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WEBINAR|Apple Search Ads Problem Solving: A Strategy Workshop.

Apple Search Ads Problem Solving: Webinar Q&A

By March 13, 2024April 9th, 2024No Comments19 min read Best PracticesEducation

Answers to your ASA questions from the Search Ads Maven webinar

Hamilton Radcliffe, GM of Search Ads Maven, recently hosted the webinar Apple Search Ads Problem Solving: A Strategy Workshop, where he unpacked common challenges faced by advertisers on Apple Search Ads (ASA) and offered expert strategies and solutions for automating keyword optimization and budget allocation. The Search Ads Maven team gathered some of the most engaging audience questions addressed by Hamilton during the webinar to elaborate on in further detail.

Check out the full webinar on demand here.

#1 Can Search Ads Maven be used by an advertiser who is not using Kochava as their mobile measurement partner (MMP)?

Yes indeed, Search Ads Maven can be used by an advertiser who isn’t with Kochava as their MMP. The platform is designed to integrate with various MMPs, connecting ASA data with in-app event data from the advertiser’s chosen measurement partner. This integration allows for more robust analysis and optimization of ASA campaigns based on post-install events tracked by the MMP.

#2 How can we use a post-install or final conversion goal to optimize Apple Search Ads campaigns?

In order to do this, you need to integrate your ASA data with your in-app event data from your MMP, then track which keywords and ad groups lead to your desired conversion events, such as in-app purchases or subscriptions. A campaign management platform seamlessly enables this.

Oftentimes, the hardest part of optimizing to a final conversion goal is the “thinness” of the data. For events that have enough volume, it’s fairly easy. For those that don’t, we use in-app events we believe are correlative or predictive of the final event happening. If you’re using Kochava as your MMP, for instance, a Predicted Churn event employs a custom model to predict future app events or churn accurately. It’s a great substitute.

#3 Can we run an Apple Search Ads campaign to target in-app purchases?

Yes, you absolutely can do this. Using a campaign management platform like Search Ads Maven, you connect your ASA data to in-app activity data via your MMP. Then you can analyze the relationship between your ad spend and in-app purchase events and associated revenue. This enables you to build strategies that automate targeting of in-app data, focusing on keywords and user segments most likely to lead to in-app purchases.

#4 Can we factor in offline conversions to our Apple Search Ads campaigns with a Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) target?

Any event you can load into your MMP and tie to a keyword, ad group, or campaign ID can be pulled into Search Ads Maven. Offline conversions have obvious value in measuring advertising impact, but can be tricky to integrate with Apple Search Ads campaigns.

Your challenge will be accessing those unique identifiers during offline interactions. Because of the robust level of privacy offered by Apple to their customers, the information you need might be available only if the iOS user has granted permission. If you are able to connect the offline conversions to an ASA campaign and feed it into your MMP, the data will be posted back to your ASA campaign management platform, allowing for a unified analysis of online and offline conversions. You could use the daily budget automation with this kind of data, then set more accurate ROAS targets and fine-tune your campaigns.

Talk with your MMP support team. They will have the best strategy for integrating offline conversion data.

#5 Is it necessary to buy on brand-owned terms on Apple Search Ads? How do you determine whether it is worth it from an incrementality standpoint?

Buying brand-owned terms on Apple Search Ads, although not strictly necessary, is a beneficial practice. Brand campaigns may not be significantly incremental per se for you—but they sure are for your competitors if you’re completely absent from the bidding floor.

Users searching for your brand expect to find your app easily, so you want to ensure that it appears first rather than a competitor’s. If your brand is well-known and competitors are likely to vulture your brand terms in an attempt to capture users looking for your app, you want to invest in these keywords to maintain visibility and protect your user base. By bidding on your brand terms with at least some spend, it becomes more expensive and less desirable for your competitors to try to scoop them, protecting you from competitive conquesting.

While brand terms are typically less inherently incremental because users searching for your brand are likely to want to download your app anyway, there is still some level of incrementality, as not everyone would be loyal or familiar enough with your brand to bypass other options appearing in search results.

