Category Archives: Help & Tips

Search Ads Best Practices

Top 5 Best Practices for Apple Search Ads

There’s no arguing that Apple Search Ads has helped developers reach more potential users since it launched in 2016. Over 70% of App Store visitors use search to discover apps and 65% of all downloads come directly from search, only further proving how much paid search can benefit developers.

Even though Search Ads has proven to be beneficial, there are many pitfalls that developers can accidently stumble upon when running their campaigns. In order to avoid these mistakes, it’s important for developers to follow best practices to expand their opportunity to grow their app’s conversion rate.

1. Be Patient & Give Campaigns Time

Nothing will be perfect the first time around, and developers may feel tempted to make immediate changes to help improve an ad’s performance. Making changes shortly after launching a campaign can actually hurt its performance more than help it. Upon campaign launch, bids and budget should be left alone for one week while the algorithm goes through a learning phase. This way Apple can learn what’s performing best (or worst) and adjust various ad cycles that will give more accurate results on how users are responding to the ads.

2. Test Different Creatives

While Apple creates ads based off the app’s existing metadata and creatives, it’s important that developers understand that the same ad may not be displayed each time. The various types of Search Ads users may see are:

  • Icon plus first two lines of description (or promotional text)
  • Icon plus first three portrait screenshots (or one portrait preview video)
  • Icon plus first landscape screenshot (or landscape preview video)

Developers should note that up to three images are used for an ad group. They can use Creative Sets, a new tool Apple released in June 2018, to include additional creative images to add variations that align with specific targeted keywords or audiences. Different sets can be used in separate ad groups to test ad creatives for video vs. image, landscape vs. portrait, different call to actions (CTAs) in the same image, etc. Utilizing Creative Sets will seriously help developers add variety to their existing ads and reach more niche audiences.

3. Set Discovery Campaign to Test Potential Keywords

Every developer has a list of keywords that they’re targeting, which will be the starting point for their Search Ads campaign. Sometimes developers aren’t sure which keywords to target, so they should utilize a Discovery Campaign, i.e. Search Match, Broad Match, and Exact Match.

These match types help developers control how their keywords match user searches and discover new relevant keywords. While both will greatly help developers expand what keywords they target, they should know that each is slightly different:

Search Match:This match type if like research and development (R&D), which is helpful for discovering new and additional keywords. Apple’s algorithm scans the app’s existing metadata and app category to determine what keywords it’s relevant for.

Broad Match: Helps developers identify keywords related to their brand and core features. It uses targeted keywords (brand name, app category, etc.) and also pulls relevant keyword variants (singular, plural, misspellings, synonyms, and related searches and phrases). The keywords are then categorized based on user search terms.

Exact Match: Allows developers to control when the ad appears and the ability to target specific terms and variants (similar to Broad Match). Ads may, however, see fewer overall impressions but higher tap-through rates (TTR) and conversion.

Understanding and utilizing both match types will help developers discover and test keywords to ensure the best performance.

4. Optimize KPIs Based on Performance at the Keyword Level

To understand the quality of users driven from any paid user acquisition channel, one must first identify their key performance indicators (KPIs). Based on the set KPIs, performance should be determined by diving into their attribution tool to analyze in app actions to ensure that their marketing dollars are being allocated to quality traffic. This means that developers can’t judge the quality of keywords at the campaign level but should instead try to break down performance at the keyword level in their ad groups.

It isn’t wise for developers to lump all of their targeted keywords into one ad group. Instead, to better help understand how well keywords are performing, they should create individual ad groups based off the app’s features, already targeted keywords and their variations, and more. Developers will also have to keep in mind their budget when determining these keywords and whether they would like to increase their bid or stop a campaign altogether.

5. Adjust Bids & Budgets Over Time

Having the most aggressive bids are important when running Exact Match for keywords. When starting any campaign, developers will first need to initially take the time to set their bids and budgets to make sure that their money is spread out appropriately. In order to minimize disruption to the algorithm, developers should adjust their bids and budget in increments over time.

For example, let’s say a bid for $1.00 is setup for the high-volume keyword “photo editor.” That might have been the highest bid initially, but over time, others have started placing even higher bids, causing the first developer to adjust the allotted money over time. They should only make these changes based on how well their ads are performing for that particular keyword, not just because they want the highest bid. If their app isn’t relevant for the keyword or it isn’t performing well, it’s not a worthwhile endeavor to continue bidding on it and the campaign should be stopped so they can use that money for other better performing keywords.

