Apple Search AdsJuly 12, 2022

Apple Search Ads Campaign and Keywords types

A key recommendation for boosting the success of your Apple Search Ads Advanced campaign is separating your campaign into four clear streams and utilizing the keyword types for each of these as set out by Apple.  

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Creating four uniquely themed campaigns will help you enhance your ads’ performance and enable you to reach audiences in different ways, giving your ads broader scope and greater opportunity to target specific users.

So,  starting at the beginning, what are the four campaign types you can use for your Apple Search Ads Advanced?

Types of Apple Search Ads Campaigns

Apple Search Ads Brand Campaign

As the name suggests, Brand Campaigns focus specifically on your app or company name. This means that your app will appear for customers searching for this directly. Moreover, this campaign type is often used for brand protection. In other words, other competitors can bid on your app name to get first place in search results. Therefore, brand campaigns allow you to focus on winning your brand name in search results.

Apple Search Ads Category Campaign

A Category Campaign, also known as a Generic campaign, uses non-branded keywords to help your ad appear when customers search for what your app does or the category it is in, for example, fitness. When putting keywords in place for this, they’ll need to highlight what it is your app does, so you can reach a broader audience of people interested in using this type of app. 

Apple Search Ads Competitor Campaign

A Competitor Campaign will help people find you when they’re searching for your direct competitors and apps similar to yours. For this, you’ll need to make sure the keywords include the names and name variations of your competitors.

Apple Search Ads Discovery Campaign

Unlike the above three campaign types, Discovery Campaigns will help you find new or alternative keywords that you’re not already utilizing as well as help you reach a wider audience.

Within Discovery Campaigns, you can split your ad into two groups: Broad Match and Search Match which we’ll go over in the next section.

Keywords types for Apple Search Ads

Keywords are an essential component for the success of your campaign. Using keywords effectively can make your app more discoverable and boost growth so understanding the different types and how to use them is a must!

As highlighted above, separating your campaign into four different types (Brand, Category, Competitor and Discovery) will give you the opportunity to diversify your search results and the audiences your reach.

Within these four campaign types, you can use different keyword match types to help you utilize the keywords that you know will work well for your campaign, as well as discover new ones that can target new, potential customers. Let’s look into these in a bit more detail.

Exact Match

Exact Match gives you complete control so you can place bids on specific keywords as set out by you, helping your ad appear when that keyword is searched for. Knowing your audience well and their most searched for keywords will mean you can target them more effectively when using these in your Brand, Category and Competitor campaign types.

Broad Match

With Broad Match, your ad can also appear in searches for similar keywords, including plurals or misspelled variations of your keyword choices, as well as synonyms. This can help you catch a larger audience and also be a great time-saver so you’re not having to put all of your effort into researching the variants of your keywords yourself. Unlike Exact Match, Broad Match is used within Discovery Campaigns, empowering you to learn more about what works best for your app’s searchability.

Here are examples of match types used with the search term “photo edit free”, Exact match and broad match applicable:

  • Words in order: photo edit free
  • Close variants: photo editor free, photo edit free (might not work in some languages)

Search Match

Search Match is another additional feature that can be utilized within Discovery Campaigns to help you find new keywords. To use this, you don’t need to identify keywords, you just need to turn on the Search Match function and Apple Search Ads will generate suggested relevant keywords. 

Remember: turn Search Match off for all other campaigns, as in some cases it is on by default.

The insights you gain from the Discovery Campaign will allow you to add new keywords to the Brand, Category and Competitor Campaigns as exact matches to improve performance and redistribute your bids.

Here are examples of match types used with the search term “photo edit free”, Broad match applicable only:

  • Not in order: edit photo free
  • Partial words: photo edit, edit free
  • Other words: photo edit collage free, free crop photo edit
  • Synonyms/ related words: picture edit, picture edit text.

Apple Search Ads ad groups

Next, let’s look into Ad Groups.

Each campaign needs to have an Ad Group to work, but you can use more than one for each campaign. This will include information on demographics, scheduling and budgeting, and you can choose different variations for each option. For example, you can run a Brand Campaign with the demographic set to reach audiences in different locations or age ranges, adjust the bids for each of these accordingly, and diversify keywords.

This can be a great way to help identify which ad groups work well within your campaign and is the most effective in terms of overall performance and spend, so you can adapt and update your campaigns based on what is working well.

Interesting fact: According to App Figures, 60% of the top highest-earning apps use Apple Search Ads, and it’s one of the best channels to acquire high-quality users. Free SplitMetrics Acquire Starter Plan allows you to harness the full potential of this channel. Sign up now and automate bid adjustments, optimize your campaigns for the conversions that are most relevant to your business, leverage detailed tutorials and guides, and much more.

Tips & tricks for Apple Search Ads

There are a few more tips and additional functions that can help you on the road to success when launching your Apple Search Ads campaign. Let’s go over what they are and what you need to do to set them up.


If you’re looking to make seasonal promotions, showcase events or other time-specific marketing activities, scheduling your campaign means you can strategically align your ads alongside these. By setting start and end dates, your campaign (including ad groups and ads) will run within this specific timeframe, giving you more control over spend and enhancing relevancy.

You can also set start and end dates at an ad group level, however these cannot start and end before or after the overall campaigns dates.

To schedule your campaign, head to the Campaigns dashboard and choose the campaign you want to edit. On the settings page, hit the Start and End date link and set up pick out the dates you want on the calendar, then save.

Pause and Remove Campaigns

If you’re wanting to temporarily pause any active ads, you can do this by selecting the checkboxes next to the campaign in the Campaigns Dashboard.

You can also permanently remove ads from running, if you feel they are not impactful, cost effective, or meeting intended goals. To do this, go into the Campaigns Dashboard, select the campaigns you want to remove and select ‘remove’ from the Actions menu.

Although historical reporting data will still be available, once the campaign has been removed, it cannot be restored.

Duplicate Campaigns

Lastly, to help you save time when setting up new ads, Apple Search Ads Advanced lets you duplicate existing campaigns so you can run these against new audiences or markets.

To create a duplicate, go into the Campaigns dashboard and choose the campaign you want to copy, then select ‘Duplicate’ from the Actions menu. You’ll then be given various options where you can create a new campaign name, change the countries and regions, and amend the budget accordingly.

You can then go through the same steps as above to adapt your ad groups, keywords and scheduling.

Best practices for structuring Apple Search Ads campaigns

So, now we’ve gone through the different campaign and keyword types, we can now go over everything we’ve learnt and take a look at a successful Apple Search Ads campaign structure.

The first step is to create your four campaign types: Brand, Category, Competitors and Discovery. Having all four in place will give your ads greater variety and diversity, making your campaign more impactful and analysing results easier.

Remember: this is the recommended campaign structure, but depending on your budget and available resources, you might need to go with a simpler structure for your ads campaign.

Next, you’ll want to set up your Ad Groups for each of these campaigns (excluding Discovery), including setting up multiple ad groups per each campaign. These can be split into different distinct demographics and have varying budgets as outlined above.

Once your Ad Groups are set, you can then move on to keywords. As previously highlighted, Exact keywords are recommended to be used for Brand, Category and Competitor campaign types, then Broad and Search Match for Discovery.

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Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure.


To maximize the success of your Apple Search Ads campaign, setting an effective structure, strategically choosing ad groups, and selecting relevant keywords are all essential elements.

The insights you gain from Discovery campaigns and the performance of your chosen ad groups can help inform future actions and highlight where adaptations can be made going forward for long-term success and continued audience engagement.

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