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4 min read

How Apple SearchAds could revolutionise the App Store

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Describing itself as “smart, effortless and flexible”, the Apple SearchAds platform allows users to advertise on the App Store using a ‘cost-per-tap’ bidding system. While SearchAds has been publicly available in the US since October 2016, Apple have recently rolled it out to the UK, Australia and New Zealand as well. So how does SearchAds work, and how can you use it to boost your app’s success?

How does it work?

Creating ads with SearchAds is designed to be very simple and the platform does a lot of the work for you. Let’s break the process down:

  • The user inputs the name of the app they want to advertise.
  • SearchAds automatically generates an ad using the app’s imagery and metadata (provided by the user when listing the app on the App Store). 
  • Therefore for an ad to be successful, it is crucial to provide up-to-date, accurate metadata.
  • Ads are then matched to relevant search queries based on their genre and content.


The user inputs their budget and maximum CPT (cost-per-tap) when creating the ad campaign. There is no minimum spend on SearchAds, and you also have the option to input a maximum daily spend, allowing you to distribute your budget effectively. SearchAds currently supports all major credit cards as well as a variety of currencies (including GBP, USD, EUR, etc.)


SearchAds can provide a list of keyword recommendations based on the app’s information and the keywords listed manually by the user. These recommended keywords are ranked using a relative search term popularity index to indicate how much search volume they could drive. Both broad and exact match keywords are supported, and bids can be set using a default across the campaign or ad group, or individually at keyword level to allow the user to optimise their keyword based on popularity and importance.


Users can target their ad based on a range of settings, including gender, age, and device location. This allows you to refine your audience to market their app most effectively. By default, SearchAds does not show ads to people who have already downloaded the app, but this can be changed by the user if required.


The SearchAds platform is designed to allow the user to view all of their most important metrics on one easy-to-digest page. Keyword metrics are located in the same place as keyword management, and keywords (as well as negative keywords) can be uploaded in bulk. Campaigns, ad groups and keywords can be analysed by (amongst other things) demo, location and device. This data can be downloaded into spreadsheets for easy viewing. There is a Search Terms tab designed to help users discover new keywords and to gain an insight into which keywords attract the most valuable customers. SearchAds also gives the user the option to use APIs for campaign creation, reporting and management, in order to optimise their bidding strategies.


Ads must abide by strict guidelines regulating the kind of content which can be displayed. Age-restricted, pharmaceutical and alcohol related ads may be limited by Apple. Ad content must be approved, ads are clearly labelled for transparency, and no user-specific data is provided to advertisers. App Store users are not tracked, and no information from other Apple ads is used for targeting purposes. It is also worth noting that ads will not be shown to users under the age of 13 for child protection reasons.

So how effective is SearchAds?

SearchAds has been designed to offer users an all-in-one advertising package. The success stories cited by Apple range from a 20% increase in downloads to a 125% increase in subscribers. Obtaining results like these relies upon an optimised bidding strategy, good customer targeting and highly accurate app metadata. With careful campaign management, SearchAds provides a fantastic platform to drive more app downloads than ever before.