Over the course of the pandemic, mobile app usage grew a staggering 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020—even hitting an all-time high of over 200 billion hours worldwide in April of that year. And in the years since, app usage has continued to flourish, offering brands an incredible opportunity to not just generate sales but to strengthen brand awareness, increase customer engagement, and drive traffic to their online and offline properties.
But as more and more users increasingly rely on apps for everything from shopping to fitness, health tracking, and nearly every other aspect of day-to-day life, the App Store has become an incredibly crowded marketplace. Brands can no longer rely on organic search results alone. Embracing Apple Search Ads, which appear at the top of search results and look just like regular ads except for a sponsored tag, is a great way to attract new users and best your competitors.
If you’ve ever asked what are Apple Search Ads, here’s everything you need to know:
What are Apple Search Ads?
Apple Search Ads generally appear at the top of the search results page and look like regular search results, save for their light blue background. There are two different ways for marketers to manage their mobile app ad campaigns within Apple Search Ads:
Apple Search Ads Basic allows a max budget of $10,000 per app monthly, and up to 50 apps can be promoted. You can adjust your cost-per-install (CPI) based on ad performance. There is no functionality for keywords and targeting management – Apple’s automation and machine learning takes care of the rest.
Apple Search Ads Advanced features the ability to manage your own bids. ASA Advanced allows for an unlimited budget per app, and an unlimited number of apps can be promoted. Additionally, there is the ability to manage your own bids, and you can target keywords, audiences, and regions.
According to Apple, there are two main factors that determine whether or not your ad gets shown. The first factors in the amount of your bid and how closely your ad relates to the user’s search query:
Whether your ad shows over other advertisers bidding on that same query is determined by the combination of your app’s relevance to the search query and the amount of your bid.
The second determining factor is the relevance of the keywords you’ve chosen:
If your app isn’t relevant to what the user is looking for, it won’t make it into the ad spot — regardless of how much you may be willing to pay. Apple Search Ads considers both relevance as well as bidding, and does not put apps into auctions if they are not a good match.
Should I choose Basic or Advanced Apple Search Ads?
Apple Search Ads Basic is good for those who are testing the waters of Apple Search Ads. They are useful because you can get your ads up and running with relatively minimal effort since Apple’s intelligent automation takes care of keywords and targeting for you. This means it takes just a few steps to create your Apple Search Ads, and Basic allows you to choose the price you’re willing to pay for installs.
However, for app marketers who are looking to create more targeted campaigns, Advanced Apple Search Ads offer more control over your ads. There are two placement options for where your ads will be displayed. They can appear either in the search tab or at the top of search results. Plus, Advanced allows you to choose your audience and even offers personalized recommendations. You can also use Discovery campaigns to find new keywords that can better help identify new audiences.
How do Apple Search Ads compared to other digital ad platforms?
If you’ve bought ads through platforms like Google or Bing, Apple Search Ads might feel familiar. However, it should be noted that mobile users tend to search the App Store differently than they would normally search on a desktop.
For example, a Google search for food might be highly specific, using terms like “Best burrito delivery Mission District San Francisco,” but in the App Store, users are much more likely to simply search for “Food Delivery.” Understanding how users search your brand and brands similar to yours in a vital way to make sure you’re bidding on the most relevant keywords.
How should I structure my Apple Search Ads?
When building your Apple Search Ads campaigns, it is important to split your keywords into categories so that you can manage and set goals for them accordingly. This channel is growing in popularity so it’s becoming more crucial to have a great account structure that can maximize your ability to both manage and optimize your programs.
The four initial categories they recommend as an initial starting point for any Apple Search Ads marketer are:
Brand terms. If you aren’t bidding on competitor terms, just know that they might be bidding on yours. Remember, an ad will bump the top organic position down the screen within App Store search results.
Category (i.e. Generic) keywords. While brand terms are key and should not be missed, it’s also important to cater to how app users who don’t know your brand might search to find your app.
Competitor terms. Bidding on competitor terms has proven to be a solid tactic with search engine marketing and the same remains true with Apple Search Ads.
Discovery campaigns. Let Apple Search Ads pick your keywords based on your app’s metadata. Then you can comb through them to understand what your users are searching for and add those keywords to your lists.
If you’re considering creating an Apple Search Ads campaign, there is also a wealth of free and paid tools that can help you manage every aspect of your campaign, from bidding automation to keyword and audience targeting.
Skai can help you maximize your app marketing investment.
As part of Skai’s omnichannel marketing platform, our App Marketing solution helps your app stand out among millions in the top stores with Apple Search Ads, Google Universal App Campaigns, and more. Skai leverages an advanced algorithm based on AI and machine learning to ensure your ads reach your target users. Increase installs and user acquisition with streamlined automation, optimization, and reporting.
Client results include:
- 280% increase in installs for DraftKings
- 314% increase in registrations for C-Date
- 20% decrease in cost per acquisition for eToro
- 2x increase in conversions for Epix Now
To learn more about our App Marketing solution or to see our cutting-edge functionality for yourself, please schedule a brief demo today.