app marketing

The top 5 trends in Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition

Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition space is rapidly evolving to become a premium app market to watch out for. Find out what's trending in the mobile advertising space!

Recently, Team Newton had quite a visit to Saudi Arabia. The team had a gala time attending Seamless Saudi Arabia 2023 on September 4-5, 2023. My colleague, Ankit Rawal and I enjoyed meeting some fantastic, up-and-coming app marketers in the region. Together, we traveled deep into the premium Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition landscape. Of course, while gorging on some unique delicacies, while soaking in the balmy suns and evenings of Riyadh.

Working in the ad tech space, I am ever curious about the end user and how they receive the ads we serve on their devices. Getting the app marketers’ perspective on topics of user behavior, their in-app conversion trends, and the session rates of their different user segments helps us on the other side, to deliver a better and more meaningful experience to the device user. Five key patterns definitely emerged from our conversations with brands operating in the Saudi Arabian market.

Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition space - top 5 trends

Trend 1: It is emerging to be one of the strongest privacy-first app marketing playing field


Source: Statista, Statcounter

If you notice the graph trend above - the market is usually updated on the latest iPhone models with ATT activated. Considering the price point of the iPhone itself, it is quite safe to assume this user group is one of the most premium audience segments in the market. 

Against the backdrop of the iPhone market share increasing, app marketers of the region are seriously considering the winds of privacy-first changes coming into the Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition space. So you do hear buzzwords like contextual advertising and full-funnel user mapping coming into the conversation a lot. Marketing activities are taking shape assuming no PDIs will be available at all. With privacy being the consumer preference, first-party in-app activity data has found new favor among app marketers. It has become the cornerstone of formulating lookalike audience models, identifying the right user acquisition channels, and executing more privacy-focused, consumer-centric app marketing strategies.

Trend 2: Saudi Arabia mobile users show higher success rates in localized marketing


Source: Dribble

Saudi Arabian mobile users, pretty much all of them, have Arabic keyboards installed in their phones. This is quite an important fact to consider when planning to expand in the Gulf market. The behavioral trend is similar to the Southeast Asian market, wherein the search intent is often expressed in the native tongue as opposed to English. 

To leverage vernacular search terms, app marketers are utilizing multilingual keyword strategies to not lose out on potential premium audiences. Custom product pages also can be considered to be personalized with vernacular language for better reach with the audience. 

Trend 3: Ranking in the iOS app platform matters to building brand credibility


Source: AppFollow

A growing preference among App Store app marketers in Saudi Arabia is to secure higher category ranks for their apps. Most marketers opt for a holistic blend of organic and paid Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition strategies. This is done in a bid to increase the brand’s Share of Voice in the App Store to catapult its category ranking.

App marketers opine that even when they are running ads, and users see apps being naturally suggested within the Top 3 or Top 5 apps of the category, it helps to build that credibility in the very first impression of the brand. There’s a distinct focus on getting their App Store Optimization checks and balances in place. App marketers are utilizing data from their paid ads, to add to their organic ranking strategies. 

They are largely focusing on category keywords, broad match keywords, and search match keywords to boost their organics. The Apple Search Ads platform helps them identify the most vital category keywords that can become part of their app title or subtitle. Similarly, keywords discovered via search match help to strengthen the app description, to position it in front of the right users.

Trend 4: Paid marketing platforms are a preference to penetrate walled gardens like iOS users


Source: Apple Search Ads

A conversation that popped up in Seamless and quite often during our Saudi stay - the usage of paid advertising platforms and how they impact premium walled garden user acquisition among Saudi Arabia app users. With a large iOS market share, it’s a premium cohort that values privacy. 

In-house advertising initiatives drain quite a lot of budget and internal bandwidth for primarily three reasons: vanilla platform versions, lack of time for continual monitoring, and lack of dedicated campaign optimization expertise and support. The Apple Search Ads platforms in the market, like Newton, offer beyond basic campaign management options. 

The Apple Search Ads platform while it does give you a campaign performance view, is unable to throw light on post-install user journey metrics. With intelligent platforms, user mapping gets more convenient. With integrations like MMP, and SKADNetwork, advertisers can see the origin and performance of users throughout the campaign funnel in one single dashboard. This vastly assists the Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition space to focus on optimizing for higher ROAS. Paid platforms are helping Saudia Arabia's user engagement strategies to cater to high-intent audience groups who display better quality and lifetime values - retention rate, purchase frequencies, and other in-app activities.

Another preference for a paid platform stems from the need to free up internal marketing bandwidth, such that there’s a higher focus on creating creative communications that represent each of their target groups and contextualize the app offerings. 

Trend 5: Reduction of cost of customer acquisition (CAC) is still top of mind for Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition


Source: Business of Apps

App marketers in Saudi Arabia, who use Apple Search Ads, often record a CPI between $5-$6, making it an expensive user acquisition channel. Yet the popularity of the platform increases due to the higher ARPU of users acquired. App Store visitors spend more frequently, with high cart values. 

One key reason why lower CACs are still a main topic of discussion is primarily because Apple Search Ads is a relatively newer channel, and the ecosystem is still in the learning phase to identify the best tips to reduce CAC. At Newton, we have been able to reduce the CAC by 60% in some cases where we could identify the right strategy. Automated bid optimization usually plays a key role in ensuring the overall acquisition costs stay down, without compromising conversion rates and user quality.


Saudi Arabia is a vibrant market. A melting pot of varied cultures, it is a dream destination of growth for several global entrepreneurs. App marketers in the Saudi Arabia iOS user acquisition space are at the forefront of privacy-led mobile marketing initiatives. The region boasts over 42% iOS market share, with a clear indication of preference for privacy-first devices. The blog recounts key points of observation during our visit to the Gulf Kingdom. The premium market is ready to usher in a new era of search intent marketing, user acquisition in walled gardens, customer-centric strategies, and contextual mobile advertising. 

This article is contributed by Vishal Athavale, Sales Manager. At Affle, he spearheads international sales strategies and ensures the seamless expansion of the company's multitude of user acquisition products, reach across borders. He is a firm believer in the power of effective communication and relationship building, which has allowed him to foster strong organizational partnerships. His diverse interests inspire him, including traveling, music, dancing, and exploring the world through documentaries.

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