Campaign Management

Dashboards and settings

Change History

Your change history gives you a record of changes to your account, who made the change, and when.

Click on the change history icon from the following pages:

  • Account settings: Shows your account and campaign group changes.
  • Campaigns dashboard: Shows your changes to each campaign, including campaign settings, ad group, and keyword changes.
  • Ad Groups dashboard: Shows you all changes to your ad group settings, keywords, and negative keywords.

Activity is listed in chronological order, and you can filter on what was changed (account, campaign, ad group, etc.) or the activity (created, added, deleted, etc.).

If details of the activity extend to two lines, click on ‘View details’ to see more.

When bulk changes have been made to keywords or negative keywords, the first ten changes are shown on the screen and you have the option to download a spreadsheet listing all changes.

Note: Access to History depends on user permissions. For example, if you are a campaign group manager, you will only see changes made to your campaign group in the account.


How to choose keywords

Search Ads knows a lot about your app and its genre, and it can provide a list of keyword recommendations to save you time. You can also add keywords of your own, and Search Ads will suggest a further set of keywords related to the ones you’ve provided. You can choose to use them or not. It’s up to you. You can also bulk upload keywords in the Keywords tab by choosing “Upload Keywords” from the Actions menu. Use one of the following templates for bulk uploads:

Download Keywords CSV Template
Download Negative Keywords CSV Template

Each ad group can contain up to 1,000 keywords. You can bulk upload up to 1,000 rows in the spreadsheet at a time. For negative keywords, the maximum for each ad group is 2,000, with a bulk spreadsheet upload of up to 1,000 rows at a time.

Once you have downloaded and opened the spreadsheet, fill in each column with the following information:

Action: If you’re adding a new keyword, enter “CREATE” here, or enter “UPDATE” if you’re updating an existing keyword.
Keyword ID: If you are adding a new keyword, keep this blank. If you’re updating a keyword, include the Keyword ID, which can be found in the Ad Group Keywords dashboard, in the Keyword ID column. (Use “Edit columns” to move this into the “Columns to show” side if it’s not visible.)
Keyword: Enter the keyword you want to add or edit.
Match Type: Specify either BROAD or EXACT match.
Status: Indicate whether you want the keyword to be ACTIVE or PAUSED.
Bid: Enter your maximum cost-per-tap (max CPT) bid amount.
Campaign ID: This can be found from the top right of the Campaigns dashboard, above “Edit campaign settings.”
Ad Group ID: This can be found in the top right of the ad group view, above “Edit ad group settings.”

If you want to choose your own keywords, here are few tips to help:

  1. Think like your customers.
    Consider the search terms someone may use to find your type of app. What words explain the need your app meets or service it provides?

    For example, your app is a new camera app with some unique filters that aren’t available anywhere else. You’ll want to start with the basics, such as your app’s name. But then, think about what your app can do. Terms like “color editor,” “picture editor” and “photo editor” might also be successful at driving downloads.

  2. Try both general and specific keywords.
    General keywords should still be relevant to what your app offers. Otherwise, your ad is unlikely to make it into the auction for those searches. Using general keywords will help you reach a wider audience, but might also cause you to go through your budget faster, because they can be more competitive and require higher bid amounts.

    When you choose specific keywords, your ad may show for search queries that are more narrowly related to your app. Specific search terms can help you improve the rate of ad taps to conversions, but if keywords are too specific you may not reach as many customers as you’d like.

Understanding match types

Here’s an example of match types used with the search term “photo edit free”.

Bidded keywords
Exact match and broad match applicable:

  • Words in order: photo edit free
  • Close variants: photo editor free, photo edit free

Broad match applicable only:

  • Not in order: edit photo free
  • Partial words: photo edit, edit free
  • Other words: photo edit collage free, free crop photo edit
  • Synonyms/related: picture edit, picture edit text

Negative keywords
Exact match negative and broad match negative applicable:

  • Words in order: photo edit free

Broad match negative applicable:

  • Not in order: edit photo free
  • Other words: photo edit collage free, free crop photo edit

When to add a keyword

When a particular keyword is performing well, you can use the keyword suggestion tool to see recommendations for more keywords like it. Simply highlight and click on the recommended keyword. You can also add your own keyword in the box, and edit the match type for each keyword. Click Save to add the new keywords that you’ve chosen to your ad group.

