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Apple Starts Selling App Store Search Ads

App Store Search Ads are here to stay. Apple launched the initiative on October 5, and already the ads can be found leading search results for thousands of high-volume search terms. But will the proliferation of ads really make your app easier to find?

App Store Optimization is more essential than ever in the age of ads. Whether you’re planning on taking out ads that target high-volume keywords or simply hoping to launch your app to the number one spot and remain visible in search results for the terms that matter, your approach will depend on a good ASO strategy.

To best utilize the new Search Ads, it’s essential to first take a deep dive into your keyword portfolio.

As you look at App Store ads, start with where your app currently ranks. What is the most recent metadata – title, keywords, and description – that you’ve submitted to Apple? What words and phrases do you rank for, and how many people are searching for those terms? You should also check to see how your keyword rankings have fluctuated over the last several months. A successful app can rank for thousands of keywords, so it may be helpful to use software during this process to better determine where your app lies.

Once you have an understanding of your app’s rankings, it will become clearer whether or not proceeding with a Search Ad would be of benefit to you. Search Ads come in multiple sizes; some display only a title and icon, while others are larger and feature screenshots. Even when a large ad takes up the top slot, the top-ranking app will still be visible beneath it. In other words, if your app ranks first for any word or phrase, it will still be visible to users in search results without need for scrolling. Taking out a Search Ad for that term would be redundant.

Apps World Evolution banner

As you decide which words or terms to target, keep in mind that App Store Search Ads make use of the same keywords that Apple uses to build your search rankings, and Apple uses a similar methodology when determining whether your app is relevant for the keywords you target in your ad. In other words, targeting the term “racing game” for your strategy war title would be fruitless.

On the other hand, if you are already ranking decently for a term, Apple will be more likely to find you relevant and you will be more likely to have success with your campaign. Thus, Search Ads can be a good way to take keywords that your app is doing moderately well for, and boost it quickly to the top.

Taking this into account, you can optimize your app to better utilize Search Ads just like you can optimize it for increased organic discovery. Like you would with a normal optimization, focus on highly-searched words and phrases that are relevant to your app. Track your rankings to see which terms your app loses and gains ranking for over time, and also make note of any relevant trends that may serve to boost your app in the future.

In order to target new terms in a Search Ad, you must first prove your app relevant for them. This is done in the process of a traditional optimization already; simply make your case through your title, keyword bank, and description, and you will be free to target a whole new set of relevant words and phrases.

Search Ads can be a great boon to your app if you know how to optimize for them. Just like with a standard optimization, Apple must determine your app to be relevant for a word in order for you to truly succeed targeting it. The methods of building relevancy remain largely unchanged, making ASO a great tool in your arsenal as you begin creating ads of your own.

By Dave Bell,

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

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