app promotion

What is Apple Search Ads keyword bidding and how to win the auction?

Apple Search Ads keyword bidding has several questions around it and how to win the App Store auction. Check out the article to have your FAQs answered!

The Apple Search Ads buzz is only getting stronger in the app marketing ecosystem. Leading brands in emerging markets are leveraging the platform to strengthen their roadmap to sustainable ROAS. The performance-focused platform, driven by search intent marketing, keyword optimization, and bidding is gaining favor for tailoring to a privacy-first world. In our continued attempt to compile all that we are discovering about Apple Search Ads and Apple Search ads bidding as a team, here’s our latest issue on common questions we often receive from app marketers on Apple Search Ads keyword bidding and how to win the ad placement auctions. 

Privacy-first world & search intent marketing: What’s the connection?

With App Tracking Transparency (ATT) introduced in iOS 14.5, Apple took the lead in giving users the right to choose how their data is tracked and used. Following in their footsteps, other platforms have undertaken similar initiatives to reduce tracking user data. As the conversation of ethical data practices gets warmer in international parliaments, app marketers are looking at search intent marketing as a pivotal strategy. 

This is the era of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation - comprehending users’ intentions via keywords, Apple Search Ads bidding insights, and conversion metrics, is evolving as a key differentiator in how brands forge consumer connections. The lack of reliance on personal data reduces the scope of various invasive ad targeting methods, giving customer-centricity a whole new meaning. Creative content tailoring, and analytics monitoring to identify more granular search intent are at the heart of driving meaningful interactions, conversions, brand loyalty, and consumer trust. 

How Apple Search Ads is driving premium user acquisition with search intent marketing?

Apple Search Ads utilizes keyword insights like volume, and popularity to display relevant, useful ads to iOS users. The app advertising platform, among other features, offers keyword bidding to boost visibility to high-value users. Using optimization algorithms, Apple Search Ads keyword bidding is constantly refined to maximize users’ search intent. Real-time performance data ensures optimum cost-efficiency for marketers as they acquire engagement among a discerning audience, powering high-quality downloads in the App Store ecosystem. 

Apple Search Ads keyword bidding - FAQs

What are Apple Search Ads keywords?

Apple Search Ads keywords are App Store user search queries commonly used to discover and download relevant apps. The keywords reflect the users’ intentions and help app marketers identify specific, or relevant search queries that match the USP or value outcome of their apps. Through meticulous keyword research and selection, App Store marketers can optimize app visibility to attract valuable and engaged users. Strategic positioning of the app in front of the right audience, at the right moments amplifies discovery and conversion goals.

Apple Search Ads keywords are categorized into three major categories: exact match for precise ad appearances; broad match to widen ad appearance; and search match to tap into undiscovered audience segments.

How to identify the right set of Apple Search Ads keywords?

We have done a deep dive into Apple Search Ads keywords in one of our previous issues. Check out the article if you are looking for a more detailed answer to this question. To give a quick gist, identifying the right keywords is pivoted on 3 things: the core features of the app, the purpose of the solution your app provides, and its unique selling points.

The Apple Search Ads Keywords Identification Matrix for FarmToPlate - a fictitious app

Apple_Search_Ads_Keyword_Bidding_ChartResearch competition and industry trends to derive the common search queries that match your app’s value proposition. Utilize Keyword Recommendation or Apple Search Ads Keyword Planner tools to build an exhaustive, but relevant list. Prioritize keywords basis their relevance to your app - a high-volume keyword may not necessarily reflect the true essence of your app as contrasted to a moderate-volume phrase. Build a balanced list of crucial but high-volume keywords and moderate-volume keywords with high conversion values. This will help keep Apple Search Ads bidding costs in check for your keywords. Consider customizing your custom product pages according to the search queries in your Apple search ads Campaigns. 

What is the Apple Search Ads pricing model?

For keyword bidding, Apple Search Ads offers the following two pricing models:

  • Cost-Per-Tap (CPT) where the advertiser pays each time a user taps or clicks on their ad in the App Store. If you would like to know more about ad placements in Apple Search Ads, you can download this handy guide on the platform’s Multiplacement Ad Strategy.

  • Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) where advertisers get the flexibility to set up a target cost for each app installation. Based on the target, Apple’s algorithm optimizes keyword bids to maximize conversions within the set budget.

Platforms like Newton offer advanced pricing models that take into consideration the bottom-funnel impact of the campaign. Cost Per Converted User or CPCU models charge advertisers based on Apple Search Ads conversions acquired for the desired event like installs, signups, and even purchases.

What is keyword bidding in Apple Search Ads?

Ad placements on App Store are decided by keyword auction. To participate in the auction, advertisers set bids on specific keywords. The bid is essentially, an amount the advertiser is willing to pay to secure a tap or app install from a specific keyword. When a search query matches, the auction occurs. High bids along with strong keyword relevance improve chances of winning the auction and having prominent ad displays. To drive Apple Search Ads keyword bidding effectively, strike the right balance among bid amount, keyword relevancy, and campaign goals. 

Also, focus on organic App Store optimization to maximize the efficacy of keyword bidding. High-performing organic keywords impact keyword bid ROAS. If the existing organic strength of the keyword to deliver conversions is high, bidding on the same keywords amplifies visibility and conversions, with the potential to reduce bid costs.  

