Apple Search AdsJuly 12, 2022

What is Apple Search Ads Basic?

If you’re looking to grow the visibility and user base of your iOS app, Apple Search Ads is a key advertising channel that’s going to help you meet your goals and boost your organic listing in a simple and effective way. 

apple search ads basic

Apple Search Ads is split into two streams: Basic and Advanced. Here we’ll go through Apple Search Ads Basic and what you need to know before getting started.

What is Apple Search Ads Basic

Like Advanced ads, Basic campaigns run directly through the app store and provide a simple route to reach your audience. With Basic campaigns, Apple will do most of the work for you and will only require a few key elements to get started:

  • Campaign goal – this includes the countries and the regions where you want your ads to appear
  • Campaign budget – you set your own campaign budget which can run up to $10,000 per app. You also choose the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for an install (CPI)

Once these have been set, Apple will take care of the rest.

basic ads created automatically

Advantages of Apple Search Ads Basic

As highlighted above, one of the top advantages of Apple Basic ads is the minimal management time required in running the campaign thanks to Apple’s auto-optimization. For those who have tight time constraints or limited resources to invest in the ongoing management, the Basic option can keep your campaign ticking along without you needing to worry about defining keywords or managing the audience targeting.

With Basic, you also have the ability to promote up to 50 apps at a time and can access a quick-view dashboard that lets you check the ad’s ongoing performance.

apple searhc ads basic dashboard

Disadvantages of Apple Search Ads Basic

While the auto-optimization provided with the Basic option frees up time and resources on campaign management, this also means that you have limited control over optimization decisions. As a result, you are also left with no information on how these decisions were made by Apple and so aren’t able to manage keywords or targeting. This could put you at risk of potentially missing out on valuable users and bids.

How to set up Apple Search Ads Basic

As mentioned before, Apple Search Ads Basic doesn’t require a lot of settings, as Apple will automate the campaign by itself. Nevertheless, app marketers still need to do some basic setup of campaigns. Let’s go through each step.

  1. To start setting up Apple Search Ads Basic campaign, go to the Search Ads Basic page and click ‘Start Now’. 
  2. Once you're logged in to your account, create a new campaign.
  3. You will need to type the name of your app and select it from the drop-down menu under the field ‘Choose an app’
  4. The next step is to select eligible countries or regions for displaying your Apple Ads. Here you have 2 options: either to promote an app in all regions or you can manually select a location. Keep in mind that by allowing your ads to run in all regions, Apple might show your ads in the regions where your app is not localized yet. Check out the list of all available countries and regions for Apple Search Ads.  
  5. Going further, you will need to provide Apple Search Basic your planned monthly budget. Remember, that your monthly budget can be a maximum $10,000 per app.
  6. Finalize your setup by providing Apple with your maximum cost-per-install (CPI). As you already know, Apple Basic campaigns operate only on a CPI model, meaning you will only pay for the installs you receive. 
  7. You can already see the example of the ad on the right side of the setting window. The next steps will be to save your data and enter your billing information on the next page. Once you’re ready, Apple will start running the campaign and continuously optimize as their algorithm sees fit.
apple search ads basic interface 754x470 1

As you can see, setting up Apple Ads Basic requires minimal effort on your part.

How to track the performance of Apple Search Ads Basic

With Apple Search Ads Basic, you’ll have access to a quick-view dashboard that will provide you with key metrics for you to track ongoing performance. You’ll be given an overview of the current month (or have the option to look at the last three calendar months) so you have oversight of the status of your app promotions and how the budget is being spent.

This data will be broken down into:

  • Total number of installs and redownloads
  •  Average CPI
  • Maximum CPI
  • Monthly budget and spend
  • Status of app promotions (running, paused or on-hold)

Screenshot of the dashboard

The dashboard also provides you with the capability to download your data and give you the results of the countries and regions you selected when you set up the campaign.

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How to improve Apple Search Ads Basic

Although Apple Search Ads Basic gives little control over ad optimization, there are steps that can be taken to improve performance if you’re not getting the results you want.

Adjust your metadata and assets

As Apple Search Ads will use your app store metadata and creatives to place your ad in relation to specific searches, you want to make sure that this represents your app in the best and most accurate way to boost the relevance of your ad placements. This includes:

  • App title
  • App subtitle
  • App description
  • Keywords
  • Preview videos
  • Screenshots

This data will be key in driving the auto-optimization, so it should be fully reflective of your app. If your ad isn’t performing as expected, consider adjustment and test changes to see how this impacts future performance.

Raise your CPI

You can increase the chances of your ad being shown by raising your maximum CPI. The dashboard will provide a suggested amount to help you choose a figure that’s right for you.

Review your selected countries and regions

Another way to boost performance is to run your promotion in more, or all, the countries where your app can be downloaded. This will naturally help you reach a wider audience but may also require you to increase your budget.

Check your business model

Lastly, if you’re still having trouble securing your intended performance, review your existing business model and check you have the right one for your app.


Utilizing Apple Search Ads Basic can be an excellent tool in competing with the mountain of apps out there and making yours more discoverable. The Basic option provides some great features with minimal time investment but with that also comes limitations which you may find frustrates your overall performance. If you feel like you want to increase your capabilities and control over your campaign, you can also consider switching to Apple Search Ads Advanced for additional tools and intelligence.

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