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“Sure, most of my customers use either an iPhone or a MacBook, makes more sense to spend more on Apple Search Ads”. Yes, it certainly does. Apple rolled out a new pay per install ad product called Search Ads in June 2016. Since then, all of us have been admiring the ease and simplicity of the product.

One might think there are limited options when it comes to Apple Search Ads as opposed to Google Adwords. True. However, the beauty of search ads lies in the elegance you can achieve with the few options. We spent, tweaked and experimented a tonne to identify the best practices to optimize your Apple Search campaigns.

Most popular apps on iPhone
Most popular apps on iPhone

Structure of your campaign

While there are numerous ways you can structure your campaign in, we found the best structure, which worked for us. Essentially, divide your campaign into two categories: Performance campaign and Discovery campaign. Assign your budget such that 80% of the budget is allocated for exact match and 20 for broad.

Performance Campaign

Performance campaigns focus on exact matches. Your ad is displayed when a user searches for a keyword/phrase, which you “exactly” bid for. Exact matches are represented by [phrase]. You want to further divide your exact match campaign into the following ad sets:

ASO Keywords

Bid for keywords you targeted in your app store/play store description. For instance, if you have a car-sharing app, you’d want to bid for keywords as mentioned in your app’s description, e.g., “[car sharing], [rent a car], etc”.

Brand Keywords

This category comprises of your brand keywords. Your brand name, company name, brand caption, etc, fall into this class. You’d want to keep a higher bid for this family to rule out the competition or anyone else who’d want to display their product against your brand name.

Competitor Keywords

Target your competitors’ keywords (brand names, product names, captions, etc) under this category. Evidently, bid higher for this category to increase your probability to show up in case of a relevant search.

Discovery Campaign

Discovery campaign consists of 2 ad sets – Broad Match and Search Match. The algorithm matches any search term it “thinks” is relevant to your keyword under the broad match category. Say, if your keyword is “car renting”, search terms such as “share a car”, “carpool”, etc will also deem relevant. Essentially, you want to optimize your spends for broad match. Hence, allocate just 20% of your entire budget to this campaign. Broad match campaigns are further divided into two ad sets:

  • Search Match: Just search match with no keywords
  • Broad Match: All your exact match campaign’s keywords as broad match

Furthermore, make sure you utilize “negative keywords”. Here, you’d want to add all your exact match keywords as negative exact keywords. The idea is to maximize the volume for exact match campaigns. If you have “[share a car]” and “share a car”, you cannot predict the campaign it will drive. However, if we add [share your car] to the negative keyword in broad match, “share a car” won’t be invoked from the broad match category but will be directed to the exact match campaign.

Leverage the power of Negative Keywords

We often neglect the beauty of negative keywords. Adding a keyword as a negative keyword to a campaign ensures the campaign won’t spend on the particular keyword. Simple, yet elegant! Here, you can add all the irrelevant search terms you seem to be paying for, and be sure it won’t bother you again! Since it is an iterative process, carry it out regularly to keep a check on what you’re spending on.

Creative Sets

Apple search rolled out an incredible feature earlier this May, to test your screenshots. Since there is no other way you can A/B test your screens, creative sets allow you to do just so! As a rule, your campaign picks up the first three screens from your app store description, which might or might not work for you. Well, you can change it now. Apple allows you to upload new screens or choose a combination of screens (in the exact order as they appear in the app) for your ad. You can create a creative set at the ad set level and perform A/B tests to check whether the new combinations perform better than the default or not. If they do, you know what to do for your next app update.

Search Terms as Keywords

Apple search shows you the phrases and keywords people are searching for. As a matter of fact, you can also view how your ad performed for each of these search terms and take a call as to which phrase works best for you. What a graceful feature! Say, you notice people searching for the phrase “rent a car near me”, are the ones who convert the most. There! Your next optimization strategy. Add “[rent a car near me]” to your ASO keywords and Generic Keyword set. Additionally, you might also want to add the same to your app store description to push organic views and conversions.

Apple is known for simplicity and elegance. Most importantly, with these simple tweaks, you can achieve your target cost per action, spend less and convert more!

What are some of the practices you follow while executing ads on Apple Search Ads? Write to us at [email protected]

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2 Replies to “Apple Search Ads Best Practices

    1. Hi Vaibhav, thanks for asking. As of now, Apple Search Ads isn’t available in the Indian market. However, you can try Facebook and Google Ads for India.

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