Tag Archives: Search Ads

Apple Expands Search Ads

Apple Search Ads Expands its Territories

Apple Search Ads has proven itself indispensable to app developers, helping them find greater visibility and relevancy for their ads. It’s a success for both Apple and developers, with conversion rates holding at around 50 percent and a cost per acquisition that’s below $1.50. Additionally, the tech company recently added creative sets to help developers target more niche audiences and keywords.

With Apple adding new features to the Search Ads platform, it’s a wonder why it’s limited to only a handful of storefronts. Recently, Apple announced that the Search Ads advertising service will be expanded to encompass more countries, further extending its reach to worldwide app markets.

Where’s it Expanding to?

When Search Ads launched in 2016 it quickly became a key feature to the App Store advertisement system. Apple Search Ads are currently available in storefronts in seven countries:

  • US
  • UK
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Switzerland

However, the recent announcement states that soon Apple will be nearly doubling the number of available storefronts by expanding to include:

  • South Korea
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Japan


What Does This Mean?

In short, Search Ads being available in more territories means that developers have more marketing opportunities in additional locations around the world. Search Ads has proven successful in the seven territories it’s currently available in. However, developers will need to take a serious look at their marketing budgets to ensure there’s enough money to go around to additional territories.

They’ll also need to consider that the keywords they target in one territory may not overlap or be relevant in another. That’s why they’ll have to carefully work on their ASO strategy to localize their metadata and ensure that they’re targeting relevant keywords for each territory.

Since Search Ads relies on keywords and metadata to determine relevancy, it’s important for developers to ensure they’re targeting search terms and keywords that are popular in each area to improve traffic to their app. Developers must maintain a strong ASO strategy in each region their app is available in to get the most out of their Search Ads campaign.

For app developers in those six new countries, though, the addition of Search Ads will prove beneficial to their marketing efforts and will help them reach even more users. Overall, developers should start preparing for the Search Ads expansion that will be coming later this summer.

Apple Adds Creative Sets to Search Ads

Apple Adds Creative Sets to Search Ads

The Apple Search Ads tool has been a marketing staple for many app developers since it was first released in 2016, and has helped boost conversion rates of average mobile users to 50%. Since its release, Apple has expanded the tool to various countries and released two programs, Search Ads Basic and Search Ads Advanced. Throughout these updates and expansions, one thing has been consistent: where the creative images come from.

Search Ads makes marketing easy for app developers. Thanks to Apple’s algorithm, it pulls all assets from the app’s product page and displays the best performing ad to users. This means users will see one of two or three variations, depending on screenshot and preview video orientation:

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

Now Apple has released Creative Sets that will add more variations to ad campaigns. Let’s examine what this feature is and how it will help developers, as well as why they need to focus on optimizing their creative assets.

Creative Sets – What Are They?

Apple is allowing developers to include additional creative images to add variations that align better with targeted keywords and audiences. Developers can include both screenshots and preview videos that can be selected from their app’s product page.

apple search ads

These variations are not going to be run separately, but rather in addition to the current image and text ads that are created using an app’s metadata. Developers can have up to ten Creative Sets per ad group, but they’ll have to monitor their product page, because if an asset is removed, then any Creative Set using that image will be paused.

Additionally, developers will have to:

  • Have four or more portrait assets and two or more landscape assets for iPhones
  • Have three or more portrait assets and two or more landscape assets for iPads

Having additional creative assets means that developers will have to follow best practices for each one to ensure that they convert more users.

Importance of Creatives

Developers need to optimize their creatives, as failure to do so will result in poor conversion rates. As such, developers should follow ASO best practices for screenshots, such as:

  • Using on-brand colors
  • Displaying concept or character art tied to the latest updates
  • Using a call-to-action (short phrase)
  • Incorporating high-volume keywords and highlighting them in a heavier font weight or color

They should also pay attention to best practices for preview videos:

  • Emphasizing the app’s core features
  • Including the poster frame
  • Following Apple’s guidelines

While Apple isn’t making developers create completely new images like a Google AdWords or Facebook campaign would, the use of additional assets is sure to help convert more users and expand an app’s audience. Developers will have to make sure that they follow the above best practices to optimize their screenshots and preview videos.

Utilize Creative Sets

The addition of Creative Sets is sure to benefit developers, as it adds variety to their already existing ads and helps them become more relevant for targeted keywords and niche audiences. In the long-run, this latest feature to Search Ads will be beneficial only if developers make sure to follow ASO best practices for screenshots and preview videos so their ads can reach their full potential.

Want to know what mobile trends 2017 holds in store?

Mobile Trends 2017 – What will Hit in Q1?

The New Year is here, and with it comes a whole new batch of trends to stay on top of.

With regards to mobile trends 2017 has the potential to be a unique year. Last fall Apple shook up the world of mobile in a major way by shortening their Title field and introducing Search Ads. This quarter, expect app developers to refine their technique when it comes to mastering the new App Store ecosystem.

