app marketing

Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition

Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition strategies help iOS app marketers to boost their peak season KPIs, resulting in sustainable ROAS growth!

In the first quarter of 2023, the App Store saw 8.1 billion apps being downloaded. Last year, the overall annual app downloads were approximately 32.2 billion. It’s not just the app downloads that made all the noise. The true value of an app install is only judged by the revenue it generates. In 2022, iOS users accounted for 67% of all app consumer spending, bringing App Store revenue to 86.8 billion USD. iOS users have historically been favored for their high LTV, high purchase powers, and most importantly, brand loyalty. Therefore, it is no surprise that Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition is trending as the buzzword in the app marketing community.

Moment marketing with Apple Search Ads for festive season user acquisition - what and why?

The festive season is all about moment marketing. In simple words, moment marketing initiatives are activities taken up to create an emotional connection with your target audience, while leveraging popular ongoing trends like festivals, viral meme trends, or even interesting current affairs. Moment marketing initiatives make brands more relatable to users, humanize the brand, and inspire trust. Like they say, people buy from people and not businesses. 

Apple has already won consumer favor with their App Tracking Transparency (ATT) which allows users more control over their personal device data. Google too is following in similar footsteps with Google Privacy Sandbox for Android all set to be a mainstream feature. With limited data availability, search intent is important in ensuring your app features at the right place, in front of the right audience. For App Store festive season moment marketing, Apple Search Ads, along with organic App Store Optimization can help you achieve the bursts of growth that help to accelerate your overall annual KPI goals.


With a platform like Apple Search Ads, you can easily drive contextual advertising for several categories of target audiences, search queries, special festive season announcements, or offers. The platform also boasts over 60% conversion rates on paid ads, making it a lucrative option for scaling your app marketing ROAS sustainably.


How to go about Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition?

The key to cracking Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition is the personalization of your moment marketing strategy at each level.

Keyword research and selection for festive marketing

Seasonal campaigns on Apple Search Ads would require a completely different target keyword list, in addition to your usual target list. Festive keywords are more oriented around specific search queries like black friday smartphone deals, Halloween decoration ideas, etc. 

If you are a new app launching in the App Store, opt for a competition analysis of popular search queries in your category. Look for keywords that are popularly targeted by your competitors as well as utilize competitor keywords during festive periods. For example, from your competition analysis find out which variation of popular festive keywords works better - holiday shopping or Christmas holiday shopping? Apart from keyword variations, competition analysis can also provide insights into what your audience prefers about your category, what gap your product/service can fill during the festive rush, and what kind of creative representation your target audience receives positively. 

Brands that have been running Apple Search Ads campaigns for quite some time, can broaden their horizons with non-English Apple Search Ads keyword research and selection. Even in largely English-speaking regions like North America, there is a pronounced cultural diversity where language and customs play a key role in appealing to the target audience. At Newton, we utilize a generative AI tool to recommend multilingual keywords for our global partner brands.


Setting up festive-themed campaigns for iOS user acquisition

Once you have your festive season keywords in place, it’s time to neatly group them into themes and get started on our ad groups. If you would like to get more ideas about setting up Apple Search Ads campaigns, check out our best practice compilation

When setting up an Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition campaign, remember to break them down into ad groups. Be creative with your ad group themes. For example, if you are setting up a Halloween campaign for a shopping app - you can perhaps opt to set up 3 different broad match type ad groups - one for Halloween costume ideas; one for Halloween makeover ideas, and another for Halloween accessories ideas. If you are running ads for Today Tab or Search Results, grouping ad groups will help deliver personalized communications with custom product pages, based on what exactly your audience is looking for your app to resolve.

Ad scheduling and dayparting are two important items of consideration for festive season user acquisition in Apple Search Ads. Ensure to set up activation and pause dates for seasonal campaigns to restrict any unnecessary budget leakage. Also utilize dayparting to place your ads during certain times of the day, when engagement is highly likely. For example, if you are a food app that specializes in recipes and wants to amplify Thanksgiving campaigns, position your ads to appear in afternoons and evenings in the lead-up to D-day. 48-72 hours before Thanksgiving, position your ads in the mornings when people are most likely to make last-minute plans. You can even get creative and run an ad group focused on quick-fix Thanksgiving meals.


Usage of multiple ad placements for Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition

Custom product pages are your best friend for the festive season iOS user acquisition. However, the choice of ad placements depends upon the marketing initiative as well as the strategic goals of the campaign. 

The festive season is a time to double up on brand recall initiatives: brand collaborations, new product launches, and new content releases. For such cases, Today Tab ad placements work the best as they position important announcements right when users are starting their App Store journeys. On clicking the Today Tab ads, users are diverted to a Custom Product Page that gives them more details about your announcements. 

If you are looking to appeal to a broad group of high-intent audiences, Search Results can be a great ad placement. With Search Results also, you can re-direct the user to a Custom Product Page. Some of the types of creative messaging that you can drive through Search Results page ads are: 

- Personalized messaging for different user sub-segments. For example; a digital payments app has a variety of granular personas - the 100% cashless user, the migrant worker, or the rewards collector. The app can utilize the Search Results page to target keywords like cashless payments, money transfers to families, or cashback rewards and position itself in front of a high-quality audience. 

