Launching an app offers a wide range of benefits, not least increased brand awareness and a more engaged customer base.

However, once you’ve taken the time to design an app and launched it in the iOS App Store, the biggest challenge is getting people to download it.

In today’s article, we give you an introduction to Search Ads, Apple’s new pay-per-click advertising platform for the App Store, which can change the fortunes of your app overnight.


Choosing the right keywords

If you’ve ever engaged in pay-per-click marketing through Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, then you’ll no doubt understand the importance of choosing the right keywords for your paid marketing campaigns.

The same applies to Search Ads; costs can vary greatly from keyword to keyword, so choosing the most searched-for and cost-effective keywords makes sense.

When you sign up for an account with Search Ads, you’ll be able to include your own keywords based on data from research tools such as WordStream and SpyFu, and Apple’s relative search term popularity index will help you determine which keywords will be the most effective to use.

If you don’t have experience in keyword research or you’re not sure which keywords are going to generate the most downloads, then you can take advantage of the Search Match feature, which automatically matches adverts to relevant searches on the App Store.

This function is particularly useful for beginners, as you can discover new keywords and optimise your campaign accordingly.


Targeting the right audience

While retargeting allows you to capture the attention of your potential customers through pay-per-click, Search Ads on the App Store can be used to remind existing app users about your app, and get them to spend more time engaging with your brand.

You can choose to show your ad to new customers only, existing customers only, people who download other apps you own, or to everyone.

And you can target your ad based on device type, location, keywords and age group demographics including 18‑24 year-olds, 25‑34 year-olds, 35‑44 year-olds, 45‑54 year-olds, 55‑64 year-olds and 65+.

You cannot target users under the age of 18 specifically, but the ‘All Ages’ option will include marketing to under-18s – great if you want to advertise educational apps or games to a younger audience.


Creating an ad

Unlike AdWords, creating an advert for the App Store is pretty straight-forward.

Ads are created by Apple automatically using the metadata and imagery from your App Store product page, and will likely include the App name, app icon, a ‘Get’ button and ratings and reviews.

You can create variations of your ads to suit different groups and audiences using the Search Ads’ Creative Sets tool, which also gives you the option of adding text to your advert.

However, there are very little customisations available for App Store ads. This makes it a level playing field for advertisers, but frustrating if you want to convey a particular message.

An example of three ads on the App Store. To the left, a standard advert with a block of custom text; centre, a smaller ad with a single screenshot of the app; to the right, an add with a carousel of screenshots which takes up more App Store real estate and is, therefore, more expensive.


Control your spend

If you’re trying to improve adoption rates of your app without spending a fortune, the good news is that there is no minimum spend to advertise using Search Ads, and pricing is cost-per-tap.

If a user clicks through from the advert to your App Store product page, or clicks ‘Get’ to download your app, that will be classed as a ‘tap’ and will come out of your Search Ads budget.

You can decide on the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a tap on your ad.

Just like on other pay-per-click platforms, competitive keywords will be more expensive per tap, so finding cost-effective keywords that users are searching for and want to click on is important.

And if you decide that Search Ads isn’t working for you or you want to take a break, then there’s no commitment.

You can start, stop, pause and adjust your campaigns whenever you like, and you can set maximum daily spend caps so that you never go over your budget.


Adapt based on insights

The most effective advertising campaigns are ever-evolving and adapt based on feedback from their target market.

With Search Ads, you’ll be given access to data and powerful tools to help you optimise your ads from day one.

Reporting view provides you with data on the performance of your app, and trends across your keywords and key metrics.

You’ll be able to see what’s working, what you need to change and discover more opportunities for growth with ease.

With the Search Ads Attribution API, you can track and attribute downloads of your apps to your Search Ads campaigns, allowing you to measure and determine the value of your customers over time and make changes to your overall strategy accordingly.

Combined with the Search Ads Campaign Management and Reporting APIs, third-party integration is made easy, and you can plug in your Search Ads data to create comparisons with other advertising platforms to decide which is the most cost-effective, and make changes to improve your tap-throughs.


At Zudu, we specialise in agile app development. If you’re looking to launch a new app for iOS and need help with development or optimisation, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today on 01382 690080, or click here to send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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