Follow Best Practices to Run Optimized Campaigns

It’s critical for developers to keep these best practices in mind when they’re running their Search Ads campaigns to ensure that they see long-term results. Developers should avoid making immediate changes to their campaigns and instead should opt for letting Apple’s algorithm learn whether the ad is executing and then make any necessary changes after time. They should also be constantly monitoring keyword performance and make adjust their bids and budgets, so they aggressively target relevant high-volume terms and phrases.

In addition to these best practices, developers will need to make sure that they’re also following App Store Optimization (ASO) best practices since Apple pulls all existing metadata and creatives to create ads. Developers will only find success if they combine both strategies to fully optimize their app and ensure that it’s reaching its max audience.

Search Match and Broad Match

Search Match & Broad Match: Knowing When to Use Them

When launching a Search Ads campaign, one might wonder what the best keywords they want to target are, what variants they use and how to get the best matches. Search Ads is a key tool for App Store Optimization on the Apple App Store, so making the most out of it can help an app target and capitalize on valuable keywords and search terms.

Among the Search Ads options are two valuable methods to use within campaigns: Search Match and Broad Match. What are they, and how can they help your Search Ads campaign?

What They Are

Search Match and Broad Match are ways of discovering new keywords for Search Ads based off your keywords and metadata. The means of discovery are different between each one.

With Search Match, the Search Ads algorithm scans your metadata and the category your app is in within the App Store. It then determines what keywords your app is relevant for and pulls those for your Search Ads campaign. This is also useful for discovering keywords; think of it as Research & Development for your targeted keywords.

Broad Match uses the core keywords you want to target, such as brand name, the specific type and category of the app, and so on, and pulls variations of those keywords. This includes common misspellings, plural or singular versions, minor variants and so forth. It then categorizes those keywords based on user search terms and puts relevant ones together to include in your campaign. This also helps developers identify keywords related to their brand or core features they might have otherwise overlooked.

When Should You Use Them

Both Search Match and Broad Match are useful tools for identifying relevant keywords and what people are searching for. Broad Match is useful for when you know what to target and want to find variations thereof, whereas Search Match lets you pull new, relevant keywords based off your existing metadata and category.

Anyone looking to expand to new terms can benefit from Search Match. If, for instance, an app ranks highly for all the keywords its currently targeting, Search Match can help it expand by identifying relevant keywords it’s not yet focusing on. Similarly, an app that is having a hard time finding keywords it can rank highly for may be able to use Search Match to identify new keywords it had previously overlooked that are still relevant and try focusing on these.

Similarly, Broad Match is useful for anyone looking to capitalize on their current keywords. While users tend to search for short phrases or keywords, there are multiple variants for any given keyword, even in the form of common misspellings, or people searching for singular or plural terms. Broad Match can help developers target the most common and popular of those variants, ensuring that your app isn’t just one misplaced letter away from appearing in search.

broad match

In both cases, they’re helpful for anyone looking to understand what people are looking for that their app shows up for. Developers can find tap through and download rates for certain keywords, gain a better understanding of keyword quality and determine whether or not to incorporate those terms into their Exact Match Search Ads campaigns or their app’s existing metadata.

What to Avoid

Not all keywords will be relevant to an ad, and developers can use Search Match and Broad Match to weed those out. Certain negative keywords can be set up ahead of time, so that the ad is excluded from any searches including it.

For instance, a paid mobile game may want to be found under “best games,” but not under “best free games.” As such, developers can set “free” as a negative keyword, ensuring that they won’t be found by users specifically searching for a game they can get without spending anything.

This helps developers improve their targeting and ROI, as it helps avoid targeting users that may tap on an ad but not download the app in the first place. However, it is important that they constantly monitor their Search Match and Broad Match keywords for new keywords that are not relevant or have a high CPT and should be marked as “negative.” Trimming the fat keeps the Search Ads optimized.

To Conclude

Developers should utilize Search Match and Broad Match alike when they want to discover new keywords for their Search Ads campaign. Whether they’re looking for popular variants based off their key terms or trying to find new high-volume keywords from their category and metadata will determine which they start with, but both are valuable tools.

