Incipia blog

Apple Search Ads: 2nd Impression

Gabe Kwakyi | October 10, 2023

Welcome to our second take on Apple's new search ads platform. Read on to gain more insight on the benefits of the platform, an overview of the platform usability and wish list items for Apple.

What are the major benefits?

  1. Quality users – users coming from search ads are naturally higher quality compared to other ad channels. Sessions/user and ARPU are anecdotally very high for search ads.
  2. Great conversion rates – given that they are a first party ad unit and a native-looking one at that, conversion rates are excellent.
  3. More data on your users – learn details not only on actual search keywords used by your target market but also their preferred devices,  and demographic/gender/location data.
  4. Simple to use – Apple created an interface that is very easy to use and start new campaigns with, at the expense of intermediate-advanced advertisers.
  5. Promise of scale – while there isn't a reliable number as to how many keyword searches are done in the App Store, all indications point to: plenty of impressions available to show ads to.

Our Take on:

The interface

The search ads interface is overall pretty simple and (mostly) loads very quickly, which is nice. The breadcrumb navigation allows users to see which entity they are viewing and move between levels of account hierarchy easily, and there is also a search bar for specific entities, along with two indicators to figure out which ad groups have search match enabled, either in the top right of an ad group settings or as a column.

However, the process of uploading keywords either via the UI or bulk sheet is a very frustrating task and one prone to myriad errors. Additionally, there is no way to delete entities or filter for active-only, and hitting the enter/return key to queue keywords entered into the box before clicking save has led to much confusion.

Data & Reporting:

The reporting view has a nice, aesthetically pleasing layout, with plenty of white spacing, colorful graphs and multiple visualizations (to be expected by Apple). There is also a sensible drill-down through levels of hierarchy (e.g. country > state > city), and the dates units shift from days, to weeks to months as you lengthen the period of time in focus. Yet, all of these blockers make web reporting less efficient for anything other than quick-glance insights:
  • No option to change to a more compact-view with less white spacing.
  • An inability to show two KPIs for any dimension besides date.
  • No option to sort/filter the data in the grid.
  • Filtering support only for device.

When coupled with the poor experience for uploading changes or making bulk, UI-based changes to campaigns, it points to a major headache for managing search ads campaigns for anyone who doesn't have access to an API. Additionally, there are sometimes gaps in showing keyword or search term data, even when sufficient data is present from other views (i.e. campaign/ad group-level).

  The data itself is useful at a basic level and can be sorted in the campaign management views, yet several key omissions will be required to fully optimize campaigns:
  • Impression share.
  • Install and post-install metrics.
  • Forecast data (e.g. the potential increase in impressions from a specific budget increase).

Apple search ads wish list items:

We cataloged our initial comments on Apple's new search ads platform in a lengthy earlier post titled 'How to Fix Search Ads," but here are some new items to add to the search ads wish list:
  1. Provide an option to customize the definition of a conversion, such as "all actions," "downloads," "installs/first-open" or "purchases."
  2. Display an accurate LAT rate % for 3rd party tools.
  3. Ensure that keywords which do not have an explicit bid inherit their ad group default bid, even if the ad group bid is updated after the keyword has been created.
  4. Create an offline tool for managing campaigns (like the Bing Ads or Adwords editor tools).
  5. Allow duplication/deletion of entities (currently only negatives can be deleted; all others must be paused).
  6. Provide documentation on entity limits (campaigns, ad groups, keywords, negatives).
  7. Create an effective system for warning advertisers of low remaining budget, before the daily maximum spend or total budget is reached (e.g. 20% remaining).
  8. Enable more bulk changes than changing status in the web interface.
  9. Enable search terms to be added as negative or new keywords directly from the search terms view.
  10. Create a sum/average row at the bottom of campaign management views (e.g. total spend).
  11. Allow a two-axis view for non-date dimensions.
  12. Indicate whether a search term has already been excluded or added as an explicit keyword.
  13. Enable keyword match types to be modified.
  14. Allow search terms review and reporting account-wide.
  15. Retain the date settings when moving between levels of account hierarchy.
  16. Make the first click on sorting sort by descending, rather than ascending order.

That's all for now, folks! Be sure to bookmark our blog, sign up to our email newsletter for new post updates and reach out if you're interested in working with us.

Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality code architecture and keyword-based marketing optimizations. For blog/video or speaking requests, business or press inquiries please contact us or send an inquiry to