When to pause a keyword

You can pause keywords in your campaigns anytime. Here’s when you might consider it:

  1. When a keyword has a low conversion rate.
    Especially if it has a CPA higher than your CPA goal.
  2. If a broad match keyword has a CPA above your expectations.
    You can pause it in broad match, and instead add it as an exact match keyword. That way, you maintain impressions for that specific word, but not its synonyms and relative variants.
  3. If you want to apply a different broad match keyword or want to switch to exact match.
    Once you set your match type in your campaign, you cannot change it. But, you can pause it, and start another.

How to use negative keywords

Negative keywords ensure that your ads will not appear for certain terms. They can help control your costs and improve your campaign efficiency. The default setting is broad match, and we recommend you change the setting to exact match.

You can add negative keywords during campaign and ad group creation, or upload them using a spreadsheet in the Keywords tab. Once your campaigns start running, you might find you need to add to your negative keyword list, or cut back. It’s easy to make changes anytime in the Keywords tab.

Negative keywords should be closely related to your bidded keywords, but they should also indicate that the searcher is looking for something that your app does not offer.

For example, a negative keyword is appropriate when:

  1. You want to prevent your ad from showing for search queries that don’t apply to you. So, if your app is about women’s fitness, adding “men’s fitness” as a negative keyword means your ad will not show for any searches related to “men’s fitness.”
  2. Your campaign or ad group performance data shows a particular keyword does not lead to conversions for your app.

How to use negative keyword match types

Exact match (negative keywords)
This match type ensures that your ad doesn’t show for an exact word or phrase. It doesn’t block your ad from close variants like common misspellings and plurals. We recommend using exact match to avoid inadvertently excluding your ad from showing for relevant searches.

For example:
Say you have an advanced puzzles app, and you’re using the keyword “puzzles.” You may want to add the negative keyword “kids puzzles” so your ad doesn’t show for that specific term, and you don’t spend money on a target audience that your app doesn’t intend to serve.

Broad match (negative keywords)
To ensure that your ad doesn’t appear for words or phrases you select, use broad match. All of the words in your broad match negative keywords need to be present in order for your ad to be blocked. If a synonym or close variant is used, your ad still appears.

For example:
If you have an advanced puzzles app and use “kids puzzle games” as your broad match negative keyword, your ad will not appear on “kids puzzle games” or “puzzle games kids” but would still appear on search queries like “kids puzzle apps.” If you want to block “kids puzzle apps” as well, add “kids puzzle” as your broad match negative keyword.

Understanding bids

Bid insights

To help you stay competitive, make more educated bidding decisions, and optimize your campaigns, we provide bid insights at the campaign level within the All Keywords dashboard and the ad group level within the Keywords tab. These insights are updated on an ongoing basis as long as your campaign runs, and can be downloaded along with other metrics as a CSV file.

Suggested bid range appears alongside each existing keyword and indicates our suggestion for where your maximum cost-per-tap (max CPT) bid should fall to incrementally increase the likelihood of your ad showing. The suggested range is based on our assessment of multiple factors, including how customers have responded to your ad and other advertisers’ ads on this same keyword, your bid history for this keyword, and other advertisers’ bid histories for it.

Bid strength is displayed as a red, yellow, or green bar associated with each keyword. It indicates our assessment of the competitiveness of your bid. Bids at the stronger end can help your ads reach a greater portion of your target audience than those at the weaker end.

  • Weak (red) bid strength means your bid is not competitive in relation to other advertisers’ bids. Your ad has a relatively low likelihood of being shown.
  • Moderate (yellow) bid strength indicates an opportunity to improve your bid’s competitiveness and increase the likelihood of your ad being shown.
  • Strong (green) bid strength means your bid is well positioned among other advertisers in the marketplace.
  • No indicator will be shown when there is insufficient data for us to suggest a bid range or measure bid strength, when the keyword has been paused, the ad group or campaign is on hold, or when your current bid is already aligned with our recommendation.

Suggested bid range and bid strength are our recommendations and assessments to help you incrementally increase the likelihood of your ad showing. They are not a directive for how much you should bid, and are not a bid floor or ceiling. These indicators may vary over time and among different advertisers.

