What You Need To Know About Apple Search Ads

Linsey Knerl
October 21, 2022
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The Apple store is a hot market, prompting over 600 million global users to browse its offerings every week. If you have an app to promote, it’s essential that you capture at least some of this growing market, but how can you start?

Apple Search Ads has made it incredibly easy to advertise to app users. Here’s how to take advantage of this new ad channel from Apple, including best practices for getting your ads seen by more people. 

What is the Apple Search Ad platform?

Apps that are approved by the Apple App Store can be promoted in three locations within the Apple mobile environment: The Search tab and results and the Today Tab. The platform comes with many of the same parameters you know from other ad networks, including bid amounts, daily budget caps, and goals for your campaign. It also comes in two versions, the more advanced Apple Search Ads interface and Apple Search Ads Basic.

How Apple Search Ads pricing works 

The advertising network is pretty flexible, giving advertisers a number of ways to control cost and spend. There’s currently no minimum dollar amount to invest, and qualified developers get $100 to spend on their first campaign. You can set a daily budget for the campaign, with the Advanced option using a cost-per-tap (CPT) pricing model and the Basic option using a pay-per-install pricing model. With both, you only pay for app users that engage with your ads to the maximum dollar amount you feel comfortable spending each day or campaign period. If you want to give Apple some leeway in placing ads at the time it thinks will be most profitable, you can still set a ceiling for the most you will pay for an individual tap or install, so there won’t be any expensive surprises when the bill comes.

If you ever change your mind about a campaign, either due to the results you’re getting, budget changing, or a need to adjust the assets or goals, you can stop the campaign at any time with the push of a button. 

How to start using Apple Search Ads 

The easiest way to get started is with the Apple Search Ads Basic plan, but those using the traditional interface can start running ads in a few steps. First, you'll need to create metadata for your product pages and assets that can be mixed and matched by Apple to create their own ads for your app. It's also important to create trackable goals, so you know how your campaign is doing.

The reporting dashboard is pretty self-explanatory and meets most needs for monitoring metrics. If you are a developer with the need for a more robust reporting tool, Apple offers a Campaign Management API to keep track of larger campaigns or pull custom reports.

Source: Apple Search Ads

What is Apple Search Ads Basic? 

As we mentioned, there are two ways to start using Apple Search Ads, and the Basic tool is designed to get you up and running with minimal experience or tech know-how. It differs from Apple Search Ads Advanced in that it’s a scaled-down tool that takes a lot of the configuration options away but also makes it easier for beginners. It may be one of the better ways to figure out which of your assets and product pages will convert, at least until you gain the experience needed to use the more technical fine-tuning features.

You pay for each installation, which helps ensure ROI, and the data inputs are fairly straightforward, including the app details, country to advertise, and the budget max. From there, Apple takes your assets, creates the campaign ads its algorithms have determined to work best, and serves it up for app users to see when they browse or install other apps.  

Best practices for Apple Search Ads Basic

While there will likely be some tried-and-true tips that work for specific industries or app categories, Apple has created its own guidance for getting the most from the ad platform, including:

1.  Review metadata for relevance to your app’s audience and goals

Everything from your app’s title to keywords to descriptions can be used to create the ads for your campaign, so make sure all of these metadata fields accurately represent what your app offers. Any changes will take up to 2 hours to show up in running ads and up to 24 hours to show up in your ad previews from your campaign dashboard. Don’t forget about the subtitles and screenshots, which can be a useful indicator of how relevant your app will be to users.

2.  Provide quality creative assets that sell

Speaking of screenshots, when was the last time you updated yours? (Remember, you can have up to 10 on your product page.) If you have made significant changes to your app, including design elements, get those screenshots updated before launching new campaigns. Your assets should reflect your brand and tell users, at a glance, the perks of your app. Product pages should be well designed, as well; use all the available space to your advantage.

3.  Run to the maximum geographic coverage area available for your app

Whether your app is approved for download in two countries or twenty, take advantage of the geographical reach to serve ads anywhere the app is available. You may be surprised at what the international market can do for your campaign numbers.

Still not seeing results? Consider Apple Search Ads certification to get the best tools and tips available – or consider hiring an experienced growth team that understands product pages and how your assets and campaign bids can provide the best ROI for your ad dollar.

Linsey Knerl

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