Apple Search Ads Best Practices

best practices

The App Store is one of the greatest application distribution platforms where the competition among app developers is very tough with approximately 1.8 million applications according to Apple. Apple Search Ads functions with an auction system where the highest bid and relevancy level wins the auction among its competitors and places at the top of the search page with a blue highlighted section. Apple Search Ads provides a service for marketers to make their applications stand out with high visibility. This platform is considered one of the most effective ways to bring new users since it not only protects the advertisers’ brand but also challenges your competitors.  

There are two possible options to start running campaigns: Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced. The decision is up to the advertisers depending on their resources, budget or preferences. 

Apple Search Ads Basic

The Basic model offers a relatively easier and faster setup for developers. Minimum management is required by the advertiser with limitation of $10,000/month per app and a maximum of 50 apps. 

There is no expertise needed because Apple Search Ads matches the ad automatically to potential users accordingly to the advertisers predetermined goals. 

Developers have a low time commitment where they have a chance to review their performance over the dashboard. And the platform provides a simple management and reporting function for measuring the advertisers metrics. Moreover, the payments are done accordingly based on the number of installs (CPI = Cost Per Install). 

There is no long term commitment where marketers can stop promoting their apps or change their budget allocation as well.

This model is mostly recommended for marketers who are low on budget and time.

Apple Search Ads Advanced 

The advanced Apple Search Ads model offers much more customization during setups\ such as determining the targets for the audience’s age, gender, and location with an unlimited budget and number of apps.

The latter gives more control for the advertiser but may take more time to manage. 

Advertisers are able to choose the keywords that they would like to appear, create different ad groups, run multiple, automatically created Creative Sets, and also receive a detailed report to measure KPIs. 

Moreover, the payments are predetermined by the advertiser and done only when it is clicked on the app (CPT: Cost Per Tap).

Especially for Apple Search Ads Advanced, advertisers have more decisions to makewith the customized options and more control over the campaigns. With Apple Search Ads best practices, advertisers have a chance to further promote their campaigns by bidding on particular keywords that their users are mostly searching for. 

Apple Search Ads Best Practices

Apple Search Ads campaigns are considered as one of the most efficient ways of marketing for developers who mainly aim to put forward their apps among their competitors. So, in order for any advertiser to optimize Apple Search Ads, we recommend advertisers take concrete steps before setting up any of their campaigns. 

apple search ads best practices

Apple Search Ads strategies are used as a crucial tool to be efficient and optimal, both in terms of performance and costs. For ads to be considered profitable, the developer should earn more than the spendings on advertising measurements. For this reason, it is important to know the key points on how to use Apple Search Ads best practices; 

1-Find the best Keywords to Scale Campaigns: 

Keyword optimization for Apple Search Ads is an important aspect to decide on the right keywords to bid on and placing them at the right campaign structure. The basic keyword research should be conducted as: 

  • Brand Keywords: To target users who make a search with the exact brand name 
  • Generic Keywords: To reach out to the right users who are relatively interested in the app
  • Competitor Keywords: To attract users who are interested with your apps competitors
  • Discovery Keywords: To catch some keywords that are searched by potential users 

optimal campaign structure

There are 3 main ways to find profitable keywords:

  • Thinking as a potential user 
  • Using an App Store Optimization platform 
  • Finding new keywords from discovery campaigns

Thinking as a potential user will help advertisers to target more relevant keywords, especially for brand based research. 

App Store Optimization(ASO) platforms offer to present the keywords according to their search popularity. The higher search popularity of a keyword represents the number of times it has been searched. This has major importance since App Store Optimization focuses on click-through rate (CTR). Advertisers preferably choose to use high-ranking keywords by trying to catch their users’ attention and make them click on the app once it appears. Any advertiser can uncover their competitors’ keywords. And, also discover new keywords with and MobileAction‘s ASO platform as well. This will optimize the visibility of the app by increasing the traffic and bringing high conversion rates. 

Discovery campaigns can be used with both Broad Match and Search Match On to discover new keywords. The ultimate goal for discovery campaigns is to find new well-performing keywords with high search volume, low CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), and high relevance can be considered as promising metrics. Once the new keywords are discovered, their success will be observed under the relative performance campaigns to see if those keywords can be considered as scaling keywords.   

2-Choosing the Right Match Type for Keywords: 

Apple Search Ads has 2 match types (exact and broad) and offers a keyword discovery feature called Search Match that could be utilized to ensure to reach out the right user target or not.

types of use cases
  • Exact Match Type is used to optimize the performance of any app with a narrowed down range of keywords by aiming to connect with the users who are most interested. if a user searches with a specific search term that matches exactly with the keyword, the app will appear. 

When an exact match is used, it will help the advertiser to reach out to the right users with the exact keywords.

  • Broad Match Type is the default match type that applied in Apple Search Ads Advanced only, which promotes the ad when a user searches for a keyword, synonym, misspelling, or close variant of that keyword. 

