New in iOS 10: How Apple App Store Search Ads is Relevant for Your Business

The new Search Ad format is currently being BETA tested in the US and is in the pipeline for launch in the fall of 2016. With this update Apple opens up new opportunities for marketing via its App Store. This is highly anticipated news for businesses and companies that already work strategically with App Store Optimization (ASO) and have allocated a specific budget to market their apps – but without draining their marketing budget.

October 14th 2016 Update: We are now managing, configuring and optimizing Search Ads for clients for the US App Store – iOS. See our 200% ROI case here

Today, ASO is still the most affordable method to generate downloads and retention, and the new search ads function will be a welcome addition to keywords and search optimization where top rankings are hard to get organically. And as paid searches become more widespread, we estimate that screenshot, icon, and description optimization, will become even more important than before.

With more than 1.5 million apps available in Apple’s App Store companies that work with apps are starting to embrace App Store Optimization (ASO) as an important first step in their app marketing process, something we at Mobtimizers have experienced with a rise in interest in our services. Today, more than ever, ASO is becoming a means for app developers and marketers to be found and to stay relevant with consumers in the App stores. Where Google and Facebook and others already offer app install solutions for companies that want to further enhance their presence, Apple is also now upping their game.

Today, 65% of apps in the Apple App Store are found via the search function. Now, Apple is beginning to improve searches as the App Store is becoming increasingly hard to navigate due to its volume.

Examples of search ads in the apple app store (ios 10) ASO

How does Apple App Store Search Ads work?

Among the most anticipated features of the upcoming iOS 10 release is paid search – which makes it possible for companies to pay to have their app always spotlighted at the top of the search results in the Apple App Store – more or less based on their search words. In practice this means that if someone looks for ‘toys’ or ‘Legos’ in the App Store a toy chain can buy the opportunity to have their specific app shown at the top of the search results, similar to how Google search functions.

In practice, this prominent ad space will only be allowed for apps available via the Apple App Store, with content related to the App’s description – to ensure ads are related to products available via the portal. The ads will be sold via an auction system with no minimums and no exclusives, so that the smaller apps can also seize this opportunity. Also, only one ad will be included in search pages and will be identified as a search ad with a light blue background ad button. Developers will not be given information about specific users who interact with ads and users of 13 years and younger will not be exposed to promotional content.

Let MOBTIMIZERS manage, configure and optimize your iOS search ads


For marketers, Apple will provide a auction system like we know from Google Adwords, borrowing technology from Apple’s iAd network, and developers will not be charged unless users click. On the user side, Apple is promising that the ad shown will be something relevant to what the user searched for, and they will not create search profiles of users or share any user data with developers. So while developers may profit from paid ad space, this is a user-centric service to feature the most relevant app in a search.

Improve discoverability with Apple Store Search ads format

In general, this is good news for businesses that wish to test and improve their discoverability, especially ones who develop apps competing in a big market or ones with apps that are more specific and harder to find, as it might lead to better App Store search insights and understanding of user interactions.

November 2016 Update: We’ve tested App Store Search Ads and can conclude that they work and will increase both visibility and rankings.

If you are interested in learning more about the new possibilities for app marketing and ASO, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Apple Store Search Ads, ASO, SEO

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