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Home Blog App Store News ASA in Practice: A Detailed Explanation of Apple's Bidding Ad Placement Strategy

ASA in Practice: A Detailed Explanation of Apple's Bidding Ad Placement Strategy

Jun 24 2021

asa (Apple Search Ads)

In the year 2020 just passed, Apple's Search Ads (ASA) was tested in new channels such as Apple News, in addition to opening the Russian market in the middle of the year, further enhancing the position of search ads within the Apple ecosystem.

Statistics from third-party reports also show that ASA has excellent performance in the promotion of mobile applications and games. 2021, the role of ASA should not be ignored to better promote products on the iOS platform.

What is ASA(Apple Search Ads)?

ASA stands for Apple Search Ads, a paid App Store promotion that gets your app to appear first in the Apple Store search results. The top of the App Store search results page is more effective than other display positions.

Currently, advertisers can promote your App on the App Store to more users in 60 countries or regions with ASA ads. And in the future, Apple may offer a broader range of advertising services than just bidding ads, allowing advertisers to place ads from a wider range of ad displays, such as Apple's own Maps, News, Stocks and safari apps.

Why should we value ASA?

Why do we need to understand and value ASA? According to data, 70% of App Store users discover apps through search, 65% of downloads come directly from App Store search, and the average conversion rate of Apple Search Ads is 50%, with high placement ROI. And according to a recent Appsflyer report, among all industry categories worldwide, ASA is ranked 3rd and 4th in iOS in terms of scale and power, respectively, making it a high-quality traffic platform for iOS that cannot be ignored.

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Complementary and connection to ASO

ASA can be seen as a part of refining your ASO strategy - App Store product pages can contain up to 100 keywords, and this part needs to be careful and concise to grasp the relevance of keywords and products.

By optimizing metadata, the best titles, sub-titles and keywords can be found to enhance the likelihood of users finding the product in App Store searches. Of course, ASO expert in ASO World will help you to do all these as well.

Find quality keywords

We've talked about "Discovery Campaigns", a way to find more quality, popular keywords and to bid on them or add them to metadata, etc.

What are the specific advantages of ASA

Brand protection

ASA is not yet protected for brand words, so advertising not only can avoid brand traffic being grabbed by competitors, but also can intercept the brand traffic of competitors.

High ROI

By comparing and analyzing the relevant data of different advertising channels, it is proved that ASA has significant advantages in terms of placement volume and input-output ratio.


Most domestic enterprises are not familiar with or do not pay attention to ASA traffic, so it is good to practice and do a good job of domestic ASA layout in overseas markets in advance to seize the dividends.

Huge traffic

65% of App Store downloads come from search. And the Apple Store can bring 500 million visitors per week in the amount of high-quality native traffic.

ASA placement of big data globally

Apple ad-related big data sharing, including the market share of iOS devices, big data of various categories, big data of each region, etc.

Market share of iOS devices

From the chart, the top five market shares of iOS devices are the United States (14 million), Japan (87 million), Russia (39 million), Vietnam (38 million), and India (36 million).

You can allocate the budget accordingly according to the market volume of iOS devices in each place and arrange the marketing plan accordingly.

Big data of various categories

Then, the big data of each category will be shared in four dimensions: TTR, CR, CPT and CPA.

The average TTR of ASA ads in 2020 is 6.84%, compared with 6.06% last year, an improvement of eight thousandths of a percent. The Tools, Music and Business categories have the highest click-through rates, well above the average of 6.84% across the 16 categories. The sports category had the lowest TTR at 3.25%. This is because of the seasonality of sports events, and the timing of the sports season leads to the ups and downs of users' search fever, resulting in a low TTR. The click-through rate of game category dropped from 4.69% last year to 3.89% this year, because the game category is complicated, and the search users will not click on the ads if they see the games they are not interested in, which leads to the decrease of click-through rate.

Big data of different region

Among the 16 regions sampled, the average TTR is 6.84%, with Ireland, Finland and Austria ranking in the top three. The U.S. is barely above the average, with a TTR of 6.95%. Japan was the lowest, with a TTR of 6.35%. Japan has 68.6% of iOS devices, the highest share of iOS devices among all ASA ad open regions, and Japanese users are willing and able to pay, but they also demand high product quality, so developers need to do a good job of localization in terms of language, culture, and user habits, in addition to providing beautiful products.