Look out for these trends in Q1 2017:

Search Ads Get Refined 

As the year moves on, more and more app developers will begin to discover what performs best for Search Ads. Look for major developers to hit Search Ads even harder in an attempt to expand their search footprint into any relevant keywords.

Similarly, as more developers begin to target wider swaths of Search Ads, they will also refine how to best convert users from Search Ads.

As the New Year begins, make it a priority to learn the best practices for landing and converting from Search Ads.

Services Continue to Grow 

App Store Services picked up major traction in 2016. Expect that trend to continue as 2017 winds on.

Service subscriptions have traditionally been confined to service-based apps like Netflix and Spotify. However, games like Boom Beach have also experimented with subscription plans, showing that recurring payments can be molded to work in a number of formats.

Services have been popular for Apple, too. Service revenue grew by 24% in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. Earlier, Apple had announced they would be offering successful Service subscriptions a more favorable revenue split of 85-15, as opposed to the usual 70-30. In order to qualify for the new split, developers would simply need to maintain a user’s subscription for one year consistently.

Superbowl LI Drives Sports Searches

Sports apps will have a field day with February’s Superbowl LI. News apps, fantasy apps and football games stand to benefit the most directly. If your app is relevant for “football”-related terms, update your metadata and creative to reflect this.

Cards, Dates and Flowers Go In Demand 

The first major holiday of 2017, Valentine’s Day will be accompanied by a surge in searches for dating, events, shopping and gift apps.

Whether your app offers gifts for couples, flowers for the parents or in-person meetup opportunities for everyone else, you can capitalize on Valentine’s Day by including relevant keywords and expanding upon them in your description and creative.

Following Valentine’s Day, some apps may want to look ahead to Easter. While the holiday falls in early Q2, apps that offer relevant services (flowers, gift baskets, candy, etc.) will want to pivot towards Easter sooner than that. Change out your Valentine’s Day marketing language and keywords for Easter by early Spring.

While gift apps will have a field day, games can get in on the holiday fun too. The later winter to early spring season is often a popular time for game developers to run special events, like last year’s Angry Birds Epic mini-campaign. This event introduced a miniaturized version of a standard Angry Birds Epic campaign for Valentine’s Day, featuring new levels, special items and more.

If your app can be positioned as relevant for winter and spring holidays, be sure to have your metadata and creative updated in advance so that you have already begun indexing by the holiday.

Search Ads change in popularity just like keywords

January 2017 Search Ads – What Will be Popular?

Search Ads may seem straightforward at first blush – Just target a highly searched term, bid higher than the competitors and watch your app take off. In reality, placing a successful Search Ad is more complex.

In order to have the best possible Search Ad, you must meld your advertising strategy with your ASO strategy. You should also take into consideration how your iOS screenshots, title and icon will display in your Search Ad.

Even with an optimized listing, your Search Ad means nothing if it doesn’t place your app in front of numerous new users. For this reason, your Search Ad strategy must constantly evolve, just as your keyword and creative strategies likely have in the past. Make an active attempt to stay on top of all relevant, popular search terms that you can, and jettison old ads that are no longer converting for your app.

Below, we will take a look at several trends that will impact popular Search Ads over the first month of 2017.

Football and Sports Terms

Superbowl LI doesn’t technically fall in January, but as the month comes to a close you can count on football searches picking up in a major way. Games like Madden stand to benefit heavily from this, as do apps like ESPN and Draft Kings.

If your app can be seen as relevant to football, now is this time to start staking out popular terms and brands related to the sport. Find out which search terms will be most popular as the football season comes to a close, and optimize your app description and screenshots if necessary to target them.

Remember that Search Ads are based on relevancy, and Apple is very intelligent about determining this relevancy. You don’t necessarily need a football game to land a Search Ad for the word “football”, for example. A soccer game also makes a compelling case. A baseball game could be positioned as perfect for football fans looking for their next sports fix.

If you have a sports app, terms like these could help you expand your app’s search footprint:

  • Football games
  • Madden
  • ESPN
  • Sports games
  • Sports app

To find more rising keywords to target, consider conducting your own research using software. Just make sure your app is at least tangentially related to the terms you’re looking to target.

New Games in Popular Series

A handful of new games have come to the App Store in popular genres, and several more will be arriving before the end of January. If your game is similar enough to any of these highly-searched games, you may want to consider branching out with a Search Ad targeting their titles.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: A fifth game in the ultra-popular series just hit the App Store, and both “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and its abbreviation “FNAF” are highly-searched terms in the App Store. Horror buffs and fans of interactive storytelling will be the primary users searching for terms like this.

Super Mario Run: Although Mario released in mid-December, the game still sits at the top of the most-downloaded list. Ranking for “Mario”, “Mario Run” or other search terms will no doubt be contentious, but also take into consideration the other terms that Mario will raise with him. “Nintendo” is popular, for instance, while “running games” might capture users who were disappointed in Mario’s debut as they search for an alternative.