When to raise a bid

Here are a few scenarios where you might want to raise your max CPT bid:

  1. When Search Match is matching your ad to relevant terms that are increasing conversions for your app.
    You can test raising your max CPT bid to see if it gets you more impressions.
  2. If you have a bidded keyword that’s delivering conversions below your CPA goal.
    Consider making incremental increases to your bid on that keyword, with the goal to gain more impressions and conversions within your CPA target. You can use our suggested bid range as a guide.
  3. You’re not seeing many impressions for popular keywords.
    Assuming your app is relevant for the keyword, it’s possible that you’re being outbid by other advertisers interested in showing their ad for that term. Raise your bid for specific keywords to see if you can gain more impressions and conversions. Again, you can use our suggested bid range as a guide.

When to lower a bid

Here’s a scenario where you might consider lowering your max CPT bid:

If you have a keyword that’s delivering taps, but low conversions at a CPA higher than your goal.
Lower the bid to keep your CPA down. You may still win some impressions, but may see fewer impressions for that term.

Note: Adjusting your max CPT bid for a specific keyword overrides the ad group default max CPT bid for that keyword. The ad group default max CPT bid will still apply to new keywords that are added to that ad group.

How to change a bid

You can change your bid in a couple of ways.

Ad group level
To change your default max CPT bid across your entire ad group, follow these steps:

  1. From your Campaigns dashboard, click the campaign with the ad group default max CPT bid you want to change.
  2. On the Ad Groups dashboard, click the amount in the Default CPT Bid column.
  3. Enter your new amount in the highlighted field.
  4. Click the check mark to confirm.

Keyword level
To change your bid for an individual keyword, follow these steps:

  1. From your Campaigns dashboard, click the campaign with the ad group containing the keyword and bid you want to change.
  2. Click the ad group on the Ad Groups dashboard.
  3. Find the keyword on the Ad Group Keywords dashboard.
  4. Click the amount in the CPT Bid column.
  5. Enter your new amount in the highlighted field.
  6. Click the check mark to confirm.

Note that your new bid amount must be less than your budget. To change your budget see the Managing budgets section.

Managing budgets

How to manage and increase your budget

Search Ads Advanced lets you set a budget and time period for each campaign. Once you set a budget, your campaign will run until you exhaust your budget, pause your campaign, or reach the end date you set.

You can add to your campaign budget and adjust any daily spend cap at any time to ensure your ads keep running. Note that you cannot decrease your budget once your campaign has started.

To increase your budget, simply click on the Edit Campaign Settings link at the top right side of your Ad Groups dashboard for that campaign, and enter a new amount. You can also change your budget directly in the field in the budget column on the Campaigns dashboard.

Note that when you increase your budget, you’ll see the cumulative total for the campaign since it was created. For example:

Your current budget that’s run out: $100 (U.S.)
Your additional budget: $100 (U.S.)
The campaign budget you’d enter: $200 (U.S.)

If you would like your budget to last for a specific time period, you may want to add a daily spend cap to distribute your spend over your desired period of time.

For example: If your budget is $1,200 (U.S.) and you would like it to last for 30 days, consider setting a daily spend cap at $40 (U.S.) per day.

Once you reach your daily budget, your ads stop appearing for that day, but will restart the next day, until your campaign-level budget is depleted.

If you find you’re hitting your daily spend cap every day and your ROI is meeting your goals, consider increasing your daily cap to see if you get additional impressions and conversions.

While we make our best effort to limit your campaign spend to your requested daily caps, they are not guaranteed and your campaign may occasionally spend more. However, you will never be charged more than your campaign lifetime budget.

Adjusting your cost-per-acquisition goal

Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goals are optional, but there’s a good reason to opt in: we use your CPA goal as guidance to maximize your app downloads. (Note: it’s not guaranteed.)

You can add or adjust a CPA goal at anytime. For example, if your impressions are low, you might want to consider raising your CPA goal. If it’s priced too low, it can prevent your ad from being entered into auctions.

Ad groups

Managing ad groups

Ad groups are a collection of keywords relevant to the app you’re promoting in App Store search results. You can set specific criteria and bid amounts for each ad group. Ad groups are an effective way to define who sees your ad.

