Everything You Need to Know about Apple Search Ads

Alperen Nihan
February 7, 2023

Apple Search Ads helps developers reach their target audience and drive more downloads for their app with 4 ad placements. Today, we'll cover all and share insights from our latest webinar. Here's everything you need to know about Apple Search Ads.

Throughout this blog, we will uncover 6 predictions that are made by our experts for 2023 in the mobile app market. 

* Before getting started, please be advised that Apple Search Ads ‘Today tab’ ad placement format has been updated in December 2023, and all data and information shared in this blog may not accurately reflect the current structure.

1st Prediction: Mobile Ad Spending will increase in 2023 

Based on the analysis we made, we can see that mobile ad spending will increase in 2023. Considering the market getting more competitive than ever, seasonality will have a huge impact on navigating this increase. 

Competition is never ending, most particularly in the categories like gaming and social networking. As you can observe below, the CPT and CPA outcomes keep increasing even though the conversions stay almost the same.

According to our research, the increase in ad spending will mainly be in two areas. Which are video ads and Apple Search Ads. We are expecting that apps will increase their video ad spending on social platforms like Tiktok and BeReal. They will use these platforms to trade open their escalating popularity. Moreover, we are also expecting that apps will spend on Apple Search Ads to increase their visibility and user acquisition. 

Earlier, we mentioned that seasonality will have an enormous impact on mobile ad spending. Apps try being as aggressive as they can get around seasonal times if their app can relate to the occasion. 

For instance, an app performing in the gaming category is spending a lot on ASO updates and in-app events around seasonal times and trying to become most visible to its users. 

At this point, you know seasonality is something you should definitely pay attention to. However, you might have questions about how. Don’t worry, we have listed some tips for you.

Tips About Seasonality

  1. To improve your app’s seasonality, change your app’s icons and screenshots accordingly and make in-app events.
apple search ads

While doing seasonality-related updates for your app, keep in mind that, perfect testing has two stages. It is important to test both organic and paid sides for the seasonal times to utilize your assets. The recommended path for them is to test your organic side first. After you have done with the organic side, you can support your paid side with your findings from organic testing. 

  1. Although costs can increase during seasonal times, so does user spending. Updating in-app purchases and applying changes can have a great impact on revenue.
  2. Make your creatives as relevant as possible. Users need to relate your updates with the seasonal spirit to download. We will provide further information on how you can do using custom product pages.

If you want to leverage those tips and integrate them into your marketing strategies, times like Valentine’s Day or Super Bowl can be a great opportunity too. Of course, if your app allows you to do so. 

2nd Prediction: Branding & Awareness Spending will Increase, but The Mobile Apps will be More Revenue-Driven

We are in the middle of a global recession and we are still observing the negative effects on supply chain issues due to the Ukraine War and rising inflation. Those circumstances push all types of companies to be more revenue-driven recently. Bigger developers have become more reliant on their brand recognition and try to leverage that.

Since this is the case, increasing brand recognition and awareness is crucial for the app market as well. This is why we are predicting that spending for these purposes will increase enormously. Considering the strategies will build on more revenue-driven, every spending on increasing brand awareness will calculate in a detailed way. 

Concerning the economic downturn, the source of revenue for the app market will shift from in-app purchases to in-app advertising. User behavior will change on the revenue generation side. Users will tend to spend less, and increasing conversion with advertisements rather than in-app purchases will become a huge pinpoint. For instance, rewarded ads are becoming more efficient than ever. This is why many apps are performing hybrid models such as creating rewarded ads alongside in-app purchases.

Another way to achieve an increase in brand awareness is new ad placements. Especially Apple’s newest Today tab ads which we will dive into more in the following part. 

Today Tab Ads

Today tab and product page ads have been a huge benefit for the app markets in 2022 (check our insights). We predict that it will not be different this year as well. The Today tab is a feature in the Apple App Store, where users can discover new apps. Along with app tutorials and tips, in-app purchases, and other personalized recommendations. It provides an easy way to find and download new apps, as well as a source of inspiration.

It is quite different from what we used to get from Apple in order to its mentality. While creating ASO strategies, we usually aim to capture the demand. We want our app to be visible in every place where demand is shifting. However, with the Today tab, we can generate demand for our app.

Graphic & Design and Social Networking categories have the highest conversion rates through the Today tab. On top of that, these categories are expanded  TTR vise. 

Apple Search Ads
Apple Search Ads

As we cover, with the Today tab, you can get great benefits. In the following part, we will give some tips for how you can measure the performance of your app.

  • Definitely check the performance of your other channels. Assess how they are performing before and after you implement your Today tab appearance. 
  • For the specific metrics, to understand the impact of the Today tab, check the number of users that you are reaching out to and compare the number of impressions you are generating from the Today tab with your other campaigns.

Making these new ad replacements have an effect on your organic traffic as well. As we have covered in other blogs, Apple Search Ads and ASO cannot be separated for maximum outcome. Given these new ad placements, you can use custom product pages to specify your target and increase their impact of them. 

Our Apple Search Ads experts highlighted while testing the Today tab campaigns that they have a huge impact on the organic side as well. You can benefit while not only increasing the organic traffic but also the keyword performances. It has been detected that, with the Today tab, the popularity score of brand keywords is increasing by almost 10%, which is a perfect outcome for increasing brand awareness. 

Considering all, we can conclude that the Today tab is not a channel for you to focus on profitability, but a channel where you can increase your awareness in the market. 

Ad Network Distribution

Just like benefiting ASO and Apple Search Ads, carrying out regular testing on divided networks is also a great way for paid campaign management. Even though meta platforms are still leading in the market, we discovered that top apps have been increasing their testing in smaller ad networks as well. 