Contact our team to learn more about optimizing your share of voice or impression share on Apple Search Ads. Our automation strategies will give you the control you want on your brand terms without breaking the bank.

#6 Are there separate keyword tools available to do independent research on keywords with popularity score details?

Yes, there are separate tools that do this with popularity score details. These tools can provide valuable insights into keyword popularity, ranking difficulty, and other metrics that help you optimize your ASA campaigns. However, they most likely require a subscription or paid license to access full features similar to Search Ads Maven’s functionality. Publicly available AI tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini are other options if you want to experiment with other keywords.

#7 Why does my Cost Per Install (CPI) keep increasing with spend scale?

Oftentimes when we want to scale, we simply increase the Daily Budget Cap and keyword bid amounts for terms that are working. But your CPI may keep increasing due to factors such as bid-price inflation, increased competition, budget pacing, and diminishing returns.

Your approach to scaling may require more nuance, including casting a wider keyword net, experimenting with other placement types, and creating custom product pages. You may need to

  • Increase number of keywords
  • Increase geographies you are targeting
  • Incorporate additional ad placement types (Search Tab, Today Tab, Product Pages)
  • Experiment with custom product pages to improve your conversion rate—which in turn lowers your winning bid

Additionally, employing cutting-edge tools such as Search Ads Maven can help automate the management of bids to be far more efficient and prevent excessive overspending on underperforming keywords.

#8 How can we effectively manage our budget when our primary business keywords have low search volumes, and targeting broader, more popular keywords leads to higher acquisition costs?

It’s true that the less your app relates to the keywords you are bidding on, the higher the price you’ll pay to win taps.

When core business keywords aren’t popular and distant keywords increase costs, you can address this by employing a more strategic approach to your keyword selection and campaign optimization, such as

  • Exploring long-tail keywords more specific to your product or service; using Search Match or Broad Match to view the search terms that seem to drive volume, then adding those terms as Exact Match keywords
  • Leveraging negative keywords to filter out irrelevant search terms that drive up costs without yielding conversions
  • Analyzing competitors’ keywords to identify gaps and opportunities
  • Ensuring that your ad creatives and landing pages are highly relevant to your selected keywords

These steps will more closely align your app and search terms in the eyes of the customer and auction algorithm, thus lowering your costs.

#9 What is the best campaign type for a newly launched app?

For a brand new app, the best Apple Search Ads campaign type to start with is often the Exact Match keyword search campaign with a separate Search Match campaign, incrementing the bids and CPT to get impression volume.

Running a Search Match campaign and gathering sufficient data can show you which keywords perform well, enabling you to create further Exact Match campaigns to target those keywords more aggressively based on the search terms that have proven to drive installs.

#10 How big do I need to be to use the “Today” tab on Apple Search Ads?

The Today tab doesn’t have a specific size requirement for advertisers, but it does seem to require a bigger bid to get volume. So it’s probably more beneficial for brands that have ample budget to allocate toward advertising, as placements on this tab seem to be more expensive due to their prominent visibility.

Advertisers may find the Today tab helpful if they

  • Wish to allocate spend to experiment with higher visibility placements
  • Are looking to increase brand awareness
  • Want to promote a major app update or launch

We suggest setting a max CPT you are comfortable paying, then incrementing the default CPT until you get volume or hit your max. The results of such experimentation will tell you if it’s right for your app.

#11 If we get featured editorially, what should I think about as next steps for our app?

Congratulations! Being featured is a significant achievement, and this is an excellent opportunity to maximize visibility and downloads so as to extend the benefits and achieve lasting growth for your app.

First off, ensure that you are vigorously defending your brand keywords, then search the editorial feature for other keywords to include in your campaign. Consider increasing your bids on relevant keywords to capitalize on the increased interest in your app.

Be sure your App Store page is fully loaded with compelling screenshots, a clear description, and relevant keywords. Also, don’t forget to share your good news across your marketing channels, such as social media, email newsletters, and your website—to boost its impact!

It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your app’s performance metrics during and after the feature to understand its impact. Look at download numbers, user engagement, and any spikes in in-app purchases. This will help you evaluate the long-term effects of the feature on your app’s growth and incorporate these learnings into your overall strategy.

