,  — 28 Oct 2022

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

Lina Danilchik

We updated the last year guide to help you run even more effective Apple Search Ads seasonal campaigns.

At the end of the calendar year, people across the globe look forward to meeting family & friends, exchanging gifts or simply relaxing and having time for themselves. Simultaneously they start looking for apps to help them prepare for the holidays: buy presents, food and outfits, find a place for celebration or a cool mobile game to play. That’s why searches and downloads for Finance, Social Networking, Shopping, Photo & Video, Games, Entertainment, Travel and some other categories increase during the holiday season.

The good news is that mobile marketers can also prepare, reinforce their user acquisition strategy by optimizing Apple Search Ads campaigns, and get excellent results: increase impressions in search, drive more downloads and boost in-app revenue.

Now, as Halloween, Black Friday and other holidays are around the corner, we’ve prepared this checklist to help you make sure you haven’t overlooked even the smallest detail, seized the momentum and streamlined your paid UA strategy for the holiday season.

1. Run a Discovery campaign

Mine relevant keywords via a Discovery campaign.

Consider running a Discovery campaign during the holiday season because it helps to expand the audience and mine trending relevant keywords.

Within this campaign, we recommend to use Broad Match and Search Match to automatically match your ad to relevant search terms. For each storefront, you can create two ad groups:

• a Search Match ad group without keywords but with Search Match enabled;

• a Broad match ad group with top performing keywords added in broad match and Search Match turned off.

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

Note that Broad Match can be too broad. It covers such options, as plurals, misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and phrases that include that term, fully or partially. 

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

Broad Match works great with your top-performing and high-potential keywords and helps find similar words and phrases. We recommend you to avoid adding too many very similar broad match keywords to the Broach Match ad group.

Olga Gvozdeva, Growth Manager at SplitMetrics

Search Match is a perfect option for the seasonal campaigns, since you will be able to cover trending searches & new keywords related to holidays or events. Search Match automatically matches your ad to relevant search terms, which enables you to reach out to a wider audience at the right moment. Potential customers, looking for an app similar to yours, will see your ad on top of search results, and you’ll get a piece of this audience, beating competitors.

2. Add seasonal keywords

Add relevant keywords related to Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas or other holidays and seasonal events.

Don’t forget to update your list and add relevant seasonal keywords to specific ad groups. Such keywords can help you increase your coverage during the holiday marketing campaign, and attract new customers.

Tip: Consider creating a separate holiday-themed ad group.

There are a few options to help you find new season-specific keywords. You may use any of them, individually or all together:

  • Keyword Planner – inbuilt SplitMetrics Acquire tool;
  • Third-party tools for keyword research, such as AppTweak or App Radar;
  • Run a Discovery campaign using the above-mentioned Search Match and Broad Match ad groups.

We recommend adding keywords with a Search Popularity > 10.

Tip: To check the popularity of keywords you’re going to add, use Search Ads Keyword Popularity Checker — a free ASO tool, showing keywords’ Search Popularity and available traffic per keyword right in Apple Search Ads dashboard. 

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

Leverage real-time Apple Search Ads Benchmark Dashboard  to access up-to-date insights on TTR, CVR, CPM, CPT, CPA for Apple Search Ads.

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10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

3. Get more competitive (Review CPT bids)

Increase CPT bids to compete in the Apple Search Ads auction and acquire more users.

Holiday season is a time when mobile marketers work with bids more actively, drastically increase them, and the competition becomes even tougher. 

That’s why we recommend to be more proactive and review your “regular” CPT bids. 

If you take advantage of automated rules, like, for example, in SplitMetrics Acquire, you’re already on top and one step ahead of your rivals. What else can you do to boost downloads during the holiday season? Review and upgrade your rules to make them tailored to the specificity of seasonal campaigns.

In case you change bids once a week and increase them by 5%, try to use a more bold bid Increment (10% or even 20%) and Action frequency (once in 2-3 days) to respond to fluctuations effectively and promptly, and not miss out on opportunities.

If you haven’t discovered automation yet, you might want to take a closer look at automation platforms like SplitMetrics Acquire. Such a solution will enable you to manage CPT bids more effectively, optimize campaigns and stay ahead of the competition.

4. Review Apple Search Ads daily budgets

Increase Apple Search Ads daily budgets for best performing campaigns.

Keep an eye on the lifetime budget (if you use it) and daily budget of your campaigns. To be more competitive during the holiday season, increase your app’s visibility and maximize impressions, raise daily budgets for your well-performing campaigns. Thus, you will make sure that you don’t miss out on opportunities due to too low daily budgets and don’t lose traffic to your competitors.

Daily budget is the average amount you want to spend on your campaign each day over the course of a month. On days with opportunities to get more downloads, your spend may exceed your daily budget. But your monthly spend won’t be more than your daily budget times the average number of days in a calendar month which is calculated as 30.4 days.

Also, you can leverage SplitMetrics Acquire automated rules which increase daily budget if the campaign has a good performance or else, send you an alert informing you that spend is close to reaching daily budget.

5. Review impression share with Apple Search Ads Insights

Track the Share of Voice (SoV) for top performing keywords.

Track your share of voice to see how your bidding in Apple Search Ads affects your app position in search results during the holiday season. Consider checking the Share of Voice for your season-specific keywords.