For example, you can focus an ad group on a common theme related to your app. You might set that ad group higher than another with keywords related to a less common theme. Distinguishing ad groups this way also allows you to track and manage your spend separately.

Here’s what that would look like:

Say you have a camera app with some unique filters that aren’t available anywhere else. You notice that 80% of users are searching for it from an iPhone. Consider creating an ad group specific for iPhone so you can further refine your bids to get more impressions from iPhone users.

Or, if you know that users of a specific gender or age are more valuable customers to you, like males 18‑34, you can create discrete ad groups to closely manage your exposure and bids for these audiences.

Creative Sets

Use Creative Sets for more ad variations that align to your ad group keyword themes or audiences. Each set includes screenshots and app previews you select from your App Store product page.

Why add Creative Sets

More ad variations
Creative Sets enables you to leverage additional App Store assets to create more ad variations. These will run in addition to the current image and text ads that Search Ads automatically creates for your app. You can have up to 10 ad variations per ad group with Creative Sets.

Improved ad performance
Align relevant groups of screenshots and app previews to specific ad group keyword themes or audience refinements such as gender, age, or location.

Ensure best results
Search Ads intelligent automation optimizes creative to show the ad achieving the strongest user response.

Prepare your App Store product page

Creative Sets uses the screenshots and app previews from all available assets on your App Store product page. Learn more about optimizing your App Store product page here.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using Creative Sets:

Plan to align with app updates.
Think about how you want to use Creative Sets and ensure the screenshots and app previews are included when you update your App Store product page.

Monitor product page changes.
If you change an asset on your product page, Creative Sets may be impacted. If assets are removed, any set leveraging those assets may be paused if the removal causes it to fall below the required minimum.

Maintain the required number of images.
Make sure you have the following on your App Store product page to make a new set:

  • iPhone: four or more assets for portrait and two or more for landscape
  • iPad: three or more assets for portrait and two or more for landscape

Know that the order in which you upload images matters.
Assets are displayed in the order they were uploaded to the App Store. Regardless of the number of assets within a set, the order of assets selected will be what appears in your account from left to right.

iPhone example: If you have a set with four assets - ABCD - possible ads would be combinations of: ABC, ABD, ACD, BCD, but CBA is not a valid combination.

How to make new Creative Sets

You can add your first set when starting a new campaign, or anytime after that in the Creative Sets dashboard within your ad group. Use the Add Creative Set button.

Choose screenshots and app previews, up to 10 screenshots and 3 app previews per display size. The list you see will include all available assets on your App Store product page, and you’ll need to select the following to make a new set:

  • For each iPhone display size, select at least one landscape or three portraits. (Two of the portraits must be screenshots.)
  • For each iPad display size, select at least one landscape or three portraits. (One portrait must be a screenshot.)

Selections are only available for displays that meet the minimum number of localized screenshots and app previews. Possible options include the iPhone 5.8” display, iPhone 5.5” display, iPhone 4.7” display, iPhone 4” display, iPad 12.9” display, iPad 10.5” display, iPad 9.7” display.

You can choose not to select assets for a certain display size. The Search Ads default ad will appear instead.

Note: Once you’ve added images and app previews to a set and have saved it, you can’t make any changes to your selections. However, you can change the name of your set, choose to pause it in the Creative Sets dashboard, or create a new one.

Creative Sets best practices

Ways to use Creative Sets

Align to ad group keyword themes
For example, if you have a travel app that covers flights, hotels, and car rentals, you could use Creative Sets to focus on a specific offering. Here’s how:

  • A set using flight-related screenshots may be used to align to an ad group with keywords focused on flight booking.
  • Or, a set using hotel-related screenshots may be used to align to an ad group with keywords focused on hotel bookings.

Align to audience types
For example, if you have a shopping app, you could show a screenshot or app preview featuring women’s fashion to a female audience, and men’s fashion to a male audience.

Assets on your App Store product page
Use the same assets across display sizes for greater clarity around performance.

  1. Upload assets for iPhone 5.5” display.
  2. Upload the optional iPhone 5.8” display assets.
  3. Upload assets for iPad 12.9” display.

