First Steps to understanding Search Ads for App Store

Last October 5th, Apple launched Search Ads for the Apple Store. We were highly expecting it to arrive because it has been available for Google Play for a long time now. Although there’s some bad news, it’s only available for the US! But we hope that the rest of the world will be able to have access soon enough. At Lateral View we want you to be prepared when that happens, so we’re glad to share with you a little preview about how it works and how you can obtain the most of your App with Search Ads.

After all the time invested in creating your App, you don’t want it to get lost among the millions of Apps that currently exist in the App Store; you want the user to download your App as their first choice. So first, we should explain this:

How does a user find an App in the App Store?

App Store. Featured, Categories, Top Charts and Search.
  • Featured: the best apps based on themes, interests, cultural events, etc.
  • Categories: the user looks deeply into one of the 26 categories that the App Store offers.
  • Top Charts: a list of the most popular paid apps, free apps and grossing apps.
  • Search: basically the user searches for what he needs. The most important thing here is that your App must appear when the user searches for it. And how do we get it? With ASO (App Store Optimization). If you want to learn how to improve the ASO of your App, we explain it here.

Now that you have learnt how a user finds an App, you should know that 65% of downloads come from App Store search, so why don’t you promote your App? This is the beginning of Search Ads. You will be able to manage your App visibility in search results, you can achieve new downloads and increase the use of your App.

How does Search Ads work?

When an App is promoted, it appears in a blue background and an “Ad” icon next to the developer name. Search Ads are shown just one at a time.

So, which are the factors that makes your Ad appear in front of a similar App? Relevance and pricing.


  • App Store Metadata: here we can see once again the importance of investing your time in ASO. You should think thoroughly your App name, description, keywords, etc. to improve the organic presence as well as the relevance for promoted ads.
  • User Response: the user response to an Ad also affects to relevance. If a user doesn’t respond to an Ad, it won’t be shown any more.


  • Cost per Tap (CPT): in Search Ads, you only pay when a user engages with your Ad. You can choose the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a tap.
  • Second Price Auction: the final cost of that tap is a result of a Second Price Auction. That final cost depends on the price your nearest competitor is willing to pay to show their Ad up to your maximum bid.

The chance your Ad will be displayed or not depends on the combination of the two factors:

  1. The relevance of your App in the search query (relevant or not relevant)
  2. And the amount of your bid in comparison with your competitors’ bid in the same query

To sum up, the most important things to have into account to optimize your Ads are to improve your ASO and to understand your clients’ value, to know how much money you can invest to acquire new ones.

At Lateral View, we work in detail from the beginning of an App until the launch and promotion of it. If you are interested in creating your own App, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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