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Advanced | Overview

Create campaigns

Apple Search Ads Advanced lets you create as many campaigns as you need. Campaigns contain ad groups and keywords, which you select based on your goals for the campaign. Campaigns, ad groups and keywords can be duplicated, paused and reactivated at any time. You can also remove unwanted or obsolete campaigns and ad groups from your account. But keep in mind that once you remove a campaign or ad group, it can’t be restored or modified, and all ads for that campaign or ad group will stop running.

Prepare to start your first campaign

  • Have your Apple ID associated with your App Store Connect account ready.
  • Have an app live on the App Store.
  • Choose the countries and regions where you want to promote your app.
  • Know how much you can spend.
  • Sign up for an Apple Search Ads account.
  • Add a valid credit card.

If you’re an agency, please contact us. Agencies that plan to promote third-party apps can have Apple Search Ads accounts set as Agency accounts. Please note that the Agency setup process can take time and isn’t guaranteed.

Tip: Get a head start on reaching the right customers.

If you want to cross-promote to your existing app users or add them as an audience customer type, make sure that you use the Apple ID associated with your App Store Connect account when you sign up for Apple Search Ads.

Create an optimal campaign structure

The way you structure the campaigns in your account can impact performance, reporting and your ability to scale. To set campaigns up for success, we recommend that you separate them by keyword theme or strategy. To start, it’s a good idea to create the following four campaign types:

  • Brand campaign focused on customers searching for your app or company name. Keywords in this campaign type will help your ad appear for searches directly related to your app and brand. All keywords should be set to the exact match type.
  • Category campaign focused on customers searching for non-branded terms that describe your app’s category and what your app does. Keywords here can help you reach a wider audience of customers interested in your app or its genre. Keywords should be descriptive of your app and set to exact match.
  • Competitor campaign focused on customers searching for apps similar to yours, within the same or a related app category. Keywords here can help your ad show for queries that are more narrowly focused on your type of app. All keywords should be set to exact match.
  • Discovery campaign focused on finding new search terms relevant to your app. Keywords here can help you reach a wider audience and mine for popular search terms. Within the campaign, you should include two ad groups:
    • A broad match ad group that includes all the keywords from the other three campaign types but with the match type set to broad and Search Match off.
    • A Search Match ad group that doesn’t include any keywords but has Search Match on so that your ad can be matched to relevant searches on the App Store.

In some cases, you may want to separate campaigns according to their budgets. For example, if you’re expanding into new markets, you may want to separate campaigns by country or region to manage each one’s budget in a particular way. Within these types of campaigns, you can create four different ad groups to focus on the four keyword themes listed above: Brand, category, competitor and discovery.

Build a campaign for multiple countries and regions

Apple Search Ads offers you the option to focus campaigns on a single country or region or many. How you structure your campaigns depends on your strategy and goals. We recommend the following:

  • For larger markets that require dedicated budgets or have unique objectives, attributes and so on, create campaigns that focus on a single country or region only.
  • To understand the value of a particular country or region, create an individual campaign for it.
  • If your goal is ease of management, consider grouping multiple countries and regions in one campaign.
  • If you want to track metrics and optimise according to attributes like customer value, customer profiles, language, global region or sales or financial centre location, create a campaign that groups multiple countries and regions by similarity.
  • If you deem customer value to be the same across more than one country or region, consider grouping those in one campaign.
  • If you have regional marketing or sales teams, or your lines of credit or financial centres are set up in different countries or regions, consider campaigns that group countries and regions according to your business structure.
  • If it’s your first time running paid campaigns in the markets, group multiple countries and regions for discovery. You can reevaluate the locations you group as performance data is gathered.

Tip: Save time by duplicating campaigns.

If you have a campaign that’s already performing well in one country or region, it may be eligible to run in another. Use our duplication feature to save time and copy campaigns, ad groups, keywords and other settings.

Understand ad groups

Each of your campaigns will be made up of one or more ad groups. Ad groups are a collection of keywords and refinements relevant to the app you’re promoting in App Store search results. You can set specific audience refinements and bid amounts for each ad group.