Choosing assets for your Creative Sets

  1. Avoid ONLY selecting assets denoted as “default.” Default ads are already created for you by Search Ads. Add at least one new set, or you won’t see ad variations. Default ads can run against any set for best results.
  2. For the best control over ads and cleanest reporting, consider selecting a maximum of three portrait or one landscape for each display size on iPhone, or a maximum of two portraits or one landscape for iPad. Under this setup, you can view the performance data for each ad variation.

For example, if you have a travel app and wanted to see if a Caribbean hotel image performed better than a Hawaiian hotel image, you would:

  • Add 1 creative set with three Caribbean hotel images
  • Add 1 creative set with three Hawaiian hotel images

Both ad variations would run against the default ad image. Because you consistently used the same number of assets for each theme, it will be easy to see which ad variation performed best in your reporting.

Share Creative Sets across ad groups

When you duplicate ad groups, you’ll have the choice to include keywords, negative keywords, and the sets you build with Creative Sets. Only relevant sets will be shared. For example, a set built for an iPhone device can’t be shared with an ad group where iPad has been selected as the device. And, the campaign you’re sharing to must promote the same app.

Note: If you edit the name of one of the sets you build with Creative Sets in an ad group, it will change across all the ad groups that share that set.

Understand default ads

A default image and text ad is automatically created for you using the first few screenshots and app previews on your App Store product page. To ensure best results, default ads will always run in addition to Creative Sets, and cannot be paused or removed.

Default ad images
Assets selected for the default image ad vary depending on the type of assets available in landscape and portrait orientation. For example:

  • iPhone: Default image ads are created using the first one to three screenshots and app previews.
  • iPad: Default image ads are created using the first one to two screenshots and app previews.

Determine device display sizes

Only display sizes that meet the minimum number of localized screenshots and app previews required are available for Creative Sets. They include the iPhone 5.8” display, iPhone 5.5” display, iPhone 4.7” display, iPhone 4” display, iPad 12.9” display, iPad 10.5” display, iPad 9.7” display.

If you don’t want to select assets for a certain device display size, the default ad will always appear for it.

View Creative Sets and results

Each of your sets can be found under its associated ad group in the Creative Sets dashboard. The dashboard is available regardless of whether you’re using Creative Sets. You can activate, pause, remove, or add more sets there.

Performance data for Creative Sets and default ads is available at the ad group level, also in the Creative Sets dashboard. Key metrics, along with a breakout of text and image default ads, will be available.

Creative Sets Troubleshooting

If your set is invalid

This happens when you haven’t uploaded the minimum number of required assets on your App Store product page across all device sizes. The default ad will appear instead. This may result when a change to an asset has been made to your App Store product page. For example, a screenshot may have been removed or replaced.

If you can’t find an asset

There may be a few reasons you can’t find an asset when building a new set.

  • Time lag. When you update creative assets, it could take one day for changes to appear.
  • Approval. Your app has yet to be approved in the App Store.
  • Insufficient number of assets. You haven’t uploaded a sufficient number of creative assets to your App Store product page. Minimum requirements by device:


3 screenshots
1 app preview and 2 screenshots

2 assets


2 screenshots
1 app preview and 1 screenshot

2 assets

If you can’t select the Add Creative Set button

This happens when you’ve already added 10 sets, the maximum allowed, to an ad group. Remove some sets before trying to add more.


Ad Group and Keyword Duplication

Easily duplicate ad groups and keywords within or across campaigns, and any applicable audience refinements, such as device location, device type, or demographics.

Duplicate ad groups
To duplicate an ad group or ad groups, go to the Ad Groups dashboard within your chosen campaign:

  1. Select the ad group or groups you want to copy.
  2. Click on Duplicate in the Actions menu.
  3. Choose whether to duplicate settings and keywords or just settings.
  4. Select the destination campaign from the Destination menu.
  5. Click on the Duplicate button.

Once the duplication process is complete, the suffix “_copy” will be added to your duplicated ad group’s name.

Note: If the combined size of your ad groups and keywords exceeds the data limit (10,000 targeted and negative keywords), you may not see the option to duplicate both settings and keywords. Select fewer ad groups and try again.

