The Evolution of Apple Search Ads, Post 2: Maximizing App Discovery with Search Results Ads


As part of our ongoing series into Apple Search Ads, we explore how search results ads can be a game-changer in app discovery. These ads are powerful at grabbing attention on the App Store and work in harmony with other ad types to boost visibility and engagement. Whether you’re a seasoned app marketer or just getting started, you’ll find valuable tips on making search results ads work for you.

Welcome back to our series on Apple Search Ads. In our first post, The Evolution of Apple Search Ads: The Omnichannel Opportunity for App Marketers, we explored the important role that apps play as a critical touchpoint in omnichannel marketing. We discussed how app marketing often becomes siloed, limiting its potential impact across the broader marketing strategy. And, by leveraging the full power of four core placements of Apple Search Ads, marketers can effectively enhance visibility, engage users at critical moments, and drive significant app downloads and interactions.

Today, we start with the OG of Apple Search Ads: search results ads. For many years, they were the only ad placement that app marketers could use to influence app discovery on the App Store. Positioned to capture the attention of users precisely at the moment of search, these ads have consistently demonstrated their effectiveness. According to Apple Search Ads, 70% of App Store visitors use search to find apps, and almost 65% of downloads occur directly after a search.

Today, we will explore what makes search results ads so effective, share best practices for leveraging them, and offer strategic insights on how they can be optimally integrated within a multi-placement advertising strategy.

Ads in search results are displayed at the top when users search on the App Store from their iOS devices, providing a powerful method to help users discover your app.

Search results ads 101

Searching is an intrinsic online behavior, and search advertising of any kind is uniquely powerful because it matches a user’s query with a brand’s message at a crucial decision-making moment. This ability to engage users who are actively seeking information makes search advertising one of the most effective tools in digital marketing. It not only captures immediate attention but also aligns directly with user intent, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Users engage with search engines at all stages of the purchasing funnel—from initial awareness to the point of decision. By targeting users across this spectrum, advertisers can effectively guide them from curiosity to conversion. Apple Search Ads are especially potent in this respect, as they allow for precise targeting based on a variety of user intents and behaviors, ensuring that your app appears at the most opportune moments.

  • Managing Apple Search Ads, particularly search results ads, demands a detailed and strategic approach tailored specifically to optimize visibility and engagement right at the point of user search intent. Here’s how you can effectively handle the technical complexities of search results ads to maximize your campaign performance:
  • Precision in keyword selection for search results. The effectiveness of search results ads hinges significantly on keyword relevance. Selecting the right keywords—using both broad and exact match types—ensures your ads appear in response to user queries that are most relevant to your app. This strategic keyword alignment is crucial for capturing user interest at the moment of highest intent.
  • Structuring campaigns with a search focus. Effective campaign structure for search results ads involves setting up distinct ad groups that cater to specific search behaviors and themes. This targeted approach allows for more refined messaging and better alignment with user intent, making your ads more relevant and impactful.
  • Tailoring ad variations to search queries. Leveraging Apple Search Ads’ capability to use custom product pages, create and test various ad variations to meet the diverse needs of your target audience. This customization enables you to fine-tune your messaging based on user search queries, enhancing ad relevance and engagement directly from the search results.
  • Optimizing bid strategies for search placements. Managing your bids efficiently is essential for cost-effective ad placements. With Apple Search Ads’ cost-per-tap (CPT) pricing model, you only pay when a user taps on your ad. It’s imperative to optimize your bids to balance between competitiveness and budget efficiency, ensuring you gain maximum value from each user interaction.
  • Rigorously monitoring search ad performance metrics. To truly refine and optimize your search results ads, it’s vital to regularly monitor key performance metrics such as impressions, taps, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition. Apple Search Ads offers robust tools that allow you to track these metrics in real-time, providing the insights needed to make data-driven adjustments to your campaigns.

Here are a few examples of how Skai clients have successfully used search results ads:

DraftKings. By leveraging targeted keyword strategies and optimizing their bidding approach, DraftKings saw a dramatic 280% increase in app installs, showcasing the direct impact of well-managed search ads.

eToro. Focused on refining its ad variations and enhancing bid strategies, eToro managed to not only grow its KPIs but also significantly reduce its Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) by 20%.

