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  • Scott Kaplan

Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure: Part 1

Updated: May 15

Let’s get down to brass tacks – the optimal campaign structure for Apple Search Ads is the one that lets you: 1) hit your performance goals and 2) simplify reporting. Since your business needs are bespoke, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to structuring campaigns. At the end of the day, do what works.


However, it’s always great to have a framework and best practices in m


ind. In the first part of my series, “Apple Search Ads Campaign Structure,” I’ll walk you through how one would structure their campaigns. In this post, we’ll assume you’re trying to drive iOS installs for a fictional U.S-based App, called “Acme Music” – a music app that plays classical music hits.


The Purpose of Campaigns

Before you dive into campaign structure, you have to get a handle on the purpose of campaigns in the first place.


Campaigns facilitate budgets:

· Total budget

· Daily budget


They also facilitate targeting:

· The App (relevant if you’re promoting multiple apps)

· Countries & regions (you can also do this at the ad group level)


Think twice if you want to structure your campaigns for reasons other than the above. All other settings (age, gender, CPI targets, etc.) are handled at the Ad Group level.


Optimal Campaign Structure

The primary significance of campaigns is budget. If you intend on having different spend goals for an attribute/initiative, consider making use of campaigns. In the case of Acme Music, I’d recommend breaking out by the following attributes:


Brand (Exact Match) – As I mentioned in my blog posts Bidding on Your Branded Keywords in Apple Search Ads: A Practical Approach (Part #1) and Bidding on Your Branded Keywords in Apple Search Ads: A Practical Approach (Part #2 Incrementality), branded keywords should be separated from other keywords. User intent is different. So is their incrementality. If you mix them up with other campaign types, you’ll muddy the waters.


Non-Brand (Exact Match) – Self-explanatory. I’d include competitive keywords here too.


Discovery (Broad Match) – This is where it gets fun. Add all keywords in your brand and non-brand campaigns. Then, mine search queries and for those that perform well – and aren’t in your account – add them to either your Brand or Non-Brand campaigns as exact match.


Discovery (Search Match) – Enable search match so Apple can work its AI magic and match your ads to queries that may be relevant to your business. Like Discovery (Broad Match) campaigns, mine search queries and add new queries to Brand and Non-Brand exact match campaigns. You also can add them as broad match to your Discovery Broad Match campaign.


A Word About Discovery Campaigns

You could have one discovery campaign but with separate ad groups for broad match and search match. I personally like the simplicity of having a 1:1 campaign/ad group structure where possible and would run two campaigns. Personal preference.


How to Handle Budgets & Ad Groups?

It depends. Putting approximately 70% of budget into Brand & Non-Brand exact match campaigns helps ensure overall performance is stable. But if you’re in growth mode, you can drop that percentage. (Or vice-versa.)


With regard to ad groups, keep it simple in the beginning. 1:1 campaign/ad group setup works just fine. I preach simplicity in the beginning if you’re an advertiser like Acme Music. After all, you have one line of business with clear objectives – installs / cost per install (CPI). If you have multiple product lines or more nuanced goals, then more granularity and complexity is in order. Perhaps that will be a topic for a future blog post? 😊


How do you structure your campaigns? It’s an ongoing topic in Search Engine Marketing. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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1. App Store data from all available countries and regions (excluding China), 2018 (https://searchads.apple.com).
2. Appsflyer 2019 Performance Index (https://www.appsflyer.com/performance-index).

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