Apple Search Ads
As you can see, at the beginning of December, 70% of the ads were published on meta platforms. However, in the last week of December, it decreased to 56%. 

You can leverage MobileAction’s Ad Intelligence tool to understand top ads and your competitors’ ad network strategy more deeply. 

3rd Prediction: Paid UA will take advantage of a strong ASO and ASO - Apple Search Ads Strategy

It is crucial to take advantage of a strong ASO strategy and benefit from ASO - Apple Search Ads synergy when the competition is strong. Supporting ASO activities with ASO improvements helps app developers a lot while optimizing the funnel, despite the increasing costs in seasonal periods. 

Therefore, utilizing the features that help reach the right audience such as in-app events and custom product pages during social times, can be a good game changer. Especially in this economic uncertainty, doubling down your efforts on the ASO side will not only improve your organic performance but also decrease your paid UA costs in Apple Search Ads. Likewise, you can improve your organic rankings just by running paid campaigns via Apple Search Ads. 

For a perfectly successful UA, both ASO and Apple Search Ads campaigns should simultaneously be improved. 

Apple Search Ads
For example, Lensa AI recently started running Apple Search Ads campaigns and the effects of it become immediately apparent on the app's organic side. 
Apple Search Ads
Lensa AI’s top competitor AI Art has also been running Apple Search Ads campaigns for a long time. However, in terms of ASO, Lensa AI started  Apple Search Ads campaigns earlier and the total number of keywords increased from 10K to almost 15K in a day. While AI Art has an organic keyword total of 1K

Moreover, Lensa AI’s category ranking was uplifted from 83 to 19 in December, and AI Art has a weaker visibility score than Lensa AI. It is a clear indication of how Apple Search Ads increase ASO performance as well. 

Especially for start-ups, organic improvement via ASO takes a lot of time. Therefore, the main tip for start-ups is to put a lot of effort into boosting Apple Search Ads’ side to increase organic visibility as well. That way, the algorithm that ASO has will recognize the app and apps can spend their budget more efficiently.

4th Prediction: User Privacy will Remain As A Major Trend in UA

When it comes to marketing practices, one of the most important and challenging aspects is to create a privacy-centric targeting strategy. Ever since iOS 14.5 has released, privacy has become a crucial issue. The way all marketers used to do it in terms of tracking, targeting, and pinpoint accuracy has changed. It is getting harder for all app developers. 

In 2023, we are expecting nothing but a more concerning environment regarding privacy trends. Even though pinpoint accuracy is almost impossible, there are still some ways to evaluate your target. 

While using MobileAction and SearchAds.com, it is possible to target various demographics and localizations. This will help you to be as much specific as possible to your audiences.  Both assist you to be visible for the different needs and wants of your potential users. Creating custom product pages will give you the opportunity to create up to 35 product pages for different purposes and to reach different audiences without causing any privacy issues. 

Apple Search Ads
As you can see, with custom product pages, you can make your product page appear for different search terms and increase the visibility of your app. 

5th Prediction: Time Spent on Mobile Will Continue to Increase

The time spent on smartphones and mobile devices is constantly increasing since 2013. With continuously evolving technology, we are expecting that this will be the case this year as well. 

Apple Search Ads

The data taken from statista.com also proves that our prediction for 2023 is completely right. The increasing transition from web to mobile along with the increasing importance of social branding plays a significant role here. 

This gives a space where we can predict several categories such as social networking, which will become the heading ones. We can also observe that, especially after the involvement of AI around Q4 in 2022, photo & video and graphics & design categories will appear in the statistics. 

Let’s check Lensa AI and other AI-related apps to see what we can expect for Q1 in 2023. 

Apple Search Ads
As you can see, “ai photo”, “ai photo generator”, and “ai generated” keywords have increased in search popularity in 2022. 
Apple Search Ads
As of December, those keywords’ search popularity doubled.

Those keywords are mainly utilized in Graphics & Design and Photo & Video categories. 

Apple Search Ads

When we checked the share of voice distribution, we observed that they were quite different on the organic and paid sides. This gives us the opportunity to see the importance of Apple Search Ads.  

In the middle part, we can see that the organic share of distribution for these keywords is different. This is a perfect example to see how paid ads can lead the competition and again have an impact on ASO.

By creating custom product pages, you can expect higher conversion rates. People can see more relatable variables to their search terms and purposes, which will come back as higher conversion. 

6th Prediction: Users will Demand a More Customized & Tailored Experience

We expect that the ad spending will transition into more experience-serving ads in 2023. As we are experiencing, the transition from performance-serving ads in the gaming category will continue to drive monetization. User-level personalization will be seen a lot in categories like gaming to create a competitive advantage. 

Other than gaming, we will also see customized & tailored ads in categories like retail, e-commerce, travel, and social networking. The reason behind that is the rising experience-seeking mentality and brand creation expectations from the user side. 

With the advanced targeting and personalization capabilities, custom product pages will have a perfect impact on both ASO and Apple Search Ads regarding this prediction. By applying personalized creatives and promoting the experience in the App Store via in-app events, engagement will increase. 

In conclusion, our recent webinar on Apple Search Ads was a huge success. Offering valuable insights and information on optimizing your app's performance in the competitive app market. The 2023 app market is expected to grow even more, and with the right tools and strategies, your app can thrive. That's why we recommend using MobileAction and SearchAds.com to stay ahead of the curve and reach your target audience effectively. 

Our powerful tools and data-driven approach can help you get the results you're looking for. Let’s talk about how you can improve your Apple Search Ads campaign performance in 2023. 

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