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How to Optimize CPC Bids in Apple Search Ads for Generating Valuable Users

In this piece, we'll go over a few best practices that might help you understand how to use your CPC bid to improve your overall performance.


paid user acquisition


Using Apple Search Ads (ASA), you may promote your software to people who are looking for it in the app store. Apple Search Ads is a high, intent-driven channel that can be highly effective in converting these individuals who are trying to meet their demands due to a search of this sort, where customers are looking for something specific.


Here is how ASA works: for a specific search term, users will see a specific advertisement as a top result in the App Store above all organic listings. As a result, even if your app does not currently rank first organically, ASA still gives it visibility. Apps benefit greatly from the way ASA is set up and are more easily discovered. This is due to the fact that App Store users are more likely to engage in lower-funnel events in your app that can result in revenue due to their strong intent.


Fine-tuning the Cost Per Click (CPC) bid is one of the most effective methods for improving and scaling your Apple Search Ads campaigns. The CPC bid effectively represents your price range for a tap (which is the same as a click, but on mobile). They are necessary to bring in a greater volume at a lower cost.


In this piece, we'll go over a few best practices that might help you understand how to use your CPC bid to improve your overall performance. We'll go over the benefits of optimizing for events that happen at the bottom of your user acquisition funnel (like purchase events) and show you exactly how to achieve it. Let's first go through the specifics of how the Apple Search Ads auction operates before continuing.


How does the Apple Search Ads auction work?

Apple Search Ads work on a cost-per-click model. Only when a user touches on your ad do you get paid for it. Because ASA is based on a second-price auction, your CPC will never surpass what your highest CPC bid is because it will be determined by the amount the closest rival is ready to pay.


Your chances of winning the Apple auction depend heavily on two crucial factors. First, consider your maximum CPC bid and determine if it is sufficient to outbid your rivals. The second is ad relevance. Apple wants to provide its users with the best possible experience, therefore the possibility that a tap will actually occur will be crucial. Apple will use the historical tap-through rate (TTR), which shows how many users have viewed your app and tapped on it, to accomplish this. It can make inferences based on the relevance of your metadata to the keyword if there is no such TTR available, i.e. you have never placed a bid on the keyword. We can presume that your app is what customers are looking for if they click on your advertisement frequently, in which case your relevance will be high.


historical tap-through rate (TTR)


We must make sure that we have a healthy TTR because the relevancy score is very crucial. We need to focus on the keywords you include in your metadata for this. Do they outline the features of your app so users may locate what they're looking for when they conduct a search for a certain term? Additionally, the TTR will be impacted by the creative materials in your app store. Therefore, it's critical that the screenshots utilized correspond to what users expect from an app. You might employ Creative Set Tests in Apple Search Ads, which can provide an indication of how probable a person is to download an app based on one screenshot, to improve the conversion rate of users using visual assets. Last but not least, the icon for your app should be straightforward, recognizable, and easy to comprehend to increase the likelihood that consumers would tap on your ad.


In conclusion, it is crucial to have a relevant ad and to target relevant keywords in addition to setting an ideal CPC bid. Consider having a weather app and focusing on extremely well-liked keywords like "music" or "concert." Your chances of winning the auction are quite slim, and even if you do, it's doubtful that people will tap on your app because it doesn't relate to their search.


After briefly discussing how to increase TTR, the bid is the other crucial factor that might increase your chances of winning the auction. Now, let's discuss why optimizing for low-funnel events is crucial for obtaining the best CPC bid, which strives to achieve your revenue and growth goals.


Strategies to optimize your CPC

Optimize for low-funnel events

If you execute an advertising campaign, your objectives can include generating a long-term return on investment (ROI), protecting your brand, and gaining market share through expansion or by luring customers away from rivals. We advise that you optimize for low-funnel events and have a performance-based ASA strategy in order to increase the effectiveness of your campaign and guarantee a favorable ROI. On this method, you can target the phrases that will bring people to your app that are highly likely to convert, resulting in income and business growth.


Unfortunately, the Apple console is unable to provide this information because it only gives a summary of how well your advertisement performed up until the download event (which happens in the App Store). If you stop monitoring your performance based on cost per download, this will show you how much you spend on acquiring a new user. However, the insight you are missing here is that you don't know how valuable this user is, i.e. how much the user will spend in your app, how engaged a user is, and how long they are active in the app. There will be a number of crucial growth indicators absent, including return on ad spend (ROAS). You'll want to be sure you're tracking those because they'll be essential to developing a prosperous and long-lasting firm. You may now understand why it's critical to check farther down the acquisitions funnel for your app and avoid limiting your attention to the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are displayed in the Apple Search Ads console.


