Apple Search Ads: features, customization, recommendations

Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads is a service that helps sell iOS apps in the App Store. But this is not its only function. In addition to placing ads in the first lines of search results and attracting interested users, the service allows you to collect important data, protect the brand from competitors, and even increase positions in the organic search results of the App Store. Read more about everything in our article.

Top Positions and 4 More Reasons to Try Apple Search Ads

Of course, the first thing an advertiser expects from paid placement is to see his app in the TOP. Many advertisers have already appreciated the opportunity to receive impressions at a low rate, even for high-frequency phrases. What else attracts Search Ads?

High quality traffic

You can evaluate the quality of traffic by conversion and user engagement in the application. As for the first parameter, according to Apple Search Ads themselves, approximately 50% of advertising clicks on an application end up installing it. The more relevant a phrase has led to the app being shown, the more likely it is for targeted action.

As for the engagement in the application, it is about the same for users who came through Search Ads and from other sources. Another proof of high-quality traffic is the return on investment. According to Singular, Apple Search Ads ranks 4th for gaming-related ROI and the undisputed 1st for non-gaming apps.

Apple Search Ads

How much you need to spend to attract targeted traffic depends on the country, the category of the application, the characteristics of the target audience, the frequency of the search phrase. For a general understanding and budget planning, we will leave here the diagrams from SearchAdsHQ.

Apple Search Ads CPA

As you can see, the USA and Great Britain remain some of the most expensive countries for advertising. The most expensive category is “Sports” with an average app install price of $ 17.41. At the same time, the price of an installation of an application from the category “Music”, “Utility”, “Photo and Video” or “Weather” fluctuates around $ 1.

Apple Search Ads CPA

Impressive traffic volumes

Apple Search Ads have annual revenues of about $ 2 billion. And this is about a billion installations of advertised applications per year. With such indicators, the platform ranks 4th, behind Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and AppLavin. But here it is worth considering that the platform only covers Apple gadget owners who have used the App Store search with a clear understanding of what they need. At the same time, Facebook attracts users who just scroll through the news feed.

Impressive traffic volumes

Useful data

Working with Apple Search Ads, we get more than just impressions and installs. Another important resource is information, namely:

  • Recommendations for popular search phrases. The service offers search queries with which the developer will receive at least 11 impressions of his application. The list also includes popularity rankings for each phrase.
  • Useful metrics for search queries. The number of conversions for the phrases used can be viewed in the advertising account. The following types of conversions are available: TTR (click-to-view ratio) and CR (download-to-click ratio). The Search Ads Attribution API offers a wider range of conversions. Here you can track purchases, trial launches, and other events.
  • Audience metrics. Studying target audience means improving the quality of advertising. Search Ads helps you segment audiences, analyze conversions by geography, demography, and time of ad impressions.
  • Working with screenshots. Using the Creative Sets option, you can add to creatives not only screenshots that are used in App Store search results, but also more attractive, informative and relevant ones. This feature allows you to test the performance of different sets of images.

Brand protection opportunity

Over 90% of App Store searches across nearly all subcategories are branded. As with any ad network, brand queries are often used to attract potential buyers. This is not only about their brands, but also about others. Consequently, if you use your brand name as a search term, you minimize the churn of traffic to competitors.

Apple Search Ads is primarily concerned with the interests of users. The service was created to help them find new high-quality and useful applications. In fact, advertising is a recommendation of the service to install a particular application.

This means that advertisers need to pay special attention to the relevance of the application to the interests of the user. We’ll talk about high-quality advertising settings further.

Preparation and launch of advertising in Search Ads

Test budget calculation

As mentioned above, ad spends will depend at least on the app category, country, and audience segment. Let’s say you have an educational app (remember, the average cost per click in the Education category = $ 1.96) that is advertised in the US and Canada. We need to calculate the ROI (return on investment) for 10 searches for men and women.

First, it is worth determining what events lead to income. Let’s say this is a subscription to a course that is chosen by 5% of app users. To objectively assess the budget, you need at least 50 revenue-generating events.

To receive these 50 events, we need 1000 app installs (we divided 50 subscriptions by 5%). If we have 2 countries, 10 search phrases, and 2 categories of users (men and women), we have 40 segments, each of which needs 1000 installs. Total 40 thousand installs at $ 1.96. We receive $ 78400.