Search and Broad Match make up a piece of Search Ads, which itself is a piece of an App Store Optimization strategy on the Apple App Store. Every piece of the ASO puzzle is important, as Search Ads can impact your organic ASO and vice versa. Knowing what declared keywords you are targeting, how they rank and applying this knowledge to Search Ads campaigns is crucial. Likewise, using Search Match or Broad Match to discover relevant terms in your paid campaigns can be applied to organic terms you are targeting. These strategies can help determine what keywords developers can and should target, making them beneficial for the Search Ads and ASO process.

Apple Search Ads

Apple Search Ads: How & Where to Start

It’s no secret that 65% of downloads come from search, and Apple Search Ads has been helping developers acquire millions of users since it launched in 2016. Search ads can allow developers and marketers to drive impressions to users intending to download an app with the features, functionality, or competitor relevancy of their app. This is makes it one of the most effective ways to drive installs from more engaged and active users.

Starting a campaign is relatively simple. Developers won’t have to worry about creating additional ad copy and creatives, since Apple pulls this from the app’s existing store listing metadata. While the creation of an ad is one less worry, developers will have to consider what goes into Search Ads and learn how and where to start in order to run a successful campaign.

Understanding the Difference Between Basic & Advanced

In December 2017, Apple released two new programs to help developers further improve their app’s presence in the App Store. Search Ads Basic and Search Ads Advanced were built to help developers expand their app’s audience and visibility in a way best suited to their needs. Here are the differences between them:

  • Search Ads Basic:Offers developers cost-per-install (CPI), meaning they’re only paying for installs
  • Ability to set up their account with a monthly budget
  • Option to start and stop a campaign and adjust the budget at any time
  • Essentially “training wheels” for Search Ads Advanced

Search Ads Advanced:

  • Developers have access to Apple’s full suite of tools
  • Can control campaigns and the audiences that see their ads
  • Ability to choose keywords and explore searches with the Search Match feature
  • Combine Broad Match and Exact Match to better control how keywords match user searches
  • Can add negative keywords to avoid ensure that traffic is directed to the correct campaign

It’s important to understand the offerings in each program to determine which one meets your needs. Search Ads Basic is for those that are interested in trying paid search but do not have the time or experience to manage a campaign. Search Ads Advanced is for more seasoned advertisers who want full control over their paid campaigns.

Campaign Structure

Campaign structure is incredibly important and directly impacts how well it will perform. First, developers will have to select the app and storefront they want to work with. Next, they’ll have to name the campaign and set up budgets along with daily caps.

When it comes to naming the campaign, developers should have a clear strategy in mind to give them direction before they start targeting and bidding on keywords. Without having a specific strategy, developers can risk focusing on the wrong keywords that aren’t relevant to their app or audience. Just to name two options, developers can create campaigns that focus on:

  • Brands (targets brand keywords)
  • Competitors (targets keywords that competitors target and are relevant for)

The budget is set at the campaign level and divides the money that will be spent across all ad groups. It’s mandatory to setup a budget, however, it can only be adjusted higher at any given time NOT lower. It’s important to note once the campaign budget maxes out, it will automatically turn off and won’t resume until it’s raised. Controlling daily spend is done by placing a daily cap on the campaign, and once it gets close to reaching the max cap, it will slow down ad placement but will continue to display the ad if it thinks users can be acquired at a lower cost. This can will cause a campaign to go above its daily cap, at most by 10-15%.

Ad Groups & Targeting Keywords with Broad & Exact Match

Ad groups are collections of the keywords developers are targeting and can have a specific bid amount set up similar to the campaign budget. When it comes to determining keywords, developers should think about what they’re already targeting based off their ASO strategy. They can then add more keywords that are general (mobile game, category, etc.) and specific (app features, game play, characters, etc.) to reach their intended users.

Developers should also take advantage of the various match types that Search Ads offers to control how their keywords match user searches.

Broad Match: Search Ads defaults to this type and ensure that the ad runs on relevant variants of a keyword. This includes singular, plural, misspellings, synonyms, and related searches and phrases.

Exact Match: This type allows developers to control when the ad appears and can target specific terms and variants. With Exact Match, however, ads may see fewer overall impressions, but the tap-through rates (TTR) and conversion might be higher. Developers can also pause a keyword and add new ones, but they can’t be deleted once it’s added.

When running a broad campaign, developers should utilize Campaign Negative Keywords to ensure that traffic for search queries gets directed to the proper campaign.

