Apple Search Tab Ads - A New First-Mover Opportunity

Apple Search Tab Ads -  A New First-Mover Opportunity

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.

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Redbox Mobile is the current ASO company of the year and has its own proprietary ASA Platform and is currently testing its client base on Apple Search Tab Campaigns.

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Lucy Bennett
Account Director

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