Apple introduces search ads

In a year that can be best described as “courageous”, Apple has continued to push the envelope by releasing one of their most innovative products to date.  A short 16 years since the launch of Google AdWords, and 9 months after Google launched search ads in the Play Store – Apple has entered the world of search advertising.


Since the start of October, Apple have allowed app owners to help market their apps by bidding on specific keywords within the App Store. Much like their rivals product, advertisers pay per tap, with the price being determined by auction. A successful bid results in the app occupying the coveted top spot, regardless of ranking and in some cases, relevance – Competitor bidding is fair game, which means brands have a means of stepping in at the last moment to convince a user to install an alternative.


The move makes a lot of sense after the success that Google has seen with their similar product, combined with the fact that the majority of installs come off the back of searches within the app store, Apple have a very powerful tool at their disposal to generate additional revenue and empower brands to increase their visibility in the App Store.

With regards to how the ads look, most people will be familiar with the small blue “Ad” labels (a variation on Google’s yellow icon) as well a blue tint in the background, apart from that the placement is identical to the organic results, pulling screenshots, ratings and logo from its App Store page.

The launch itself didn’t go without issues, as of right now there doesn’t seem to be any way for the owners of an app to authorise third parties to run campaigns on their behalf, meaning than anyone can jump on the dashboard and bid on any keywords. This may not sound like too much of an issue, but as far as brand safety is concerned, showing up on unsavoury keywords or cannibalisation between apps owned by the same brand could lead to issues further down the line.

There were also a number of issues between Apple and the various 3rd party tracking providers, as post install events were not being attributed back to the paid search placements, instead they were showing as organic, making the actual performance of the campaign unclear – not ideal for brands and agencies with ROI focused campaigns.

Despite its simplistic interface and teething pains, we have just launched our first campaign in the US. There is no clear release date for the rest of the world, but we anticipate it to be at some point in Q1 2017. Initial results are promising, driving low cost installs and the tracking is attributing post install events successfully.

Stay tuned to a campaign post-mortem in the coming weeks.



Sean Smith

Posted on



Contact us in

Your message has been sent successfully. We'll be in touch