Finally, they have arrived. Apple Search Ads have expanded internationally to the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

What are they?

The low-down

Apple have optimized search within the App Store. Developers can now bid on keywords so their listings surface at the top of a App Store search in a new ad format. According to Apple, 65% of all app downloads follow an App Store search. Essentially, they bring awareness to your listing for potential users who are on the hunt and ‘ready’ to install. Apple Search Ads rolled out in the US in September 2016, and Apple are now launching their offering across the UK, Australia and New Zealand and Ad serving begins on April 25. This is all in conjunction with the launch of new campaign tools. For campaigns already running in the US, developers can replicate these for the newly available markets.

How does it work?

The process seems relatively simple. After entering your budget and default max CPT (cost-per-tap) bid, their ‘Search Match’ function pulls in metadata from iTunes connect and your App Store listing to automatically determine your relevancy for keywords. This puts even more emphasis on your App Store Optimisation, ensuring your metadata is carefully considered and relevant. The platform will also provide suggested keywords and visibility on common search terms vs. your keywords: eg. ‘photo editor’ vs ‘photo editing.’ Whilst it is a bidding platform, Apple have strongly emphasised that relevancy takes priority over bidding.

What it looks like:

Similar to Google ads, an Apple Search ad will appear at the top of a search page in a blue colour, further distinguished through a small ‘Ad’ disclosure icon. Developers are not able to use custom creatives. Apple will instead formulate your ad in respect of your listing and metadata. The ad can appear in two formats. One is slightly more detailed, with screen shots appearing as part of the listing and one mire condensed. The format which appears is dependent on the user’s device and what may work best for the search query and user. These formats are optimised by Apple internally and are not determined by bidding cost.

Targeting:

There are various ways that you can target users. Audience can be targeted based on age, gender, device type and location. Currently in the US, this can be as narrow as targeting a city. The default audience excludes existing users, but you can change this setting and use the ads with the aim of re-engaging users. You can track the performance and your conversion rates directly through their dashboard, which remains transparent regarding conversion rates.

Results so far

The results so far have been impressive. From our experience, Apple Search Ads in the US have seen high conversion rates. This is indicative of the overarching success of the platform. In respect of other ad channels such as Facebook and Adwords, a report by Singular showed that Apple Search Ad CPIs were 67% cheaper than the average across the board. So far, Apple are claiming a 3.34% conversion from impression to install and a 50% to 80% click to install average. There could be plenty of reasons for this…

Benefits and implications

The freshness of the platform means that there may be lower competition at this stage, so we recommend getting in there early. Because it is a new ad format, users could be more intrigued to click through the ad, and potentially sky rocket the conversion rate.

The platform’s CPI cost has been trending upwards at an average of 25% week over week since the launch of Apple Search Ads in the US. As their global outreach grows and becomes more saturated, we are interested to see what effect will this have on costs for other regions. Especially as we have been aware of the platform for the past few months, anticipating its launch.

Furthermore, intrigue regarding the new ad format could be ephemeral. Like other platforms, App Store users could become prone to banner blindness. Users could subconsciously start to block out the ad in the results in their App Store search once the novelty has worn off. Google AdWords, a platform with an algorithm that is highly sophisticated, offering organic results that are generally the most relevant to the search, has seen the implications of banner blindness. Will Apple Search Ads be destined to a similar fate? Only time will tell…

Want to know more?

Do you want more information of Apple Search Ads as part of your mobile marketing strategy? Make sure to get into contact for more information.

Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #mobilemarketingUK LinkedIn group