What are Search Ads
Apple search ads (ASA) are paid adverts located at the top of the search results page on the iOS App Store. As Apple explains: “Grow your business by promoting your apps at the top of App Store Search.”
In a marketplace where around 70% of visitors use the App Store actively search for apps / games and 65% of downloads occur directly after a search on the App Store, it’s worthwhile optimizing this behaviour by introducing ASA’s into a marketing strategy. However, tread carefully, if an app / game is likely to be found organically by users searching which comes for free, paying for ads can be an unnecessary expense, and lead to organic search cannibalization. Especially when the average Cost per Tap is about $0.84.
There are two options that Apple offers for ASA’s: basic and advanced. These vary in what they provide; the basic provides a simpler dashboard whereas the advanced tool allows more freedom for keyword choice and gives much more detailed analysis on ad performance.
Why Search Ads are Important
As an ad’s primary function is to increase discoverability to directly drive downloads, by investing in them there’s scope for real app growth. ASA’s are really high-quality, high-target ad placements as they engage users who have a high intent for specific keywords. This makes them desirable and the conversion rate (CVR) of more than 50% proves this.
Brand awareness is a key component. People may wonder why big brand names like McDonald’s that have a strong retail and online presence would need to advertise. Well, a brand that’s talked about much less than its competitors runs the risk of disappearing from the conversation entirely. And by applying that logic to apps, to stay front of mind, an app needs to be seen; one way of doing this is by appearing in the search results in the App Store when users are searching for high volume keywords. Not only that, but by advertising on their own keywords, apps can protect themselves from competitors wishing to advertise on them instead.
Brand awareness can also contribute to an increase in ‘branded search’ volumes and installs; users don’t need to directly respond (tap) on an ad to be engaged with it. If users see an ad inside their search results page, a significant portion of them will be driven to explore the app / game either then or at a later stage. Think of it like billboard or television advertising; it’s also about exposure
ASA’s are a reliable advertising avenue as Apple controls the network. They’re without fraudulent installs like many various mobile ad networks which are plagued with them.
And finally, as a boost for UA teams who are always looking for new opportunities to acquire traffic, ASA’s are being rolled out to different Apple apps like Apple News and Apple Stocks.
Search Ads and ASO
Any advertising strategy should include ASO as a key element. ASO teams can A/B test creative sets to optimize them for ROAS, using screenshots that work better for specific placements around specific keywords.
And by investing in keywords- its own, ones it’s not able to rank for or those that are hard to rank for- ASO teams can use search ads to maximize an app’s search visibility to accelerate growth. This covers a broader share of the search market around the app.