In terms of CR dimension, there are only 3 regions with a CR above the average value (47.60%) in 2020, namely the US (50.84%), UK (49.03%) and Canada (47.67%). By comparing the TTR data with the previous ones, we will find an applicable rule: high TTR does not mean high CR, for example, the US has the highest CR, but its TTR ranking is only in the middle of the pack. And the lowest CR is still Japan, only 39.90%, most of the apps are not well localized for the Japanese market. The store landing page needs to keep iterating the material and optimizing it through A/B testing before it can gradually improve the CR.

ASA placement experience and skills sharing

Basic optimization is important

Because ASA ads display local ratings and star ratings, the higher the rating of your region, the stronger the user's willingness to click on the ad.

This indicates the importance of basic optimization. You can optimize the main title, subtitle, icon, description, promotional text, rating and star rating, app preview, screen snapshot and other elements (detailed operation) to help increase the click rate.

Products need to be localized

After several rounds of keyword optimization, the product still performed very well with TTR and CR above the industry average after more than a year of continuous placement.

Through Apple advertising to obtain a large number of low-cost and high recovery of users. Therefore, good localization of products is the cornerstone of all promotions.

App localization mainly includes two major aspects: first, localization of the app package itself, including language, art materials, user habits, etc. The second is the localization of metadata in the Apple Store, such as the local language of store art materials and descriptions.

The importance of tools for ASA

Many apps do not include attribution SDKs, which makes it impossible to know which words are paid for when placing Apple ads.

Optimization of ads can only be adjusted simply based on Apple's backend ad data, such as prioritizing traffic with more installs + cheaper downloads per unit. But are these seemingly good downloads really good traffic? Actually, the answer is not.

Combined with the previous placement cases, the download cost of the game was around 4 US dollars, combined with the ARPU provided by the attribution tool can be deduced that the keyword ROI of these did not reach 1, only fate grand order can return to the capital.

The number of paid users for the words in the box at the bottom is 0. These words are the precise competitor or industry words that the user named at the beginning.

Without the data reference of attribution tools, the placement will be very sloppy and bring a lot of poorly recycled downloads, which all developers do not want to see.

At the same time, in the practice of placing Apple ads, it is often the case that many times the traffic and recovery brought by artificial word selection is not as good as expected, and the actual paid words are often outside the expectation of the human brain

2 display positions to make the app more eye-catching

According to the official data released by Apple, the proportion of App Store users who discover apps through search is 70%; the proportion of downloads directly from App Store search is 65%; the average conversion rate of ads at the top of Apple Search Ads search results is 50%.

Such high traffic on the search page and such a high conversion rate for ASA remind us in a positive way that ASA is very important. Apple currently has 2 display positions available for ASA.

Top of search result page

The first ad space is the top of the search result page. When a user searches for certain keywords, the top of the search results page will show the app with the ad.

app store search result page

Top of recommended for you

In addition to the ability to trigger the display of ads at the top of the search results page after searching for keywords, Apple launched another ad spot for ASA in May this year - the top of the [Suggested for you (Suggested)] list below the hot search.

app store recommendition

Advantages to help get volume and conversion

As an emerging form of iOS advertising, ASA has 4 major advantages over conventional forms of advertising such as infomercial and ASO promotion optimization.

Precise users

ASA is a search ad, the display of the ad is triggered by the user's search behavior, at this time the user has a higher intention to find the product and download the product, and the subsequent activation and payment behavior data will be better than other display ads.

High conversion

In other advertising channels, users need to jump to the App Store to download after clicking on the ad space, while ASA ads are displayed inside the App Store, which means a higher conversion rate with one less jumping step.

Detailed data

When placing ASA ads, we can see very accurate data in the background, including ad display, clicks, installs, consumption, etc., and these data can be refined to each keyword. Access to attribution tools can also see activation, activity, payment and other data, which is more convenient to measure ROI.

When it comes to ASO promotion optimization, the most difficult problem to solve is that it is impossible to calculate how many new users the ranking improvement can actually bring to the app, but ASA can provide detailed and accurate data support.


As an official channel of Apple, the safety of ASA is also one of its advantages. There will not be any abnormal situation such as App being downgraded, verified and taken down due to the surge of app downloads.

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