Last week, Boost Media outlined ideas on incorporating Apple Search Ads into your marketing mix. This week, we share tips to help you quickly transfer your AdWords SEM expertise to understanding Apple Search Ads. To keep it simple, we’ll compare Apple Search Ads and AdWords to see what’s the same and what’s different.

Apple Search Ads vs. AdWords: What’s the same?

In general, the cost model and keyword targeting method are the same for Apple Search Ads and AdWords.

Cost. Both platforms use an auction-based cost-per-engagement bidding model—CPC in AdWords; CPT (cost-per-tap) in Apple Search Ads. Both models take your bid, relevance, and your competitor’s bid into account when calculating the actual price you pay.

Recommendation. Get used to new terminology that means basically the same thing—taps versus clicks. Also get used to TTR (tap-through-rate), which is essentially CTR.

Targeting. Ads appear based on keywords, which are matched against user search queries. You can either build your own keywords or have Apple suggest keywords for you, using “Search Match”.

  • A note about match types: Broad match appears to be similar in both systems, and exact match in Apple Search Ads appears to equate to “exact plus close variants” in AdWords. There’s no phrase match in Apple Search Ads.
  • A note about negatives: Both systems offer negative keywords, but with Apple Search Ads, “negative broad” is essentially the equivalent of AdWords negative broad match modified if every term in the negative keyword had a plus sign before it. That is, negative broad won’t block a search query unless every term is present in the query. Negative exact behaves as expected but does not block close variants. There is no negative phrase match in Apple Search Ads.

Recommendation. Test both manual keyword building and Search Match as well as broad and exact match types.

Apple Search Ads vs. AdWords: What’s different?

Apple Search Ads is a brand new platform. There are few advertisers, so competition and CPCs are extremely low. It’s still untested in terms of results. The feature set is more limited and manual than AdWords, but this is what you’d expect from a brand new ad platform right out of beta. Use cases for Apple Search Ads are also limited to iOS apps, whereas AdWords can be used for a range of things.

Creative. You can’t have different ad creative per ad group, and you can’t create your own ads. Ads are created based off metadata and images from your app.

Recommendation. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post where we will deep-dive into creative for Apple Search Ads.

Ad serving. Only one ad appears at a time. If you don’t win the top spot, you miss out on the ad impression.

Recommendation. For now, the competition and requisite CPCs are low enough that it will be easy to rank number one. Test which keywords are worth maintaining the top ranking on.

Launching. You cannot build an Apple Search Ads campaign until your app is live in the App Store. Sometimes, the app won’t be available to promote for up to 17 hours. This can be limiting if you want to hit the ground running to promote a new app release, or if you have a large build you need to stage, get approval on from a client or manager before launching.

Recommendation. One workaround to the wait period would be to build keywords ahead of time in a spreadsheet, if you plan to manually build keywords. Unfortunately, you’d still have manual work after-the-fact since you wouldn’t be able to access the Apple Search Ads keyword tool, and you’d need to map ad group and campaign IDs to the keywords later.

Where to go from here

Being a new ad product there are bound to be a few bumps in the road, but don’t be discouraged. The benefits of being an early adopter of Apple Search Ads and winning new customers before competition heats up is worth the extra effort. If you’re well versed with AdWords ads, you’ll have no problem launching Apple Search Ads. We hope this post helps you to get up-to-speed more quickly!

Stay tuned for the next installment as we dive into creative for Apple Search Ads in an environment where you have very little control over your creative.