Apple today is introducing a new way for app developers to acquire users for their apps: it’s launching a pay-per-install advertising product called Search Ads Basic. The “basic” branding signals that this product is being aimed at smaller developers compared with the existing Search Ads product, which is now being renamed to Search Ads Advanced.
Launched last year, Search Ads have been one of the biggest changes to date in terms of improving discovery of mobile applications on the App Store. The idea with the original Search Ads product was to help developers better target potential users using specific information – like location, gender, keywords, and whether or not they’ve ever installed the app before.
After configuring a campaign, those ads would then appear at the top of the App Store search results when users searched for a keyword or terms, like “games,” or “war games,” for example.
Developers paid for these ad placements when users tapped on them.
That product, now called Search Ads Advanced, isn’t going away. Instead, it’s being joined by a more entry-level option, Search Ads Basic.
In this case, developers aren’t paying for taps, but for actual app installations as a result of the ad.
Setting up a Search Ads Basic campaign has also been designed to be a much simpler process. The only parameters that have to be entered are the app to be advertised, the budget, and the amount the developer wants to pay per install.
Here, Apple will helpfully suggest the maximum the developer should pay based on historical data from the App Store related to the type of app being marketed. While other pay-per-install ad campaigns from third parties may offer similar results in terms of installs, Apple’s advantage is that it has direct access to App Store data and the ads themselves show up directly in the App Store – not elsewhere on the web.
Apple’s implementation of ad targeting also respects user privacy. While it does use its historical understanding of App Store trends to help target ads, it doesn’t build specific profiles on individual users for targeting purposes.
In addition to the ease-of-use, a side effect of using Apple’s Search Ads product is that it can lead to a higher chart ranking. Apple’s algorithm takes into consideration number of downloads and velocity of those installs to move an app up the Top Charts. Because Apple considers an install from Search Ads a “high quality” download, it counts those installs towards the app’s chart position and its rise.
There are no limitations on the type of app or size of the company that can use Search Ads Basic, but it will make the most sense for smaller shops who aren’t yet ready to toy with Search Ads’ more advanced options. Plus, Search Ads Basic limits budgets to $5,000 per month, while Search Ads Advanced has no such upper limit.
Since its launch, Search Ads have been largely embraced by developers as an easy way to increase their app’s exposure. Apple’s data indicates that conversion rates for the original Search Ads product have been holding steady at over 50 percent, while the cost per acquisition has been below $1.50. Compared to other platforms, this is below the market norms.
The new ad product is launching today and will be available on searchads.apple.com alongside the Search Ads Advanced offering. From there, developers can start their campaigns then track results in an online dashboard showing how many users installed the app, the campaign budget, and the amount paid.
Initially launched in the U.S., Search Ads were more recently expanded internationally, to markets including the U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and Mexico.
However, Search Ads Basic won’t roll out to these markets until sometime next year.