#12 I have an app focused on Russian language content. How can I use Apple Search Ads to reach out to those Russian speakers globally outside Russia?

To do this, you can leverage Apple Search Ads to implement the following strategies:

  • Research and bid on keywords in the Russian language that are relevant to your app’s content and features, so as to appear in search results when Russian-speaking users are looking for apps like yours.
  • Set up geotargeting for countries with significant Russian-speaking populations outside of Russia, including former Soviet states and countries with large Russian expat communities, such as the United States, Germany, and Canada.
  • Enable the Search Match feature in ASA to automatically match your ads with relevant search terms, including those in Russian, without the need for specific keyword targeting.
  • Use ad creatives that include Russian language text and culturally relevant imagery.
  • Be mindful of the geopolitical climate and ensure that your ad creatives and messaging are culturally sensitive and appropriate.
  • Ensure that your App Store page is fully localized in Russian, with translated screenshots, descriptions, and feature lists.
  • Schedule your ads to run during peak hours for Russian-speaking users in different time zones to maximize visibility.
  • Monitor your campaign’s performance metrics by location to understand where your ads are most effective and adjust your targeting accordingly.

#13 How can we target expats and increase our ROI?

Similar to the last question, you will want to

  • Identify countries with a high presence of expats from your target nationality and use location-based targeting in your ad campaigns to reach these users.
  • Use language targeting to reach expats in their native language.
  • Tailor your ad creatives and messaging to reflect the cultural nuances, references, and preferences of the expat community you’re targeting.
  • Engage with online expat communities, forums, and social media groups.
  • Create content that addresses the specific needs and interests of expats, such as guides on living abroad, navigating local systems, or staying connected with their home country.
  • Time your campaigns around events or seasons that are significant to the expat community, such as national holidays or major sporting events.
  • Advertise in expat-focused publications both online and offline.

#14 How can we test a new game in Apple Search Ads with a budget of US$2,000?

Testing a new game in Apple Search Ads with a budget of $2,000 involves a strategic approach to ensure you get the most valuable data and insights from your campaign:

  • Set clear goals for the KPIs you want to achieve with the test (e.g., finding effective keywords, understanding user behavior, maximizing installs).
  • Start with an Exact Match keyword campaign with a separate Search Match campaign to discover relevant keywords.
  • Allocate your budget over the test period, beginning with conservative bids, adjusting based on performance, and incrementing the bids and CPT to get impressions.
  • Use engaging ad creatives that showcase the best features of your game.
  • Initially target a broad audience, then narrow down to the most responsive segments based on data.
  • Continuously monitor ad performance and optimize by pausing ineffective keywords and bidding more on successful ones.

#14.1 What about a US$10,000 per month budget for a game that is already active on the App Store?

In this circumstance, you can implement a more advanced and aggressive Apple Search Ads strategy compared to a smaller budget or a newly launched game:

  • Go wider on keywords—expand on successful ones and explore new ones for broader reach.
  • Create targeted campaigns for different goals such as brand protection and competitor targeting, focusing budget on high-value user drivers.
  • Conduct testing on ad elements and targeting for different audience segments.
  • Leverage cutting-edge tools such as Search Ads Maven for real-time bid and budget management.

With a strategic, data-driven approach, you can maximize the impact of your substantial budget to enhance your game’s presence and revenue on the App Store.

#15 How can I improve Apple Search Ads performance without spending too much but still achieve positive sales results?

Improving performance without overspending is the goal in a nutshell and requires a strategic approach to campaign management. Concentrate on optimizing keywords, refining your audience targeting for better conversion rates. Schedule ads for when your audience is most active and focus your budget on the best-performing campaigns. Continuously test and optimize ad creatives, maintain a high quality score for cost-effective clicks, and use automated bidding tools to stay within budget. Diligently monitor campaign performance for any necessary adjustments, including frequent review of CPA results and setting your bid around the CPT above or below proportional to the CPA performance.

#16 If I have limited budget, should I focus my Apple Search Ads spend on the best-running apps and not use it for the rest of my app portfolio?

