Get the marketing download on Apple Search Ads

5 min read by Poppy Court 11 Jul 2022

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the world of mobile apps has become big business with the industry projected to reach $420bn this year. They’ve kept us entertained, informed, educated and organised and for many of us there are certain apps that we just couldn’t live without.

But with so many apps on the market, it is becoming increasingly difficult for developers to stand out from the crowd. And whilst one of the biggest app merchants, Apple, has rolled out privacy updates across its software in order to somewhat penalise advertisers across other ad platforms, they seem to be pretty comfortable with monetising their own.

So if you own or manage an iOS app and are struggling to get downloads, it might be worth giving Apple Search Ads a go.

What Are Apple Search Ads?

To put it simply, Apple Search Ads are paid ads that run across Apple’s App Store Network. They allow developers to target iOS users who are actively looking for products that relate to specific app content or functionality.

How Do They Work?

Similarly to other search advertising platforms, traditional Apple Search Ad campaigns work by placing bids against specific keywords that relate to your application. Keywords can be segmented in the form of ad groups, wrapped with broad or exact match types and individual bid levels can be set, meaning advertisers have complete control as to how their budget is spent. 

In addition, advertisers also have the option to layer keyword targeting with other attributes such as age, gender, locations, times of the day and customer type, meaning you can differentiate between new users, users of your other apps or returning users.

But, whilst the prospect of running a campaign can be daunting, Apple has made sure not to neglect paid media newcomers. With its basic ad set up, developers simply define the app that they want to promote and the platform will take full control on who it serves an ad to based on the user’s interests and search habits.


  • This is one of the cleanest UX experiences I’ve personally used. It’s very ‘Apple’ and for someone like me, it’s a dream! Not having to deal with awkward settings or not being able to find the most basic of information (sorry Bing!) the platform makes it extremely easy for users to get started and manage a campaign.
  • Unlike the rest of their inventory, search ads don’t come with the typical Apple price tag. The average cost-per-tap (CPT) on the platform is approximately £0.75 and whilst this may fluctuate across sectors, it’s a fairly economical way of promoting your app, especially when you consider the intent level behind the users to whom these ads are being served to.
  • App tracking can be a nightmare across other ad platforms (our Senior Data Specialist Josh Crawford will testify this!) but this isn’t the case for Apple – it’s pretty seamless by all accounts.


  • For niche app types, be prepared to build broad keyword lists. You’ll need to think bigger than just what your app offers but consider the types of people that are likely to use your app. What other interests do they have? How do they spend their time online? What other apps do they have installed? Due to the platform’s smaller search volumes, you may need to spend more time bolstering your keyword list in order to get traction with your campaign.
  • Whilst the platform does give you the functionality to see which keywords have triggered your ad to serve, it is not always possible to identify the exact search term behind it. Whilst it’s annoying, they’re not the only ad platform to do this, so we won’t hold it against them!

Are Apple Ads Worth It?

If you have developed or manage an app, then yes. Definitely. 

Unlike other ad platforms, getting started with Apple Search Ads is stress free and can yield results quickly by targeting the right users for your content.

If you’ve got plans for your app to become the next Angry Birds, TikTok or Spotify, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us today to discuss your Apple Search Ads campaign and wider app marketing strategy.

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