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Figuring Out Apple Search Ads Keyword Match Types? We Got You Covered

If you are looking to know all about Apple Search Ads keyword match types, this is the blog to read. Won't take more than a few minutes!

Approximately 1.96 million apps are competing for the top ranks in their categories in the App Store daily. In this continually evolving and highly competitive space of app marketing and mobile user acquisition, staying ahead of the competition is crucial for businesses looking to thrive in the app market. Apple Search Ads (ASA) has emerged as a powerful platform for app developers and marketers seeking to boost their visibility and drive downloads on the App Store. However, a multitude of factors go into cracking the right ASA strategy for your brand. One of the key elements that contribute to success is having a strong grasp over Apple Search Ads keyword match types.

The Basics - Quick Refresher

Whether you’re new to Apple Search Ads or an experienced advertiser, understanding how to leverage Apple Search Ads keyword match types can significantly impact the success of your app advertising strategy. For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview of Apple Search Ads.

What is Apple Search Ads (ASA) Advertising?

It is the only advertising platform available to reach out and target premium mobile users directly within the App Store. ASA leverages the user’s search intent to display apps of interest to the user. The key benefit of Apple Search Ads lies in the level of control and automation the platform offers to target the right keywords for the appropriate bid amount, maximizing search intent marketing outputs.

What is Apple Search Ads Basic & Advanced?

Both versions of the Apple Search Ads platform essentially offer advertisers a simple and easy-to-use interface for setting up user acquisition campaigns, keyword selection, bidding, budget management, and targeting options. 

The key difference lies in the amount of control you can exercise over your Apple Search Ads campaigns. Apple Search Ads Basic is largely automated and runs your campaigns on autopilot. It is quite suitable for app marketers who are just starting out and might not have the bandwidth to meticulously track and optimize campaign setups and keyword bidding. With Apple Search Ads advanced, have full access to your audiences, max keyword bids, comprehensive metric reports, and API management.

Why Use Apple Search Ads for User Acquisition?

For mobile app advertisers looking to optimize premium, high-intent, high-LTV user acquisition campaigns, ASA can be an important addition to the acquisition strategy. With its high-quality average conversion rates of over 60%, Apple Search Ads is rapidly becoming the new favorite for optimizing ad spending for higher ROAS. 

To effectively utilize keywords and bidding for your Apple Search Ads efforts, understanding the campaign structure is essential. The foundation for reaching the right audience and driving full-funnel app growth is laid down by a well-structured acquisition campaign.


Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure - Brief Overview

What are the different types of Apple Search Ads campaigns?

Brand Campaigns are suitable for app advertisers looking at a brand-first acquisition approach. With this campaign type, bid on keywords related to the brand name, and specific app titles to drive downloads. Brand campaigns can be helpful to drive retargeting strategies where users are already aware of your app and need continued nurturing to push them down the funnel. 

Category Campaigns are ideally suited for advertisers to establish their app as a key player in certain categories. Target broader keyword themes around app categories to appear in search results for users looking for similar apps in your segment. Leverage category campaigns when just starting or looking to garner top funnel interests in the app. 

You are in the game and you are confident. That’s when Competitor Campaigns can ramp up your user acquisition strategy with competitor keyword bidding, diverting competition user attention to your app.

What happens if you have exhausted the list of keywords you could target? With Discovery Campaigns, Apple Search Ads empowers advertisers to utilize machine learning algorithms to automatically target relevant keywords based on their app’s metadata. These campaigns benefit advertisers looking to scale their app among newer audience cohorts.

What are Apple Search Ads keywords ad groups?

Ad groups within campaigns help app advertisers create and deliver more tailored campaigns to their intended target users. At each level, the advertiser can further segment their keywords and ads. For instance, within a core brand campaign, the advertiser is free to create ad groups that highlight app features relevant to specific themes, user intent, and searches. This level of granularity improves the overall campaign performance with improved budget control.

How to activate and run an Apple Search Ads keywords campaign?

Apple Search Ads platform can be agile and responsive to the campaign performance as well as the advertiser’s specific needs. Some of the campaign control features provided by the platform are: 

Schedule Campaigns: Optimize ad delivery and budget allocation by controlling what specific hours of the day to run the campaign, when target users are most active.

Pause Campaigns: Pause underperforming campaigns or recurring seasonal promotional campaigns at any time to assess performance and make necessary adjustments without incurring extra costs.

Duplicate Campaigns: Create multiple copies of campaigns with identical setups to test out keyword targeting, and bidding strategies or to create multilingual/multiregional campaigns.