Yo-Kai Watch: Although not yet a household name in the United States, Yo-Kai Watch is a hugely popular Pokémon-like in Japan, and the series has picked up enough of a following in the United States to make “Yo-kai watch” a highly-searched term. A new game in the RPG series is slated to hit iOS, and games that revolve around collecting monsters may find an audience by placing their Search Ads here.

Star Wars Force Arena: While the latest Star Wars mobile title won’t technically be out until March, it will no doubt be popular once it launches. Hearthstone currently has a Search Ad at the top of the term, and it seems like a good fit – Force Arena will be a strategy-based, competitive title when it releases. Having your ad at the top of search results when the app releases could draw sci-fi and strategy fans.


2017 is just getting started, but already you can see the foundations of the year’s popular Search Ads forming. With Superbowl LI and a new Star Wars game coming up, along with Mario and Five Nights at Freddy’s still drawing searches, developers have many options for positioning their Search Ads in the month ahead.

Optimize Search Ads for your app in the new year

Increasing Conversion With App Store Search Ads

App Store Search Ads are often cited as the number one trend to watch for app developers in 2017. Placed prominently at the top of relevant search queries, Search Ads show vital information about your app to potential customers and, in concept, can help even a small independent app reach the top of search.

In line with the traditional ASO process, Apple ensures that their Search Ads work based on relevance and not based solely on the highest bidder. Even so, landing a Search Ad is not a guarantee that you will begin converting users right away.

To get the most from your Search Ad, it is important to target the right terms at the right time. Just as trends shape the keyword landscape in the App Store, so too will they dictate which Search Ads are best for your app.

To this end, any developer targeting Search Ads should take several steps prior to settling on a campaign strategy.

Choosing Your App Store Search Ads

To start, select a base of keywords that you wish to target for your app. These terms should relate to your app’s core features and demographic. With iOS, a Search Ad will only be truly successful if Apple determines that your app is relevant for the term.

Once you have a base list of terms, eliminate any that aren’t searched commonly by users. Find out which terms are searched most, as this will open your app to the most potential traffic from new users.

Keyword data in the App Store is fluid, and changes often. It can be helpful to use software to determine the optimal high-ranking search terms for your ad. 

Tracking Trends in Search Ads

As keyword rankings move up and down in popularity, they take their respective Search Ads with them. For instance, if the number of users searching for “free games” goes down, so too will the number of users who see your app at the top of search results for that term.

Search Ads can and should be tracked just like keywords. If a keyword is declining in popularity, or if your app is failing to catch on for a certain term in your keyword bank, those might be keywords that your app should not target in a Search Ad.

On the other hand, rising keywords can be a great way to branch out into relevant categories that other developers haven’t caught onto yet. By using software to track keyword trends, you can stay on top of which terms are gaining popularity in your app’s field and capitalize on that by quickly purchasing a Search Ad.

Finally, consider seasonal words and phrases that might catch on around the same time each year. “Black Friday” and “New Years” are great recent examples. If your app offers anything that might relate to a large event or holiday, that can be a great way to catapult your app towards a large new audience.

Creating Relevance for Your Ads

Earlier we mentioned that Apple tends to favor relevant apps for Search Ad placement. What if your app is relevant, but you still haven’t caught on for the keywords you are targeting?

In that case, it’s time to look back to your app’s store page. Just as a standard app optimization creates relevance for the words in your title and keyword bank, an optimization for Search Ads should create relevance for terms you wish to target in future ads.

You can create this relevance in several ways.

Your app description is a great place to start. If you are trying to target “Black Friday”, for example, it would be pertinent to highlight upcoming Black Friday deals your app might host in the first few sentences. If you are trying to target “New Years”, simply explain how your app might help users with resolutions, scheduling, finding activities, or whatever else makes your app relevant to users during the new year. If Apple is not seeing how your app is relevant, be sure to explain it to them.

Screenshots are another great way to call out new features that might make your app relevant for your intended Search Ad. Keep in mind that Search Ads can feature up to three portrait-orientation screenshots. This is an increase of one screenshot from traditional search results. Take advantage of this by showing off key features relevant to your Search Ad in your first three screens.

Finally, your app title can help to create relevance for a keyword you wish to target. Keep in mind that while Apple still cuts off long titles with an ellipses in search results, the full 50 characters in your title are visible in a Search Ad. Use this space to create relevance and explain your app’s core features.

Tracking Conversion

Finally, after your Search Ad has gone live, take advantage of Apple’s built-in tracking tools to keep tabs on conversion. Just as you would abandon a term from your keyword bank if it were underperforming, you should either re-tool or abandon Search Ads that don’t work for you and re-focus on new terms that may prove more lucrative.


With your Search Ads optimized, you will greatly increase your chances of appearing at the top of search results for relevant users.