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How Does Search Match in Apple Search Ads Work?

Gabe Kwakyi | October 1, 2016

Feature Image Credit: Apple search ads documentation

Don't forget to check out our other posts on Apple search ads for the latest best practices, tips and tricks, or bookmark our Apple search ads news updates page.


Apple's new match type, called Search match presents interesting possibilities for advertisers.

Search match is an algorithm-driven method of targeting ads to keywords that requires (or allows) no customization. So how will it actually work and what keywords could your app be eligible to show for? Apple's help bubble on search match reads:


"Search Match uses multiple resources to automatically match your ad to relevant searches in the App Store, including the metadata from your App Store listing, information about similar apps in the genre and other search data.

Tip: Optimize your metadata and imagery.

Search Ads prioritizes relevance when determining which ad to show so it’s more important than ever that you craft your app name, imagery, description, and keywords so they’re appealing and highly relevant. Take the time to review yours. Changes made to your app’s metadata, imagery, and any other applicable data contained in iTC may take up to 16.5 hours to take effect in Search Ads."


In considering the places that Apple may draw keywords to power search match from, we can identify possible 5 methods:

  1. App metadata (i.e. keywords found in your title, keywords space, developer name and in-app purchases)
  2. Metadata from peer category apps (likely with brand names omitted)
  3. Keywords that people search that lead them to tap on or download other apps in your category
  4. Category-related keywords (e.g "productivity apps," "productive apps," "productivity")
  5. Related searches based on keywords found in your app's metadata

app store related searches

  1. Long-tail keywords based on keywords found in your app's metadata

app store related searches


The other two keyword matching options that Apple search ads will offer are exact match and broad match.



Exact match requires that the keyword must match exactly what a user searches before an ad is shown; exact matches can be identified by the pair of brackets that surround the keyword.
Apple documentation defines exact match as: "A specific term and its close variants, such as common misspellings and plurals"


Keyword: [to do app]



Are these user searches eligible to show an ad for this exact match keyword?

  1. To do app – YES
  2. To do apps – YES (singular)
  3. Todo app – YES (misspelling)
  4. Tdo app – YES (misspelling)
  5. App to do – NO
  6. To do calendar app – NO
  7. To do – NO
  8. To do list – NO

Broad match operates similarly to broad match in Adwords or Bing Ads, and is identified by a lack of syntax, such as the brackets we see for exact match. Apple documentation defines broad match as: "relevant close variants of a keyword, such as singular, plurals, misspellings, synonyms, related searches and phrases that include that term (fully or partially)."



Keyword: to do app


Are these user searches eligible to show an ad for this broad match keyword?

  1. To do app – YES
  2. To do apps – YES
  3. Todo app – YES
  4. Tdo app – YES
  5. App to do – YES (fully contains the keyword)
  6. To do calendar app – YES (fully contains the keyword)
  7. To do – YES (partially contains the keyword)
  8. Do app – YES (partially contains the keyword)
  9. To do list – YES (related search)



Here's a photo from Apple's documentation showing how matching works.


apple search ad match types

 

Worth noting is that match types cannot be changed once saved to a campaign (though they can be paused or added).


Notably omitted from the search ads match types options is "phrase match," which provides a nice middle ground of volume and relevance between exact and broad match types and requires that the keyword be contained as a phrase in the user's search.



Apple search ads also allow advertisers to use negative keywords, which can affect how matching works and which we will explain in an upcoming article.


Please note – this post may be updated as we learn more about how Apple's search ad serving algorithm.


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Don't forget to check out our other posts on Apple search ads for the latest best practices, tips and tricks, or bookmark our Apple search ads news updates page.

 

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 hello@incipia.co.