From Performance Data to Actionable Insights on Apple Search Ads

By Sharon Zimlichman

Apple Search Ads is, by design, among the least complicated advertising platforms available to mobile marketers. Prioritizing user experience and privacy above other things, Apple Search Ads is designed to help users discover apps based specifically on their search query, while giving advertisers the opportunity to reach engaged users at the right moment.

No user-level targeting, no inferred likes and dislikes – only intent.

Yet behind the relative straightforwardness of the process, there are numerous levers marketers can pull to optimize their activity on Apple Search Ads. From allocating budgets to specific countries and regions, to picking the right keywords – being data-driven is not less of a key to success on Apple Search Ads than on other platforms.

Not all keywords are created equal

Need a way to organize your keywords into groups for your campaigns?

Consider having a group for keywords related to your brand, one for competitors and a group for general keywords. The last one can even be separated into two: one for the most generic terms and another for semi-related ones.

The idea is to bid based on the intent of the user.

Your highest bids should be assigned to keywords related to your own brand, to avoid outbidding by competitors. Second highest bids should be for your competitor brands, where you know that the intent is strongly correlated to your product.

Generic terms are the least straightforward in terms of the ROI they provide. Yes, they’ll expand your reach, but these users weren’t necessarily looking for anything remotely resembling your product when your ad appeared. That said, they might be hiding gems, which you won’t uncover unless you try them.

Invest in researching each group of keywords. For example, try and see which apps come up when you search for yours in order to populate your competitor list. When thinking about semi-related and generic terms, err on the side of caution to avoid unnecessary expenses.

Need new keywords? Consider creating a Discovery campaign, which includes a broad match ad group with all the keywords from the aforementioned groups (brand, competitor, general) and a Search Match ad group which doesn’t include any keywords.

apple search ads insights campaign

Between broad match, exact match and Search Match

Apple Search Ads gives you the option to target your keywords broadly, or look for exact matches (with some allowance for common typos).

We found success with looking up the best-performing broad activity search terms and using them for exact targeting. Broad match, by definition, will include some semi-related terms, such as synonyms, related searches and phrases which include your term. By picking the top broad match keywords, you’re essentially sorting the relevant ones from the irrelevant ones.

Another strategy for finding good search terms is to use Search Match – Apple Search Ads’ keyword discovery tool that’s algorithm-based targeting and doesn’t require keywords at all. Instead, it looks at app metadata, competitor terms and industry terms to target to likely users. When you use Search Match, you still see the search terms that lead users to your app, and can use them for your activity.

So even if you usually see better results with your own keywords, allocating some budget to Search Mach can help you discover new keywords you didn’t think of yet.

apple search ads insights keywords

Keep your hand on the pulse of the campaign

Time after time, we see examples of undermanaged activity which hurts the bottom line. You should never take your hand off the pulse of your campaign.

Attention should be given to individual keywords, not just groups.

For example, we often see groups with keywords that have a great potential but low performance, as all of the budget is swallowed by less-efficient assets.

If you’re using Bidalgo to manage your activity, start all new keywords with the same bid-level and use the over-time graph to analyze trends, increasing and decreasing the bids as needed.

Even if you’re not using Bidalgo, you should look at the activity on the keyword level, and not just groups and campaigns.

If the entire group has low performance, rethink the paradigms used to create the group. Maybe the apps you think of as your competitors aren’t being perceived as such by the users. This can happen because of unrelated things, such as differences in terminology and dramatically different visual language. As an expert, you know that you and they compete for the same users, but do the users themselves know it?

When running campaigns all around the world, pay close attention to budget distribution. We’ve seen over and over again activity where some of the countries with the highest spend have the lowest KPI performance, and countries with high performance don’t get the chance to grow.

Biases we might have towards that country or others based on perceived importance should not make us lose track of our goals.

And finally, don’t ever be satisfied with what you have. There are always new competitors to target, new cultural references that are relevant to your app, and new territories into which you can expand with the right keywords

Published on December 9, 2020
Written by
Sharon Zimlichman

Product Manager @ Bidalgo.

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