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Platforms Series: Leveraging Audiences in Apple Search Ads

Published: May 3, 2018

Author: Paul Bloom

Closing out our “Platforms Week” is a deep dive into audience targeting on Apple Search. If you have a mobile app, you’re probably already using Apple Search advertising platform, but are you sure you’re using its capabilities to their full extent? Read on for Account Coordinator Paul Bloom’s take on how to get those cost per install numbers down. 
So, you’ve been successfully marketing your app (or suite of apps) in Apple Search Ads. You’ve also read Ashley’s “8 Lessons From Testing The New Apple Search Ads.” But if you’re not trying to leverage the ad group audience settings, you’re likely missing out on valuable and much less expensive traffic.
Apple gives you four options when setting up an ad group for the audience you want to target:

Audience options

In practice, we have seen that audiences 3 and 4 frequently outperform on a CPI basis.
Why is this the case, and why should you consider these options? Well, first, it’s worth understanding that when you serve ads to everyone in the app store (the default option), you’re competing with the broadest swath of other apps for only one spot. You may have good volume, but you’ll be paying a relatively higher CPI when compared to other audiences.
When you choose the audience of people who have explicitly not downloaded your app, you get a better group to target, but this group can be relatively limited in its size. Anyone who has ever organically downloaded your app, then uninstalled, will never be served an ad. These things considered, this should be the default acquisition campaign running for your app.
Targeting the group of users who have previously downloaded your app is one of the bigger audiences available in the App Store – this includes any organic download that has uninstalled. This bucket of users is also less likely to be bid on by competitors – you’re specifically looking for people who have previously downloaded your app, an audience that competitors cannot directly bid on because they can’t identify it.
For brand terms on the audience “have downloaded the app,” depending on your app, you can expect CPIs 55-70% lower than campaigns targeting users who have not downloaded your app. Non-brand terms on that audience can drive CPIs 40-50% lower.
Depending on how many apps you have, you can expect similar results when using the audience type “have downloaded my other apps.” The nice part about this setting is that you are able to target users of a specific app, not the entire user base of all of your apps. If you have complementary apps, or are trying to drive users from an old app to a new app store listing of that app, this is a great option. You can potentially drive significantly lower-cost installs when running on this audience, but ultimately it depends on how many users your other apps have.
A few notes – at least 5,000 customers must fall into an audience category for your ad group to be eligible to run, so at least 5,000 people have downloaded your app before, or have downloaded another app you own. You also must have your account linked to an iTunes Connect account for the “have downloaded the app” or “have downloaded my other apps” audience features to be available.
Taking advantage of the unique audiences available in Apple Search Ads is one of the best ways you can optimize the entire ecosystem where your app is being marketed. Given how feature-bare the Search Ads platform currently is, I can’t recommend enough the ability to run campaigns on each audience type.

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