How to place a keyword bid on Apple Search Ads bidding?

Placing, tracking, and measuring Apple Search Ads keyword bidding takes just a few steps to master:

  • Identify relevant keywords with competition, consumer, and industry trend research
  • Set details to create a campaign
  • Add keywords to target
  • Use Set Bids to determine bid amounts for keywords
  • Select Match Types among exact, broad, modified, or automated search match
  • Opt for manual or automatic bidding to Adjust Bid Strategy. Modify bid adjustments to device, and location as needed
  • Allocate specific budgets to keywords to control ad spend wastage
  • Monitor, optimize, and refine bids based on performance data

Optimizing Apple Search Ads keyword bidding for auction wins

What are some of the tried-and-tested Apple Search Ads keyword bidding best practices to follow?

Mastering keyword bidding in Apple Search Ads requires a certain platform discipline and thoughtful planning around your keyword marketing strategy. With the help of our campaign managers, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind for Apple Search Ads campaigns:

  • Do not underestimate low-volume, long-tail keywords in your keyword list. Long-tail keywords indicate precise user search queries for a specific problem that your app solves. This is the niche high-quality eyeballs and user interest that you are looking for, to establish brand Share of Voice.

  • Build up a habit to refine keyword list segmentation by relevance, user intent, core app features, unique selling points, differentiating features, and competition performance. Amplify the impact of your keyword bidding, by tailoring your ad copies for the exact audience, you are looking to convert into paying users. Save on ad spend leakage with an updated negative keyword list.

  • Experiment and track learnings and results with hybrid layering of match types. Read more on this under ‘Can Keyword Match Types be Utilized Together’ in this article.

  • Blend manual and automated bidding strategies to utilize the best of both worlds to optimize your bid performance. Manual bidding provides more control when the campaign is in the learning stage, while automation helps optimize well-defined campaigns to run on autopilot, with a little help from Apple’s bid conversion algorithm.

  • Utilize Apple Search Ads bidding adjustments learnings to identify which keywords, time of day, and devices are turning out to deliver high-LTV users consistently. Make informed decisions on keyword bid budget distribution, to optimize for higher ROAS.

  • Incorporate items like A/B testing, app landing page optimization, bid monitoring, and insight tracking as part of a regular discipline for your Apple Search Ads campaign managers. 

How to identify and match the right bids to the appropriate keywords?

Matching keywords to bid is guided by keyword relevance to the app, competition, and campaign goals. Platforms like Newton dive into full-funnel analytics, to provide advertisers with conversion analysis to further refine the bidding process. Here’s a quick checklist we follow:

Keyword Importance: Bid higher on relevant high-intent keywords like competition keywords, long-tail high-performing keywords, brand keywords, and moderate-volume, but high-conversion category keywords.

Bidding Landscape: Check if your chosen keywords have high competition. Accordingly, decide to adjust or avoid the bid. 

Individual & Keyword Group Performance Insights: Take bid decisions based on how keyword or keyword groups have performed from various A/B testing activities.

Full-Funnel Conversion Tracking: Adjust bid distribution to keywords based on actual, bottom-funnel conversions. 

Manual vs. Automated: For new campaigns bid manually to figure out the keyword, ad placements, device type, location, and time of day that work for you. Over time, switch to automation. 

Seasonality: For bid adjustments, be mindful of seasonal factors like special days, festive events, or pop culture trends.

How to track bid insights in Apple Search Ads?

  1. Access Apple Search Ads account
  2. Choose the campaign to track
  3. Navigate to Keywords tab
  4. With View Insights, monitor metrics like impressions, taps, and conversion rates. To dive into post-install analytics, connect with an Apple Search Ads partner.
  5. Analyze data or receive partner recommendations for positive conversion patterns and bid adjustments

When to raise or lower bids on a keyword or keyword group?

Use a data-driven approach to make decisions about raising or lowering bids. To get a true understanding of which keywords are bringing in the ROAS, track full-funnel conversion analytics. The efficacy of a keyword or a keyword group, is based on post-install user behavior. 

Map retention and user activity data to identify high-ROI keywords. Raise bids on keywords that are regularly driving users who transact in your app. Also, check for keywords driving higher installs but lower retention rates. Lower or pause bids on keywords, that are not hitting ROAS benchmarks.

Look out for regular bid adjustments to competition keywords that are gaining in popularity, and are increasing the competitor’s Share of Voice. Seasonal keywords for events, special days, etc., develop trends that can be utilized to raise or lower bids based on the time of their occurrence and popularity with the brand’s target audience segments.

Automating keyword bidding process in Apple Search Ads

In a competitive landscape like the App Store, automation and intelligence provide app marketers additional edge to drive app visibility, user engagement, installs, and in-app purchases.

Automation tools analyze vast pools of data in real-time and map them together to enable the best bid adjustments to your chosen keywords. Automation algorithms don’t just account for the brand’s conversion data. It also processes market insights, similar user behaviors, and competition data to evaluate the right bid amount to be allocated. 

Intelligence-driven automation helps app marketers quickly adapt to the shifts in trends and demands in search intent user acquisition. It mitigates the scope of data discrepancies and offers a unified data-led approach to match user intent to the right set of keywords for bidding. Apple Search Ads automation platforms, like Newton, foster streamlining of an analytics-driven search intent marketing strategy.


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