Continuing our coverage of Apple’s recently released mobile app advertising platform, Boost Media covers ideas on how to optimize Apple Search Ads when you can’t directly influence the ad creative. The first week, we shared ideas on incorporating Apple Search Ads into your marketing mix; last week, we provided a quickstart guide for AdWords experts wanting to start using Search Ads.

Since ads are automatically generated from metadata and imagery in a brand’s app, you can’t develop your own creative for Apple Search Ads. So how can marketers optimize Apple Search Ad creative?


Start with keyword research

Like with any form of search marketing, start with keyword research. In the case of Apple Search Ads, you’ll want to approach keyword research with both a paid and organic lense. Due to the way Apple serves up app ads on its new advertising platform, keywords used in your meta descriptions will impact both types of listings.

The more closely you can align keywords you target and keywords in your metadata with the keywords people are actually searching for, the higher your “relevancy score” will be (similar to the AdWords Quality Score). You can use Search Match suggestions to help with this, but only after your app has been released.


You’ll also want to make sure your meta description includes a clearly defined set of top keywords. Don’t assume that all your top keywords will be brand terms. In fact, in one study, ads generated over 100,000 installs driven by 40,000 keywords—just 28% of those keywords were exact match brand terms.


Apple suggests limiting your keyword list to only include terms with 100 characters or less. Since this is for mobile app searches, people aren’t writing novels in the search bar to find your app!


Another point to consider: It can take up to 17 hours for copy changes to appear in ads. Quickly swapping out copy shouldn’t be a routine part of your strategy. Instead, think about updating meta descriptions to influence Apple Search Ads copy as you would updating SEO copy to influence organic search results.


Optimize your meta description

Rather than keyword-stuffing your meta description, step back and do some strategic thinking about your audience. Consider: What are they looking for? Why are they looking for it? What context are they in? Remember, when someone is searching for a mobile app, they’re usually looking for something to download on-the-spot. As an example, consider a person is at the gym ready to work out and they don’t know what to do, so they search for “guided workout app.” Your copy should clearly indicate you’re ready to deliver on whatever they’re looking for—right away.


You’ll need access to iTunes Connect to update the metadata. This cannot be done within Apple Search Ads. Your developer can give you iTunes Connect access as a “marketing” user, but keep a developer around to help you as the platform is definitely geared toward the developer audience and is not super marketer-friendly.


Establish credibility with imagery

Apple pulls imagery from your app into your Apple Search Ads to create your ads. This point is important because we’re still in the early days of Apple Search Ads and it’s the Wild West out there. There have been reports of apps trying to masquerade as another brand’s more popular app just to get downloads. We expect Apple to shut this down quickly. In the meantime, to ensure the best user-experience, it’s important that your imagery establishes your credibility with your official logo.


Where to go from here

Apple Search Ads is a cool new advertising platform that’s likely to take off and impact the mobile app marketing space. However, even in the face of a promising new advertising platform, it’s important marketers remember the fundamentals of creative optimization. For Apple Search Ads creative, start with a foundation of solid keyword research and writing descriptions relevant to, and resonant with your audience.