Remove Campaigns: Remove irrelevant campaigns for a clutter-free experience focused on active and high-performing campaigns.

Deep Diving into Apple Search Ads Keyword Match Types

App Store gets an average of 600 million weekly users with high intent to download a useful app. This number also translates to revenue where 2022 iOS App Store in-app purchases increased 40% YoY contrasted to Play Store’s 9% YoY growth. In this competitive landscape, garnering your brand’s Share of Voice(SoV) in the App Store has assumed significant importance as an important KPI to track. To protect your brand’s SOV, approach a holistic combination of organic and paid user acquisition strategies. While improving your App Store Optimization can help with organic boosts, understanding how to maneuver around Apple Search Ads keyword match types for your paid campaigns also becomes a crucial priority. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different match types available in Apple Search Ads and provide insights into how you can navigate and leverage them to optimize your app’s performance on the App Store.

What are the Different Match Types Available in Apple Search Ads and How to Navigate Them?

Apple Search Ads offers three primary keyword match types, each serving a unique purpose in reaching your target audience:

Exact Match

With exact match keyword settings, your app ads appear to users whose search query matches your chosen keyword. With this, you can exercise maximum control of app visibility and ad targeting – position yourself in front of users who are looking exactly for you or exactly for something you offer. 

E.g: You have an organic produce delivery app called FarmToPlate and your key USP is delivering local farm produce to your users. To drive downloads, you can set your brand keyword ‘farmtoplate’ or any category keyword like ‘organic produce delivery’ as exact matches to ensure you are visible to users who are looking for an organic produce delivery app.

Important: When setting up exact match settings, advertisers should also note that their app will not appear for keyword variations of the exact matches. 

E.g.: if an exact match keyword is set up for ‘organic produce delivery’, the ads will show up only for this keyword. It will not show up for a keyword variation like ‘fresh produce delivery’, ‘organic fruits delivery’, ‘grocery delivery app’, etc.

Pro Tip: Exact match type works best when you are looking for precise targeting and are aiming to minimize irrelevant clicks to maximize higher conversion rates of high-LTV users.

Broad Match

Broad keyword match type settings propel your app visibility around multiple variations of your targeted keywords including plurals, misspellings, and even synonyms. It offers a broader search reach if your priority is to establish awareness among your target audience. 

E.g.: If your app provides ‘running shoes’ as a product and this is also set as a broad match keyword, your app ads will appear for relevant keywords like ‘best running shoes’, and ‘trail running shoes’. 

Pro Tip: With broad match keywords, advertisers need to carefully monitor whether or not their ads are appearing for irrelevant keyword variations. This can be controlled further with negative keywords, which we discuss later in this guide. 

Important: While broad match does offer a flexible approach to strengthen top funnel outreach, keep an eye on minimizing irrelevant impressions and clicks to control ad spends.

Search Match

This needs a little extra attention. Search Match uses Apple’s machine learning algorithm to automatically identify and target relevant search terms and keyword matches based on your app’s metadata, app title, and other attributes. This benefits app marketers to discover additional keywords and search queries beyond their manual lists. To leverage the full potential of search match keyword types, your app’s page has to be properly optimized at the title, subtitle, and app description levels. We discuss a bit on this later in the article.


How Does Search Match Work?

If you have a fitness app with a fitness tracker as a key feature of the app, search match will show ads of your app for searches like ‘calorie counter app’, ‘step counter app’, ‘activity monitor app’, ‘meal time tracker’, etc. 

This automated match type has two sides to the coin – on one side, it helps app advertisers discover more organic search terms that were not being targeted previously; on the flip side, this might increase ad impressions, and clicks for completely irrelevant categories and may bring down your campaign’s overall performance.

If we look at the example above, while ‘step counter app’ could be relevant to the features offered, ‘meal time tracker’ might not be the best-suited option to describe your app. Use search match when you are regularly seeing exact and broad match keyword performances reaching saturation or underperforming levels and need to discover additional, relevant keywords to target. 

How to Choose the Right Apple Search Ads Keyword Match Types?

The choice of keyword match type depends on 3 things – campaign objective, budget, and desired level of control. 

Choice by Campaign Objective

If downloads are the KPI to chase, exact matches and broad Apple Search Ads keyword type matches amplify ad appearances among high-intent relevant users. However, if you are looking to create a strong top-funnel interest pipeline, adding search matches to the mix helps expand the keyword universe to target. 

