What search marketer doesn’t love having a new ad platform to test?

For mobile app marketers, Apple’s opening up of App Store ads in October was an eagerly awaited gift. As with most new platforms, there are definitely a few kinks in the system. But getting on board early means you can take advantage of cheap CPTs (that’s cost-per-tap) with reduced competition.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far about advertising in the App Store.

The Basics

You don’t have to create any ads.

Apple will automatically create ads based on the metadata and imagery you’ve already provided in your App Store listing. While this definitely saves time, it also means you can’t customize your ads to match your keywords. To keep things simple, we recommend putting all keywords with the same match type into a single ad group.

No Broad Match Modified match types here.

You have two choices: exact and broad. Broad match will help you cast a wider net by matching to relevant terms. Like in other platforms, you’ll want to keep a close eye on which search terms your ads actually show on. If you see irrelevant queries, add them as negative keywords.

Also, you can’t change the match type for a keyword once it’s been added to your campaign, so make sure to select the correct one.

Run ads without keywords with Search Match.

Apple makes advertising one step easier by automatically matching your ads to relevant searches. All you have to do is enable Search Match and set your CPT bid to get your campaign up and running.

We’ve seen great performance from our Search Match-only campaigns and definitely recommend testing it out. Just make sure to uncheck this option in campaigns where you have keywords so you can determine which keywords your search terms are matching to.

Campaign Management

Campaigns are required to have lifetime budgets.

What this means is that you need to keep tabs on lifetime spend for each campaign so you don’t run into the dreaded “Budget exhausted” message. We recommend increasing campaign budgets at the beginning of the month by how much you expect to spend in each campaign.

Start or stop campaigns with caution.

Imagine this scenario: Your campaigns are spending hundreds of dollars of day and you’re seeing great CPAs. At the end of the month, you’re nearing your allocated budget, so you reduce spend or even pause a few campaigns. When the new month begins, you re-enable all your campaigns, only to find that your campaigns are struggling to spend $100 in one day.

We’ve seen this happen in multiple accounts, and even our Apple reps don’t know why exactly this happens. You can combat this by increasing budgets or bids, but be prepared for a ramp-up period.

Choose which devices you want to target: iPad, iPhone or both.

This is actually an ad group setting but a quite useful one if you value iPad and iPhone installs differently. By separating devices into different ad groups, you can control how much you want to bid.

Bidding Strategies

You need to bid on your own brand terms.

With only one ad position available on both iPhones and iPads, that’s prime real estate that you need to own. If you’re not bidding on your own brand terms in exact match, you run the risk of losing precious traffic to your competitors. We recommend setting high brand bids to make sure you are capturing all brand searches.

The only way to determine how much competition you’re facing is CPT. Keep an eye out for any sudden CPT increases and adjust your bids accordingly.

Determining the optimal CPT bid is tricky, but you should probably start at $2.

One Apple rep we spoke to advised starting new keywords out at a minimum $2 CPT bid. Remember, you most likely will pay less than your max bid, so don’t be afraid to bid higher than what you expect to actually pay.

Even with what may seem like high bids, it’s still common to see 0 impressions for some keywords. In this case, you’ll want to steadily increase bids until you start to see impressions. At any point, spend could skyrocket for a single keyword.

 

Finally, through March 31, Apple is offering a $100 promotion credit when you sign up for Search Ads. Get started and let us know what you think of the new App Store ads!

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Ashley Mo
Ashley Mo is a digital marketer who's always looking for new ways to engage other people. Ashley graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Economics and Psychology, along with a passion for understanding how people think. In her spare time, Ashley enjoys exploring new trails, learning to bake new treats, and ballroom dancing at the local club.