Apple Search Ads Advanced is a powerful tool for app marketers and developers to promote their apps. Advanced campaigns provide the ability to create campaigns with target keywords, cost-per-tap bidding, audience refinements, and overall control of the app ads strategy.  

Let's dive deeper into Apple Search Ads Advanced campaigns and uncover all the hidden parts of setting up these powerful campaigns. 

What is Apple Search Ads Advanced

Apple Search Ads Advanced is aimed to extend the possibility to control and optimize your app promotion on the Apple App Store. In other words, you can set up a detailed campaign and optimize it anytime. 

Apple Search Ads Advanced gives you the possibility to promote your app in:

  • Search results, which appear at the top of relevant search results, or
  • Search tab, which is a suggested apps list on the Search tab.
apple search ads campaigns
Apple Search Ads campaigns. Source: Apple Developer.

It is also important to highlight that Apple Ads Advanced is running on the cost-per-tap (CPT) model. In other words, you pay each time someone tabs/ clicks on your ad. However, there is still a limited option to set cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals at the ad group level in the search results campaigns. 

With great controlling power of your campaigns comes great responsibility and more effort. That's why you need to be patient when it comes to achieving great results with Advanced campaigns, as it takes time and knowledge to run a successful campaign.  

What are the benefits of Apple Search Ads Advanced

Unlike Basic campaigns, here you have full control of your campaign. Moreover, you can set up: 

  • Ad groups
  • Keywords
  • Targeting
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • Custom Reporting

One of the biggest advantages of Apple Ads Advanced campaigns is the possibility to bid on keywords. Apple offers three different ways to bid on keywords: 

  • Exact match - matches only the specific search term or close variants
  • Broad match - matches your keywords to the widest pool of related search terms 
  • Negative keywords - ensure that your app won't appear for certain search terms.  
Exact matchBroad matchNegative keywords
Only to the specific search term or close variants

It may have fewer impressions than a broad match

The conversion rate may be higher due to the increased relevancy and focu
The widest pool of related search terms

It may appear on plurals, misspellings, synonyms, and related searches

Can save you time on building keyword lists

Your ad may appear against  less relevant searches

Your reach is higher but you lose come control
Ads won’t get displayed for certain search terms

Helps filter out unwanted search traffic

Control your costs and improve efficiency

Avoid overspending
Overview of Apple Search Ads keywords.

There is one more automatic possibility available for keywords bidding - search match. Basically, you don’t need to input any keywords, Apple’s algorithm will pick up the relevant keywords There is one more automatic possibility available for keyword bidding - search match. You don't need to input any keywords; Apple's algorithm will pick the relevant keywords from your app store listing and match them with the relevant user's search queries. In other words, the system will automatically consider the following points to find relevant keywords for your campaign:

  • Metadata from your App Store listing
  • Information about similar apps in your category
  • Other search data that may be relevant for your app

Although you are not controlling keywords with this option, it might be possible to let Apple algorithms help you discover new keywords, especially in foreign markets. 

How to structure Apple Search Ads Advanced campaigns

As mentioned before, with Apple Ads Advanced campaigns, you have much more possibility to structure your campaigns. The first step in structuring campaigns is to match your campaign type with different keyword themes or strategies. This structuring can impact the performance of your ads. Therefore, Apple recommends starting with the following campaign types: 

  • Brand campaign - focuses on keywords related to your app's specific brand. 
  • Category campaign - focuses on non-brand keywords that describe your app's category and what your app does. This type of campaign is also known as a Generic campaign
  • Competitor campaign - focuses on competitor keywords, where your app is in the same or a related category.
  • Discovery campaign - helps uncover search trends, news, and relevant keywords you aren't already bidding on. 

Moving further, you can create related ad groups within each campaign. Each ad group can focus on specific criteria (split per region, topic, importance, etc.). 

Depending on the campaign type, you can also target different keywords. However, Apple suggests the following matches:

  • Brand campaign - exact match keywords;
  • Category campaign - exact match keywords;
  • Competitor campaign - exact match keywords;
  • Discovery campaign - broad and search match, adding keywords from Brand, Category, and Competitor campaigns as negative keywords.
setting up apple search ads advanced campaign.
Setting up Apple Search Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Apple Search Ads Certification. 

In the end, one of the ideal Apple Search Ads Advanced structures might look like the one presented below. However, keep in mind a solid budget for such campaigns. If you are on a tight budget, consider all the abovementioned nuances and use a simpler structure. 

campaign structure
Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure.

