On 5th October the Apple App Store launched Apple Search Ads. Referred to as “smart and flexible”, Apple has designed Search Ads to be as quick and effortless to set up as possible. In order to do this they basically do it all for you; they create the ads and (if you let them) match your app to relevant searches. It is possible to refine the targeting and therefore who sees the ads by adding keywords, audiences and locations and you only pay when a customer ‘taps’ your ad.

So campaigns are very easy to set up. You simply tell Search Ads which app you’d like to promote by typing it in and selecting the correct one from the list provided. Next, you give your campaign a name, set a budget, and daily cap. You then have the option to add campaign negative keywords:

apple search ads ads

Then, like with most ad platforms, you can create an ad group(s). You get to choose the ad group name, the ‘Storefronts’ field is automatically populated (see above) as “Search Ads is currently available in the U.S. storefront only”. You can then select devices, ad scheduling and default max CPT (cost-per-tap) bids or optional CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bid.

The next things to determine are keywords and the default setting. ‘Search Match’, described as “the easiest way to get your ads up and running”, means Apple will automatically match your ad to users who are searching for apps like yours. If you don’t trust that, you can deselect it and choose your own keywords, which is what I’d recommend.

If you do choose ‘Search Match’ here’s a tip from Apple:

Optimize your metadata and imagery. Search Ads prioritizes relevance when determining which ad to show so it’s more important than ever that you craft your app name, imagery, description, and keywords so they’re appealing and highly relevant. Take the time to review yours. Changes made to your app’s metadata, imagery, and any other applicable data contained in iTC may take up to 17 hours to take effect in Search Ads.

Search Ads automatically suggests some keywords based on the app that you are promoting, which is handy, and then you can add as many more as you’d like and it shows you “search popularity” for each so you can get an idea of how many impressions etc that your ads could get, relative to the others. Please note that your keywords will default to Broad Match and your default max bid.

apple search ads keywords

You can then choose your audience based on customer type, demographic and location:

apple search ads audience

The Results

We used the platform with one of our clients in the United States for a short trial and found that ‘tap’ costs and CPA costs were very low indeed -I’m talking $0.28 for non-brand taps and $0.06 for branded keywords and we saw conversion rates of over 50% for both.

Taps – The number of times your ad was tapped by users within the reporting time period.

Conversions – The total number of downloads or re-downloads resulting from a sponsored ad within the reporting period.

Please note that the product that we were promoting was very niche, which could make a difference to costs, and as the platform has only just launched, this could also be a factor, but I’d be interested to see how this compares in other industries.

Have you used Apple Search Ads yet? Let us know your thoughts


Also published on Medium.