Apps are now discoverable in more places across the App Store thanks to the new Today tab and product page ad placements. Thanks to these new placements, your ads can now reach users when they first visit the App Store, and while they browse. This expands the touchpoints you can reach users along the App Store customer journey, increasing your chances of snagging your target customers’ attention.
The Today tab ad
This is where visitors (over half a billion of them) start their journey on the App Store. You can now advertise your own app here, using high-impact creatives to capture App Store visitors’ attention. The ad will leverage a custom product page you create in App Store Connect. The custom product page has to include at least four portrait or five landscape assets. It also has to use the correct language for the countries and regions where the campaign will run.
The custom product page has to be approved first by App Store Connect then by Apple Search Ads for advertising. Once it’s approved, you can head to Apple Search Ads Advanced to begin Today tab campaign creation and submit your Today tab ad creative to Apple Search Ads to be approved for advertising. If you don’t schedule a start date or click Pause while the ad is still in review, it will run as soon as it’s approved. You can always create and submit ads for approval ahead of time to ensure they’re approved and running by a specific date. Note that Today tab ads aren't currently available on mainland China, so keep this in mind when running any international campaigns in the APAC region.
Because these ads are featured right on the front page of the App Store, they are the first content users will see. This makes them solid options for driving app awareness for new launches, special events, and seasonal promotions.
Today tab ad guidelines
Promotional messaging should be 50 characters or less, with the lines of text not to exceed three.
Creative assets have to be screenshots from the app you promote. Promotional, lifestyle, or other images aren’t allowed.
The screenshots must be prominent and undistorted, filling up at least ⅔ of each creative asset.
Pricing, offers, and ranking claims are not allowed in ad creative assets.
Creative cannot include a font style similar to the App Store Today Card. Phrases “Game of the Day” and “App of the Day” are also not allowed.
The language in the ad creative must match the language in App Store Connect.
Any image that mocks a device and contains a bezel (the border between the screen and the frame of the device) must feature a bezel accurate to the most current Apple devices.
The ad creative must comply with Apple Advertising Policies and cannot contain any images considered violent, sexually explicit, or otherwise inappropriate.
Product pages – while browsing ads
Product pages – while browsing ads are a new ad placement that shows your app to interested users as they browse the App Store. These ads appear at the top of the You Might Also Like list to users who scroll down relevant product pages. You can run your ad across all relevant product categories, or you can refine the categories where it runs. Product pages ads aren’t currently available on mainland China either.
These ads are created using the metadata already uploaded to your App Store product page. They include your app name, icon, and subtitle.
Time to get started
With these new ad placements, you can reach customers at multiple points during their journey through the App Store. The Today tab places your app in front of users before they think of a solution to their problem. And once they start browsing, product page ads present them with your app as they scroll through similar options.
With so many new features to explore in Apple Seatch Ads's new ad placements, the next question is what are you waiting for? You can start running these ads now and they're certainly worth a test, especially as we enter the busy holiday season.
Apple Search Ads is a powerful acquisition tool for app marketing that has been around for several years. It’s a proven method that connects advertisers with a relevant target audience to increase conversions. Using Apple Search Ads, app developers can drastically improve their visibility in the App store, thereby gaining an edge over competitors. And with two different solutions offered—basic and advanced—advertisers can implement either simple or complex campaigns, depending on their organization’s goals.
While Apple Search Ads are a gateway for advertisers to convert more users, users are hyper-aware that companies are trying to glean as much information as they can to track them. Consequently, privacy settings in Apple’s mobile ecosystem are growing ever-more stringent. More and more users are tapping into Limit Ad Tracking (LAT), a simple but sophisticated feature that can be enabled on their mobile devices to prevent data collection by apps and to help maintain privacy rights. Limit Ad Tracking disrupted the advertising space simply by providing users the option to safeguard their personal data.
iPhone devices now make up approximately 45% of the US smartphone market and users are turning on Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) to feel safer. This means advertisers face new challenges as they launch their App Store search ads to connect with iOS users.
Share of Apple iPhone users in the U.S. from 2014 to 2021
What Is Limit Ad Tracking (LAT)?
Limit Ad Tracking (LAT) is a feature on Apple’s mobile OS that gives users a choice to opt out of having an ID for Advertisers (IDFA) and can be turned on from a user’s Settings app. When this setting is on, networks are unable to locate an identity associated with a device, and users who seek privacy protection do not receive unwanted targeted ads. While LAT doesn’t completely block ads, it prevents targeting users based on their behavior, and ad tech companies can’t collect as much data as they normally would if the setting is turned off. Rather, tracking is largely limited to contextual data points such as the device’s OS version, the app store subcategory, the version of the app, and so on.
