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  • Scott Kaplan

Measuring Apple Search Ads Discovery Campaigns

In my prior post, "Apple Search Ads Discovery Campaigns" I provided an overview of how to set them up and how they work. Discovery campaigns are widely accepted as a best practice for generating volume and mining search terms as a keyword expansion source.

However, the logical question one should ask when embarking on Discovery Campaigns

(or any growth marketing initiative) is “Are they worth it?”

In this post, I’ll highlight a few ways to ensure your Discovery Campaign

adding incrementality to your Apple Search Ads program.


If you’re not clear what Discovery campaigns are, read this post then come back!


Discovery campaigns provide two potential benefits: 1) volume (install and in-app events) and 2) keyword expansion. Measuring the impact of each is imperative and I’ll provide an overview below.


Volume

I use the term “volume” loosely to reference increasing installs and/or in-app events like purchases and registrations. In-app event tracking for Apple Search Ads requires a mobile measurement partner (MMP) or attribution tool. If you’re not using an MMP, I strongly encourage you to do so. Measuring volume is fairly straightforward.


If your goal is installs, then the following metrics matter:

· Installs

· Cost

· Cost Per Install


If your goal is in-app events, then measure:

· Revenue and/or custom event(s)

· Cost

· ROAS (if revenue is the goal)

· Cost per action (if custom events are the goal)


Only you know what sustainable performance is for installs and/or in-app events. You’ll notice I didn’t emphasize performance as an objective with Discovery Campaigns. I strongly recommend exact match campaigns as your tool for performance efficiency. A large chunk of your spend should go to exact match performance campaigns (50%-80%).

Given the inherent loose matching in Discovery campaigns (powered by Search Match and Broad Match), it’s harder to get a handle on performance. Plus, search terms are triggering ads – search terms you’re not directly bidding on.


Keyword Expansion

This a common use-case for discovery campaigns. By negative exact matching your targeted keywords, all search terms by default are unique. It’s a best practice to mine those search terms and if they’re driving install volume, add them as targeted keywords.

One shouldn’t assume that those keyword additions are accretive without doing some due diligence. Therefore, it’s a good exercise to do the following:


1) Flag search terms that you’ve added via discovery campaign and periodically look at their performance (install and/or in-app events). If they’re performing well, you can assume the Discovery campaigns are adding value. If not, then revisit your Discovery campaign approach.


2) If flagging keywords added via Discovery Campaigns isn’t viable. Another option is to add keywords from Discovery Campaigns into their own campaign and evaluate them in isolation.


Regardless of what option you take, I want to emphasize – Discovery campaigns aren’t good or bad. They’re a tool that will need to be tweaked. What’s key is your approach to mining search terms and what filters you have in place.


If you have interesting ways of measuring the lift of Discovery Campaigns, we’d love to hear from you!

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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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