Choice by Campaign Budget

For precise targeting and minimal wastage of ad spend, an exact match is ideal. While broad and search match does offer a more extensive reach for your ads, it can also bleed into your budget with irrelevant taps-to-install. If budget optimization is a priority, broad and search matches need to have a prior monitoring, reviewing, and refining checklist in place to make the best use of their match-type strengths.  

Choice by Campaign Control Levels

Exact match and to a certain extent, broad match offers advertisers control when and to whom their ad appears. If precision targeting and high-quality clicks are the goals, then exact and broad matches should ideally feature in the strategy. With search matches, Apple’s automation might get your ads to appear at irrelevant positions and receive unwanted clicks. 

Can Keyword Match Types Be Utilized Together?

Yes, Apple Search Ads offer ‘layering’ or ‘hybrid targeting’ options to amplify campaign effectiveness. To utilize Apple Search Ads keyword match type together, advertisers must carefully segregate their target keywords into Exact and Broad Match. With an optimized Exact and Broad match list, it will bring in better performance for automated Search Match results. 

Use exact match for brand name and competitor name keywords where you are sure of an ad appearance; utilize broad match for app category phrases that closely captivate the essence of your USPs like ‘photo editing app’, ‘organic produce delivery’, ‘ride-hailing app’, etc. 

With a well-segregated target keyword list, turn the Search Match on to use the algorithm to discover keywords and their variations that you are probably missing out on.

How to Find the Right Apple Search Ads Keywords?

It’s all about combining research, analysis, and A/B testing to find a comprehensive target keyword list. But here are a few suggested ways to get started : 

  • Brainstorm a list of relevant keywords related to your app’s functionalities and features
  • Use the Keyword Suggestion tool to discover additional, relevant keywords and understand their popularity among search queries
  • Analyze keyword performance in your campaigns daily to continually refine your target keyword list
  • Integrate intelligent campaign layers like Newton’s Keyword Recommendation to find high-value, high-performing keywords by removing manual intervention
  • Granular tracking of user behavior and conversion data to identify keywords that regularly drive high-quality full-funnel conversions
  • Strike a balance in keyword targeting with high-traffic keywords and specific, yet less competitive keywords to optimize campaign performance

Strategic selection of the right keywords and utilizing negative keywords can fine-tune your campaign targeting to maximize conversions. Experimenting with the right keyword combinations may result in a few hits-and-misses but it will eventually help you lay down a strong keyword-led foundation for your Apple Search Ads campaign strategy. 

What are Negative Keywords and How to Use Them for Optimal Campaign Performance?

Simply put, negative keywords are a set of keywords for which you do not want an ad to appear for your app. By adding a list of negative keywords, advertisers increase the effectiveness of Broad and Search Matches. A strong negative keyword list ensures your ads do not appear for irrelevant search queries and therefore, minimizes junk clicks and installs, saving your marketing spends.

For example, if your app is a travel journal app and you are quite clear to not appear for searches related to airline booking, hotel booking, and the like, you can choose to add such keywords in your negative keyword list to avoid misplaced ads.


How to Optimize Apple Search Ads Keyword-Based Campaign Performance? 

Over 65% of app downloads occur after users Search for apps on the App Store. Careful monitoring and troubleshooting for optimal keyword match-type campaign results are part of the platform’s discipline. The key aspect of troubleshooting campaigns lies in understanding different match-type performances and making data-driven adjustments. 

  • Regularize performance metrics analysis at multiple funnel levels – impressions, clicks, conversions, and cost-per-action (CPA). Disciplined tracking will help you identify immediate performance trends of your high-priority keywords. This will lead you to make informed experiments with bidding and budget allocation strategies to find the right keyword-bid combinations.
  • Focus on continued elimination of redundant ad appearances, especially for broad match and search match keywords. Apple Search Ads keywords Match types offer the option to use the match type that works well for you. Maintain a constantly updated and refined negative keyword list to reduce ad wastage.
  • Split test different combinations of Apple Search Ads Keyword match types to track how they impact your downloads, budget savings, and ROAS. With strategic campaign layering, you can drive sustainable scale while exercising greater control over your ad spends.
  • Seasonality, app updates, and App Store updates – all play important roles in impacting your Apple Search Ads keyword match type campaigns. Keep your ear to the ground with industry trends and implement an agile keyword strategy for continued high campaign performances.

Pro Tip: Make it a habit to continually audit, troubleshoot and optimize your keyword campaigns to enhance app visibility, attract more unique relevant audiences, and maximize high-LTV conversions. At Newton, a team of campaign experts continually keeps advertisers updated on campaign health and troubleshooting options through customized data-led reports. 