With SplitMetrics Acquire Insights, you can track your share of voice to see how bid changes affect your app position in search results during the holiday season. What is more, with Apple Search Ads Insights, you can understand the status of your competitors’ holiday campaigns, and how much you could grow SoV for your app by increasing bids for the currently trending seasonal keywords.

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

With this tool, you’ll be able to gain competitive advantage and actionable insights, receive timely alerts and spot opportunities for scaling with well-performing keywords in your brand campaigns.

6. Re-engage with your customers

Try targeting different types of users, including returning ones.

Reengagement is overall a huge opportunity, with redownloads representing more than 40 percent of all App Store downloads. And it’s crucially important to take advantage of this opportunity before Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Many people look for apps to redownload at the end of the calendar year, since, as we discussed above, they’re getting ready for the holidays. So, if you’re working only with new users, during this high season, you can reconnect with past customers by adding a “Returning users” ad group or sticking to “All users” targeting. 

Tip: Try using Search tab ads for retargeting. This type of Apple Search Ads campaign is effective for attracting returning users who used to utilize your app or downloaded it in the past. 

7. Expand your reach with new ad placements

Test new ad placements (Search tab ads, Today tab, ads on product pages) to increase reach and the number of impressions.

The high season is a great time to promote your app using different placements. Consider promoting your app in places where interest may be higher for your app during the seasonal events.

Search tab campaigns were introduced in May 2021, enabling mobile developers to reach out to users before they even start searching an app. Then, custom product pages provided new opportunities for effective campaigns on the App Store. At the end of September 2022, Apple Search Ads inventory expanded to new ad placements – on the Today tab and app product pages. Starting from October 25, these new ad placements are live on the App Store, helping mobile developers drive app discovery and engage users via different touchpoints throughout their journey.

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

You can already create advertising campaigns for these placements. To work with the Today tab placement, you need to create a custom product page in App Store Connect, which must be approved by the App Store Connect team and the Apple Search Ads team. Here you will find Today tab ad guidelines.

8. Use custom product pages dedicated to the seasonal events

Take advantage of CPP.

Speaking of custom product pages – use CPP dedicated to the seasonal events with thematic texts and visuals. It might help you improve TTR and the conversion rate in Apple Search Ads. 

For different seasonal events, we recommend creating different custom product pages.

Here are some general suggestions provided by SplitMetrics Agency that are recommended to follow in case of creating CPP:

  • there should be at least 4 screenshots for every custom product page;
  • put important features to the captions;
  • put social proofs, awards, audience size, rating, good reviews, etc. to the screenshots;
  • focus on action verbs that describe features;
  • use large bright readable captions;
  • reduce visual noise.
10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

9. Use automated rules and smart alerts in SplitMetrics Acquire

Take your Apple Search Ads holiday campaign management to the next level.

This tip is all about making your life easier during the turbulent active season, when you need to keep an eye on your holiday campaign and timely make necessary adjustments. Get full control over Apple Search Ads campaign performance by receiving smart alerts or making changes automatically in SplitMetrics Acquire. Also, don’t forget about smart alerts.

Review and upgrade your rules to make them tailored to the specificity of seasonal campaigns. During the holidays period, we recommend paying more attention to your automatic rules and, if necessary, making them more effective by tweaking Action frequency and/or Bid Increment.

Below you will find a few examples of SplitMetrics Acquire automation rules for Apple Search Ads seasonal campaigns. 

Detect a trending keyword or a search term

You can automatically detect and take action if a keyword or a search term is trending. For that, check if the number of installs has increased, and increase the keyword bid, or add a search term to exact match keyword:

Installs (Yesterday) > 1.5 * Installs (the Day before yesterday)

Take action against Spend spikes or drops

Set a rule to monitor Spend for a campaign: compare yesterday’s Spend with Spend for the day before yesterday to get an email warning that a campaign requires your attention. For example, 50% increase:

Spend (Yesterday) > 1.5 * Spend (the Day before yesterday)

Investigate changes to CPI or CPT

Compare yesterday’s CPI with the CPI for the last 7 days. An additional coefficient will specify the amount of change you are interested in. Let’s say, you want to get an alert when CPI increases by 20%, then set:

CPI (Yesterday) > 1.2 * CPI (Last 7 days)

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10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign

10. Bonus: Optimize your app store creatives for seasonal events

Update the visuals on your App Store product page.

10 Tip-Checklist for Flawless Apple Search Ads Holiday Campaign
A/B test on SplitMetrics

This point is not directly related to your Apple Search Ads holiday campaign, but it can actually impact it.

Review your App Store visuals and specific events-related elements to the icon and screenshots, update app previews.

By using seasonal elements and creatives, you’ll engage more motivated target  users and drive more installs.

Pay special attention to your app’s icon. Adjust it to a holiday or seasonal event, and get the conversion rate increase. But before making any changes on the App Store, run A/B testing experiments with SplitMetrics Optimize to verify your hypothesis.

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Lina Danilchik
Lina Danilchik
Content Marketing Lead & App Growth Evangelist at SplitMetrics
Lina is Content Marketing Lead at SplitMetrics. She provides mobile marketers with best practices and tips on app growth, ASO, user acquisition and Apple Search Ads. Lina is also the host of App Growth Talks.
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