In times of uncertainty, the finance world flock to the old trusted stalwart – gold. Over the last 18 months, the price of gold has hit an all-time high.
I believe the same uncertainty is upon us in the advertising world. With the release of Apple’s iOS 14 and Apple’s continued push on data privacy, the advertising industry is in for the biggest change in its history.
In a nutshell, all apps running on iOS will have to ask users for permission to track them in all aspects of their mobile use, from email through to actual location.
For the person on the street, I believe this will be a welcome change and opting out of being tracked will be widely adopted by many.
So is Apple Search Ads (ASA) the new gold?. Will we see demand follow a similar trajectory as the golden line graph above?
Well… partly… I think the demand for ASA will grow. The performance factors alone make it one of the most potent advertising formats in the user acquisition managers’ toolbox.
A 50%+ conversion rate just can’t be overlooked
The importance of nailing ASA is now a clear mission for marketeers to conquer as a user acquisition channel. The days of simply pumping money into Facebook, I believe may be over, and the time of investing in the Apple ecosystem is upon us.
However, being able to scale campaigns has been a constant challenge for both developers and marketers alike. Apple is hinting at additional inventory as it Beta Tests the “Suggested” app real estate (see below).
The question to ask is – is this good for both the end-user and the marketeer?
I think it is, due to the following reasons. Apple owns the end-to-end process. They want users to be able to find and download apps that are relevant to the individual. Apple’s ad-serving algorithm relies on relevance, past performance (conversion history) and most importantly user engagement. In other words, unlike the other channels you can advertise on, Apple ultimately has a vested interest in a successfully acquired user who actually uses the app. Apple do not want users to just download an app and forget about it. The advantage for the user is that they should only be served ads that ultimately are for the best app at that given time and are tailored to the individual. So this is a kind of win-win for both Apple and users.
In summary, demand for ASA will increase. If it is not already, ASA will become a core user acquisition (UA) channel and we should see elements of the scaling issue being corrected with the addition of more ad space to buy.
Apple Search Tabs
We get under the skin of Apple’s new ad format to give you the decision-making facts.
Being first out of the blocks in the race to catch potential users of any app is essential. With the introduction of Apple Search Tabs Campaigns you now have an extra edge in the pursuit of reaching customers before they even search within the App Store
Search Tab Campaigns will run on all App Stores in the 60 ASA ( Apple Search ads ) territories, allowing for apps to run a “hybrid” placement of search ads and display with the ad space, bought on a CPM (Cost Per Thousand) basis, rather than a CPT (Cost Per Tap) basis.
Developers have been able to advertise via the App Store search results since 2016, but users had to initiate a search before being served an ad. Now, potential customers can be served an ad in the App Store search tab, even before a search query has been made.
When a user clicks on the search tab in the App Store app, under the “Suggested” section an ad will now appear – a new engagement opportunity that is immediately available for developers to include in their ad campaigns.
The main metrics for your ads being shown are your CPM bid and your relevance; parameters also include insight from non-personal historical search terms, downloads and app store browsing. While this is at the hands of the Apple Search Ads algorithm, the actual targeting capabilities are quite limited, including only location, gender and age, plus new or returning users.
In terms of the campaign set up, the format is running on a CPM, and while “first past the post” usually means cheaper costs when product is launched, the recommended CPMs currently in the UK look around £5 – 11. However, we are seeing tactical bidding strategies with apps pushing CPMs over £100 as they try to maximise their initial learnings and data.
Our initial thoughts:
- This is a low intent placement, we are expecting relatively low CTR, which could push CPMs up high
- A high CPM bidding strategy might be needed to win the impressions to define if that placement is valuable
- Expect low install volume from new users, however it may be worth monitoring if this can be tracked back to any uplift in brand searches down the line
- Use the placement to re-engage returning users, these could bring valuable re-downloads of your app
- Unlike standard ASA where we recommend you avoid any unnecessary targeting, implementing demographic targeting on Search Tabs Campaigns may help to refine such a broad audience and implement some form of control over who your impressions are served to
Our recommendation is to set your bids high until you have learnings, and then bring back down, as your actual CPM is likely to be cheaper than your bid; so start high and look to optimise it down pending initial test data.
Now is the time to put Search Tabs in your armoury, it could prove to be an effective new tactic to help you standout against the competition. Start testing this new placement now and you are likely to get first user advantages, cheaper prices and useful test data.
To view more app marketing guide: Boost App Downloads: How To Do Search Keyword Optimization