Certain audience refinements may be dropped during the duplication process if they aren’t relevant to the destination campaign. For instance:

  • Your destination campaign is promoting a different app that does not support the device type specified in the originating ad group.
  • If the original and destination campaigns are promoting different apps, the “Have not downloaded this app” customer type will not duplicate.

Other refinements may be adjusted automatically during the duplication process to fit your destination campaign. For instance, if the original and destination campaigns are promoting different apps, the “Have downloaded” this app customer type may become “have downloaded my other apps”.

When duplicating, your original bid amount for each keyword is also copied across. If you choose to duplicate “settings and keywords” some keywords may be skipped because the bid amount isn’t valid in the destination ad group for a different campaign. Your keyword bid amount must be less than the destination campaign’s daily or lifetime budget.

Ad group duplication may be aborted if the number of selected ad groups and existing ad groups in the destination campaign exceed the limit of 2,000 ad groups per campaign.

Duplicate keywords
You can duplicate keywords from one ad group to another, either within the same or in a different campaign. The amount you bid on each keyword is also copied across.

To duplicate keywords, simply go to the Keywords tab within your ad group.

  1. Select the individual keywords you want to duplicate.
  2. Choose Duplicate Selected Keywords or All Keywords from the Actions menu.
  3. Choose the destination campaign and ad group.
  4. Click Duplicate, and Search Ads will copy your keywords across.

Note that an ad group can have up to 1,000 keywords. If the number of selected keywords to duplicate results in your destination ad group exceeding this limit, you cannot duplicate this list of keywords. Select up to the number of keywords recommended in the error message, and try again.

Specific keywords can’t be duplicated if they already exist in the destination ad group with the same match type, or if the bid amount exceeds the campaign’s budget. You cannot duplicate keywords once the process is complete.

Duplicate negative keywords
You can duplicate campaign negative keywords from one campaign to another. Ad group negative keywords can be duplicated to another ad group in the same campaign, or in a different campaign.

  1. Go to the Negative Keywords tab within your ad group, or the Negative Keywords tab on the All Keywords dashboard of your campaign.
  2. Click on either Selected negative keywords or All campaign/ad group negative keywords from the Actions menu.
  3. Select a destination campaign or ad group for your negative keywords.
  4. Click Duplicate.

Note that each ad group and campaign can have up to 2,000 negative keywords. If the number of selected negative keywords pushes your destination ad group or campaign over this limit, the duplication process is aborted.

Specific negative keywords may not be duplicated if they already exist in the destination campaign or ad group with the same match type.

Duplication issues
There are a few reasons why duplication may fail:

  • Your destination campaign or ad group would exceed the keyword or negative keyword limit.
  • More than 200 unique items were skipped during the duplication process. These items may include invalid keywords and settings.

Ad group keywords, ad group negative keywords, and campaign negative keywords are skipped during the duplication process because:

  • Your keywords and match type already exist in the destination ad group.
  • Your bid amount for that keyword is not valid in the new campaign. If your keyword bid amount is higher than your budget in the destination campaign, your keyword will not duplicate. Adjust your budget or bid amount, and try again.
  • Your negative keyword text and match type already exist in the destination campaign or ad group.
  • There is already an ad group with the same name and suffix in the destination campaign.

Campaign Management API

Who can use the API

The Search Ads Campaign Management API is for developers, agencies, and third-party platforms who want to manage campaigns and pull reports programmatically.

With the API, you can build software to manage your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. It allows advertisers or third parties to more efficiently manage their larger Search Ads accounts and campaigns, or provide additional functionality beyond what Search Ads offers through its own product. Some use cases include:

  • Custom reports
  • Data ingestion to in-house business intelligence system
  • Cross-channel campaign management
  • Automated bid management

Download Search Ads API documentation

Download Search Ads API revision history

Getting started

To implement the Search Ads API effectively, you’ll need to understand the technical requirements and plan ahead to ensure you have the resources needed to develop and maintain the application.

Access your API view by clicking on your name in the top right corner of the screen. Next, click on Settings next to your account name, and click on the API tab.

The API:

  • Provides REST access to campaign management.
  • Returns data in JSON format.
  • Is supported by all popular programming languages.

For more information, visit REST or JSON online.