Shawn Tan
Jun 26, 2019

Do you have what it takes to win the Apple Search Ads game?

With 65% of all downloads occurring directly after a search is made, Apple Search Ads provides brands with an important channel to reach high-quality users. But how to make the best of the platform's capabilities?

(Source: Apple)
(Source: Apple)

Since the launch of Apple Search Ads in 2016, the platform has gone through major improvements and has become a highly valued asset for marketers to reach audiences and grow app downloads.

The introduction of the Apple platform allows brands to scale up iOS app marketing activities, giving unique targeting capabilities and ensuring maximum user engagement. With 70% of App Store visitors using the search function to find apps and 65% of all downloads occurring directly after a search is made on the App Store, Apple Search Ads provides brands with an important channel to acquire and retain high quality users.

1. Choose keywords carefully

With 66% of the App Store installs coming from specific app name searches, the success of marketers when using Apple Search Ads heavily relies on the relevance of the keywords chosen to reach audiences.

But how can advertisers define the most effective keywords to use? Mobile Measurement Platforms (MMPs) are the answer. Tracking customer journeys through attribution and analytics tools, MMPs help marketers to measure ad campaigns, calculate the ROI of each specific keyword, and optimize results.

On top of that, acting as third-party attribution platforms, MMPs are important tools to understand the real value delivered by the Apple platform. Since they calculate installs differently than the Apple Dashboard, MMPs give marketers a second point of view to better understand the success of their efforts and the visibility of their apps. While MMPs count app-installs based on first opens and do not include re-installs, the Apple Dashboard counts app-installs based on the number of downloads including all re-installs. These data discrepancies can be a great benchmark for marketers to understand and evaluate their results.

2. Be where the audience is

The higher an app ranks in the App Store search results, the higher the potential for audiences to see it and download it. Apple Search Ads increase the opportunity for marketers to position themselves where their prospect customers are looking.

Giving extensive targeting opportunities to efficiently drive app downloads and re-engagements, the platform allows advertisers to narrow down the target audience to the device type, location and keyword level. Through the platform, marketers can target ‘all users’ to reach former, current and prospective customers; ‘new users’ to reach first-time downloaders; ‘returning users’ to re-engage customers who had previously downloaded the app but deleted it; and finally, ‘users of my other apps’, to promote other apps in their lineups.

3. Benefit from additional tools

To leverage the full capabilities of the Apple Search Ads platform, it is important for marketers to be aware of all tools and possible integrations that could help them maximise results.

A great tool introduced last year by Apple is Creative Sets, which marketers can use to create ad variations that align with keyword themes and audiences. Creative Sets can be useful in allowing developers to add variety to ads, making them more relevant for targeted keyword and niche audiences.

To improve outcomes, marketers can also consider the integration of Apple Search Ads with additional platforms. For instance, using data platforms like App Annie or Sensor Tower, advertisers can access interesting insights about competitors, new apps gaining traction and keywords that users are mostly searching for. Or, taking advantage of automation platforms like Bidalgo and Mobile Action, marketers can customize rules and optimize campaigns toward KPI targets.


The Apple Search Ads platform has turned into an invaluable tool for advertisers to increase their app visibility and drive installs and engagement. Giving marketers countless targeting opportunities, the platform strongly relies on the effectiveness of the keywords and audiences chosen. Plus, through the integration of MMPs and additional platforms, advertisers can make sure to leverage full platforms' capabilities. Considering the increasing use of Apple Search Ads worldwide, the platform is surely expected to see further developments and improvements.

Shawn Tan is head of biddable for APAC at M&C Saatchi Performance, which is an Apple Search Ads certified agency.

Related Articles

Just Published

15 hours ago

Mid-level female creatives don't feel 'heard'

This International Women's Day, we ask mid-level female creatives in the region what their biggest pain points are working in a male-dominated field.

15 hours ago

It's past time to eliminate gender biases in design

From surgical instruments to crash test dummies and virtual assistants, gender biases and stereotypes have been built-into products causing real harm, says the co-founder of Elephant Design.

15 hours ago

IWD campaigns: Angry, funny, clever and inspirationa...

See how organisations and agencies from around APAC have chosen to mark International Womens Day 2021.