Apple Search Ad Specs – Your Guide for 2024

Apple Search Ads are likely on your paid search radar if you’ve got an app or you’re planning to release one. A strong app launch and marketing strategy is essential to your app ad campaign and Apple Search Ads offer a platform dedicated to all things apps!

With almost 2 million apps on the Apple App store and 70% of people using the search feature to find new apps, Apple Search Ads (ASA) are one of the best ways to get your app discovered and scale your ad spend to increase brand awareness and generate ongoing user acquisition.

ASA puts your app in front of hundreds of millions of iOS users, above the organic search results, using keywords to optimize ad reach and exposing your ads to people actively on the lookout for a brand or service like yours.

Increase your chance of organic traffic with ASA’s prime placement at the top of the search results. Combine this with a solid App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy and watch your tap-through rates (TTR) and conversions fly.

ASA are a valuable investment for any app developer’s search-based marketing campaign and user acquisition strategy.

Setting up Search Ads?

Apple Search Ads come with two different options – Basic or Advanced.

Save time and money with Basic: a fully-automated campaign where you set your goals, budget and target audience while only being charged for installs at a cost of your choice. Follow ad performance with your personal dashboard. The catch is that you won’t be 100% sure of what Apple does with your budget and which keywords you’re being found on.

Advanced gives more autonomy over your campaign and targeting options, as well as offering advanced metric and scaling tools using Apple’s APIs. Depending on your objectives, you can choose the maximum spend for each click and get full control of what’s happening within the App Store. Set up the campaign, ad group and keyword structure to your liking.

With the amount of features available with Advanced Search Ads, we don’t see any reason to go Basic here!

Apple App Store Connect

You’ll want to set up an account with App Store Connect to make managing your apps, sales and reviews easier with your iPad or iPhone.

Create product pages, conduct testing, gain performance insights and manage everything from releases, updates, agreements and financial information related to your app(s).

Apple SeaRch Ad Specs for 2024

There are 4 main Apple Search Ad Campaign types:

Your ads are automatically created using the metadata and imagery you provide in App Store Connect.

Apple Search Ads - Brand

Depending on where you are as a brand or company, you may want to avoid common keywords to protect your brand or use competitors names to have your ad feature in trending searches.

Brand campaigns focus on keywords that relate to your company name.

The main goal here is to protect your brand by using Exact Match keywords, so you may see lower impressions but higher TTRs and conversion rates (CVR).

Apple Search Ads - Category

These campaigns focus on non-branded keywords, describing your apps category and function.

Keywords can help you reach a wider audience of customers interested in the same genre. There are likely to be high impressions with this campaign.

Apple Search Ads - Competitor

This campaign focuses on keywords for apps that are similar to yours, within the same or related app category.

Apple Search Ads - Discovery

This campaign gives insights into effective keywords that can be added to the first three campaign types. Discovery campaign focuses on reaching a wider audience, using broad match keywords and Search Match to match your ad to relevant search terms.

Two ad groups should be created:

  1. Broad Match ad group: including all the keywords from the other three campaign types, but with match type set to broad and Search Match off
  2. Search Match ad group: doesn’t include any keywords but has Search Match on to show your ad in relevant searces.

In this campaign, add all the keywords from your brand, category and competitor campaigns as exact match negative keywords.

Apple Search Ad Best Practices

You can choose between sponsored text or image ads for your Apple Search Ad.

Consider that image ads tend to get a higher tap-through-rate (TTR) across all digital marketing platforms.
(TTR = number of times users tap on your ad divided by the total number of impressions your ad gets).

For Advanced Apple Search Ads, you get access to customised ‘Use Recommendations’ by Apple regarding keywords and bids based on performance data on your average CPT and TTR.

Keywords and Apple Search Ad Optimization (ASO)

To master Apple Search Ads you’ll want to get your keywords right. ASA’s demographic targeting options are limited to age, location and gender so Apple Search Ad Optimization is largely based on keywords.

  • Be sure to feature words from the heading and subheading of your app listing within the app store and stay relevant to your niche. Include both general and specific keywords.
  • Observe high and low performing keywords to optimize reach. Low performing keywords can become negative keywords while high performing ones can be used in your Exact Match and Brand campaigns.


  • For Advanced search campaigns, Apple recommends using a ‘tiered’ bidding strategy across ad groups to allow you to moderate your ad spend depending on the performance of keywords. Bid higher on high-opportunity Exact match keywords, and adjust your bidding accordingly for your Broad & Search Match campaign keywords.
  • You can choose to bid only on competitive keywords to increase returns per tap by using Apple’s recommended adjustments to your max CPT bids
  • Apple provides both Bid Strength and Suggested bid range for each keyword. Bid strength is an assessment of the competitiveness of your max CPT bid. Suggested bid range shows where your max CPT bid should fall, and is based on your bid history, tap-through rate and other advertisers’ bid histories. Use these to adjust bids and maximise your budget!


In 2024, ASA offer advanced targeting options, allowing you to refine your audience based on demographics, location, and even user behavior.

Even though keywords are your main mode of targeting, you can still refine your audience to optimize your ads. Advanced search ads let you refine by age and gender, but here are some other cool ways to streamline your audience:

  • Maximize impressions and reach by creating specific ad groups based on which device the majority of your ad TTR and conversion activity comes from – iPhone or iPad.
  • Use location refinement to target certain countries and regions (available only in specific countries).
  • You can even refine your audience based on the specific type of customer you’d like to target and cross-promote your app to people who use other apps you own:
    • All users
    • Returning users
    • New users
    • Users of your other apps
  • New Downloads vs Redownloads: understand consumer behaviour better with this unique option to see which downloads are new users and which are users who deleted your app and reinstalled it after tapping on an App store ad or downloading it on another device (redownloads).

Today Tab Ads

Another benefit of Advanced search ads is the ability to feature your app icon, name and subtitle on the Today Tab of the App Store.

You can also use a custom product page as the ad’s tap destination. Apple provide key metrics for all of your Today tab ads, including impressions, taps, average CPT and installs.

Product Pages

Advanced search ads provide the feature of adding more variation to your ad creative using custom made product pages which you can set up in App Store Connect.

  • Engage a variety of users by building product pages that display your app from different angles whether it be an in-app screenshot, app preview video, or promotional text (max 35 product pages)
  • Align your product pages to your audience by choosing to feature certain parts of your app to a specific demographic. If you have a shoe shop, you could cater the images in your custom product pages to people in different age groups separately.

Why Apple Search Ads?

  • Over 650 million people visit the Apple App store weekly
  • Almost 65% of downloads occur after a search
  • There is a 60% average conversion-rate for search result ads
  • There are 1.46 billion iOS users worldwide
  • Around 88% of the time spent on mobile devices is within apps
  • ASA puts equal importance on keyword relevance as bidding, meaning poorly matched apps will not appear in an auction no matter how high the bid.

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