How to set up Apple Search Ads Advanced

Start your campaign setting by login into your Apple Search Ads Advanced account and creating a new campaign. Choose the app you would like to promote by typing the app name, app ID, or inserting the app's URL. As a next step, you need to choose where you would like your app to be shown:

  • Search Results - your app will be shown at the top of the results when users search for relevant apps to download.
  • Search Tab - ad will appear at the top of the suggested apps list when users visit the Search tab. 
campaign settings 1
Creating Apple Search Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advances.

Let's say you choose to run your ads on Search Results. Your next decision should go around the location where you would like your ads to appear. Find a country or region that fits your campaign goals, and choose it from the drop-down list. Remember that by choosing 'all countries and regions,' you might have a bigger reach but smaller conversion because your ads are not localized to all locals. 

Expert tip: countries where your app already has a solid organic performance can be a good starting point for Apple Search Ads. You appear already more relevant to the algorithm due to established keyword rankings.

campaign settings 2
Choosing country or region for Apple Search Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advances.

As a next step, name your campaign and decide on the daily budget for your campaign. Keep in mind that you control the monthly spending via a daily budget. In other words, you indicate the average amount you are willing to spend on your campaign per day during a month.

campaign settings 3
Setting up a daily budget for Apple Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advances.

As a next step in setting up your campaign, you will need to create an ad group that contains bids and settings that determine who may see your campaign. Start with naming an ad group and providing the system with your maximum cost-per-tab (CPT) bid or set a CPA goal. 

Ad group settings
Ad group settings. Source: Search Ads Advances.

As a next step, you need to provide the keywords you would like to target. You have a couple of options here:

  • Enable Search Match, which will automatically extract the keywords from your app store listing and match your ad to relevant search queries. 
  •  Add your researched keywords manually and decide on the match type.

You can do your keyword and competitor research efficiently using App Radar tool.   

campaign settings 4
Setting up keywords in Apple Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advances.

After the keywords setting, you can decide if you would like that your ads appear to all eligible users, or you can modify your audience targeting by the following criteria:

  • Devices - iPad and iPhone;
  • Customer types - all users, new users;
  • Demographics - genders, and ages;
  • Locations - choose between all locations or add a specific city or state;
  • Ad scheduling - a time when your ads will be shown.

The more specific you are with your audience targeting, your chances of reaching the desired audience increase. However, if you would like to reach a broader audience, don't be so tough with narrowing down your settings here.  

Expert tip: don't narrow too much your targeting settings, rather go broad.

audience setting in apple search ads
Setting up a target audience in Apple Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advances.

The last step in setting up Apple Ads Advanced campaign for Search Results would be providing creative assets.  Here you can two possibilities:

  • Default creative set - Apple will automatically extract creative assets from your product page (app store listing).
  • Custom - you can link your customer product pages from Apple Store Connect, and the system will take users to that page when they tap the ad. 

Depending on your campaign goals and general resources, you can choose one of these options. There is no win or lose choices, however, consider that with custom product pages you can test different creative assets and find the best fit for your general audience. As a result of this testing, you can update your app store listing creatives with well-performed creatives and increase your organic downloads.

ad creative settings
Ad creatives in Apple Search Ads Advanced campaign. Source: Search Ads Advanced.

Once you are done with all the above steps, you will need to click on creating a campaign and put it live. Be aware that the algorithm will need some time to adjust your settings and find the best fit for displaying your ads. However, check your campaign performance regularly and optimize settings if you don't see desired results. The more you analyze running campaigns, the faster you can adjust settings or creatives to improve the results. Especially pay attention to keywords' performance as bids optimization plays a big role in campaign optimization. 

Summary: Doest it worth going with Apple Search Ads Advanced?

Undoubtedly, Apple Ads Advanced is a powerful tool to promote your app. It allows you to have full control of targeting and optimization of layered campaigns. Its transparent way of managing campaigns leads to fascinating results.

At the same time, let's face that Apple Ads Advanced campaigns could have disappointing results if the settings are not correct. In other words, setting the campaign, researching keywords, conducting competitor research, and optimizing creative assets requires time and experience. You can minimize your time and efforts with keyword research using AI-based tools like App Radar.  

In the end, you always need to keep an eye on the campaign performance to optimize it in time and don't waste your budget. Also, remember that the Apple algorithm needs some time to adjust your campaign and find the fit with your settings. So, be patient and curious, and you will achieve desired results with Apple Search Ads Advanced campaigns. 

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