LAT was the predecessor to App Tracking Transparency, or ATT. Both iterations are Apple’s way of letting users choose to decline personalized ads. Essentially, the opt-out prevents Apple Search Ads from recognizing the user as a returning customer and using their information to serve more relevant ads. While previously referred to as the Limit ad tracking (LAT tracking) feature, Apple’s verbiage of choice is now “personalized ads”. Instead of turning on LAT tracking to prevent personalized ads, users with iOS 14+ can simply turn off the personalized ads feature. Users who choose to guard their privacy with either version of the feature prevent advertisers from targeting them through any aspects of their Apple ID. This includes demographic and search data.
With so much riding on whether or not a user consents to personalized ads, you might be wondering if the initial ATT prompt is your only chance to acquire ATT consent. Users can turn off the “Allow Apps to Request to Track” option in their privacy settings. If they enable the requests, advertisers have one chance to request ATT permission. If the user denies the native ATT prompt, you don’t get another chance.
At this point, your only option is to provide information in your app informing users on the benefits of tracking, as well as how to adjust the settings to enable it.
Why It Matters for Advertisers
As more users enable the LAT feature on their devices, advertisers are being hit with a big challenge. Many users see LAT as a privacy-preserving tool. For advertisers, however, it reduces their ability to reach their target audience. The implications for marketers are not favorable; here are some of the reasons why.
As the mobile marketing era shifts, user information will no longer be automatically collected. Rather, the user will have to provide it voluntarily, either willingly offering their information or denying it. While users feel more secure using the LAT feature, mobile marketers are unable to access as much information as they were able to previously.
The App Store may remove an app that uses an iOS ad identifier outside its intended purpose—and understandably so. A user's Limit Ad Tracking settings should be respected.
If user privacy rights are violated, a developer's app risks its reputation, and users are likely to turn to competitors. The LAT feature has created new challenges for mobile marketers, urging them to step up their game or lose a user’s attention.
For opted-out users, lack of attribution makes it harder for advertisers to measure the success of campaigns.
Impact of LAT on attribution
Prior to iOS 10, companies did not have to honor the user’s LAT request. Apple also previously allowed companies to use permanent device identifiers (called universal device IDs or UDIDs) for frequency capping, attribution, conversion events, estimating the number of unique users, advertising fraud detection, and debugging. Once iOS 10 entered the picture, Apple began showing zeros in place of the user IDFA for those who selected LAT. IDFA stands for “identifier for advertisers” on Apple mobile devices. It’s like a web cookie, but for ad tracking. An IDFA notifies advertisers when an iPhone user takes a certain action on their ads or apps.
iOS 14 changed the game by only assigning IDFAs to those who explicitly opt into tracking. IDFAs let advertisers know when a user takes an action as a result of an ad. They’re also used for fraud detection. Post-iOS 14, advertisers have to use Apple’s SKANetwork (StoreKit Ad Network) to get attribution data per campaign and marketing channel without device-level data for privacy safety.
What to do about Apple’s App Tracking Transparency pop-up
After updating to iOS 15, users receive a prompt explaining what personalized ads are, equipped with buttons for the users to turn the feature on or off. Apple’s data on their first-part advertising efforts shows that when prompted, 78% of users opt to turn off the personalized ads feature. The same data revealed that the conversion rate between users with personalized ads on and off are practically identical. Advertisers report a 62.1% conversion rate for customers who opt in and a 62.5% conversion rate for those who opt out. In response to this data, Apple recommends developers target users with the feature disabled as they are far greater in number. Because there are more users with the feature disabled, bidding prices for that audience are lower.
How does LAT tracking affect campaigns
Advertisers who choose to target users based on demographic data like age or gender will not reach those who opt out of personalized ads. Those who don’t target using demographic information will automatically advertise to LAT-on users.
LAT-on users don’t share identifying information with Apple Search Ads. This includes age, gender, user behavior, etc. If you use these criteria to refine your audience, LAT-on users will be excluded.
Targeting LAT-on users is not an option. Advertisers can target either LAT-off users or both LAT-on and LAT-off users. Geographic targeting doesn’t exclude LAT-on users. Discovery campaigns can target LAT-on users, but advertisers will get this data at the ad group level rather than the keyword level.
Benefits of Limit Ad Tracking (LAT)
Even with the limitations that LAT poses, Apple search ads enable app marketers to reach their target audience on a global scale. Apple search ads are a very effective channel of advertising with very high user intent, and so the ongoing ad-blocking evolution still has advantages for mobile marketers.
Limit Ad Tracking improves cost per taps and cost per download.
Challenges/Drawbacks of Limit Ad Tracking (LAT)
Although there are many advantages to LAT, there are some obvious downsides. Without IDFA, behavioral targeting becomes impossible, leaving advertisers to depend on contextual targeting criteria. As a result of IDFA opt-in rates ranging from 4–13%, many organizations are seeking solutions that can provide accurate analytics, reporting, and attribution.