What to do if the test budget is less than the calculated amount:

  1. You can run ads to a country with a low conversion cost.
  2. Reduce the number of segments in the test, for example, by reducing the number of search phrases.
  3. Reduce the number of scored events, for example, to 20-30.
  4. Select priority combinations of country and keywords and start the test with them.

Any of these solutions is a trade-off between lower costs and lower test quality. Therefore, you need to take them carefully.

Advertising structure

Work in Apple Search Ads can be carried out in one of two account options – basic and advanced. The second option is more important due to a large number of metrics. The structure is similar to Facebook Ads and Google Ads, but with its own nuances. It consists of campaigns, ad groups, search terms, negative keywords, and sets of screenshots. Campaigns can be grouped according to your advertising strategy.

Apple Search Ads structure

Some tips for organizing your ad structure:

  • If you are advertising, for example, in the USA, Canada and the UK, you will need to create 3 search campaigns – one for each country.
  • It is recommended to create an individual ad group for each audience segment.
  • Add the entire list of key phrases to each of the created groups.

There is a lot of initial data, and the main thing is not to miss anything. There are 2 structuring options:

  1. Standard. In this case, there are campaigns, below them are ad groups, and below them are keywords. In this case, advertising is mainly carried out manually using the automation capabilities that are limited to the advertising office. The standard structure is convenient with a small number of segments. Its main drawbacks are the large amount of routine work and the inability to analyze each request.

SKAG-based. Everything here is built around keywords. Each ad group contains only one search term. As in the previous version, the advertiser collects data at the group level, which also shows the effectiveness of key phrases. With this organization of the account, you can use negative keywords, schedule of impressions, cost of conversion for each request, and build charts at the group level, and in fact – for each request.

Apple Search Ads groups
It’s important to keep in mind the 2,000 ad group limit when choosing this strategy.

What is automation and what is it for?

Maintaining an advertising account can be automated using a database of key queries. In addition to search phrases, it includes data on the most important performance indicators, calculating optimal bids. Basically, bid optimization goes through the stages of collecting data, calculating predicted conversions, calculating bids, and updating them. At the end of this cycle, it repeats again.

Apple Search Ads optimization cycle

Automation allows you to optimize your account structure, collect data by keywords, add negative keywords in automatic mode, change bids in bulk, track traffic, and receive reports.

How to Scale App Store Ads

The easiest way to increase your traffic is to raise your bids. But we will not be talking about it, as this leads to both an increase in the budget and a change in the return on investment.

Better to use a more consistent and graceful method:

  • Add relevant keys. This will increase the number of installs.
  • Change the cost of bids in favor of more converting keywords. This will lead to a gradual increase in conversion and a decrease in its cost.
  • Adjust bids and cost per conversion. Since the platform gives preference to apps that match the user’s interests, high conversions will allow you to win more auctions even with a low bid.
Apple Search Ads scaling

5 more scaling ideas:

  • Add Discovery campaigns to discover new search queries.
  • Pay attention to the list of countries where Apple Search Ads are running. There are 60 of them in total, and there may be an additional place to live for your audience.
  • Experiment with your bids by setting a high CPC while reducing your conversion cost.
  • Explore All Nearly targeted queries and try to modify the product for them.
  • Supplement application metadata with popular search phrases.

Tasks Apple Search Ads Can Do

Driving quality traffic is the main goal that App Store advertising helps to achieve. But there are additional features that you should take advantage of:

  • Learn about new relevant queries by selecting “Discovery” as the main campaign type.
  • Test conversions and ROI for individual queries.
  • Save traffic for branded queries.
  • Use the new most popular keywords to increase traffic.
  • Download and test specific sets of screenshots for relevant search queries.
  • Separately set up ads for users who already familiar with the product or its developer.
  • Increase the place of the application in the natural search results due to the involvement of users who came from Apple Search Ads.
  • Prepare the product for sale, namely, launch advertising on the upcoming an app for release, but not yet published in the App Store.

Apple Search Ads is a fairly large-scale and well-thought-out platform for promoting IOS applications. Advertising here requires high budgets and a significant investment of time. But the result fully justifies the investment. And in order to save time and quickly recoup the budget, it is better to entrust advertising to professionals. Internet Marketing Agency Web-Sci will help you go from setting up to getting the required number of conversions.

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