Incipia blog

Apple Search Ads News: 10.21 Update

Gabe Kwakyi | October 21, 2016

What's News With Apple Search Ads?

Check out these eight updates to help you stay current on your Apple Search Ads knowledge:

Apple's search term data clawback from MMPs:

Up until recently, Adjust had been showing search term data in reports:

  • Under keywords, by clicking through the campaign > ad group > keyword > search term.
  • In the creative column, by clicking into a search ads-only campaign or ad group.

Now, it seems that Apple has locked Adjust (and presumably other MMPs) out of providing search terms for either keywords or search match campaigns, replacing what would have been the search term, with the grayed out word, "unknown."


This is reminiscent of Google's move to limit search term data in both an SEO and PPC sense, in an attempt to make advertisers and marketers more reliant on Google for information. This move by Apple forces advertisers to look at its search ads platform to see search terms data, which means that post-install data can't be traced back to the actual word that matched to a search match or broad match target (or even exact match, per the other updates section below).


Additionally, Apple appears to now be fragmenting at least some search match data into an iAD automatic tracker, separate from the main Apple Search Ads tracker.

Other updates, as reported by our own and our network's experiences:

  • Reportedly, new ad groups may switch to serving ads to all users, even if you have the option to "show my ads only to new users" selected.
  • Reportedly, exact match is serving more broadly than designed, with one or more words in the exact match keyword being replaceable by synonymous words, rather than required.
  • Broad match negative keywords set at the campaign or ad group level do not appear to work, allowing traffic that should be blocked.
    • Exact match keywords set at the ad group level appear to be working.
  • The ability to change bids at the keyword-level suddenly disappeared, as the mouse turns from a selector to a cursor and the bid cell is now immutable.Update on 10.22:
      the ability to change bids is now fixed.
  • Some accounts were reporting being charged more than their max CPT, which Apple acknowledged and issued credits via individual escalations. This issue is now reportedly fixed.
  • It appears that Apple is turning up the knob on screenshot-laden ads too, which when combined with the ability to serve ads on any branded search can have big implications for brands, and also means that screenshots will start to have a bigger impact on TTR.
  • On a positive note, Apple has recently introduced the ability to add search terms as new or negative keywords directly from search term reporting.

apple search ads screenshot ad units


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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.