It’s generally a good practice to focus on the apps that are performing best in terms of ROAS, conversion rates, and overall profitability. However, it’s also important to maintain a holistic view of your app portfolio and continue to seek opportunities for growth and optimization across all your apps. Prioritize your high performers, continue to optimize continuously, and evaluate the rest of your apps, frequently reviewing CPA results and setting bids around the CPT above or below proportional to CPA performance.

#17 Would I be correct to say that automated Search Ads Maven strategies are designed for larger budgets?

The strategies reviewed during the webinar, particularly those involving detailed adjustments such as hourly bid changes, might indeed seem more relevant to advertisers with substantial budgets. Larger budgets allow for more data points and quicker learning, which can justify an investment in cutting-edge automation tools and strategies.

That said, it’s important to note that automation and strategic bid management are applicable and beneficial for campaigns of all sizes. Even with a smaller budget, you can leverage automation tools such as Search Ads Maven to make more frequent adjustments than would be feasible manually. While the granularity of hourly adjustments might currently be beyond your needs or capabilities, aspects of automation can be scaled down to fit smaller budgets. For example, automating bid adjustments based on daily performance metrics or setting rules to pause keywords that exceed a certain CPA are effective ways to manage spend without having to monitor campaigns every hour.

As your budget grows and your campaigns become more complex, you can gradually adopt more advanced automation techniques to further refine your strategy.

#18 How can I optimize my Apple Search Ads campaigns to improve efficiency and the bottom line when the platform’s support seems to focus more on increasing spend rather than providing insights on how to spend effectively? This emphasis on spending more is making it challenging to justify the product’s importance in our marketing mix.

When faced with limited support for optimizing the bottom line of a campaign, with a seeming focus primarily on spending rather than efficiency, it’s important to take a proactive approach to ensure that your marketing efforts are both effective and economical.

Start by setting clear objectives like target ROAS or CPA. Analyze performance data to adjust bids strategically, focusing on high-performing keywords and demographics, utilizing automation tools to optimize for valuable post-install actions.

Educate stakeholders on the importance of ROI-focused strategies and make regular adjustments based on performance reviews. Cutting-edge tools and services like Search Ads Maven can offer deeper insights and more automated, granular control over your campaigns. By taking a data-driven approach and focusing on strategic adjustments, you can improve the efficiency of your ASA campaigns and better justify their role in your overall marketing strategy.

#19 What’s an easy way to get keyword-level impression share on Apple Search Ads?

Use the platform’s built-in reporting features. Within your Apple Search Ads account, you can access impression share reports that provide insights into how your ads are performing in terms of visibility for your targeted keywords.

Once you have the report, you can analyze the impression share for each keyword to understand how often your ads are being shown compared to the total available impressions for those keywords.

Additionally, if you are using a third-party tool like Search Ads Maven, you can build and configure reports to send keyword level impression share data to your inbox on a regular basis. These tools provide enhanced reporting capabilities and make it easier to track and analyze performance data over time.

Remember that impression share is reported based on search terms, which may not always match your keywords exactly due to variations in user search queries. It’s important to interpret the data with this in mind, considering how closely related the search terms are to your targeted keywords.

#20 What are your recommendations if there is a big drop-off from installs to sign ups?

If you have a significant drop-off, it’s important to assess the user’s experience from the moment they download the app to when they’re prompted to sign up. Streamline the onboarding process, removing any obstacles and simplifying user steps. Consider further personalizing the experience, perhaps using A/B testing to refine the sign-up experience and offering incentives for new sign-ups. Be sure your App Store listing is up to date and sets clear expectations. Gathering user feedback can provide insights into potential issues, while retargeting campaigns can reengage users who haven’t completed the sign-up. Lastly, check for any technical glitches that might be hindering the process.


Got more questions on using Search Ads Maven to optimize your Apple Search Ads strategies?

Are you looking for expert consultation on navigating the complicated landscape of Apple Search Ads? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Search Ads Maven team.

If you want to run a test of Search Ads Maven against your ASA campaigns, book a demo here.