Apple's Bringing Search Ads to the App Store | Rank Media

Apple’s Bringing Search Ads to the App Store

By: Rank Media
Apple's Bringing Search Ads to the App Store

Anxious to get your new mobile app downloaded by users across the world? Need to add fuel to your current mobile marketing campaigns? Well, if you’re targeting iOS devices, you’re in luck: Apple has announced that it will be bringing search ads to the App Store this fall.

Brace Yourself: Search Ads Are Coming to the App Store
Don’t let the meme fool you: I’m sure Sean Bean is as excited about this update as I am.

This update was a long time coming. With the evolution of the digital landscape in recent years, the advertising space for mobile applications has increased at a rapid rate. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have opened up their advertising platforms to give mobile developers the opportunity to market their apps to specific target audiences. Of course, it’s not surprising it took this long for Apple to enter the game: the company would rather be an innovator than a follower within any field, but it was time for them to bring marketing capabilities beyond simple app store optimization (ASO) for developers and agencies alike.

That said, let’s take a quick look at some of the preliminary features that will be available for advertisers.

Targeting Options for Search Ads

Unfortunately, it seems like the targeting options will be rather limited during the early stages. While marketing professionals can target users based on a wealth of data on some of the aforementioned platforms in the mobile app space, advertisers will only be able to target users based on following segments:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Device
  • Operating System

Additionally, end users will not see ads that they have already downloaded by default, which will limit unnecessary impressions for advertisers. Of course, if you want to re-engage existing users, you will be able to select that particular audience targeting option within the campaign setup. Targeting existing users can prove to be an efficacious tactic to boost engagement within the app and subsequently increase the customer lifetime value for ecommerce/transactional businesses.

Budgeting & Bidding

At the most basic level, Apple will not require any minimum spends or commitment level, adopting a self-serve model that the other advertising giants have employed. It’s refreshing to see more companies adopting this model and makes one wonder when Snapchat will follow suit, but alas, that’s for another discussion.

With regards to the pricing model, the bidding auctions will be based on a cost-per-tap model, where advertisers will be able to state the max they are willing to pay. In other words, this is similar to the traditional cost-per-click bidding model available in other advertising platforms. For the more daring advertisers, Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bidding will be available, which can help businesses maximize the amount of downloads for applications.

Ad Optimization & Campaign Management

Apple Search Ads Platform
It’s so sleek & shiny! Yours truly cannot wait to dive into search ads.

For all you split-testing gurus & advertisers looking to test different calls to action….I’ve got bad news for you: Apple will take control of creatives, automatically developing ads based on the title, description, and imagery provided to the app store. Luckily, ad scheduling seems to be available within the platform, so you can strategically set the hours/days for which you want your ads to be served. However, the lack of control over creatives will most likely lead to frustrated advertisers that want to push different calls to action within ads compared to organic search.

Regarding matching ads to search queries, Apple has stated that they will only serve ads that are pertinent to the search terms being used. While that is quite an ambiguous statement, it does seem like advertisers will be able to select which keywords are pertinent to their application, similar to keyword targeting in Twitter Advertising. However, that will serve more as an indicator of what to target rather than specific keyword targeting, which will make the platform different from search advertising platforms like Google AdWords & Bing Ads. The “Search Match” feature will serve ads automatically based on the keywords users are searching, which doesn’t seem all that great from an optimization standpoint.

Ad Privacy & Transparency

Apple is always motivated to optimize the user experience as much as possible, which is why all of the following has been adopted within the new search ads platform:

  • User Safe Content: only content that has been approved for the app store will be shown within Search Ads. So for the advertisers looking to bypass Apple’s stringent filter for illicit applications, you won’t find luck here.
  • No User Tracking: it seems like data from other Apple apps will be used to target users. Additionally, Apple will not profile users based on search queries.
  • No Data Sharing: Apple will ensure that individual user data is not shared with advertisers, only making aggregate campaign data available.
  • Optimized User Experience: not only will Apple limit that amount of ads shown for each search query to one, the ads themselves will have a light blue background.

Conclusion Regarding Search Ads & Mobile Marketing

Apple Store Search Ads
TL;DR version of this post.

As stated previously, it’s about time Apple decided to jump into the search advertising game. There is a huge opportunity for the technology giant to monetize the amount of traffic that goes to the App Store every day. For advertisers, this presents a whole new opportunity to market apps within the iOS environment. 2016 seems to be a watershed year with regards to mobile marketing capabilities due to the recent announcement from both Apple and Google (in case you missed it – Google’s latest updates regarding AdWords indicate a mobile-first push). Not only that, but social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are giving businesses more opportunities than ever to capture and engage users via mobile devices. Now that developers and advertisers alike are equipped with an arsenal of advertising platforms, expect to see more ads relating to app downloads and app engagement everywhere you go.