downloaded your app. Set the link to access the home screen or a deeper screen within your app. Even if only a tiny fraction of customers have your app loaded when they click your YouTube ad, they’ll appreciate that you spared them a step by launching it instantly to the right screen (boosting conversion!).
Depending on the aim of your campaign, you may want the backup URL to point to the corresponding app store or site URL. Your marketing staff should be in charge of this setting. For example, if you have an e-commerce app, your goal may be to boost revenue at times, but it may also be to increase the number of app installations at other times. Giving your marketing team control over the fallback URL, whether you want it to go to a web URL or the app store of your choice, can help you improve your campaign and achieve your objectives.
After you’ve decided on your campaign’s goals and desired link behavior, there’s one more thing to consider. Many apps make use of deep linking technology, and marketers may wrongly believe that their web URLs will open the app from YouTube and other social apps, only to be disappointed. Remember that this is due to a phenomenon known as a ‘walled garden,’ and your links simply need to be updated. This happens because YouTube (or any other app) keeps you within its embedded browser, rather than immediately opening the target app (in this case, your brand’s app), resulting in you being stuck on the login page!
‘Deferred deep linking’ is a term that some, if not many, app marketers may be familiar with. When a user launches the app for the first time, they are taken to the offer screen. For this complex use case, deep links in the URLgenius app can be adjusted.
Deferred deep linking does not require the use of an SDK; instead, a few lines of code are added to your project. Please contact us if you wish to test this advanced use case. URLgenius also offers code-free strategies for improving app installs, such as how to design app install banners for iOS and Android.
More app installs, more app engagement, more money—do we really need to say more? It’s time to use URLgenius to maximize YouTube advertising for your app. Remember, no SDKs or technical resources are required.
We’re here to help! Contact us at email@example.com if you have any queries concerning multi-channel app deep linking and QR codes for your app.
If you found this content helpful, check out some of our other popular how-to posts about linking to apps from different marketing channels:
App Marketing, Deep Linking
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