The funnel for Apple Search Ads is visualized below, along with the KPIs that go with it that we track. In the funnel, we also want to underline that, in order to secure the acquisition of high-value users, it is best practice to consider low-funnel events like cost-per-goal events, such as cost per purchase or ROAS.


Apple Search Ads Funnel


You may learn more about how the consumers you've gained behave in your app by using a mobile measurement partner (MMP) like our partner website AppAds. You may set up and measure specific in-app events, such as placing an order (a purchase) or creating an account, using these insights (sign-up). Therefore, integrating one of these is strongly advised if you want to run performance-based campaigns.


Utilizing a third-party service to handle your ASA campaigns, such as ours, could aid in optimizing for low-funnel events in addition to having an MMP. With the help of these tools, you will have a complete picture of all the information coming from Apple (impressions, taps, and downloads), as well as information from the MMP (installs, in-app events, revenue). The combination of these technologies makes it easier to manage campaigns and 'digest' information while optimizing for low-funnel occurrences. We strongly advise optimizing your bids for these low funnel events, such as raising bids for keywords that lead to many transactions or lowering costs for phrases that aren't driving valuable traffic. In order to establish a viable business model and attract consumers for less than their predicted LTV, you will make sure that you are acquiring people that create money.


After going over how the Apple Search Ads auction functions and why it's better to target lower-funnel behaviors, let's move on to some useful advice for optimizing your ASA account.


I'll give you some optimization tips and a step-by-step rundown on how to determine your ideal CPC bid in the part that follows. We'll go over some more subjects that might help you optimize your campaigns, such as how to use CPA targets to boost performance at the ad group level and how bid optimization can be a very useful tool.


Optimizing to obtain the optimal CPC bid

The first and most crucial tip is that you should always have a specific goal in mind for what you want to enhance. A 120% ROAS target, for instance, suggests that you want to make $120 in revenue for every $100 you invest in your campaign. Alternately, you might decide how much you want to spend on each goal event, such as aiming for a $50 cost-per-buy event. Setting goals is crucial because it offers you something concrete to strive for and enables you to track your development. Second, you would be prepared to optimize your campaign once it has been running for a day or so and has generated enough traffic for you to base your decisions on. You can only change the bids and try to meet the target if there are enough data points.


When you begin your campaigns, the aforementioned considerations should likely be your top priority. However, once ASA begins, there are some more considerations to make: Starting off with bids that are sufficiently high will prevent keywords from failing to receive any meaningful traffic and being "dormant." Some keywords may never "win" the auction if you start with bids that are too low because they will receive very few impressions and, as a result, no data on which to base your bid optimization decisions.


We advise raising the CPC bids when a keyword performs well and generates traffic or sales within the predetermined objective. Lower the bids when a keyword's performance exceeds its target range. So, for instance, if our cost-per-goal event target is $50, increase the CPC bid for a term with a CPG of $23. Reduce the CPC bid for a term with a CPG of $73. Depending on how well or poorly a term is performing, I often advise progressively raising or lowering bids by about 10 or 20%. You can always drop or raise the bid again if you regularly monitor performance.


Increasing the bids for keywords that typically perform well but don't receive many impressions may enable them to win more auctions and hence provide more impressions for users who might convert favorably.


Making sure you aren't overspending on keywords that aren't converting any users at all, such as those that don't even have goal events so there won't even be a cost-per-goal event, is another measure to take. For keywords with high spending but no conversion events, I advise lowering bids.


Bid Adjustments


If it’s your first time optimizing ASA campaigns, here’s a practical, step-by-step guide to optimizing your campaigns if you use a third-party tool, that is, bidding by keyword level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Sort on spend
  • Set date range to last 7 days
  • Filter on keywords that have a cost per goal event (purchase, subscription, etc.) that is more than the target
  • Select keywords and decrease bids by 10-20%
  • Filter on keywords that have a cost-per-goal event that is cheaper than the target
  • Select keywords and increase bids by 10-20%
  • Set date range to last 30 days (to have a little more data to base your decision on)
  • Look at keywords with a good cost-per-goal event and a low number of impressions and increase bids
  • Look at keywords with a high spend amount and no/a low number of goal events and decrease bids


Setting CPA goals on the ad group level

Let's look at how you can use another technique to boost the effectiveness of your campaigns after talking about a few pointers for campaign optimization: setting a cost per acquisition (CPA) goal at the ad group level. You can provide a CPA goal for each ad group that should correspond to your ideal cost per acquisition of a new user, such as 2 euros. Apple's algorithm will utilize the CPA objective to tell it how much you want to pay to recruit users, and it will use that information to locate people who are likely to convert within that budget in order to avoid paying more (the CPA goal will work well and provide satisfying results if the targets are reasonable). Be aware that this setting may only operate partially or not at all if you set unattainable goals. For instance, if your CPA typically ranges between $3 and $5 and you set a CPA objective of $0.5, you've likely set it too low and the algorithm won't function properly; it may even prohibit you from receiving any traffic at all. To sum up, a fantastic strategy to target users who are likely to convert within your established target is to set a realistic CPA goal at the ad group level.


Ad group level:

  • Sort on spend (from high to low)
  • Set date range to last 7 days (we recommend you to optimize your campaigns at least once a week)
  • Adjust CPA goal for ad groups with a CPA that is above target


Bid Automation:

An intelligent way of tackling bid optimization is automation. With AppAds, you can set up automated rules to optimize your bid amounts, freeze campaigns, or add negative keywords to ensure your campaigns are always optimized to meet your KPIs.


Once it's set up, it might help you save a lot of time and hassle. You'll have more time to concentrate on other tactical or imaginative actions because your bids will be automatically modified at any time of day. To help you fine-tune your CPC bid based on your goal statistic, use an automated rule. The CPC bid will automatically change in accordance with your goal CPA if you choose to utilize CPA as your objective statistic.


Your bids will automatically be raised, lowered, halted, and enabled after applying your rule in accordance with the criteria you've set. Therefore, automation could help you save a ton of time when optimizing your campaigns. However, we do advise that you occasionally check on the performance yourself in case you need to use human logic that the automation is unable to process.


optimizing bidding campaigns


Other elements you can leverage to lower average CPC

You can modify a few other aspects of ASA to raise the effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of your campaigns while lowering overall acquisition expenses.


  • Negative keywords or pausing keywords

Negative keywords can prevent your advertising budget from being wasted on ineffective search queries. Negative keywords stop certain keywords from appearing in advertising. Negative keywords can assist you to exclude irrelevant search phrases, lowering your total CPC, and ensuring effective performance. Similar to this, you can halt a term in your campaign if you discover that it is underperforming or not particularly relevant.


  • Daily caps

Using daily caps is another option to limit how much money you spend on each campaign. Your campaign will not spend more than the daily cap that you choose for it. This is a terrific technique to evenly distribute your spending throughout initiatives and ensures that you won't go over budget. You can easily increase your daily volume or decrease your spending at any time. Setting daily caps could be another helpful strategy for improving performance. For campaigns with high CPC, you might set low daily restrictions.


  • Target segments

A further step you may take to enhance the performance of your campaign is to target particular audience groups. For instance, you could adjust your CPC bids and allocate a larger portion of your budget to these particular user segments if you see that a certain age group converts better than others by a significant margin.


  • Ad scheduling

Ad scheduling is a further parameter you can use. When you know how and when users convert in your app, or when particular times of the day or days of the week might not be converting well enough, this is extremely useful. By concentrating on showing advertising during times that have been shown to perform well, you could improve performance and make better use of your cash.


  • Creative set tests

You can lower your acquisition expenses by increasing relevancy (by showing relevant advertising) by doing creative set tests (by improving your conversion rate). You can perform tests in Apple Search Ads that display variables to users along with various combinations of creatives. You can determine whether screenshots are doing better in terms of conversion rate and TTR by reviewing the results of these tests. The winning version might then be used as your new default set, which might lower your overall acquisition expenses and increase organic conversion. You can test various creative trajectories since you may perform these creative set tests at the ad group level.



In conclusion, we advise optimizing for low-funnel events, specifically those that bring in money for your company, in order to make your campaigns lucrative. You will require external tools, such as AppAds, to set up your system in the most effective way to enable this. You will be able to optimize for in-app events and/or ROAS on a keyword level thanks to these because they will provide you with a comprehensive picture of all the data flowing from Apple and your mobile measurement partner.


Before you begin optimizing your campaigns, you must first have the proper setup and a sufficient amount of data on which to base your choices. To get the most data points, we advise beginning with offers that are high enough to draw initial volume. Once you have enough information, you can begin optimizing. As a general best practice, we advise raising bids for keywords that are performing well and lowering them for those that are not.


Setting CPA objectives at the level of an ad group is another best practice you might use to operate in ASA smoothly and effectively. Similar to this, implementing automation to optimize your bids could be a wise move. Automation will automatically alter CPC bids based on data. You might also experiment with adding negative keywords (or pause keywords), daily caps, target groups, ad timing, and creative set tests to enhance the performance of your campaign.


You can improve your ASA efforts, create sustainable growth, and boost the value of your company's assets by making sure you take advantage of all these diverse best practices.

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