- Product-led communications to amplify your bestsellers during the rush period

- Deals, offers, rewards, and loyalty programs 

Other than this to maximize your app visibility and conversions, utilize Search Tab ads too - these ads are positioned in the device based on the user’s previous search and app download history.

Best practices for Apple Search Ads festive marketing bidding strategy

We covered a detailed overview of Apple Search Ads keyword bidding and how to win the auction in this article if you are a first-time Apple Search Ads user. However, seeing as festive season keywords are usually high competition, you have to be careful with your bidding strategy. Before you get started on the bidding process, figure out which campaign is your priority - brand campaigns, competitor campaigns, category campaigns, or discovery campaigns.

Brand campaigns are a great campaign to invest your festive season bidding budget. Try only if you are feeling confident about your brand’s Share of Voice (SoV) in the app store. Brand campaigns usually utilize exact match types for brand keywords, brand name misspellings, popular taglines, or hashtags. So if you are already tracking a success rate on brand keyword exact matches, this is a great campaign to prioritize for Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition. 

If you are a fairly new brand, bidding on competitor and category campaign keywords and keyword groups can be a great way to approach iOS user acquisition during the peak festive rush. For category campaigns, bid on keywords that your competitor is ranking on to position yourself as a great alternate choice. In competitor campaigns, bid on keywords or keyword groups that are popular search queries with your competitor app users. 

Do you want to utilize the festive season to find out more new audience groups for your app? Then discovery campaigns are where the money should go. There’s one loophole to this, however - in discovery campaigns, you have the option to turn on Search Match for automated ad placements for relevant search queries. Sometimes, the search query might be relevant to your category, but not your app particularly. Such ad placements can cost you precious marketing dollars on keyword bids. To counter this problem, a festive season negative keyword list is a must - black friday deals may be a relevant keyword for you but black friday shopping deals may not be working with what your app has to offer. 

If you want to read up more on getting your keyword match types right to streamline your festive season Apple Search Ads keyword bidding strategy, check out our article on Apple Search Ads keyword match types

Full-funnel tracking to maximize repetitive seasonal campaigns

If you are a brand looking to scale up, Q3 will always be the busiest time of the year for Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition campaigns. Full-funnel tracking of seasonal campaigns can go a long way to optimize your moment marketing strategy for iOS users. 

With seasonal full-funnel campaign tracking, you can finalize the festival-oriented keywords that specifically, work for your brand. It also provides deeper insights into which creative communications drove the maximum installs. With full-funnel campaign analytics, you can review the keywords that have grabbed the eyeballs of your champion users who are consistently delivering high ARPUs. It also brings attention to the keywords that did not perform well and for the next year, you can add these keywords to a negative keyword list to save on your festive marketing expenses. 

A full-funnel integration helps you to track Apple Search Ads keyword performance at different user touchpoints: impressions, taps, installs, signups, in-app purchase frequency, and average cart values.

Leveling up Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition with AI and workflow automation

The discussion above makes it quite clear that a successful Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition campaign involves processing quite a volume of data to get the right formulae that work for your brand. And that’s where artificial intelligence and workflow automation come in to make iOS app marketers’ lives a little easier!

Artificial intelligence can help sift through the vast universe of Apple Search Ads keywords to recommend the best-suited English and non-English keywords for your festive season campaigns. This saves time in research and selection while cutting down the chances of targeting irrelevant keywords for your app. 

Workflow automation in terms of bid management, and optimization recommendations free up marketing bandwidth to focus on the more strategic and creative operations of App Store app growth. It also processes multiple data points to correctly predict patterns, user behavior, and trending events that impact the performance of App Store campaigns in real-time. This helps iOS app marketers to continually regulate their bidding budgets and even the schedule of their ad groups.

Apple Search Ads case study: How did this Indian brand scale App Store growth during the Navaratri-Diwali peak shopping season?

Melorra is an Indian jewelry brand that targets female users looking to purchase light but trending jewelry of precious metals and stones, that can be worn to work, casual get-togethers, and other social events. Melorra launched right around the time when the festive season shopping rush was just about to pick up in India. They were also competing with quite well-established jewelry brands in the sphere that had been favored for decades.

Melorra initially struggled to capture a healthy Share of Voice (SoV) in the App Store. However, with the right competitor campaign, the jewelry brand was off to a happy festive start to its iOS journey. The campaign bid on competitor brand names and search queries popularly used by competitor’s users to scale their visibility among high-intent audiences. Once the keyword target list was streamlined, Melorra automated its bid optimization strategy to focus on lowering Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).

Apple-Search-Ads-festive-season-user-acquisition-testimonialThe brand successfully utilized the festive rush to become a leading name in India’s jewelry space with a 1.5X increase in impressions, leading to 10% more installs of their app.


Having an Apple Search Ads festive season user acquisition strategy as part of annual marketing campaigns is turning out to be the go-to for app marketers who want to scale among a premium audience group. However, to run a successful iOS festival campaign there are a few things to keep in mind - identifying the right festival keywords that work for your brand, setting up festive-themed ad groups for personalized advertising, strategizing keyword bidding to cut down on high festive campaign expenses, full-funnel tracking to streamline and automate future festive season campaigns with artificial intelligence and workflow automation. The article above discusses each of these steps in deeper detail to help App Store marketers get the best out of their Apple Search ads festive campaigns.


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