Apple are launching Search Ads in New Zealand today, allowing developers to pay for featured spots on App Store searches – and clutter up your results.
Search ads were introduced in the US last year but are only becoming available in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand from today.
Developers can begin to bid for Search Ad placements today but the ads will not begin showing until April 26.
Search Ads work by letting app developers bid on search keywords in the iOS app store. These ads – clearly marked with a light blue background and an “Ad” tag – lead straight to the developer’s app. They are featured on top of search results, much like in Google Search, before organic results.
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Developers only pay for actual taps on their ad, and can set daily and campaign limits to make sure they don’t blow their budget. There is no minimum spend, and new developers can get $100 of credit on Apple.
Search Ads can only show information and images from the app’s usual App Store presence, minimising the chances that an ad will mislead a user as everything on the app store goes through an editorial process.
Apple uses a “relevance score” to make sure the ad presented is actually related to the search the user initiated. This score relies on whether that same keyword has taken users to the app in the past, and the metadata submitted with the app when it was introduced into the App Store.
This means, for example, that peaceful game Candy Crush wouldn’t have much luck bidding on the search term “war game”.
Apple have said this reliability score results in a much more relevant search ads being served to users, resulting in higher conversion rates. They’ve said 50 per cent of taps result in a download, leading to an average cost per download of around US$1 (NZ$1.42). This is well below their competitors in the app discovery space, and likely the result of all the data they have that other services don’t – after all, it’s their App Store.
Developers can target users based on their city, gender, age, and other apps they have downloaded – but no “profile” of a user is built by Apple or shared with advertisers, and no ads are targeted at anyone below the age of 13. Apple say no data from Health, Apple Pay or other search queries is used for targeting.
Users can tap on the “Ad” button when they see one to see the data used to target the ad to them. They can also opt out of any targeted ads in the privacy settings on their device. To do this they should tap “Settings,” then “Privacy,” then “Advertising,” then turn on “Limit Ad Tracking”.