FAQ: What are Apple Search Ads?

Chen Shifer

What are Apple Search Ads?

Apple’s Search Ads is way of giving app publishers paid access to the top spot in app store search results. Apple Search Ads are similar to Google Play AdWords ads for search. The ad appears on the top/top left on the App Store search result pages with a blue-tinted background.
Apple’s iTunes app store search advertising is one of the most overlooked user acquisition channels for iOS apps. With initial evidence of lower CPIs, higher user retention rates and install rates with Apple search ads, if you’re looking to advertise to iOS users you simply cannot ignore this new but powerful tool.

What are Apple Search Ads


How does it work?

By default, Apple Search Ads let you automate keyword matching with Search Match. Search Match uses your app metadata, info from other apps in the category as well as other search data to determine which search phrases will trigger your ad to appear alongside organic search results. According to Apple, “The combination of your app’s relevance to the search query and the amount of your bid will determine whether your ad will be the one shown.”

For advanced users, Apple offers customization of targeting variables (demographics, location, device type and app install status on the user’s device), manual keyword selection and ad scheduling. So for example, you can aim the campaign at users matching specific criteria that are located within a certain distance of your business. You can even ensure the ad appears only during business hours, if you so desire.

Who is it for?

Currently, Apple Search Ads is available for targeting of English speakers in the U.S. Unlike iAd, this advertising platform is available to all iOS app developers and publishers.

Search Ads

Why should I be using it?

Between 65 and 80 percent of all app installs originate from the app store search. This makes search ads a a particularly effective channel for the acquisition of loyal and engaged users. According to AppsFlyer, Apple Search Ads generate an average of 6 in-app actions per install – the fourth highest ratio among top media sources.

How should I be using it?

Since the app search ads use the metadata from your app listing, for the best performance you should invest heavily in ASO tactics for your app name, description and visual components of the app page. You can (and should) use campaign negative keywords to prevent your ad appearing for irrelevant phrases.

It’s important to note that Apple Search Ads are the only way to appear before organic results for a competitor brand name. For example, if a shopping app chooses to target the phrase “Amazon” in search ads, its ad will appear before Amazon’s app in organic search results for the brand name. This is especially helpful to new brands and apps trying to get attention in a crowded category.


3 thoughts on "FAQ: What are Apple Search Ads?"

    • Hey Mohsin,

      You can’t at the moment but the rumor is that they plan to roll out additional geographies by end of year, so hopefully soon you will!

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