About Apple’s App Store ads upcoming extension

App Store Optimization (ASO)

September 5, 2022

Apple Search Ads (ASA) has been one of Apple’s most successful ad products lately. Especially since the arrival of the ATT. And for once, Apple seems like they’re gonna take a page from Google’s book and expand ASA to other parts of the App Store. Soon, you’ll be able to advertise your app or mobile game on the Today homepage as well as on individual pages. Let’s look into it!

About Apple Search Ads

So far, if you were interested in advertising your app or mobile game directly inside the App Store, you had two options available: the Search tab and the search results. 

Apple Search Ads has encountered quite a success. After all, the search page is the place to be for advertisers. You can see the following numbers on Apple’s dedicated page.

source: Apple

After all, Search Ads is an easy way to ensure your app or game has the top ranking. You’ll appear on top of everyone else on the keywords of your choice. You can even position your app on your competitors’ branded keywords. 

If you decide to invest in ASA, you have two options: Basic or Advanced. Besides pricing, there are a couple of differences between them. Basic is mostly run automatically, you provide Apple with information, target countries, and monthly budget, and they handle it from there. You’re also limited to 50 apps.

There’s no app limit with Advanced, and it allows you more control. You can select your target keywords yourself and decide where to bid, you can target more precisely (by gender, age, location, new or existing customers, whether they used your other apps), and have more control over where and when your ad will show (you can even choose for it to be visible only during specific timeframes in the day).

New ad placements in the App Store

With the new placements coming, maybe Apple will have to find another name for Search Ads. Indeed, according to insider information obtained by MacRumors, 9to5Mac, and AppleInsider, two new ad slots should come soon to the App Store:

  • on the Today tab, right next to the App Store’s daily editorial content on the homepage
  • on the “You might also like” section at the bottom of app pages
source: 9to5mac

While we’re still waiting for an official announcement from Apple, along with a starting date, this is already pretty big news. Experts had already guessed, for the most part, that Apple would boost its ad business. After all, Search Ads is successful, and Apple has never been one to miss an opportunity. 

Is it worth it?

These upcoming new ad placements will take advantage of the App Store’s build and its monopoly on iOS devices to offer developers a captive audience. ASA is already successful on its own, adding new ad placements can only help it grow further.

Moreover, Google already has its own version of these ad placements and according to Thomas Petit, a mobile growth expert, they are bringing in quite a lot of money to Android.

Not unlike how ASA has clearly been very effective for Apple, even though they’ve never shared official numbers. This is on par with ASA’s steady growth, a growth that hasn’t been impacted by Apple’s ATT. Indeed, while everyone was scrambling to try and keep their targeting as accurate as possible, Apple products didn’t have to worry about it: opting out of personalized ads had no impact on ASA campaigns

That made Apple’s search ads responsible for 58% of iPhone app downloads from ad clicks in September 2021. ASA has been eating away at Meta’s share ever since its launch. 

However, not everyone is convinced by the new placement. For Simon Thillay, head of ASO at AppTweak, it may lower the value of the Today tab. 

Indeed, the recommended content will not be only catered, as it was up until this announcement. When the new placements come in, ads will be inserted in the middle of recommended content. 

Others are much more direct in their distrust of the new announcement. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic and well-known critic of the Cupertino firm clearly states its position. For him, it’s not worth it, and will clearly damage the opportunities for organic growth with paid ads. 

Users are also criticizing Apple’s choice to add more ads in the App Store, after all, Apple prides itself on being a more controlled environment that does not allow spam while opening new ad slots in its App Store. 

ASA’s growth may make organic growth trickier inside the App Store, more space being reserved for ads will take away organic spots, but in terms of visibility, it’s a big play for developers and app marketers. They’ll be able to show their app or game in more places, definitely attracting more attention. It’s a great marketing opportunity, one that may make app marketing budgets inflate as fast as gas prices. 

How should you prepare for it?

If you were planning on investing in Apple Search Ads, you might want to look into Custom Product Pages as well. As of January 2022, you cannot use Creative Sets to create alternative visual assets for your ASA campaigns, you have to create a custom product page. 

source: Apple

The custom product page you’ll base your ad creative on should include at least 4 portrait or 5 landscape images and will need to be approved first by the App Store Connect and then by Apple Search Ads (they are two separate approvals). Otherwise, your ad creative assets will follow the previously established rules of Apple Search Ads:

  • No more than 50 characters or 3 lines of text (text within screenshots is not included) in each asset
  • Every asset must include screenshots from the app
  • Screenshots from the app must be prominent and undistorted and fill at least ⅔ of each ad creative asset
  • The ad creative must comply with Apple’s advertising policies
  • No pricing offers or ranking claims should appear
  • No violent, sexually explicit, or inappropriate images 
  • It is not allowed to use a font styling similar to the App Store Today Card
  • You cannot use phrases like Game of the Day or App of the Day
  • The language used in the ad creative must match the one selected in App Store Connect

You can, of course, rely on your initial visual assets but it may be worth it to provide another option. If you’re targeting specific placements, like the Today tab, you will have to stand out more than on search results, because the Today tab is much noisier and filled and people will not be looking for your app, or what your app does.

In search results, people are already looking for something connected to your app, so they know it answers their needs, one way or another. Which implies a different set of creatives. 

Even if you only target search results, having different creatives will give you the opportunity to show more information to the audience: with the ad set, and with the assets visible through your organic ranking. 

So try and build more custom product pages with these new placements in mind. Think about what you would want to show in those spots and the information you need to highlight.

If you need help with that, check out our article on the topic

What do you think about these new placements? Will you try them out? 

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