5 Ways To Optimise Your Apple Search Ads

Optimise Your Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads is a paid acquisition tool that can help you drive App downloads.

How do they work?

You bid to appear on the IOS App store when a user searches for one of your Apps keywords. Meaning that impressions are exposed to users searching for functions that your App to offer.

Why use Apple Search Ads?

As the App store landscape is more competitive than ever it is important to utilise this tool to connect with new users in a bid to stay ahead of your competitors. Approximately 70% of IOS users will use the search function in the App Store to find the App they’re looking for.

There are two types of Apple Search Ads you can serve: Basic and Advanced. Both versions can be powerful however, there is a slight difference in what can be performed within each tool.

Basic and Advanced Apple Search Ads: What’s the difference?

Basic: offers little control or customisation as Apple picks the keywords for the Search Ads as they base it on an algorithm to determine what they think is relevant for your App. It also picks the most relevant target places to deliver the Apple Search Ads to. This means that you have no control and have to trust the algorithm they use is accurate.

One advantage Basic has is you only pay for Cost Per Install (CPI), whilst Advanced is Cost Per Click (PPC) or ‘Tap’ as it sometimes referred too (where users will click on your Search Ad but not proceed to install).

Advanced: provides you with much more control over what keywords to bid on as well as the audience and demographics to target. Meaning that Advanced does require more overseeing and is less ‘automated’ than the Basic function but this does give more options and control as a result.

The above is the most important differentiating factor between the Ad types as this helps you to ensure you’re getting more relevant user searches for your App. With the Advance Search Ad type, you can align your campaigns with your App’s ASO strategy and can also help to enhance your App’s indexation for certain keywords.

With Apple Search Ads generating an average conversation rate between 40% – 60% you need to make sure your campaigns are fully optimised. So let’s run through 5 ways to get the most out of your Apple Search Ads:

1. Review Your App’s Metadata Before Setting Up Your Ad’s

Before setting up your Apple Search Ad’s regardless of whatever version (Basic or Advanced) you need to review your App’s Metadata (This consists of the text and images that you see in the store listing).

The reason for this is because the appearance of your Search Ad is based on the Metadata (otherwise known as what your App appears like on the App Store).

2. Target Keywords Based On Your App’s USP

If you choose to run the Advanced version of Apple Search Ads you should pick keywords that are going to generate App Installs. Firstly, you need to understand how your App’s target audience will attempt to search for your App. For example, you could add ‘luxury shoes’ and ‘designer bags’ as keywords for your luxury shopping app. As you know that your audience is most likely to search for these terms in order to get the best possible conversion rate.

You should try and be as specific as possible to limit the competition on your keywords. (As you’ll have a higher chance of winning the bids). The more general keywords will always be more competitive for example, ‘shoes’ and ‘bags’ therefore will require a higher Cost Per Click bid. As with regular PPC campaigns, you should continuously monitor the performance of your keywords to see if their gaging enough users.

3. Use Both ‘Broad Match’ and ‘Exact Match’

For Apple Search Ads ‘match types’ let you match user searches with your App’s keywords. You should both types in your campaigns for the best results!

Broad Matches: allow your Ad to be included in related search terms.

Exact Matches: allow you to show your Ad to users with the exact terms.

By using both match types this will help you to see what terms generate more installs than others. If you find the broad match keywords are generating clicks or installs with highly relevant search queries, these can then be added as exact match keywords to improve likelihood installation.

4. Make Use Of Negative Keywords

In addition to using both match types (Broad and Exact), you should also use negative keywords which terms you don’t want to be included for your bids. This is probably self explanatory to most Paid Search wizzes, but this is so you aren’t bidding against yourself!

5. ASO Effects The Performance Of Your Apple Search Ads

Similar to Paid Search, you need to have good SEO if you’re running PPC campaigns have you claim more visibility on your overall search results. This works in the same principle for Apple Search Ads. As mentioned above Apple uses your metadata information in your Apple Search Ads so it’s important to ensure your App Store Optimisation is strong.

Top Tip: make sure your App’s store presence is it in it’s most optimal condition prior to setting up your Apple Search Ad campaign.


Ensure that you are continuously adapting your App Search Ad strategy over time. Changing budgets and bids to generate more App Installs and getting the most that you possibly can out of the tool. Thankfully Apple has a recommended bid amount as it is still a fairly new acquisition driver in the industry, so this should be a good guidance on how to win bids and get started.