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Apple Search Ads | What's the fuzz about

Posted on 15/06/2018
Apple Search Ads | What’s the fuzz about

Being discovered in the App Store is maybe the single most important focus developers should have during the launch days of their new app. Apple claims, of course, they do, that 65% of downloads is thanks to people searching in the App Store. But with a solid 2 million apps in the App Store, being found isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

ASO and Apple Search Ads

App Store Optimization, basically SEO for the App Store, was, is and will remain the mechanism to make people find your app. Optimizing for searchability can be done by using the right keywords for your app. Tools such as Sensortower are great to better understand which keywords to use and to track your app’s discoverability.

Until Apple launched Search Ads, there was no way to really boost your discoverability. People finding your app, certainly during the early days, was more a combination of luck and more luck. It’s only when you start nailing reviews, installs and getting on the good side of App Store Editors that your discoverability will increase significantly.

Thanks to Search Ads you can now jump to the first spot in search queries by using the right keywords, having a good search strategy and following up like your life depends on it. I’ve been on the Search Ads wagon from announcement day and have learned a thing or two by actively using Search Ads for Look. Sharing is caring so…

Here are my some findings

  • Study the terminology used for Search Ads and more importantly the dynamics of the system. You will need this to make the right decisions later on.
  • Start with high traffic keywords that have relatively low competition. I found that a ratio >4.5 and <2.9 is a good benchmark. Use Sensortoweror a similar tool to research these keywords.
  • Start bidding low, I did 1/4 of what Facebook would suggest as CPI. Check your Power Editor for the CPI in the US.
  • Forget negative keywords right now and select for ‘broad match’. Apple will report the exact search terms that were used to match with each keyword. You can use these keywords as negative keywords or define the exact matches later.
  • Give it 5 to 7 days before you really start changing things. You can add keywords and play around with your keyword bids (caveat: work with small numbers to optimize the budget). I didn’t even use Ad Groups in the beginning to avoid complications.
  • Follow-up rigorously. The first week I constantly checked Search Ads, SensorTower and iTunes Connect to understand the dynamics. Today I’m still checking twice to three times a day.

As a final note

I don’t look at Search Ads as pure Paid Acquisition because it has more subtlety compared to running Facebook Ads or DSP campaigns. And honestly, it’s a great way to improve your discoverability and drive traffic to your product page. It’s definitely still early days but Search Ads has a lot of potential. The main thing I fear is that, as you are bidding for 1 place at the top of the search queries, the one with the deepest pockets (AKA the big boys) will win. Which consecutively could make it even harder for new kids to emerge and gain critical mass thanks to thought through ASO….Time will tell how Apple is going to handle this.

Ludwig

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