Reaching new audiences with Apple Search Ads

App Store Optimization (ASO)

February 28, 2023

Apple Search Ads (ASA) was introduced in 2016 to thousands of developers on the App Store. A brand new UA channel directly into one of the two main app stores. ASA kept growing overtime and is now a settled UA channel that can boost your conversions and your visibility on the store.

What are Apple Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads campaigns are an App Store specific type of user acquisition campaign where developers can place an ad for their app or mobile games on top of search results. The ad will look like a regular search result (with the difference of slightly darker background and an ad banner), and will be placed above the first organic result.

A few months ago, Apple introduced new placements for Apple Search Ads in the Today tab as well as at the bottom of individual app pages in the You May Like section. 

You can either bid on specific keywords or let Apple handle it. There are two solutions available in ASA: Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced.

  • ASA Basic allows a budget of up to $10k a month per app, a maximum of 50 apps and a simplified set up. You don’t have to set audience refinements or relevant keywords as Apple will handle matching you to potential customers
  • ASA Advanced  allows developers to select specific keywords, control when ads will be shown and define audiences as well as set a maximum spend per click. The performance reporting is also more detailed and there’s no limit for both monthly budget or number of apps being promoted

You can use both solutions if you wish but according to Apple, it brings no advantage to run both Basic and Advanced at the same time. 

Are Apple Search Ads that effective?

With more than 30 million registered iOS developers and 1.8 billion active iOS devices, the App Store is rife with fierce competition. Apple Search Ads has been designed to boost discoverability in the App Store, it positions your app or game where people are already looking for something. 

70% of App Store users use search to discover apps,  65% of downloads come directly from the App Store search and Apple Search Ads have a conversion average of 50%, which makes it already an efficient acquisition channel.

Although ASA is not supposed to have an impact on organic search results, according to AppRadar and MobileAction, a successful ASA campaign will convey the relevance of those keywords to Apple in relation to your app or game. The more you drive conversion through ASA, the more Apple notices that these keywords are indeed meaningful for your product and effective and boosts your organic traffic as well. 

Source: AppTweak

Moreover, after Apple’s introduction of App Tracking Transparency (ATT), Apple Search Ads is an acquisition channel that still has access to copious amounts of personal data to ensure proper targeting. Not only does it also rely on contextual clues (such as keywords) to reach users, but it also has access to Apple’s first party data which ensures efficient targeting. 

ATT’s arrival was a breath of fresh air for Apple Search Ads, giving it more efficiency and power over other marketing channels with a sudden loss of precise targeting. 

All in all, Apple Search Ads will place you right where people are looking. It allows you a unique position at the top of search results, or in the Today tab with less organic effort. And this positioning can, if done thoughtfully, boost your actual organic presence. 

Take advantage of CPPs

Custom Product Pages have now officially replaced Creative Sets, which means that if you want to set up an Apple Search Ads campaign that does not rely on your default creative assets, you will need to create a custom product page.

Custom Product Pages (CPPs) will allow you to target different segments of your audience individually. Thanks to them, you will be able to create specific custom pages relying on tailored visual assets to reach and convert audiences with a more personalized approach.

For example, you can use them to take advantage of gamer motivations or user personas, showing specific sides of your product to relevant audiences. They will allow you to gain back efficiency and offer a personalized approach, one that fits in seamlessly with the targeted keywords.

This also means you can use ASA and CPPs as a testing ground, figuring out which keywords might work for you, they may be linked to unsuspecting audiences, ones you wouldn’t have thought about that shed a light onto potential users. You can also try different visual assets, see if they convert well in association to some keywords or even specific territories.

The association of CPPs and ASA allow you a certain freedom (remember that everything needs to go through Apple Review) to figure out which information and which visuals work best. Trying out new screenshots or preview videos thanks to custom product page may open the door to new opportunities and help you extend your app’s reach both through paid channels at first, and then organically.

To find out how you can take advantage of Custom Product Pages, head over to this article on the topic.  

Some ASA tips to make a great campaign

  • Optimize your bids and keywords over time, don’t settle for your initial campaign, analyze the results and adapt accordingly
  • Take advantage of CPPs for a more effective targeting strategy that allows you to rely on your app or game’s different strengths
  • Pay attention to your metadata and ensure it fits with your campaign needs, your ASA campaign will rely on your ASO
  • Use targeted keywords to position your app on your audience’s needs
  • Monitor your competition and their ranking on relevant keywords
  • Don’t forget to use negative keywords to define where you do not want to appear

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