Worldwide Daily Opt-in Rates
For mobile marketers, tracking for LAT-on users is extremely limiting because a user’s data is off-limits unless they provide consent via App Tracking Transparency (ATT). Apple Search Ads ad groups with specific targeting (either age or gender-based) will be unable to reach users who have enabled LAT. Without a way to track LAT-on users, mobile marketers risk missing a quarter of the potential traffic.
As a result, by only being able to obtain install data from LAT-off users, mobile marketers suffer from data discrepancies that lead to an incomplete picture with a lower number of attributed conversions. Furthermore, turning on LAT can negatively affect the functionality of certain apps by disrupting advertisers’ ability to track revenue and other post-install metrics.
How advertisers can adapt
Possibly the biggest step advertisers can take to adapt as privacy preservation becomes more prevalent is to transition advertising measurement away from deterministic, user-centric models and instead use a holistic model that incorporates variations in ad spend and revenue to attribute efficiency to channel-specific ad campaigns.
Essentially, privacy preservation and ATT aren’t going anywhere. Workarounds are possible, however they are temporary. Eliminating the need to use extremely targeted ads simplifies the process of reaching target customers.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can use cutting-edge software to reach your customers more effectively, contact us. We’ll be happy to schedule a no-strings-attached demo of our solution for you today.
In case you missed it, Amazon announced a second Prime Day this week! The “Prime Early Access Sale” happens October 11 at 12 a.m. PDT and runs through October 12 in 15 countries: Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the U.S.
Amazon is also introducing a Top 100 list with deals dropping on ASIN’s throughout the event across categories including electronics, fashion, home, kitchen, pets, toys, and Amazon devices. Of course Amazon will release their annual Holiday gift guides and Amazon’s Toys We Love list as well.
Prime Day in July was Amazon’s most successful to date with 300 million items purchased and $11.9 billion in sales, an 8.5% increase over 2021. But ecommerce is slowing as inflation continues to increase and shoppers become more wary of stagflation or a looming recession in the not so distant future.
So needless to say you do not want to miss out on a second opportunity to get your products in front of eager consumers just before the holiday shopping season starts! Check out Amazon’s Prime Day guide here, and for detailed info on how to maximize sales during the entire holiday season, Marin’s got you covered with our Amazon 2022 Holiday Playbook.
Earlier this year, Apple expanded their Apple Search Ads portfolio on the App Store by offering a placement in the “Suggested” section of the Search tab. So while app marketers have always been able to reach customers in the results after they search for keywords, now you can get your ads in front of users even before they search.
This functionality opens up “keyword-free” advertising, meaning your ads will show based on your target audience (location, age, gender, and device type), and the ad copy will be generated from App Store metadata.
Search tab campaigns are an easy way to help users discover apps they may not have intended to search for, and it also helps app marketers drive visibility and awareness at the right time (versus an always-on approach), while also topping up your conversions and audience pools.
So, does it work? The simple answer is yes! So let’s have a look at some strategies you can use to get the most out of Search tab ads.
When is the best time to run Search tab campaigns?
1. Seasonal periods (Black Friday, Holiday, end of season sales)
For retail, entertainment, and any app marketer impacted by seasonality, running a Search tab campaign can be a really effective way to drive sales during a short time period. You will be showing your ads to customers in your target audience before they search. Tactics like these help gain a competitive advantage by giving you maximum visibility.
2. Key business events (product and app launches, new entertainment or gaming releases)
Similar to seasonal periods, any business event can benefit from an additional boost, especially in a saturated market. Let’s say you are marketing a streaming entertainment app, and you have a new season of a streaming series launching soon — leveraging Search tab ads can build momentum by driving downloads in anticipation of the release date. Follow this up with a search results campaign with the show’s keywords, and you’ve got a one-two punch to maximize conversions.
3. Reaching specific audiences
Because Search tab ads use target audiences, they are a great way to reach new users, returning users, or users of your other apps. In the example above, for instance, perhaps you have users who fell off after the last season ended. Search tab ads can complement your integrated media plan: once you’ve raised awareness in the market, you can reach returning users at just the right time, reminding them to re-install before the next season starts.
4. Brand/awareness activity push
Of course, anyone can benefit from additional exposure, whether you are a well-known brand or just getting started. Most brands have budgets allocated towards competitor campaigns. These can be costly and quite often suffer from low conversion rates. By using Search tab campaigns to target specific audience types, you can drive added value, and help reach new customers. Think of them like an expansion pack to bidding on competitor terms.
How do I get started with Search tab campaigns?
