How to Use the CPA Cap in Apple Search Ads

Ian Perniaby 
Senior App Growth Consultant at AppTweak

3 min read

In September 2023, Apple changed its Search Ads ad group setting in the Apple Search Ads (ASA) console from “CPA Goal” to “CPA cap (Limits Impressions)” for Search Results ad placements. This name change helps clarify the impact that this setting has on campaign performance. In this blog, we shall take a closer look at this transition and explore what it means for advertisers and their ads.

Shift from CPA goal to CPA cap in Apple Search Ads

Previously, the term “CPA goal” led some ASO practitioners to believe that the ASA platform was automatically optimizing campaigns to achieve the desired CPA goal. This could be confusing, particularly for UA managers familiar with terms used in other platforms like Meta and Google.

Now, with the official name change to “CPA cap (Limits Impressions),” it’s clear that this setting isn’t for automated campaign optimization. Instead, it functions as a throttling mechanism, defining the maximum amount you’re willing to spend for a conversion.

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CPA cap in Apple Search Ads
New CPA Cap definition shown during campaign setup in ASA console.

Determine your conversion budget

Your CPA cap sets the maximum bid for all keywords in your ad group, even if you’ve set higher CPT bids. The ad group’s bid limit depends on your CPA cap.

Expert Tip

Bid ceiling is calculated as: CPA Cap x Conversion Rate

For example, if your CPA cap was $5 and your conversion rate is 65%, the calculation would be:

$5 x .65 = $3.25

In this scenario, all the keywords in the ad group would have a maximum cost per tap (CPT) bid of $3.25. Even if you initially set the maximum CPT bid to $4, it would still be capped at $3.25.

Read this blog to make the most of your Apple Search Ads performance

While this might seem beneficial for those lacking the time or resources to closely track how individual keywords perform in ASA campaigns, it’s important to note that the CPA cap affects all keywords in the ad group. This means it can also restrict impressions for keywords that are performing well.

Even if an ASA campaign contains 100 keywords and only 5 perform poorly, the CPA cap affects the entire ad group by reducing the max CPT for all the keywords. Given the dynamic nature of keyword bid auctions, the CPA cap can be detrimental to campaigns.

Check out these ASA do’s and don’ts to manage your ad campaigns at every level


Choosing to set a CPA cap is entirely up to you, and it affects how many impressions and conversions your campaign gets. Our suggestion is that when you first launch a Search Results campaign, it’s a good idea to start without a CPA cap. This allows your campaign to run and provides an opportunity to gather insights from the results. It’s worth noting that even if you set a CPA cap, it’s not a guaranteed restriction. For experienced ASA campaign managers, it may not be needed at all.

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Ian Pernia
by , Senior App Growth Consultant at AppTweak
Ian is a Senior App Growth Consultant at AppTweak helping apps improve their store presence. He is passionate about movies, traveling, and spending time with his dog.