A developer’s job isn’t done after creating the campaign and ad groups and determining which keywords they want to target/bid on. They’ll need to constantly monitor how their campaigns and ad groups are performing to ensure that they’re reaching their audience.

Ensure Success & Avoid Pitfalls

While the above tips will greatly help developers get started on creating a campaign strategy, they’ll also have to note that there are some serious mistakes that can occur. Some include:

  • Running campaigns with irrelevant keywords
  • Low Tap Through Rate
  • Relying solely on broad/exact match
  • Bidding on “cheap” keywords
  • Not being patient

Developers can’t just dive head first into Search Ads – they need to carefully examine the different programs Apple offers and take the time to set up campaigns and ad groups that will benefit their app. It’s also important that they give their campaigns at least seven to ten days before making changes to enable the algorithm to learn traffic patterns. By avoiding Search Ads missteps, developers will run successful campaigns that greatly help their app reach larger audiences without breaking the bank.

It’s also critical to factor in the importance of a strong organic ASO strategy. Understanding an app’s overall keyword ranking profile allows for an understanding of the keywords Apple (and users) find an app relevant for. This can help guide which keywords may be best to target in a Search Ads campaign without having to experiment as much with paid marketing spend to discover the most relevant terms.

Positive reciprocity can also be gained between ASO and Search Ads: Click-Through-Rate (CTR) from Search Ads can help improve your ranking for that term in organic search, and metadata can be structured in a way to best organically rank for a keyword performing well in Search Ads. Just as it’s important to research how your impressions, conversions and cost are performing for Search Ads, it’s important to know how your organics perform and what to target.

With a well-planned Search Ads strategy, developers are can see benefits like improvements on their conversion rates, CPI, CPT and their return on investment (ROI).

Search Ads Targeting Competitors

Search Ads: Pros and Cons of Targeting Competitor Brands

Apple Search Ads has proven to be a successful way to reach new potential users on the Apple App Store. It boasts a conversion rate of around 50 percent and a cost per acquisition of under $1.50, making it an efficient and cost-effective advertising tool. Apple continues to roll out new updates and expansions, including new territories and creative sets, so Search Ads will continue to expand.

Search Ads is part of a strong App Store Optimization strategy. By targeting relevant keywords, it can help ensure reaching a wide and interested audience. Like with keywords, Search Ads can even be used to target specific brands.

Is it a good idea to target a competitor’s brand when you’re bidding on Search Ads? There are benefits and downsides to such a strategy, as well as missteps you’ll want to avoid.

Pros

Targeting a competing brand can be beneficial for app developers looking to move in on established markets. By using a competing brand as a keyword for Search Ads, developers can piggyback off the traffic that an established and popular app draws. Users searching for that competitor by name will also see the ad for your app, building recognition and appearing as a viable alternative.

Additionally, targeting a direct competitor ensures your app will reach a relevant audience. Users searching for an app will typically be intending to download it, so if they need the features it offers, appearing as a viable alternative can draw in new users.

Targeting specific brand names also drives much more traffic than targeting terms or keywords. Out of the top 25 keywords people search for in the App Store, the vast majority of them are brand names. In the top 10 every single one is a brand. While non-branded keywords begin to grow in usage the wider the range grows, even the top 100 keywords are composed primarily of branded terms. As such, targeting a brand will typically mean targeting a more popular keyword than another term.

Essentially, targeting a top-ranking competitor in Search Ads means targeting the top spot for the keyword.

Cons

While targeting brands through Search Ads may seem like the best choice, there are some potential drawbacks. Because brand names tend to be high-volume keywords, there will be plenty of other apps competing to target it. In this vast app ecosystem, there are countless competitors for any high-volume term – competing for the highest value spot may prove futile.

Similarly, high competition will lead to higher bids for the Search Ads spots. This can lead to a higher cost per install (CPA), cutting into profits and wasting advertising dollars.

When targeting a competing app, it’s essential to also organically index for the keyword and related phrases. Search Ads are designed to appear on relevant searches, so if your app is not appropriately relevant to the competitor, it will do you no good.

Be Careful

Is there a way to get the pros while avoiding the cons? It can be done, but only with careful research and consideration.

Is the app you’re targeting relevant to your own? If they’re not relevant enough, it will not index properly or reach a relevant audience.

