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Apple Search Ads: 6 Tips To Market Your Mobile Game

December 30, 2018

The mobile games industry is growing leaps and bounds with 2018 data showing that mobile games account for around 51% of global game revenues. In fact, users are so fond of mobile games that data shows that 62% of smartphone owners install them within the very first week of buying a phone. With mobile games continuing to receive so much love, it’s obvious that competition for consumer attention is also fierce. That’s where Apple search ads come in.

Businesses in the mobile games space are trying to find newer ways to increase discoverability. Improving discoverability is the only way they can prevent their apps from drowning in the swamp of app overload. Did you know that 50% of apps don’t get even a single download?

While most mobile game owners/publishers largely rely on Facebook, Twitter, and ad networks to fuel app growth, those who have an upper edge understand how important it is to focus on other emerging channels amidst the rising competition. This is where Apple Search Ads is emerging as a new way for anyone looking to promote their mobile games

According to Apple, using search ads to promote your mobile game can result in a whopping 50 per cent conversion rate. They also state that the games industry is one of the biggest spenders on Search Ads.

So when an increasing number of mobile game developers out there is turning to search ads to get discovered, how do you optimize your Apple search ads cost to achieve the best possible ROI amidst the competition?

Your Game Changing Strategy with Apple Search Ads

  1. Pick the right keywords for your mobile game

Your app name and keywords are two important determinants of your app’s search relevance. There was a time when you could use an app name that was 200 characters long. However, as per the latest Apple guidelines, app names can be only 50 characters long. Terms and descriptions other than the name of your mobile game should be avoided.

Apple limits keywords to 100 characters in all, with the terms separated by commas. So make sure you maximize the number of words that fit in, by avoiding the use of plurals of words that are already included in their singular form, the names of categories, the word ‘app’ and duplicate words.  

This is where you need to think about what keywords are the most appropriate for your app and which ones help distinguish it from other similar apps in the market. Answering such questions can help you determine the best keywords that will make your app more search relevant. Best keywords for your app are those that get searched by the right audience and describe your app correctly to the user base.

Some keyword etiquettes for your paid ad campaign include separating each keyword with a comma, not using plurals, and breaking phrases into words.

  1. Structure your Apple search ads campaign

If you have experience in running keyword search campaigns on Google and Bing, you will understand how important it is to design a campaign structure for paid search in the App Store too.

You can borrow hints from your AdWords campaign structure and create interesting App Store campaigns as well. Your campaign structure will help you understand performance on metrics such as install volumes and the decrease in CPI.

For example, you could have campaigns around:

  • Product – include all your product keywords
  • Competition – include all your competitors’ keywords
  • Brand – include all your brand related keywords

By running and testing these campaigns you can understand which ones give you more conversions, and thereby allow you to figure out where to put most of your budget.

  1. Optimize your Apple search ads using Audience Demographics

Optimizing the Apple search ads cost per install requires that your ad does not get clicked by an irrelevant audience or those who are likely to ignore downloading after clicking. That’s why Apple has introduced an advanced feature called Audience Demographics.  

You can use this feature to filter out those who are highly unlikely to use your app. For example, a mobile game is not likely to be of much use to people above 50 years of age. In fact, there are some games that are of more interest to women than men, and vice-versa.

You can test this ‘filter’ out for a few weeks and also compare generic results with segmentation based ad campaign results. This will help you see for yourself how this awesome feature helps you cut down on CPI.

  1. Use the Search Match option to your advantage

The Search Match feature by Apple is a blessing. You can call it the Apple search ads keyword tool that enables you to match your ads with users who are making searches similar to your app.

Within this feature,  Apple automatically matches your ad to users who are searching for apps like yours. It’s similar to AdWords dynamic search ads in that you don’t have to select keywords. Most notably, Apple’s Search Match will only find keywords that it deems relevant to your app.

The Search Match feature is also a great way for you to gather insights on how many people might be looking for your app,  what the competition is like with a specific keyword, discover new keyword phrases and understand user queries.

  1. Learn from the existing Apple search ads performance

One of the Apple search ads best practices include letting data drive your campaigns. You’ll always have an advantage over others if you’ve studied what you’ve learned from campaigns run on other channels. Closely analyze what you’ve learned but also use the features Apple offers to help you optimize and improve what you get back.

  1. Target users based on their journey

Targeting capabilities with Apple are really advanced. With such advanced capabilities, you can quite easily run an acquisition as well as a re-targeting/re-engagement campaign in the App Store. You can specify your users based on their journey with your app so far:

  • Not downloaded
  • All users
  • Have downloaded
  • Have downloaded your other apps

With this data at hand, you can improve your download rates, increase retention and engagement. You can show your ads in real time to those users who are downloading other apps.

In summary

If effectively optimized, Apple Search Ads will give you maximum return on investment. However, the App Store is a complex ecosystem, and simply having your app optimized for searchability is not enough. Your paid ads can win over competition only if they are able to appear magically to the right users, at the right time.

Remember, while discoverability might get you searched, only relevance is going to get your downloads.

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