Phiture. Through the strategic use of custom product pages and continual optimization of their ad creatives, Phiture lowered their cost per install by 32%, proving that tailored messaging resonates with the target audience.

Search results ads in a multi-placement strategy

Understanding how search results ads fit into a multi-placement strategy is vital. As searching is an innate behavior online, with 70% of App Store visitors using search to find apps, these ads play a pivotal role in capturing this intent at its peak.

As the cornerstone of Apple Search Ads, search results ads act like the ultimate assist placement, capitalizing on the interest generated by other ad types. Essentially, while other placements pique user interest or introduce new concepts, search results ads are strategically positioned to capture this heightened awareness and convert it into tangible engagement and downloads.

of App Store visitors using search to find apps

search results ads are an integral part of the app user’s experience

Interaction with Today tab ads

Today tab ads serve as a high-visibility showcase, introducing users to new apps alongside curated editorial content, sparking initial interest and curiosity. These ads create a critical first impression,, and when users subsequently turn to search to explore these apps further, search results ads are created to capture this spike in interest. By linking directly with the intent manifested in the Today tab, search results ads can effectively funnel this preliminary curiosity into concrete action, ensuring a smooth transition from discovery to engagement.

Synergy with Product Page Ads

Product page ads are tailored to engage users who are deeper in their discovery journey, typically those already exploring related apps or considering a download. When these users navigate back to search results to compare features or prices, search results ads reinforce their previous interactions, providing reminders or prompts that can sway decisions. This strategic placement ensures that your app remains a top contender during the critical comparison phase, bolstering visibility and reinforcing interest at multiple touchpoints on the App Store.

The Powerhouse Combo: Search results and Search tab ads

The real magic in Apple Search Ads happens when search results ads are used in conjunction with Search tab ads. This combination allows advertisers to seamlessly cover both the broad and specific aspects of the user search journey—initial broad interest is captured by the Search tab, while specific, high-intent searches are captured by search results ads. This dual strategy ensures that apps maintain visibility throughout the user’s search journey, from the initial curiosity to the point of decision-making.

Utilizing both search results and Search tab ads enhances the likelihood of conversion by keeping the app top-of-mind throughout the entire search process. As users transition from exploring broad topics on the Search tab to entering specific queries that trigger search results ads, they are repeatedly exposed to the app in various contexts. This repeated exposure builds familiarity, which is crucial for trust and ultimately drives conversion rates.

By strategically deploying both ad types, marketers can effectively guide users from awareness to action, leveraging the natural progression of the search process. This comprehensive approach ensures repeated engagements, which are key to securing app downloads in a competitive marketplace. Continuous exposure—from broad to specific search contexts—optimizes the conversion pathway, making it a critical component of a successful multi-placement campaign. This strategy not only maximizes visibility but also enhances the overall efficiency of the ad spend by capturing users at multiple points in their search journey, ensuring that every ad dollar works harder.

Key benefits of running Search tab campaigns

Expand reach. Search tab campaigns can help extend reach and get your app in front of a lot more people. Adding a Search tab campaign can help you increase impressions and reach new people who may not find your app by searching.

Capture interest. Search tab ads can also help increase consideration of your app. By appearing at an additional moment before people search you can influence what they do next and potentially drive more brand searches.

Improve overall performance. Running Search tab and search results campaigns at the same time is an efficient approach which can improve overall performance. Advertisers have seen a positive impact on conversation rates and CPA metrics across their campaigns.

Skai + Apple Search Ads

As we continue exploring the nuances of Apple’s multi-placement strategy in this series, it becomes clear why combining various ad types, especially search results and Search tab ads, can revolutionize your app marketing approach. We encourage all marketers to experiment with these strategies to truly harness the potential of Apple Search Ads.

Skai’s advanced tools and expertise are designed to optimize your Apple Search Ads campaigns. With features like automatic bid adjustments and comprehensive analytics, Skai empowers marketers to achieve exceptional advertising outcomes. Discover more about how Skai can elevate your app marketing and make it a cornerstone of your omnichannel marketing strategy.

Stay tuned for our next posts, in which we will spend more time on search tab ads and their role in an Apple search ads multi-placement strategy.