Is the competitor brand a keyword people are searching for? While the top keywords are all brands, not all brands are top keywords. If there is a relevant, non-brand term that people are searching for over the competitor’s name, your marketing dollars would be better spent targeting that term. Make sure it has search volume in both the App Store and Search Ads.

Be sure not to start off spending too much at once. Check your impressions and CPT to determine if you’re getting the most out of your marketing expenses; adjust as needed until you find the right balance.

Targeting a competitor with Search Ads could result in reaching an interested and relevant audience or in competing with too many other apps to be viable. It’s important to know your audience and your competition, then you can launch an optimal Search Ads campaign.

Podcast Best Practices

Podcast Best Practices for iTunes

Podcasts have become increasingly popular among listeners of all ages since Apple added podcasts to iTunes 4.9 in 2005. In fact, in 2018, 44% of Americans ages 12+ have listened to a podcast at some point, and roughly 26% have listened to one in the past month.

Podcasts can reach a large audience of listeners and can be created by just about anyone. However, if you’re thinking about creating a podcast, there are some best practices to keep in mind to help get you started:

1. Know Where to Post Your Podcast

While there are several streaming services that have loads of podcasts readily available, it’s important to note which service would help you gain the most subscribers. Currently, iTunes has cornered the market for podcast consumption with over 63.2% combined market share, split among the podcast app, iTunes desktop and third-parties.

Despite the number of Android devices and users increasing year-over-year, there’s no denying that Apple has the podcast market covered. It’s important that podcasters still take the step in evaluating which streaming service will be best to host their podcast, but ultimately, iTunes is where they’ll get the most exposure.

2. Pay Attention to the Podcast Title

The iTunes ranking algorithm for podcasts puts heavy emphasis on the title. Having too-short of a title or one that is too vague won’t attract subscribers. A common practice for podcast titles is:

  • The podcast’s title
  • A colon
  • Roughly three relevant keywords to the podcast

Keywords are important because they describe what the podcast is addressing and also helps it appear in user searches. For example, an optimized title would look like: Jane’s Fantastic Adventures: Travels | Blogging | Cooking. From this title, listeners can clearly determine what types of topics the publisher will cover just from a basic search. By following the above format, it also helps to separate the main title from descriptive pieces and keywords that are relevant to the podcast itself.

3. Publisher Name Should be Formatted Like the Title

Similar to the podcast’s title, the publisher’s name should follow the same format. For example, Jane Doe: Traveler and Blogging Expert, would be the best way to format the publisher name. By incorporating keywords such as “traveler” or “blogging,” it helps to reiterate what experience you have to offer along with the various topics covered by the blog.

It also helps the podcast become relevant for more keywords than just those incorporated in the podcast title, which increases the number of opportunities for it to appear in a user search. These keywords should be used to improve your podcast’s visibility in various searches, help listeners identify that you’re an expert on the topic, and encourage them to listen to your podcast.

4. Optimize Podcast Descriptions

For each podcast, there’s a description to give listeners a brief overview of potential topics, possible guests (if there are any), and more. Within this space, it’s vital that publishers utilize this area with detailed text that is one or more sentences, almost a paragraph in length. The description is incredibly important for both iTunes and SEO and should include keywords similar to those used in the podcast title and publisher name.

5. Podcast Episode Title & Description

The title of the podcast episode should include the primary keyword that is relevant to the podcast. Publishers can also add secondary keywords within the description, which will help specific episodes show up in iTunes search.

Optimize Podcasts for iOS 11

With the number of listeners increasing year-over-year, it’s important that anyone thinking about starting a podcast follows the above points to start gaining subscribers. For instance, if one chooses to start a podcast and thinks that iTunes will be the best streaming service, they’ll need to factor in these best practices and take into consideration the additions that came with the release of iOS 11.

This OS has helped transform how the podcast directory lists podcasts by providing publishers with features and tags. Thanks to these tags, it has made it much easier to create rich content that determines how the podcast will show up in the app.

Ultimately, if you’re thinking about starting a starting a podcast, you’ll have to think about much more than just the content. Keep in mind:

  • Where your podcast is available matters
  • The podcast title is a huge factor for iTunes’ ranking algorithm
  • The publisher name should follow the same format as the title
  • The description is important for both iTunes and SEO and needs to include relevant keywords
  • Don’t forget about the podcast episode title and description to help it appear in iTunes searches
  • Make sure the podcast is optimized for iOS 11 and takes advantage of the features and tags