The Connection between Apple Search Ads & ASO
Mobile app developers and marketers are always looking for new ways to drive app downloads and increase visibility on the App Store. One powerful tool that helps with these goals is Apple Search Ads (ASA). It allows developers to target users searching for apps and promote their own apps at the top of the search results.
ASA and App Store Optimization (ASO) go hand-in-hand with one another, and should be leveraged together to create a holistic and unified app store acquisition strategy. In this blog post, we’ll explore how Apple Search Ads and ASO are connected and learn how to use these two strategies together to improve app visibility and get more downloads.
Synergies between ASO & Apple Search Ads
Apple Search Ads can be a great tool to improve your ASO strategy and vice-versa. A strong ASO strategy can help generate a lower cost per install (CPI) for your Apple Search Ads campaigns, while successful ASA campaigns can also help improve your organic visibility, conversion, and keyword rankings.
This creates a synergy loop, where we are able to maximize the overall impact across channels by applying and validating learnings from ASA to ASO.
The 3 areas of synergies across Apple Search Ads and ASO include:
- Custom product pages
- Increasing visibility
- Keyword optimization strategies
Custom product pages & Apple Search Ads
Custom product pages (CPPs) are unique landing pages designed to attract new users. They allow you to display various aspects of the app while keeping the message and user experience consistent, as users move from Apple Search Ads (ASA) to the App Store. Through leveraging CPPs for ASA, you can direct traffic for an ad group to a CPP with creatives tailored to specific keywords, audiences, and user intent.
In this real-life example shared by Apple, let’s take a look at the app, Garden. They’ve cleverly connected cost-per-purchase strategies with their ASA for various keywords. Now, these keywords represent different aspects of the app and what users are looking for.
By using CPPs, Garden can create custom ads that perfectly match each keyword. This means when users see an ASA ad, it’s not a generic one-size-fits-all message. Instead, it’s a tailored ad that matches exactly what the user was searching for. This smart approach starts improving conversion rates right from the moment users tap on the ad. It’s all about showing relevant and personalized content from the CPP, making it a better fit for what users are actively seeking instead of the default product page.
At AppTweak, we recently helped a music industry client save a whopping 39% on their ad spending, thanks to a clever Cost Per Purchase (CPP) strategy. Our ASO team dug deep into the user reviews of their music app to find out what users loved most about it.
Then, we launched an Apple Search Ads (ASA) campaign targeting keywords related to their competitors. We crafted a special ad highlighting that much-loved feature of the app. The result? A fantastic 58% improvement in conversion rates, which meant more app installs without having to spend more money!
Apple Search Ads & organic keyword rankings
When you bid on keywords with ASA, you get the chance to show up at the very top of the search results for keywords that your app might not naturally rank high for. In turn, this positively impacts your app’s visibility for those keywords on the App Store.
When your app gets more downloads through a specific keyword due to an ASA campaign, your app’s organic ranking for that keyword will also improve. The more downloads and higher conversion rates you achieve for a particular keyword, the better your app is likely to rank for it organically.
Using AppTweak, we found that the travel-booking app Booking.com doesn’t rank in the top 10 for highly relevant keywords, such as “last minute hotel,” “resort,” and “vacation rentals.” Even though Booking.com probably already includes these keywords in their app’s metadata, they could consider incorporating these keywords into their ASA campaigns to increase their exposure and rank better.
So, by using Apple Search Ads, Booking.com has the opportunity to boost the number of downloads for these keywords. This could result in greater visibility, improved rankings, and additional organic downloads for their app. They’ll also attract users with a strong intention to take action within the app, like making purchases or performing specific in-app tasks.
When you focus on certain keywords, you can actually make it difficult for rival apps to be seen. Apple Search Ads can push these competing apps lower in the search results, reducing their visibility.
Keyword strategy & discovery with Apple Search Ads
Apple Search Ads also plays a role to improve your ASO strategy by helping you discover keywords important for your app. Identify these keywords in your discovery campaigns and spot high-performing ones from exact match campaigns. Think about adding them to your app’s metadata (title, subtitle, and keyword field). This can help boost your app’s visibility and keyword rankings.
By adding keywords that already drive conversions, you enhance your app’s metadata. This can then boost your organic conversion rates even further. It’s a win-win situation; including these crucial keywords in your app’s metadata not only helps with Apple Search Ads but also increases your overall visibility.
In addition to finding new keywords through ASA, you can use ASO to guide your choices and keyword bids in ASA campaigns. Examining keyword volumes can reveal seasonal trends and potential openings for launching new Apple Search Ads campaigns. For instance, keywords related to “tax” experience a significant surge, nearly quadrupling from October to February.
Examine seasonal changes in organic search volume for a keyword like “free tax usa.” This tells you when it’s competitive to bid on it. Then, decide whether to bid during peak times or allocate budget wisely, based on your app and budget.
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Cannibalization in Apple Search Ads
While there are a lot of benefits behind leveraging ASO and ASA together, there are also some risks. One of the biggest rinks comes in the form of cannibalization, or paying for traffic or installs that would have otherwise been driven organically. In other words, cannibalization is a matter of bidding (or not bidding) on keywords for which you rank first in organic search results.
Cannibalization of installs through Apple Search Ads is hard to measure. It asks whether the competitor who obtains the paid impression would be able to convert it into an app download. So, to estimate cannibalization, it’s crucial to measure the conversion difference between your brand and rival apps. Developers must consider various factors in this assessment.
Besides the tech side of ASA and ASO integration, it also requires collaboration between ASO and UA teams operationally. These teams must understand their impact and collaborate to create a unified app store plan with ASO and ASA synergy
When teams invest in ASO, they gain valuable insights into their app’s keywords, industry trends, and competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. These insights are gold when planning a well-structured Apple Search Ads campaign. Additionally, ASA or UA managers can learn from ASO managers’ knowledge and past metadata updates to understand which keywords resonate best with their audience. This collaboration can streamline keyword strategies, save time, and result in a more comprehensive and cohesive ASO and ASA strategy.