The best case to use this particular type is when an advertiser wants to avoid any specific, overlooked keywords, to widen the customer target, and to save time. To avoid any weaknesses that this type might bring, it is important to control the metrics which can be higher than expected due to a broad range of results. 

  • Search Match  uses multiple resources to match your ad to relevant searches on the App Store, including the metadata from your App Store listing, information about similar apps in the same genre, and other search data.   With Search Match on, your ad may be matched automatically to search terms without you having to figure out all keyword possibilities and actively bid on them. Any advertiser can use this type to further increase the performance of their campaigns but since it shows the data retrieval is from a wide range, it may lead to an extensive number of results. Those broad results may become too costly. So, it is important to control their performance if this match type is used. Once the related keywords with the apps are identified, then the advertiser is recommended to shift those keywords to the related performance campaigns. And, add them as negative keywords for Discovery campaigns so as to not to compete with themselves.

3- Build Well Structured Campaigns : 

It is important to build well-structured campaigns in order to have better control over the overall performance of any campaign. After listing the keywords that will be used for the ad, it is important to place them at the right campaign structure. In order to easily measure and scale based on the advertiser goals, Apple Search Ads recommends the campaign structures as : 

  • Brand Campaign: Important to protect the brand name from the competitors, and to easily reach out the related users who are willing to download your app
  • Generic Campaign: Crucial to appear for the users who search for relatively related keywords with the app
  • Competitor Campaign: Good tactic to attract the customers by using keywords related to competitors’ brand names 
  • Discovery Campaign: Opportunity for the advertiser to find out how users behave by making search and discovering new related keywords by broad match or Search Match to reach out more users

4- Refine the Ad Groups based on the Targeting Options: 

Once all the campaigns are set, ad groups are determined by focusing on the marketing strategies of the advertiser. Ad group data represent more detailed information with some key points while creating new campaigns. 

key points while creating a new campaign

Once all the user targeting options are determined, the keywords are added to the relevant ad groups under the campaign/s. The keywords should be added according to their  match types: 

  • Brand Campaign: using Exact Match Type will help to increase the control on keywords that the app most likely will be seen on, with the most interested and relevant users for the advertisers brand. 
  • Generic Campaign: using Exact Match Type will help the advertisers to focus only on the exact and related keywords for the app to find the new potential users.
  • Competitor Campaign: using Exact Match Type will help advertisers find and reach users who are searching for an app like theirs (apps offered by their competitors) 
  • Discovery Campaign: helps the advertiser to find new relevant keywords with broad match or Search Match. Using these match types help to determine the user preferences since they differ from one another and change quickly.

5-Don’t Forget to Put Negative Keywords :

When running a campaign, negating keywords is as important as determining the keywords. Negate keywords consist of certain terms that are irrelevant and also keywords which you do not want to be seen for. It should operate to avoid any unrelated searches or to reach out to the wrong customer targets. 

From the advertisers’ perspective, negating keywords should also be used for the purpose of  decreasing the advertising costs and improving the performance of the ads. 

Moreover, it saves money and brings more efficiency for the overall performance of the campaigns. 

It is important to note that each keyword that is placed at the Brand, Generic and Competitor campaign level, should be negated from the Discovery Campaign. So, the advertisers will not compete with themselves by spending money to discover new keywords that are exactly the same with their performance campaigns.

6-Easily Track and Create Automations for Ad Activities

It is important to keep track of the right KPIs(Key Performance Indicator) to decide on the actions to take and to improve the campaign performances.


The Apple Search Ads metrics and some KPIs are considered: 

  • Impressions
  • Taps
  • Tap-Through Rate (TTR)
  • Install 
  • Conversion Rates (CR)
  • Cost per Tap (CPT)
  • Spend
  • Return On Ad Spend (Apple Search Ads and MMP integration is required)
  • In-app Conversion(Apple Search Ads and MMP integration is required)

And so on. 

After keeping track of the relevant KPIs and examining the performance for all those metrics, some actions need to be taken to keep control of the campaigns.  In this sense, creating some automatization rules will help to maintain the performance of any advertisers” campaign and saves time. There are many action options to take for each metric by choosing the frequency and conditions. 

optimization and automation

For instance, after the analysis of the metrics based on the TTR, CR and so on, advertisers can create automations for each metric that are affecting their daily decisions. Those automations can be set for increasing or decreasing bid amounts, adding or negating keywords and changing daily caps according to keywords performances.

Go Beyond  

There are many ways for an advertiser to promote their app. With Apple Search Ads, you can promote your apps at the top of search results on the App Store. However, with the world-changing each and every day, it is becoming harder to follow up with users’ preferences. As a partner of Apple Search Ads, offers a way to run more efficient campaigns.

Moreover, is an Apple Search Ads campaign management and optimization platform where advertisers can integrate their Mobile Measurement Partner (MMP) and set goals to take bulk actions and create automation rules. The platform will help the advertiser to optimize the performance of their campaigns.

How do we establish all of these? 

Schedule a demo with us to find out!

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