Note that the time zone you set when you created your Apple Search Ads account will define the start and end times for all of your ad groups and reporting metrics.

Tip: Focus on a theme or strategy.

To make each ad group as efficient and effective as possible, think about how customers search. Each ad group should focus on a common theme or strategy related to your app in anticipation of how customers might search for it.

Set a campaign budget

When you set the budget for your campaign, you can also set a daily spend cap and schedule a campaign end date. Together, these settings will determine how long your ads run and how much you spend. Ads will run until you exhaust your budget, reach your campaign end date or pause your campaign. Setting a daily cap will help distribute your spend so your budget will last for a specific time period.

Your campaign budget can be increased and daily spend cap can be adjusted at any time. But you can’t decrease your budget once your campaign has started. While we make our best effort to limit your campaign spend to your requested daily caps, they’re not guaranteed. Your campaign may occasionally spend more on a given day, but you’ll never be charged more than your campaign lifetime budget.

Work with match types

A match type is an Apple Search Ads keyword setting that helps you control how your keywords are matched to user searches. There are two types you can apply:

Broad match

This is the default match type in Apple Search Ads. Broad match ensures your ad runs on relevant close variants of a keyword, such as singular, plurals, misspellings, synonyms, related searches and phrases that include that term (fully or partially).

Note that in some cases, foreign language words may match to searches if they’re relevant to the app. For instance, the word amigo may broad match to the search term friend.

Exact match

For the most control over searches where your ad may appear, use exact match. You can target a specific term and its close variants, such as common misspellings and plurals.

Your ad may see fewer impressions as a result, but your tap-through rates (TTRs) and conversions on those impressions may be higher because you’re reaching the customers most interested in what your app offers.

You can pause a keyword set to a particular match type and add a different one any time, but you can’t change a keyword’s match type once you’ve saved it to your campaign.

Note that close variants may not work in some languages.

Tip: Use both match types.

We recommend you run campaigns with both broad match and exact match to ensure good coverage and performance. Broad match covers a wider pool of related search terms, which increases your coverage from that keyword. It’s common to run a term on broad match for keyword discovery and to ensure greater coverage with fewer keywords. Exact match provides the opportunity to show your ad for the exact search term. While it gives you less coverage, the customer intent is more clearly defined and you can price the keyword appropriately to maximise impressions.

View more on keywords and match types

Set your maximum cost per tap (max CPT) bid

Your max CPT bid is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a tap on your ad.

Your default max CPT bid applies across all keywords unless you specify a max CPT bid at the keyword level.

When calculating the amount of your max CPT bid:

  1. Decide what amount you can afford to spend on a new customer or action. Let’s say it’s $2.50 (US).
  2. Estimate the percentage of customers who tap your ad and who you think will download your app or take your desired action. In this case, you estimate 40%.
  3. Calculate what you can afford to pay up to 40% of $2.50 (US) – or $1.00 (US) – for each tap. Therefore, set your starting default maximum CPT bid to $1.00 (US).

To help inform your bid decisions, we’ll present a max CPT bid suggestion to you when you create a new campaign or ad group. The suggested amount will help increase the likelihood that your ads are shown on the App Store. It’s based on what we know about your app and what advertisers with similar apps are willing to pay. It’s simply a reference point.

Remember, your max CPT bid is the maximum amount you’ll ever pay for a tap on your ad. The actual amount you’ll pay is based on what your nearest competitor is willing to pay for a tap on their ad, as well as other factors.

Determine your cost per acquisition (CPA) goal

A cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goal represents the amount you ideally want to spend to acquire one customer. It’s typically calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of customers you want to acquire through that campaign. Setting one is optional during campaign creation. We use your CPA goal as guidance to help you maximise app downloads. Note that it’s not guaranteed.

Tip: Think carefully about the CPA amount you choose.

Be realistic when setting the cost you can afford to pay for a conversion. We recommend that you give your campaign time to run so you can learn from the results before you set a CPA goal.