How to take full advantage of Apple Search Ads

Most developers agree that Apple Search Ads is a great tool where it’s worth spending some time and budgets for User Acquisition (UA) campaigns. At Lab Cave we have been using this tool since it was released in October 2016. We are currently managing large budgets for our partners in many countries, which has allowed our team to gather many insights regarding best practices and campaign optimization tricks that we are going to cover today.

What is Search Ads?

Similar to Google AdWords, Apple Search Ads are sponsored ads that appear within Apple’s App Store at the top of the search results page. It allows marketers to target an audience searching for specific keywords while optimizing its campaigns by performance. This makes Search Ads really cost effective, in fact, currently it’s the most cost-effective channel for the acquisition of new users on iOS (see Graph 1).


Ad channels by CVR


Campaign optimization and best practices:

One of the most common ways to optimize Search Ads is to launch several campaigns at the same time, analyze results and select the keywords that are performing the best in terms of Impressions, CPA (Cost per Acquisition) and Conversion Rate. These are in fact very basic KPI’s that any mobile marketer should look at, so we suggest to take it a step forward when it comes to optimization.

To start with there is something essential that every marketer should have in mind; be organized. It may seem basic but at Lab Cave we believe that categorizing keywords by groups (for instance; Branded keywords, Exact Match, Broad Match, etc) facilitates the optimization of campaign strategies (see Graph 2).


Campaign optimization and best practices


Making the most of Apple’s Search Match

Search Match is a feature within Search Ads where Apple’s algorithm automatically matches your app ad to relevant search keywords. According to Apple:

“Search Match uses multiple resources to automatically match your ad to relevant searches in the App Store, including the metadata from your App Store listing, information about similar apps in the genre and other search data”.

In fact Search Match is no different to the rest of campaigns types. We believe and encourage our partners that a specific campaign should be created under this category.

The truth is that the quality of your app’s ASO (App Store Optimization) very much defines the keywords that Search Match will suggest, so it goes without saying that before starting any Apple Search Ad campaign a marketer should optimize first the ASO of the app that he/she is working on.


Search Match as a Keyword Discovery Tool

Due to the ever-changing mobile industry, here at Lab Cave we work really hard to keep up with new trends and discoveries. However, even as driven as our team is, sometimes it is hard to keep an eye on keywords trends in every country where an app is available, here is where Search Match truly help us.

Once the ASO of an app is well optimized, Search Match campaigns can be used as a keyword discovery tool. In other words, it can help to research for the keywords that Apple is matching an ad with, analyze its results and act accordingly to improve the ASO further.

For instance, keywords that have a high tap to install conversion rate are keywords that are very related to an app, meaning that users who search for these specific keywords are a good match/target audience.

These insights however should be analyzed and used carefully, as not all keywords listed within Search Match are of good use. It does happen often that Search Match campaigns list keywords with high impression numbers but with low conversion rates. Usually this is because the suggested app does not match with what users are searching for and therefore it is not a keyword that marketers should focus on.

On other instances Search Match can reveal keywords that are trending, such as for new popular games that have just been released. It’s on these instances that well performing keywords can be potentially used in the app’s metadata as part of the ASO strategy.

Thus, the best course of action is to discover keywords, analyze KPI’s in detail and invest resources only on keywords that are performing best.

At Lab Cave we believe that ASO optimization is not only limited to on-site metadata (such as title and subtitle changes), it should be taken a step further using all available tools at our disposal, allowing us to stand out from the crowd and to achieve outstanding results both with our organic and paid traffic.

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