Setting up a Search tab campaign is easy. The process is essentially the same as setting up a search results campaign, only you can skip the keyword miming and implementation step. Since there are no keywords in the campaign setup, Search Match is disabled. Apple Search Ads uses the assets you’ve already uploaded to your App Store product page (app name, icon, and subtitle) to create the ads, so there is no need to provide anything else.
As for pricing, ads are based on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model. There is no minimum spend, and you can determine the maximum amount you’re willing to pay with an overall campaign budget as well as a daily cap. You’ll also be able to start, stop, or adjust campaigns any time.
MarinOne’s Apple Search Ads integration supercharges already powerful Apple Search Ads campaigns. From optimization to reporting, MarinOne offers unique advantages to app marketers. Advanced analytical grids provide flexible reporting within and across Apple Search Ads with unlimited data retention. MarinOne for Apple Search Ads also seamlessly integrates with BI Tools such as Tableau and Google Data Studio. Cross-channel reporting puts paid media metrics from search, social, display, and e-commerce all in one place, streamlining reporting workflows.
MarinOne also offers automated bidding leveraging advanced machine learning. Advertisers can also set custom bid modifiers for MarinOne Bidding to adjust to external signals, giving you more time saved on manually optimizing campaigns, better performance, and happier clients. Budget pacing, forecasting, performance insights, and recommendations make planning and management a breeze. Plus, cross-account edits and manual keyword bid overrides give marketers full control over their campaigns. Advertisers can also integrate MMP data and optimize toward post download metrics.
As Search tab campaigns are best used to reach particular audiences and drive tap throughs during specific periods, any comparison to always-on activity is somewhat misguided. By incorporating both Search tab campaigns and search results campaigns into your overall media plan, you can reap the benefits of incremental growth, reach and additional exposure.
Apple Search Ads has been around for several years as a standout strategy for app marketing. Lower acquisition costs, high intent audiences, and straightforward setup have drawn advertisers to the platform (and kept them there). After the addition of Search tab campaigns back in May and the recent integration with MarinOne, if you’re not running Apple Search Ads yet - you should be.
Ads drive downloads
If you’re not familiar with Apple Search Ads, here are a few motivating metrics:
70 percent of App Store visitors use search to discover apps. Ads display at the top of search results, giving marketers prime placement for their apps.
65 percent of downloads occur directly after a search on the App Store.
50 percent is the average conversion rate for ads on the App Store search results.
All that Apple Search Ads has to offer
Advertisers can choose between Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced. Basic (as you might assume) is made for those with limited marketing experience, relying on automation to drive campaigns and performance. Advanced is for those with a bit more gusto for advertising, giving marketers more control over keywords, bidding, and audience refinements.
Apple Search Ads setup is similar to other search ads, so PPC natives will feel right at home with the recommended structure and terminology.
Apple Search Ads now offers placements on both the search results page and the Search tab suggested apps list. Search results ads are billed on a cost-per-tap (CPT) model while the newer Search tab ads are priced based on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model. Unlike search results ads, Search tab ads don’t require keywords.
Apple Search Ads recommends search results campaigns separated by keyword themes: Brand, Category (read: non-brand), Competitor, and Discovery. Within each campaign, keywords are typically broken down into ad groups with exact match queries, broad match, and Search Match (Apple Search Ads’ flavor of automated intent matching). Advertisers can add negative keywords and refine audiences as needed to funnel intent.
Search tab campaigns work differently since they don’t require keywords, but advertisers still have control over bidding and audience refinements such as device, customer type, demographics, and locations. As mentioned above, Search tab campaigns are priced on a CPM basis.
Maximizing Apple Search Ads campaigns with MarinOne
MarinOne’s Apple Search Ads integration supercharges already powerful Apple Search Ads campaigns. From optimization to reporting, MarinOne offers unique advantages to app marketers. Here are all of the details:
Advanced analytical grids provide flexible reporting within and across Apple Search Ads with unlimited data retention. MarinOne for Apple Search Ads also seamlessly integrates with BI Tools such as Tableau and Google Data Studio.
Cross-channel reporting puts paid media metrics from search, social, display, and e-commerce all in one place, streamlining reporting workflows. Combined with powerful dashboards for easy data visualization, you’ll have everything you need for effective account management in one place.
Automated alerts can be set to notify marketers of performance changes. We all know alerts are life changing!
MarinOne offers automated bidding to improve your Cost Per Tap and Cost Per Downloads leveraging machine learning. Advertisers can also set custom bid modifiers for MarinOne Bidding to adjust to external signals. Read: less time spent manually optimizing campaigns, better performance, and happier clients.
Budget pacing, forecasting, performance insights, and recommendations make planning and management a breeze. Plus, cross-account edits and manual keyword bid overrides give marketers full control over their campaigns.
Advertisers can integrate MMP data and optimize toward post download metrics.