Cannibalization in Apple Search Ads: Should you bid on your brand keywords?

If your brand were to arrive in the ads as well as the top organic search, wouldn’t that make your ad redundant? Check our article to learn about cannibalization in Apple Search Ads.

Claire McIntosh
December 30, 2020

Should you be bidding on your brand keywords in Apple Search Ads? If you have a strong brand and a well-known company already - what’s the point? If you are ranking first with brand recognition alone, it may feel like a waste of money to pay for branded keywords. Keyword cannibalization is to be avoided. You are already getting this traffic for free right? Whether you are not completely familiar with Apple Search Ads, or you wish to attain some better results with your Apple Search Ads campaigns this might help you out.   

Well.. it may not be so straightforward. Let’s take a step back and look at cannibalization in Apple Search Ads. We can find out if you should bid on your brand keywords, and, how to build a brand keyword strategy.

What is Cannibalization?

The concept of cannibalization is probably one that you have heard many times in your app marketing career. The concept refers to search ads placing ads above the organic search results. If your brand were to arrive in the ads as well as the top organic search, wouldn’t that make your ad redundant? Would that user have clicked on the organic result if not for the ad being shown?

Cannibalization is not a concern -Why use Brand keywords

Before you decide to disavow brand keywords, consider these points.  

Apple Search Ads is the first true result

Apple Search Ads is far from negligible and even coming in second place with an organic result can reduce your impressions.  The ad at the top of the search results takes up a whole first spot. Even if you are the first organic search result, you are only the second result, if you do not have the ad spot. 

This will give users the chance to stop and consider your competitor as an option before you. 

Brand names get a lot of searches

Over 50% of searches on the App Store are associated with a brand. If you are not at the top of the search results, people still may be searching for your brand name. By bidding on your brand name, you can make sure that people looking for you find you. If not, you may have people who were looking for your app but end up downloading  a similar app. Even further than that, it is not common to name smaller competing apps similarly to the top apps. This could lead to them appearing before yours if there was a slight alteration in search terms. Bidding on your brand name and common abbreviations and misspellings of it, ensure that you are getting the traffic.

Protect your brand from others

The fact of the matter is, the more organic matches you get from your brand name, the more profitable that brand name is as a keyword. Who is to stop your competitors from bidding on your keyword? If you don’t have a bid on that brand keyword then their ad may show up above your listing. Your customers may very well see them there above you and decide to give them a go instead. 

If other companies are bidding on your keyword then even with an exact keyword search for your brand name, you will not appear at the top. Your competitor’s app will show up before yours. This is a very common tactic among competing apps on the App Store. To defend your brand you should bid on your keywords.

Brand Campaign

So, now that you have decided to run this Brand campaign… How do you do it? 

This campaign helps ensure that competing companies are less likely to appear on your company’s brand and app names. A Brand campaign also makes sure that consumers using the App Store are easily able to find your app when looking for it. In order to do this, you can use Exact Match brand keywords which are almost exact terms which are directly linked to your app/brand, for example the name of your brand will bring direct results.

Some companies also use broad matches with their brand name. They do this in order to cover all versions of their brand name related search terms.

Try out competitor campaigns

You can also create a Competitor campaign to get ahead of competitors by making use of exact match keywords. Exact match keywords in your Competitor campaign are any terms that are used specifically by the competitor’s apps and brands, for example, the competition’s brand name. You can run ads for searches for your competitor’s brand that they have established a high organic rank for.

cannibalization mojo

We can see here for example, that Mojo is not bidding the highest on their own brand name. Instead, a competing app is getting over half of the search results. Mojo is bidding on their name but not nearly as much as these competitors.

cannibalization mojo

They are coming in first for the organic search results of their brand name and so perhaps found it unnecessary to bid very high on it.

cannibalization mojo

However, their competitor is getting a large portion of their downloads from searches on their name. This means that in order to defend their brand, they should be bidding higher on their own brand name. 

You can use our tools to choose your keywords for this campaign with only a couple of clicks. Check who is bidding your brand keyword with You can get started for free and become a master of ASO in no time. 

First enter the name of your app in the search bar of the Search by App section. Here you can find the data about what a particular app is bidding in a specific country as well as the other countries they are bidding. Let’s say you set the country as ‘’United States’’. Now you can see all the paid keywords that this app is running in your selected country. This is one way to find out keywords and add them to your list. Just click the plus sign on the left of the keywords taking into consideration their popularity score.

You can also search for organic keywords in the Organic Keyword Hunt section. 

It may also be prudent to create your Competitor campaign following a more precise set of steps that we have expanded on in the past. There is an article on our blog about how to find your competitors’ organic keywords that may be useful. Your competitors can run your brand keywords but you can also run theirs.

You don't need to worry about cannibalization - start running a brand campaign today!

To take advantage of our integrated platform has all the tools you need to find the best keywords and scale your campaigns. You can now use it to run your brand campaigns without fear of cannibalization and to run competitor campaigns against competing brands. 

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