An Apple Search Ad is the App Store’s native ad format that Apple makes available to app publishers. Search Ad advertising units show up as part of the App Store search experience. Search Ads are a great opportunity for users to discover your app while they are already in the mindset of seeking out a new app.
Apple Search Ads come in two flavors: Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced.
As the names suggest, Basic is designed for app publishers who want something more set and forget. Advanced accounts offer much more granular control so they are better suited for large publishers, agencies, or developers who want maximum control.
You can use either solution using the relevant sign-in link.
For Apple Search Ads Basic, Apple uses Search Match which automatically match your ad to search terms. This dramatically simplifies setup time.
There are four steps to get started with Basic search ads:
Basic accounts don’t have any complex campaign management. There are no keywords to define, no audience targeting to manage. It’s a simple as setting a budget and max CPI.
To get started with Search Ads Basic sign-in here.
For Apple Search Ads Advanced, you are responsible for campaign management. In fact, Apple recommends Advanced accounts start with four campaigns reflecting different strategies:
The steps to create an Apple Search Ad Advanced campaign are more involved:
Within each of these steps is a whole lot of additional steps and configurability that we will cover in an article all about Apple Search Ads Advanced usage. Until then, let’s look at the possible ad units.
To access Search Ads Advanced sign-in here.
There are two types of Apple Search Ads: Search tab and Search results.
The Search tab ad unit, if available, shows up as the top item under the Suggested apps list. This is an extremely prominent placement since millions of users visit the App Store’s Search tab every day.
A user may see this Apple Search Ad format before they type a search term into the search bar.
Ad pricing for the Search tab unit is based upon a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) model where you specify the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. The actual cost is the result of a second price auction. This means you pay based upon what the next closest bidder is willing to pay.
Since this is such a prominent placement, it is attractive to apps with wide appeal. App publishers must be willing to spend real dollars to see impressions.
Search tab units are created using assets also provided to the App Store for your product page. The ad unit looks just like the other Suggested apps in the list, except the row has a light blue background with a small ad badge.
Since Search tab ads show up before the user has typed in the search bar, no keywords are needed to setup this ad type. In addition, you cannot create an Apple Search ad variation since this ad type is automatically build by the App Store using your app icon, app name, and app subtitle.
Search tab ads are only available to Apple Search Ads Advanced accounts.
The Search results ad unit is based upon what a user actually searches for. For example, if a user searches for recipes, the first app in the list is a Search result ad. Like the Search tab unit, the item looks just like a normal search result except for the light blue background and ad badge.
After a user searches for a term, the App Store may surface related search terms. If a user taps on the refined keyword, a different Search Result ad may appear.
A Results ad is priced based upon a CPI (cost per install) model. For Apple Search Ads Basic accounts, Apple will automatically figure out which users to put your ad in front of based upon your app metadata. For Apple Search Ads Advanced accounts, you have more control over which keywords your ad can be shown for.
Creating your first Apple Search Ad is just the start. Once you start promoting your app, it’s important to tracking your ad performance so you can tune and improve your ROAS (return on ad spend). That’s where we will pick up in the next post in these series.
Until then, happy app building!
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