Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure: Everything You Need To Know

In this post, we’ll talk about how app marketers can better form their Apple Search Ads campaign structure in order to increase their Apple Search Ads revenue.

Talip Sencan
March 18, 2021

Apple Search Ads is becoming more popular as a user acquisition channel by the day. This platform is being used by app marketers all over the world as part of their mobile app marketing strategy. In this post, we'll talk about how app marketers can better form their Apple Search Ads campaign structure in order to increase their Apple Search Ads revenue. 

In Apple Search Ads conversion rates are rather high because the platform allows you to reach a highly relevant audience. The platform uses a cost-per-tap model, so bidding on the right Apple Search Ads keywords in the right campaigns is crucial. Structuring your campaign and allocating your budget properly will allow you to keep your cost-per-acquisition as low as possible.

apple search ads campaign structure

Understanding Apple Search Ads Match Types

Using the correct match types in your campaigns is fundamental for improving your Apple Search Ads bidding process. There are currently two match types for users to choose from.

1-Exact Match: As the name suggests, exact match can be used to target specific keywords and its close variants. If you already know the keywords that are relevant to your app, using exact match will allow you to target highly relevant audiences. If you add the keyword “read document”, your ad can potentially appear on searches such as “read documents” or “read dcouments” as Exact Match targets plurals and common misspellings. 

2-Broad Match: Most likely, you will not be able to find out every possible keyword through keyword research. That is why Apple Search Ads offers a Broad Match Option. Through Broad Match, you will be targeting related searches and phrases. These searches might include your keyword partially or fully, and in or out of order. For the keyword “read document”, if we turn on Broad Match, our ad might appear on searches such as “read my document” or “document reader” or “document read free”.

Brand & Competitor Campaign

Now that we discussed match types, we can look at how to form a proper Apple Search Ads campaign structure.

To protect your brand, you should launch a brand campaign and select keywords that are nearly identical to your brand name (otherwise your competitors will win the bids on them). You might think that this is not the best way to spend your Apple Search Ads budget as users searching for your brand name won’t need ads. However, if you do not initiate a brand campaign, your competitors might bid on your brand keywords and steal some of your potential installs.

brand campaign apple search ads

You can also use relevant keywords related to your competitors' brands. For this, you can set up a different campaign targeting your competitors. You can try to get installs from users who were searching for your competitor's app by bidding on keywords that are directly related to them. 

Such keywords might have lower TTR and higher CPT’s compared to your brand campaign. However, running a competitor campaign is still reasonable as it results in increased brand awareness and potentially more installs. In your competitor campaign, you can create different ad groups for targeting different competitors. The match type should be set to Exact for both of these campaigns.

Category (Generic) Campaign

You will be targeting and adding keywords that are frequently used to search for your app category with generic campaigns. This group can be filled with keywords that broadly describe what your app does. However, there won’t be any brand names.

If you are the Apple Search Ads manager for a travel app, your generic campaign could include keywords such as “travel”, “flight” or “hotel”.  As there can be thousands of possible generic keywords, separating them into ad groups based on certain criteria will be beneficial for your Apple Search Ads campaign structure. 

One way to do this could be separating keywords into themes. One ad group for flight-related keywords, one group for hotel-related keywords, and so on. 

You can also create ad groups based on user intent. As you might imagine, not every generic keyword will have the same download potential for your app. For example, a person who is searching for a public transport guide might have less incentive to download your app compared to someone who wants to see the best restaurants in the area. 

Thus you can also categorize your ad groups ranging from high user intent to low user intent. Match type should be set to exact for Generic Campaigns.

Discovery Campaign

Just like Apple Search Ads Basic, app marketers using Apple Search Ads Advanced can benefit from search algorithms. Any Apple Search Ads best practices post would be incomplete without mentioning Discovery Campaigns.

You can discover new and related search terms using Discovery Campaigns. You can reach out to a larger audience while also discovering new patterns. Apple Search Ads recommends two ad groups for this campaign: A Broad Match ad group that contains all of the keywords from your first three campaigns with the match type set to Broad Match. This way you can find out new search phrases which relate to your app.

discovery campaign apple search ads

Next, a Search Match ad group should also be used in your Discovery Campaign. Search Match is not a Match Type. It can be considered a whole another feature. When you turn on Search Match for an Ad Group, you will not need to add any keywords. Using your metadata, similar apps, and more factors, Search Match will automatically match your ad to relevant searches. Do not forget to make sure that your app store optimization is in place before focusing on campaign management.

However, you are not done with your discovery campaign just yet. If you are able to find well-performing keywords in terms of TTR or CPT, you should add these keywords into your Exact Match ad groups.

In Apple Search Ads, negative keywords are also important. After you move keywords from discovery to exact match, you should add them as negative keywords to the original group. When dealing with tons of keywords, Apple Search Ads automation tools such as is a worthy investment for sure.

If you are thinking about how to find new keywords, , using Discovery Campaigns should be on top of your list.


We hope that you enjoyed this article where we discussed how to build a better Apple Search Ads campaign structure. Using the appropriate match types in the correct campaigns will definitely increase the efficiency of your campaigns.

It is generally recommended that you use approximately 20% of your budget on broad match keywords while using the rest for Exact Match. If you would like to see how you can manage Apple Search Ads better, schedule a free demo with our experts today!

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