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The Most Forgotten PPC Announcement of 2016: Apple Search Ads


Paid Search / December 21, 2016

Tis the season for the deluge of “year in review” blog posts. A lot of them have been listing the “biggest PPC announcements” in 2016 and I can’t help but think that they’re all missing one huge announcement and release this year.

Now it’s not to say that not having right-side ads or the introduction of expanded text ads or better audience targeting are big, it’s just that we all know! We already know that the new AdWords interface is coming, and we once again have greater freedom on device-level bidding or that there’s an AdWords iPhone app.

So here we declare: the most forgotten and underrated PPC announcement of 2016 is the public release of Apple Search Ads.

What are Apple Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads appear in the iTunes App Store. Specifically, they appear at the top/top left on the App Store search result pages with a blue background.

Apple Search Ads

Most people don’t think of iTunes or the App Store as a search engine but unsurprisingly it hosts a huge amount of daily searches, especially searches for apps.

Less than 2 years ago, Google introduced a new feature to promote apps on Google Play, and in May this year they announced the introduction of Universal App Campaigns, a centralize campaign type for promoting apps across Google Play, Search, YouTube and other partner networks. But up until recently, there had been no way to buy ads directly on the Apple (iTunes) App Store.

Apple’s October launch of Search Ads is a tremendously important update for app publishers and marketers alike. To think, 65-80 percent of all app installs happen after a search on either the App Store or Google Play.

So How Does it Work?

Apple Search Ads work in a similar fashion to Universal App Campaigns on AdWords. You can create campaigns targeting keywords relevant to the app or you can automate targeting by doing something called Search Match. This is where Apple will use the metadata from the App Store listing, information about similar apps in the same genre, and other search data to display your ad.

The ad that is displayed is the same as the App Store description of your app, so you need to pay special attention to what images are displayed and what your app description says.

Language and geographic targeting are restricted to English and the United States right now but Apple is planning on expanding globally.

Does it Work?

From our initial testing: yes.

Final Words

There are a lot of quirks to Apple’s ad platform and it’s missing a lot of features that advertisers familiar with Facebook or AdWords are used to, so the simple platform can come across as limiting. Apple is aware of this and they have said that they are working on enhancing the platform, we all just need to appreciate that it has only been public for 11 weeks now.

So while Apple still has a long way to go to offer similar features as Facebook or Google, this is a welcome addition for app publishers and marketers promoting their apps on the App Store.


Hope this helps!

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