What to Expect From Apple Search Ads in 2021

In January of 2021, SearchAds.com had a conversation with Thomas Petit about Apple Search Ads Creative sets and what to expect in 2021.

Claire McIntosh
April 1, 2021

In January of 2021, SearchAds.com had a conversation with Thomas Petit about Apple Search Ads Creative sets and what to expect in 2021. Thomas is an expert on Apple Search Ads who helps other companies manage their accounts.

apple search ads 2021

This is a summary of everything discussed in this webinar, the original conversation is in the full version of the webinar. We don’t go into section 4 and beyond in this article as deeply, as Thomas does a great job of explaining it in the webinar, so we suggest you go check it out for yourself to get some very exclusive information about 2021.

Creative sets: what how and limitations

You can find the “add creative set” button in Apple Search Ads at the Ad group level. Before going into the details of what you can do to better plan your Apple Search Ads creative sets, we will explore some of the ways SearchAds.com can improve your efficiency. These will help you to optimize and strategize how you use this invaluable resource.

The first way you can use SearchAds.com to enhance your Apple Search Ads experiences when you need to test your screenshots.  Firstly you can give your creative campaign whatever name you deem appropriate. Then you can choose the language related to the storefront that you have chosen for that particular campaign. 

Things to keep in mind:

Before we dive deeper into the best ways to test screenshots in Apple Search Ads, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Order of screenshots:

Remember that you must choose from approved screenshots. This means that you will need to go through the review process of the App Store. They also must be in the same order as the App Store Connect and the App Store.

You can put any set that is already in order, so maybe you would test your first 3 and then your last 3. This way you can complete A/B testing. 

You also only have the ability to use two sizes and you must select from a set of predetermined languages.

You can also use a second strategy where you try to target different keywords with your screenshots to get different user bases. Eg. A Health and Fitness app might have one set that targets weightloss, another nutrition, and another workout. Remember that to do this test, you need to be well organized with your account structure. You cannot have all the keywords mixed in together for this. We have an in-depth look into How to Use Apple Search Ads Creative Sets on our blog.

You should do this for keywords with a large volume. Keep in mind you are not always in control of which case is shown. Apple Search Ads controls the divide of the split so keep an eye on how each test is performing versus the delivery. You can set an alert on SearchAds.com. If you are finding that one of your creative sets is not being delivered you should first wait a little bit because sometimes it does have somewhat of a delay. If it still doesn’t work try reuploading it as if it was a new one.

Due to the fact that Apple Search Ads decides which creative sets are shown, your test may also work in such a manner that the “loser” is getting a lot of delivery. Alternatively, you may get zero delivery on a test, thus making the test redundant. It is important to keep an eye on these things to ensure that you are getting accurate results.

Things that you are ranking for first organically, your creative sets do not get displayed. You should focus on high-volume generic, competitive, and discovery terms. 

Language Bias:

You should be aware that the default does not include the separation of the languages. The creative set is in one specific language but the default has all the languages grouped together with no distinction. So if you are using campaigns with multiple countries you should be very careful. Languages like Dutch and Thai have a very low clickthrough rate. But because you don’t have the disclosure on the language with the default you cannot conclude which one was better.

Do not use default when you have multiple languages on the same storefront. Beware of the countries that have multiple languages in the same country. If devices are set to different languages you may get inaccurate results. 

In the US you have a lot of people using the US app store who are not actually living in the US and have their devices set to another language. Be aware of the language bias and consider creating multiple sets in different languages. 

Be aware of app screenshot rules:

Since December 2019 Apple Search Ads does not repeat the same 3 screenshots in the ad and in the organic result. This means that your screenshots might get split up into ways that don’t work together if they are grouped in threes. 

screenshot formats

Be careful not to break anything by looking at screenshots as groups of 123, 456, and then the last ones to play around with for testing purposes.

Be careful with mixing portrait and landscape. If you do this it can look nice but be careful not to mix in the video when you do that because it can flip your images and give an unpleasant result. 

Apple Search Ads vs MMP discrepancies: why and how to deal

What Apple Search Ads reports vs MMPs can vary widely. 

As written in this in-depth post about data discrepancies, when you are crafting a campaign, you do need more than market research and tracking your data alone. Each campaign has a unique set of challenges, and data discrepancies may be one of those. These discrepancies mostly occur due to a difference in approaches from Apple Search Ads and Mobile Measurement Providers (MMP) use when reporting data. 

Why this happens

The discrepancies between what Apple Search Ads reports to you and what your MMP reports to you. With Apple Search Ads, you may have a discrepancy of something from 30-70 percent. Losing half of your installs in tracking can actually be normal. But this seems absurd? Well, when we take into account LAT, it makes quite a lot of sense. There are a few possible reasons for this other than LAT settings but the former does seem to have the greatest impact.

These are the possible reasons for the discrepancy:

  1. App open latency can also have an effect. For example, if the user opens the app way after downloading it. 
  2. “LAT on” people who have opted out of being tracked. These go straight into your organic bucket. 
  3. Redownloads because the definition of redownloads from apple may be very different than those of your MMP. 

How to solve this:

SearchAds.com has created some strategies and simple solutions. These can increase the efficiency of any campaign but they can also help you to overcome the data discrepancies that may arise.  

Thomas explains in the webinar his personal approach to this issue. He says, you can make an extrapolation and try to guess how the “LAT on factor” can be affecting things. This can be done manually but it takes some time. 

On the SearchAds.com interface, you can activate it from the interface and have the extrapolation made for you. This ability to automate and do it differently for different campaigns can make things a lot easier. 

The LAT rate from iOS 14 is much higher than before. It has increased from around 24% to 45%. If you use the LAT rate from the interface you are blind to the LAT rate from iOS 14. If you apply the LAT rate that iOS is showing you, you are actually underestimating the LAT rate. To get around this, you need to make the first extrapolation and then adjust for iOS 14. Be careful about using the LAT rate from the interface. 

Dealing with LAT-off people only has more precise data and a clear split between new and returning users. However, you can then only deal with a reduced and more expensive audience. 

One workaround is to make 3 groups for the same keyword. 

ad groups apple search ads 2021

All users, new users over 18, and returning users under 18. This allows more precise coverage in a more cost-effective way. This method is not perfect because it makes everything more complicated. SearchAds.com can help with this more complex structure. However, the second problem is the overlap that you have with the open group and the other groups. There is no way to exclusively target the LAT on users. 

What to expect in Apple Search Ads 2021

Thomas you can listen to Thomas speak in full about how to get prepared for the AdServices framework! What do you need to know? Would it render the LAT on and off difference obsolete?

Ad group and Keyword level optimization would be a great asset to have and hopefully, this update happens very soon. There are also a few other very exciting forecasts for 2021 concerning Apple Search Ads and we highly recommend you watch the entire video.

You can sign up for SearchAds.com to maximize your efficiency and enhance your Apple Search Ads 2021 experience.

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