Everything about Apple Search Ads marketing for your mobile app

ASA is a great tool for your ad campaign, as that it allows you to bid on and place ads on keywords in the Apple App Store. Learn about its benefits, and what mistakes to avoid.

Lucas Bongers


by Lucas Bongers

Everything about Apple Search Ads marketing for your mobile app

If you plan on publishing your new app on the Apple App Store, it is essential that you take time to prepare a proper ad campaign in order to improve user acquisition and sales for your product. Luckily, Apple provides developers with a really useful tool to place your ads on the right keywords and target the relevant user base.

With Apple Search Ads you can bid on keywords that users type into the search bar to look for your – or similar –  apps to then place your advert at the top of the search results. While this sounds like a really nice service, you first need to understand how ASA works before you can maximize the use of that tool.

That is why we have compiled the most important points to keep in mind when working with ASA, including some common mistakes to look out for.

Benefits of ASA

Given that 70% of App Store visitors use the search option to find their next app and that 65% of all downloads happen after a search, it is beyond doubt that advertisement services, which improve your app’s listing in the search results, will increase your app’s conversion rate. And ASA will provide you with prime placements for your ads at the very top of the search results – even above any organic search result.

On top of that, Apple Search Ads does not target individuals via IDs but targets ads according to the keywords used in a search, thus enabling you to tap into users’ signals that align with your product and draw in higher quality users.

Apple Search Ads: Basic and Advanced

Apple offers two different solutions you can choose from to advertise your products: Apple Search Ads Basic and Advanced.

The advanced option gives you much more control over your ad campaigns than the basic one, equipping you with a set of marketing tools, APIs and access to detailed reports of all key metrics.  You have more ad placement options and no limit to the maximum monthly budget or number of apps you can promote.

The basic option has limited capabilities, while also being more automatic in nature. Apple recommends this solution to developers with little to no experience in advertising, as you just have to „set your goals and let us do the rest“.

Though, while this may sound practical at first glance, the lack of control and insight you would have over your ad campaigns will likely leave you behind those competitors, who invest in the advanced solution. That is, why we would always recommend going with the advanced solution.

Structuring your ASA campaigns

Choosing the advanced solution also allows you to set up your own ad campaigns. By creating the right campaign structure, you can positively impact performance, reporting, and your ability to scale. To achieve that, it is recommended that you separate them by keyword theme or your preferred strategy. Especially when starting, we advise you to go with the following four types, as they prove to be quite reliable.

Category campaign:

Category campaigns are usually set on broad match and use keywords that are related to the category your app is in. For example, if you are advertising a music streaming app, you should most definitely add keywords like „music“, „streaming“, „songs“, and playlist“ to this campaign. That way, you can reach a wider audience of users interested in your app or its genre.

Brand campaign:

This campaign is designed to reach a more specific audience searching the app store for your brand or company name. Having your ads placed in the search bar for searches consisting of your app’s or brand’s name will not only support brand protection but also push re-installs as users will find your products more easily. That is why you should set your keywords in this campaign on exact match and always bid on those generously, in order to prevent competition from taking this space away from you.

Competitor campaign:

Your competitor campaign is focused on customers that search for apps belonging to your competition that are within the same or a related app category. While you aim to protect your branded keywords from competition in your brand campaign, the goal of this campaign is to snatch away the branded keywords from your competitors. Therefore, the keywords should include names or name variations of your direct competitors. Set this campaign on exact match.

Discovery campaign:

By creating this campaign you will be able to reach a wider audience and discover new and popular keywords that you are not currently using in your other campaigns. By adding the new keywords as an exact match to your other three campaigns, and by putting all keywords from Category, Brand and Competitor into Discovery, as negatives you can maximize your discovery campaign.

Common mistakes to avoid

In the following, we want to briefly cover some common mistakes to look out for when creating your ASA campaigns. Keeping these points in mind may very well prevent your campaigns from failing.

Not conducting prior keyword research

Before you even start your ad campaign, it is important that you conduct proper keyword research. In doing so, you are making sure that you are bidding on relevant and trending keywords and not wasting money on terms that have a low search volume.

It is always a good idea to research your competition, check out what keywords they are ranking organically on and then bid on those keywords.

Additionally, you can bid on the keywords that you already have in your app’s metadata – assuming you have already done some keyword research on that matter and thus performed an ASO strategy, which brings us to the next point.

Not performing proper app store optimization

App Store Optimization (ASO) is an organic, but crucial process that aims to increase your app’s visibility in the store and attract potential customers through appealing creatives. We strongly recommend you to regularly perform ASO strategies to ensure that your app’s keywords, screenshots, and descriptions are always up to date. If you want to learn how to conduct proper app store optimization, feel free to read our article on this topic.

Not implementing any negative keywords

In order to keep your costs low and to not accidentally compete against yourself when bidding on keywords, it is imperative that you implement negative keywords in your campaigns. In detail, this means that firstly, you must put all of your exact match keywords

Not adjusting any bids

Setting up your ASA campaign is only the beginning – you need to continuously supervise your campaigns, budget and biddings. Do not let your Search Ads run wild, but instead adjust the CPT for an ad group and specific keywords on a regular basis if you deem it necessary.

Keep in mind that you can also pause particular ad groups and keywords, if you feel that you are spending too much money on those

You can also optimize ad spending by adjusting it to the availability of your target audience. If the traffic of your target audience is lowest on weekdays, consider lowering your CPT during these days or pause your campaigns completely for a set amount of time.


Using Apple Search Ads for your ad campaigns in the App Store is one of the most efficient ways to reach a wider audience, push installs, and grow your user base. If you invest enough time to understand the mechanics of this tool and regularly research your competition, you are sure to boost your app’s growth.

Whether you are just starting, or if you already have an ongoing ad campaign and are looking for further improvements – we at Fintory are happy to support you in expanding the reach of your app. With continuous analysis, testing, and data-driven implementation we strive to get the best out of your product. Feel free to contact us, if you have any further questions.

Lucas Bongers

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Lucas Bongers

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