Does My App Store Organic Ranking and ASO Impact Keyword Campaign Performance?

As expected, the answer to this is, yes, your organic ranking and the strength of your app store optimization (ASO) do impact how your keyword-led campaigns will perform on Apple Search Ads. A strong ASO strategy that continually optimizes your app title, subtitle, description, and app metadata will naturally yield higher organic visibility to drive increased organic downloads. 

A high organic ranking boosts the credibility of your ad to the user. When users see the continued high ranking of your app across relevant app categories, they perceive your brand as trustworthy and exciting, which can incline them positively to build a relationship with your brand. With a combined healthy strategy of ASO and paid ads, your app can garner high-quality conversion rates and positive user reviews to encourage more users to experience what you have to offer.  

A well-optimized ASO strategy provides good quality information to the Apple Search Ads algorithm on suggesting more relevant keywords and delivering more relevant automated Search Match ad conversions. This creates a virtuous cycle, where your organic and paid efforts are constantly supporting each other for an overall App Store success. 

Best Practices to Choose the Right Apple Search Ads Target Keywords List for High-Performing Campaigns

Irrespective of whether you are starting on Apple Search Ads or have been using the platform for some time now, it is never too late to take a look at your ASA target keyword list. The premium acquisition channel, driven by the principles of search intent and keyword-led marketing, is only as good as an optimized target keyword list. An effective list will ensure your ads frequently appear to users most likely to engage with your app. Here are some best practices to set up the right target keywords list for high-performing campaigns:

Thorough Keyword Research

We did cover this earlier in the blog under How to Find the Right Apple Search Ads Keywords? We cover the various steps to help you understand how to implement a detailed research process for finding the right keyword universe. In this section, we will focus more on prioritizing the right keywords from a master list.

Relevance Outweighs Volume

High-volume keywords are not necessarily always the best choice for your keyword strategy. While they may seem appealing, choose keywords that closely define what your app exactly is and who your app is exactly for. High-volume keywords also have more competition and if your app does not fit the relevancy, you may lose out on ad spends for misplaced keyword bids. 

Test Out Mix of Apple Search Ads Match Types

Experimenting with layering exact, broad, and search matches together will accelerate finding high-performing keyword combinations that cater to high traffic but also ensure ad placements for high-converting but less competitive keywords. To recap, exact match ensures accurate targeting, broad match expands campaign reach and search match helps to get your app discovered by relevant search queries automatically.

Leverage Ad Groups to Identify High-Performing Keyword Groups

Eventually, you want to create ad groups that are targeted for specific search queries that your app resolves. A/B test keyword families in ad groups to create more targeted ad copies to increase your downloads. Organize your keywords in high-performing themes that can become your groundwork for creating strong SOPs to set up high-performing ad groups.  

Consider Long-Tail Keywords and Leverage Negative Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer and have lower search volume but they are specific phrases that might be of high relevance to your app. Even though overall reach might be low, long-tail keywords cater to exclusive, high-intent cohorts who are probably looking for your exact app.

Earlier in the blog, we covered in detail how negative keywords can impact your campaign performance. Ensuring you don’t appear for irrelevant searches, keeps a check on wasted ad budget. 

Test, Monitor, Optimize, Repeat

Honestly, the process to get the right keyword sets never ends. As search intent changes with time and trends, regularly remove underperforming keywords, add new ones, and adjust bids and budgets based on campaign performance data. keep trying the multiple Apple Search Ads Keyword Match types to identify which works best for you. 

Align with ASO Efforts

Healthy organics is usually a key requirement for successful ASA keyword campaigns. Audit your ASO and paid keywords regularly to ensure both efforts are capturing the right search intent to improve overall App Store performance. 

Article Summary

Apple Search Ads, a premium user acquisition channel to target App Store users, is rapidly emerging as a platform of choice among app marketers. In this article, we take a detailed look into Apple Search Ads Keyword Match Types. To navigate this topic, we start the reader through a brief understanding of Apple Search Ads, its Basic and Advanced versions, and how it benefits app marketers today. A quick overview of Apple Search Ads campaign types prepares the reader to understand how keywords fit into the ASA universe. The article goes on to cover the different types of Apple Search Ads keyword match types with fictitious examples to drive the clarity of each concept. The reader will also find valuable information on how to find and optimize the right target keyword list with insights into crafting successful keyword match-type campaigns at multiple levels. 

For more information on structuring and optimizing keyword-led Apple Search Ad campaigns along with expert ideas on how to make campaigns more effective with Custom Product Pages etc, set up a free consultation call with Team Newton.

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