The recent launch of Apple’s Search Ads out of Beta

Partner Post - Gummicube Big Data Analytics for Mobile & ASO

Posted: November 16, 2016

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.

The App Store’s massive catalogue of apps has always been both a boon and a crutch for Apple, with discovery a major issue for many developers. App Store Optimization aims to address that issue, but Apple recently introduced a new wrinkle in the form of Search Ads. Now many developers are wondering the same thing – How will Search Ads impact the App Store ecosystem?

App Store Search Ads launched from beta on October 5, and immediately the advertisements began to appear in search results for the most popular, highly-searched queries. While Apple offers multiple layouts for Search Ads, they all feature the app’s title, icon and developer prominently, taking up room at the top of the search results and pushing the first organic result towards the bottom of the screen.

Even with Search Ads taking up screen space, achieving high rankings for popular search terms remains a crucial for optimizing your app to reach a larger audience. After all, the top-ranking organic result still appears on the first page of search results, and with thousands of users searching, having an app in the top 10 will still put you in front of many new eyes. That means you’ll still want to focus on inserting highly-searched keywords into your app’s title and keyword bank, and you’ll need to continue building relevance for those terms through your app description.

ASO strategies like these aren’t just crucial for maintaining your rankings, though. They’re also the key to maximizing your app’s potential with Search Ads. To better understand how a solid ASO strategy can benefit you with Search Ads, first examine how Apple sells and curates their ads.

Like many keyword-based ad platforms, Search Ads operate on an auction system. Users bid on which keywords and phrases they would like to target, with the winners getting prime position at the top of search results. Unlike some other ad platforms, however, Apple’s Search Ads emphasize the relevance of your app over the size of your wallet. You won’t be able to target “cheap flights” if your app is a soccer game, just as you wouldn’t be able to target “soccer” if you were marketing a travel app.

Even within these restrictions, there is some wiggle room. Continuing the example above, what if you wanted to target the term “football” for your soccer game? Given the overlap of sports fans who likely search that term, you may benefit from wider reach. However, you may also have to compete with American Football apps targeting the same term. How do you ensure that your app is seen as the most relevant by Apple and achieves top ranking?

Expanding the base of Search Ad terms you can target works just like expanding your keyword portfolio in a traditional optimization. Just as you would when optimizing your app, you will want to create relevance for the terms you intend to target through your title, keywords and especially your description, which can go a long way towards selling your app’s relevance for certain words or phrases.

Because the process of optimizing for Search Ads is so similar to a traditional optimization, developers stand to benefit by doing both at once. In the end, even if your app doesn’t rank first for a keyword, you may have strengthened your case for appearing at the top of search results through a Search Ad. This newfound flexibility gives developers more options than ever moving into the future.

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