Apple have finally launched their App Store search product after months of beta testing, launching on the 5th of October in the US. A final date has yet to be decided for the UK but we’ve been told it could be early January before we see ads in the UK app store.
Apple Search ads will allow anyone (willing to pay, of course) to be in the top position of a search result within the app store. The only distinguishing feature will be a blue “Ad” tag under the name of the app. You will have the ability to bid on your own app terms, your competitor’s app name or category level keywords (eg Productivity, Games). There will also be an automated option called Search Match, which allows you to show to any search results that Apple deems relevant to your app and apps similar to yours.
The targeting options available will make it a more limited platform than Google, Facebook and Twitter but it appears to be a few steps ahead of Amazon, with day-parting and bulk uploads available from the outset. There is also the ability to exclude people who already have the app, based on iTunes data rather than device data, meaning anyone who downloaded and deleted your app can be excluded from ads. Basic targeting such as Age, Gender and Location are available, as is the ability to target users of your other apps should you be the developer of more than one.
Advertisers working with Google Universal App Campaign will find similar limitations. Creative assets are automatically generated based on app store assets and you will not be able to test creative or images, or at least not for now. Additionally, the Search Match Feature is similar to Google’s “set it and forget it” targeting option, however there is the ability to target by keywords.
The API will be open to third parties for campaign management and reporting, which will be important as post-conversion data won’t be visible in the Apple UI. A mobile analytics platform such as Apps Flyer or Adjust will be needed to see this data.
Apple only represents a slightly smaller share of the market than Android, so this will present brands and app developers with the opportunity to almost double their reach in an area where users are showing clear intent to find their app. Considering that 65% of all app downloads come from search this is something those in the app business cannot ignore.
App re-engagement, which has been identified as a top priority for most advertisers, will not be possible from the outset with these types of campaigns, so this is hopefully a feature that will appear sooner rather than later. Only ~3% of all Android and iOS apps have active users after 30 days – an astonishing number considering the amount of time that goes into building the app then acquiring a customer in the first place. Despite this shortcoming, iOS represents nearly half the app market and therefore should be considered significant. Early results from our colleagues in the US are showing there is early mover advantage with very low Cost Per Tap rate for a lot of advertisers, it is therefore advisable to test this platform early when it arrives in the UK.