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Paid Media 8 min read

Apple Search Ads Best Practices: A Complete Guide

Sarah Edwards photo

Written by Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Carolyn Noel photo

Expert reviewed by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Published 27 Jul 2022

Apple Search Ads Best Practices: A Complete Guide

While the precise breakdown of the United States smartphone market share fluctuates from quarter to quarter, Apple products have consistently maintained a dominant position over the last few years. By Q1 2022, Apple’s iPhone products boasted 50% of the U.S. smartphone market share. 

Graph of US smartphone market share

Source: Counterpoint Research

As the above chart demonstrates, Apple is winning the fight for smartphone market share, and the margins aren’t all that close. Aside from a brief stint in Q3 of 2021, Apple’s closest competitor, Samsung, has failed to capture more than 27% of the U.S. smartphone user market. 

Apple’s ascension to the very top of the smartphone hierarchy paved the way for the release of the Apple advertising platform known as “Apple Search Ads.” This powerful marketing tool is a valuable resource for businesses looking to get the word out about their mobile software applications. 

However, many businesses are not quite familiar with the capabilities of this platform or how to best leverage it as part of their marketing strategy. 

With that in mind, the experts at Galactic Fed have created this guide to Apple Search Ads best practices. As masters of marketing, Galactic Fed provides a broad array of brand-building services and can show you how to get the most out of your Apple advertising campaign. 

What Are Apple Search Ads?

Before we shift our attention to Apple Search Ads best practices, let’s recap what this solution is and how it works. Apple Search Ads is the platform designed for managing Apple advertising campaigns. Specifically, it allows you to display search ads to users when they conduct queries for apps within the Apple App Store. 

The Apple Search Ads intelligence software works similar to that of Google and traditional search engines. When a user conducts a query, the search ads intelligence algorithm will instantaneously analyze the phrase that the individual used. 

The algorithm will then populate relevant organic results based on the search. Paid search ads will be displayed at the very top of the results window, above the organic listings. 

Photo filters app

Source: Games Industry

Apple advertising campaigns include a bidding system, much like other paid search platforms. When determining which ads to display, the algorithm will make selections based on relevance and bid amounts. The highest bidders will be displayed in the user’s search results. Advertisers will not be charged unless a user taps on their ad. 

As you can see, the paid search process on Apple Search Ads closely resembles the process used by Google and other platforms. This similarity is not surprising, as this approach has proven highly effective.

However, there is one critical distinction between the Apple advertising campaign system and paid search engine advertising — conversion rates. Apple Search Ads have much higher conversion rates when compared to paid search ads on Google and other search engines. To understand why one simply needs to consider user intent.

What is someone’s intent when conducting a search on Google? There is no singular answer. Some users are conducting product research, whereas others might just want to learn more about a particular subject. A very small percentage of searches are conducted with actual purchasing intent. 

Conversely, the majority of individuals who conduct searches on the App Store already intend to download an application. They just might be unsure exactly which application best suits their needs. When they are strategically targeted with an ad for a great app related to their search, there is a good chance they will hit that download button.

How Do I Optimize Apple Search Ads?

Using Apple Search Ads, like using other paid search marketing platforms, requires finesse. If you want to maximize your return on investment and ensure that your Ads are placed in front of the right users, you must set up your campaign properly. 

In order to help, we have outlined several Apple Search Ads best practices, which are explained below. 

Best Practices

Before you start creating a campaign, make sure that you learn common paid search terms. The Apple Search Ads interface, as well as those of other platforms, is littered with these phrases. If you are not familiar with terms like pay-per-click and cost-per-click, then it is time to do some research.

Speaking of research, the next key to a successful Apple Search Ads campaign is conducting extensive research in order to identify which words you want to bid for. The most competitive words will also be the most costly. However, the more affordable phrases are not searched all that often, which means you will generate less traffic. 

From there, you will need to set a clear budget. Your budget will help you determine which words or phrases to target in your campaign. If you have a large budget, you can go after those more costly keywords. Conversely, if your budget is on the smaller side, you will have to be more judicious when selecting keywords. 

Additionally, we suggest taking a glance at the competition. Pay attention to the style of their ads and what keywords they are bidding for. If you understand the competitive landscape, you will be in a better position to capitalize on growth opportunities. 

What Is the Difference Between Apple Search Ads Basic and Advanced?

When setting up your Apple Search Ads campaign, you will find that the platform offers two different options — “Basic” and “Advanced.”

Apple Search Ads Basic is exactly what it sounds like. It offers a rudimentary amount of customization and few features. This solution is a good tool for entry-level marketers looking to get their feet wet. However, it does not offer the level of control necessary to maximize your return on investment or curate dynamic campaigns. 

The Apple Search Ads Basic setup will automatically pull metadata from your app and choose which keywords you should target. If you have not optimized your app’s metadata to maximize visibility, the algorithm could choose irrelevant keywords and open the door for serious waste. 

On the other hand, Apple Search Ads Advanced puts the power in your hands. Whether your campaign is a smash hit or an abysmal failure is entirely up to you. You will be responsible for defining ad groups, selecting which creative sets to run, and choosing target keywords. 

Apple Search Ads Advanced functions on a cost-per-tap billing model, which is identical to the pay-per-click payment model. If a user clicks on your ad, you are billed. However, if they view your ad but scroll on to another application on the results page, you are not charged. 

So why not make full use of Apple Search Ads Advanced capabilities and optimize your campaign? You have little to lose but could make major strides among your target audience. 

Maximizing Apple Search Ads

Paid search marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive short-term growth and augment organic brand-building efforts in the long term. 

Specialized paid marketing strategies such as Apple Search Ads are particularly useful for organizations that offer mobile applications. However, managing your own Apple advertising campaign has more than its fair share of challenges.

With that in mind, it is advantageous to partner with an experienced digital marketing firm like Galactic Fed. Countless clients have taken advantage of our paid search marketing campaign management services and reaped tremendous benefits. 

For instance, Galactic Fed helped one client lower their ad campaign cost per acquisition by 68% in just one week. Galactic Fed also boosted another client’s reach in the Apple Store by a staggering 40% using tactics like those outlined above.

To learn more, contact Galactic Fed today and book your consultation.

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Sarah Edwards photo

Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed