app store advertising

How to get ready for your Lunar New Year app marketing?

Lunar New Year app marketing is one of the high-end seasonal activities for East Asia. Check out the article to understand how to leverage the moment.

The Asia Pacific region starts getting busy with the celebrations of the Lunar New Year from early January onward. The festive spirit continues well into February and the euphoria is sustained till the end of the month. Locally, Asians celebrate this period as Spring Festival, Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, and Tét. Online and offline retail booms during this period, providing plenty of Lunar New Year app marketing opportunities. In this article, we will discuss the challenges commonly encountered during the Chinese New Year rush, and how you can strategize your app marketing to make the best of the positive audience sentiment.

Why Lunar New Year app marketing should be a part of your strategy?

Over 2 billion people per year celebrate the Lunar New Year festivities. This population is primarily concentrated in China, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and Vietnam. The region has a 76% smartphone penetration, with 17% premium iOS users. Among the Asian countries, there’s also a distinct pattern of growing preference for iPhones and iPads. 


This is also the biggest festival for most Asian cultures and therefore, the audience is in a tremendously positive mood. The festivities can last as long as 40 days and over this period spending time with family and friends is of core importance. Some of the consumer categories that witness a lot of action every year during this period are - food and drink, shopping, travel, gaming, and entertainment. 

Brands use this period popularly to propel brand campaigns, brand recall campaigns, retargeting campaigns, and competitor campaigns.

How do you think I could get started on a Lunar New Year app marketing campaign?

The Lunar New Year app marketing campaigns should ideally be planned during the October to December periods with a well-crafted launch on the first week of January itself. The Lunar New Year celebrations usually occur sometime during mid-January to early February. Sometimes, based on D-day, brands may have to start their campaigns slightly earlier. Here’s a checklist to keep in mind. 

Before the campaign launches:

  • Identify the app marketing channels to use - Apple Search Ads, email, SMS, programmatic, etc. 
  • Shortlist a couple of objectives you want to achieve with this seasonal campaign - Increased downloads, Amplify in-app event conversions, Retarget old users back to the app, or secure competitor’s users.
  • A small budget for A/B testing campaign messaging - text content, creatives, targeted keywords, and ad placements.
  • Have clarity on target regions, gender, age group, and devices
  • An updated App Store Account for the iOS App Store and Play Console for the Android Play Store
  • You are satisfied with the ASO of your default app pages

During the campaign

  • Real-time optimization of iOS CPPs or Google Custom Links
  • Monitor and adjust bid amounts for keyword-led targeting
  • Track full-funnel performance to immediately pause or reschedule campaigns accordingly

When it comes to Apple Search Ads, advertisers can proceed in the following manner: 

  • Identify the campaign to pursue: brand, category, competitor, or discovery
  • Select the ad placements to utilize: Today Tab, Search Tab, or Search Results Page
  • For Search Results Page ads, make ad groups based on keyword variations. Select the suitable iOS keyword match type - exact, broad, Search, or hybrid. Link the appropriate CPPs to the ad groups

  • Utilize rule-based automation to help with monitoring and adjusting bid amounts daily

Keep a real-time campaign performance check with full-funnel analytics to delete low-performing keywords or pause non-performing ad groups or campaigns.

App marketing challenges during the Lunar New Year rush

2 billion people celebrating for 40 days is a huge affair. The region’s delivery and travel infrastructure especially, remains the busiest during this time of the year. With people planning their family holidays around this time, there’s also labor shortage and production delay within the overall manufacturing and supply chain. Entrepreneurs do have to keep these realities in mind when advertising what they can offer. These logistical issues do impact the challenges that come up for app marketers during this period. 

The pressure to stand out is high

Most brands approach Lunar New Year app marketing quite aggressively. This makes it difficult to stand out among similar messages of family bonding, gifting, and sharing meals. However, the sentiment to save during this period of indulgence is also high. So consumers do keep looking for good offers that will stand out and help them save from their celebrations budget. Another way to go around this is to focus on niche audience requirements. 

Dissatisfied customer reviews

During the Lunar New Year, the top consumer complaints are unavailability of products, untimely deliveries, or services being canceled. As we discussed before, production and supply chains are affected by holiday plans. Therefore, ensure the messaging is constantly updated to minimize the expectation-reality gap. This can go a long way to reduce app churn and help maintain a healthy full-funnel campaign performance. 

App marketing budget bleeds on non-performing strategies

Just because you are running a seasonal campaign, does not mean it will succeed on channels that have historically not worked for you. For all seasonal campaigns always choose channels that have provided historically good results. A common mistake app marketers make for seasonal campaigns is to spread their budget thin among multiple sub-campaigns. Instead, focus on one or two objectives to secure good quality acquisition and retention results. 

Gaining consumer trust

New brands face this issue a lot more than established players in the market. Personalizing the communication can help to show your brand cares about its consumers. The contextuality can be driven through creatives that show how the Lunar New Year cultures prevalent in the region, affect different groups of your audience persona. Additionally, Asians prefer to type in their local language. Make it easy for your consumers to find your app in their local language. For the ads, ensure the copies are in the local language too.

Navigating Lunar New Year app marketing with Apple Search Ads

In the iOS ecosystem, app marketers popularly utilize Apple Search Ads or SKAN to navigate user acquisition, user retargeting, and user retention. A lot of the challenges we discussed above can be resolved with the Apple Search Ads platform. The platform is essentially a user acquisition channel, driving keyword-led, privacy-focused mobile ads for iOS users. The popularity of this platform has significantly increased after the ATT feature was launched with iOS 14.5. The ATT feature allows iOS users to opt out of all data tracking by apps which makes it a little tricky for app marketers to efficiently target their users. Apple Search Ads helps to maneuver around the limitation, without compromising with the users’ choice.

Execute well-structured campaigns for multiple business objectives

Apple Search Ads helps advertisers to run primarily four types of campaigns:

  • Brand campaigns help to establish brand dominance in the App Store ecosystem.

    When to run it?
    This is a good campaign to run, if you are often directly searched for with your brand name, and you would like to extend the reach of your brand across the App Store landscape.

  • Category campaigns help brands to establish dominance in their category within the App Store infrastructure.

    When to run it?
    This is a great campaign for seasonal marketing if you are looking to be an industry leader in terms of product variety, services, and customer satisfaction

  • Competitor campaigns help brands increase their Share of Voice (SoV) across important search queries among competitor players.

    When to run it?
    A good campaign objective to have if throughout the year the brand has established a certain kind of App Store dominance, and can now approach other players in a head-to-head keyword impression share battle.

  • Discovery campaigns are best for finding new audience segments who will engage with the app.

    When to run it?
    A great campaign when app marketers see the above three campaigns stagnating in terms of results delivered.

Some of these campaigns can also be subdivided into ad groups to help with more granular targeting of the iOS user base. Based on what you would like to achieve during the Lunar New Year festive period, you can select any one of these campaign structures to follow.

Stand out with thoughtful ad placements

The Apple Search Ads multiple placement is positioned based on the App Store user’s app download journey. The Today Tab on the home page is all about announcing the big news. Just as the user is supposed to type in a query, the Search Tab ads pop up showing the user what is already available in the App Store. After submitting their search queries, the Search Results Page ads help them find the right app for their requirements. 

The Today Tab and Search Tab ads are matched to users based on their search history and download history. This segment is a well-educated user base who has already been looking for you. The Search Results Page ads are matched to the search query typed. Therefore, the ads are more targeted with specific messaging. 


With Today Tab ads, you can advertise in-app events like the sale of popular gift items that usually go out of stock fastest, special delivery timelines that you are adhering to for the festive period, or specific products or new features introduced exclusively for the Lunar New Year. The linked CPP can help give more details about your ad. 

With the Search Results Page, the linked CPP can help to provide answers to the exact search query. For example. If someone searches for Lunar New Year gift boxes, it is possible to curate an ad entirely around gift boxes to show your high-intent audience what to expect from your app on their specific query.

Streamline Lunar New Year app marketing targeting

In Apple Search Ads, it is possible to filter targeting by region, gender, age, and device type. Other than that, the keywords provide a lot of data on what kind of targeting optimization needs to be done. The search queries give you a clear idea of which audience persona is looking for what item or service, that your app can resolve easily. In Apple Search Ads, the primary categories of iOS keywords are:


Apart from these granular categorizations, Apple Search Ads keywords can also broadly be classified into long-tail or short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords indicate high-quality, high-intent audiences who are looking for a very specific requirement that your app can fulfill. An example of a long-tail keyword could be: Lunar New Year gift ideas for aged grandparents

Look carefully at keywords bringing in the highest conversions during this period to get a better idea of what your champion user base likes about your app. Utilize this insight to create CPPs that talk more about the bestselling products or most used app features to attract more lookalike audiences to your brand’s ads.

Scale brand trust with contextual Lunar New Year app marketing

People have multiple plans for the Lunar New Year festivities. A seasonal campaign activity like this is recommended to be highly personalized. Some of the key audience personas of the most active consumers are: 

  • The Family Planner: This section of consumers usually plans out the celebrations for the entire family - the trips to take and the gifts to give to multiple family members
  • The Migrant Worker: Their priority is to arrange for trips to visit their family and friends. They are also on the lookout for travel-related products and gifts that can either be delivered directly to the receiver or are not too much hassle to carry from one place to another. In their home cities, they also like things convenient in terms of booking rides or arranging for food in the house. 
  • The Celebrations Host: This persona is usually busy with the food and beverage logistics for the different community gatherings common during the festive season. They are looking for ease to prepare meals and arrange entertainment for their guests.
  • The Spring Festival Traveler: This period of January to February also coincides with other Asian events like the Ice and Snow Festival, Songkran, and the Lantern Festival. Tourists around APAC love to travel around the region to witness these beautiful cultural festivals. Their main priority for the festive season is comfortable travel.  

  • The Office Host: This persona is on the lookout for ideas on celebrating the season with colleagues and appropriate gifts for a professional setting

These main Lunar New Year consumer personas contribute to the high traffic to eCommerce, qCommerce, FinTech, travel, entertainment, and Food & Dine apps. The iOS CPPs can help with targeting these specific personas with the help of customizable creatives and content, to boost campaign conversions. The CPPs can be further customized to reflect more customer desires like deal hunting, coupon redeeming, custom gift ordering, cashback, or loyalty points.


Track full-funnel insights for real-time and future campaign efficiency

The Apple Search Ads platform is flexible enough to be integrated with MMPs. The integration helps to track the complete Lunar New Year app marketing performance starting from Impressions to post-install events like Average Cart Value or Frequency of Orders Placed. Platforms like Newton, offer a single unified dashboard where advertisers can see which keywords, which bid range, which ad placements, and which campaigns drove the highest conversion rates across the complete funnel. 

This real-time data can help make decisions on which campaign should be paused, which keywords should be added to a negative keyword list, and if any campaign should be allowed to run longer than the planned schedule. The historical data helps gain insights into improving future campaign efficiency. 

The Lunar New Year app marketing campaigns are one of the most important seasonal activities for marketers in Asia. If you are looking to get some help with the workload, the iOS campaign experts of Newton would be happy to help you with your seasonal campaigns in the region.

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