Problem

According to Zenith’s latest ‘Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, mobile app advertisement will be the main driver of global ad spend growth. It is expected that mobile will contribute $70 billion in extra ad spend between 2017 and 2020. The continuing app market growth favors this trend to a large extent.

Increasing ad spend means that publishers have to optimize expenditures and be in constant search of new cost-efficient channels.

Apple Search Ads proved its potency in 2017. More and more user acquisition managers opt for this traffic channel due to 30% higher ARPU and 40% lower price than other ad networks.

Adspend growth forecast by Zenith

However, adopting a new app advertisement channel isn’t that easy most of the times.  As a rule, publishers have myriads of doubts and concerns before trying something new. Red Rock Apps was no exception.

Ruslan Guzelevich, the Senior User Acquisition Manager at Red Rock Apps, agreed to share the experience of running first Apple Search Ads campaigns and optimizing them with help of SearchAdsHQ.

Solution

Normally, app developers use such classic app advertisement sources as Facebook ads, Instagram, Google Adwords and Ad Networks. We are no exception, Red Rock Apps team got used to driving traffic from these channels as any other publisher.

However, we’re in constant search for new user acquisition and app advertisement channels that can provide high-quality leads for the lowest possible price.

When Apple released its Search Ads platform, we were one of the first to start running app advertisement with it. Since Apple Ads was a new platform for us and its working algorithm differs significantly from the channels we were used to, we had both optimistic expectations and considerable concerns.

One of the concerns regarded the traffic volume. App developers will agree that keywords traffic seems to be limited as App Store visitors tend to look for something exact using utility-centric keywords rather than discovery-centric. We wondered how would it be possible to scale app advertisement campaigns in the context of these serious limitations.

RedRockApps ad campaign with SearhAdsHQ

At the same time, this very factor made us assume that the traffic acquired with Apple Search Ads would have a really high quality. The truth is, organic visitors convert into downloads in 55% of cases, whereas app advertisement traffic that comes from Facebook shows conversion rates veer about 4-12%.

Search Ads seemed a perfect opportunity as app advertisement is shown when a user is looking for something specific. Thus, you get high-quality visitors that are likely to convert downloading your app and even becoming paying users.

Another concern was the one we share with the majority of app developers – you can start buying your own organic users with Apple Search Ads. That is something we continue freeing ourselves of right now.

The coin has two sides here. You want to promote your app advertisement with keywords for which you’re not ranking well right now, the ones your competitors thrive on. At the same time, you don’t want your competitors to apply the same strategy and start stealing your organic users. That’s why you have to launch ads for your top keywords and start paying for your organic traffic.

RedRockApps Apple Search Ads campaign

Did we meet our expectations and concerns? Yes, indeed. With Apple Search Ads, we get high-quality users for a low price, but we partially pay for our organic traffic at times. Nevertheless, that’s the app advertisement price we are ready to pay.

Optimizing App Advertisement Campaigns with Help of SearchAdsHQ

Apple’s team has developed a great platform convenient to work with, and they keep developing it. So we expect to have more powerful features in the near future.

However, Apple Search Ads lacks an extremely important feature that app developers will always need – the ability to track in-app events, subscriptions or purchases.

That makes ROAS estimation really hard and does not allow app publishers to figure out whether their app advertisement investments are paying offWe wanted to have a tool to evaluate the effectiveness of each ad group and keyword in terms of ROAS. To make the most of Apple Search Ads, it’s vital to:

  • analyze how many subscriptions and purchases each keyword brings;
  • bid up top-performing keywords;
  • get rid of irrelevant ones.

That was a primary reason why we decided to start working with SearchAdsHQ. The platform allows us to run app advertisement campaigns in Apple Search Ads we grew to like, as well as analyze the effectiveness and optimize them for maximum ROAS.

Beyond that, SearchAdsHQ team has a great expertise in Apple Search Ads and can help instantly if there’s anything wrong with your campaigns. And trust me, you will need their assistance if you’re making your first steps in app advertisement with Apple Search Ads.

There’ll be times when you won’t have a clue why your Apple Search Ads campaigns are not running, and SearchAdsHQ team will be there to help.

The best part about SearchAdsHQ is that you can track app advertisement statistics and change keywords bids of all campaigns from a single dashboard. It makes it way easier to track the economic efficiency of your app advertisement activity with Apple Search Ads.

At the beginning of our work with Apple Search Ads and SearchAdsHQ, what we did was:

  1. creating a separate app advertisement campaign for each app;
  2. atomizing each campaign by keywords: one keyword – one campaign;
  3. granulating them by ad groups based on targeting characteristics such as sex and age.

Our main focus was on Cost per Conversion index and daily spend when we started working with the platform. Our apps are monetized via subscriptions so the Goal was formulated in the cost of app subscriptions.

At first, when we got down to the optimization of app advertisement campaigns, our aim was to make each keyword reach a certain spend. To make it possible we:

  1. optimized each keyword in accordance with CPI instead of CPA Apple offers;
  2. optimized keywords in compliance with actual CPA (the cost of subscription in our case).

If the cost of subscription had reached the goal, we increased the keyword bid. Furthermore, we had a high bid for our ‘Search Match ON’ campaign at first. Our aim was finding necessary keywords for app advertisement.

SearchAdsHQ Keyword Planner dashboard

Result

Thanks to tracking daily performance of our Apple Search Ads campaigns, we managed to avoid grave mistakes such as overspends or super expensive subscriptions. Luckily, our fear of not driving enough traffic with Apple Search Ads was dispelled.

Providing you constantly track the most important metrics an app advertisement campaign and choose initial keywords rationally, you’ll face no problem.

Our first Apple Search Ads campaigns demonstrated that this source is great for running efficient app advertisement campaigns with significant traffic volumes. Sure, it takes time to craft a perfect campaigns structure, but Apple helps publishers immensely. Thanks to it, we are close to nailing the optimal structure for our apps.

Eventually, we decided to optimize our app advertisement campaign on the keyword level based on the subscription cost. If there were no subscriptions, we moved upwards the funnel optimizing cost per install.

What concerns the campaigns scaling, our strategy was the following: we increased bids of the most cost-effective keywords and added new exact match keywords from Search Terms. It resulted in the increase of traffic volume without sacrificing efficiency.

I believe such results would be impossible if not for SearchAdsHQ.

SearchAdsHQ dashboard streamlines and boosts efficiency evaluation, app advertisement campaigns modification and work with keywords in general.  

In the near future, we plan to carry on restructuring ad groups and app advertisement campaigns in the accordance with Apple’s recommendations. What concerns our long-term plans, we are going to increase the volume of cost-efficient traffic.

Choosing storefront in SearchAdsHQ

We are looking forward to Apple Search Ads further extension of storefronts as running app advertisement campaigns in all countries is on our roadmap.

Thus, our experience proved that Apple Search Ads is an app advertisement channel which should definitely find a permanent place in the toolkit of all mobile publishers.

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