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Today, Apple ends its test of App Store Search Ads and rolls out the feature to all developers as part of iOS 10. This is a brand new user acquisition channel, and one with interesting implications for big and small app developers alike.


Impact of search on the app market
Search on the App Store has become clogged by some 1.5 million competing apps, which is where search ads come in. Just as Google long ago found that many businesses will pay for a slot near the top of its web search results, the new App Store ads offer an alternate route to visibility beyond app store optimization.


Google has offered similar search ads on Google Play for over a year, and reports 88% more traffic on top of organic search, plus an 80% lift in brand awareness. Apple, for its part, claims that 65% of app downloads come from App Store search — and since user acquisition costs for iOS users via the ad networks are typically even much higher than Google Play, many developers will be eager to see if they can bump up their downloads with the new format.


Ease of entry
Search Ads may not be entirely positive for small developers, insofar as the ads have the potential to further concentrate power into the hands of richer companies. But the news isn’t all bad for smaller developers who have the energy to compete: Search Ads are both easy and cheap to create and test, unlike the six-figure video ad campaigns now run by the largest companies.


Pre-existing assets like your app name and screenshot provide most of the components of a Search Ad. Targeting is where the complexity — and opportunity — enters, with levers including keywords, gender, age, device type, location, and time of the day/week. Poor performing ads will be demoted, putting a premium on ad relevance.


Tracking Search Ads
Even with a more level playing field for all participants, the best ads will come from thorough A/B testing and tracking.


To enable Search Ads tracking, just download the latest version Tenjin’s SDK. If you’re new to Tenjin, just contact us at for more details.

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