14. July 2023 By Katharina Görgen
Apple Search Ads vs. Google Ads App campaigns – best practices
Professional app campaigning using the example of our customer ADAMA
Smartphones have been an integral part of our everyday lives for many years now. They are always there when we need them and make day-to-day life easier, whether at work or in our free time. So it is not surprising that there are apps for almost everything. There are banking apps, navigation apps, gaming apps, to-do lists, apps to help us organise our lives, and the list goes on.
Our customer ADAMA, a leading manufacturer of crop protection products, is also using this to its advantage. myADAMA is an app developed specially for farmers that offers practical information, consulting services and product data. It lets them access the specific information they need anywhere and at any time, making it the perfect tool for their everyday work.
But developing and publishing an app is not enough. It also has to find its way to the customer. This is where Google Ads App campaigns come into play.
In this blog post, I will be taking a look at an example involving a real customer – ADAMA – to show you which channels can be used to market an app and what advantages and disadvantages they each have.
App campaigns – advertising platforms
There are many systems available for app marketing. The two main options are Google Ads App campaigns and Apple Search Ads. That is because iOS and Android are the two most popular operating systems, allowing you to address a large target group when it comes time to market the app. On these two platforms, companies can promote their apps through targeted app campaigns to increase the number of installations and interactions for the app. But does this strategy pay off? Studies have shown that, especially since 2020, sales of mobile apps in Germany have risen sharply, with forecasts calling for a major increase for 2022 as well. Currently, the financial rewards gained from investing in the development and marketing of apps are greater than ever before.
Google Ads App campaigns – the basics as well as the pros and cons
The main advantage of Google Ads App campaigns is that you have Google’s entire advertising network at your disposal for marketing an app. The ads will therefore not only be displayed in the Google Play Store, but also on YouTube, in Google Search, in the Display Network and in Gmail Discover. The enormous reach of the Google network and the sheer size of the Android target user group really become evident when you compare the number of downloads of Android apps to those of iOS apps. Statistics show that Android apps are downloaded two to three times more often than iOS apps.
So it is only logical that you take advantage of the wide reach available with Google Ads App for your app campaigns. During the app installation campaign run for our client ADAMA, we reached more than 38,000 installations in 15 months. Through targeted optimisations such as adjustments to the assets, we were able to increase the efficiency of the campaign by more than 15 per cent and significantly reduce the cost per installation from an initial two euros to an average of one euro per installation.
Thanks to the flexible ad design options in Google Ads App campaigns, it is possible to adapt and optimise the stored videos, images and texts at any time. Google Ads App campaigns are largely driven by the Google Ads algorithm, which is why marketers have few possibilities to fine-tune their campaigns. The limited options available to marketers are nevertheless highly effective, as the campaign for ADAMA clearly demonstrates. High-quality visual imagery, meaningful ad copy and appropriate CTAs combine to create an ad that speaks to the target group.
Apple Search Ads – the basics as well as the pros and cons
Apple Search Ads is Apple’s answer to Google Ads App campaigns for its App Store. It lets you market your iOS apps in the App Store in a targeted way, right where users comes to find the apps they need.
Marketers have much more room for optimisation with Apple Search Ads than with Google Ads App campaigns, primarily because they can specify search terms that trigger their ads to be displayed. Working with our contact person at ADAMA, Dr Grit Lezovic, we agreed on suitable search terms for the planned campaigns. Another great feature is that you can also create targeted competitor campaigns with Apple Search Ads. This ensures that your app appears when users search for your competitors’ apps.
In addition, you can also select which specific target groups you wish to address with the app campaign. This could be, for example, only returning users who have already installed another app from your company. This feature is fantastic for strategic campaign planning because you can create different ad groups for different target groups.
Apple also offers automated ad targeting using the Search Match function. This can be selected individually for each ad group, or the function can also be disabled if needed. This gives you the freedom to decide whether to target the ad group via keywords or via automation. A good strategy is to run a combination of the two features in two separate ad groups. Using the different strategies, you can generate the best learnings about your target group. In the case of the campaigns for ADAMA, we were in a perfect position to use this campaign setup as the basis to determine which search terms should be added to the campaign via keyword triggers.
The system Apple developed for ad creation is different from the system that Google uses. The ads are generated based on the data and screens uploaded to App Store Connect when the app is published. One advantage here is that an ad is already available by default as soon as the app has been published, meaning there is no additional work required to create the ad. However, if you want to promote specific functions, a specific user group or special features of the app, you will need a custom product page. ‘Custom pages are additional versions of your standard App Store product page that use different app previews, screenshots and promotional text to highlight specific features or content.’ (Source: https://searchads.apple.com/en/best-practices/ad-variations). The product page must be created separately in App Store Connect and submitted for review. There are no major obstacles to switching platforms, though it would be easier for users if they were able to create everything on the Search Ads platform.
For the Apple Search Ads campaign for ADAMA, we promoted a special winter offer for which we created a custom product page. Within six weeks, we were able to reach close to 1,000 installations.
Should you run Apple and Google campaigns side by side?
If you compare the installation figures from the Google Ads App campaign with those from the Apple Search Ads campaigns for the myADAMA app, this raises the question of whether it makes sense to run Apple Search Ads and Google app campaigns side by side. Google, as we already mentioned, offers enormous reach, which often also resulted in
lower click prices. Let us compare. In just under eight months, we have achieved an average cost per click (CPC) of €0.35 at Google and €1.24 at Apple.
Not only are the click prices vastly different, but the cost per installation also often vary quite a lot. While you pay an average of €1 for an installation of the myADAMA app at Google, the cost per install at Apple is on average €4.80.
Comparison of the KPIs Google vs. Apple
However, looking at the statistics below, we could answer the question posed above with a clear and definite ‘yes’. That is because even if the Android target group is significantly larger, the iOS target group is usually much more willing to spend.
It has also been shown that Apple Search Ads can reach a higher proportion of the target group, especially among smaller niche target groups such as farmers, who could never have been reached via Google Ads App campaigns. This is another reason why it makes sense to run both campaigns simultaneously.
Conclusion: Each of the two systems has their own advantages and disadvantages. If marketers take advantage of this, they can implement two successful app campaign strategies aimed at two different target groups and create a comprehensive marketing strategy for the client’s app.
Should you carry out app campaigns exclusively via app stores? Definitely not
During the strategic planning phase for an app campaign, it is essential that you also consider other disciplines from online marketing. For example, search engine optimisation (SEO) for App Store texts belongs in the mix. The texts, categories and descriptions stored there serve as important signals for the systems to show the ads, making them a decisive factor in the success of the campaigns. So before the campaigns for ADAMA were launched, our colleagues from the SEO team optimised the texts and planned the changes for the app stores in consultation with the client.
In addition, Meta also offers the possibility to promote apps via the Meta network. Our colleagues from the Paid Social team also promoted the myADAMA app on Facebook and Instagram, which made it possible to include even more target groups for the app.
This is necessary to ensure you have considered all the central signals and channels required for comprehensive app marketing.
Have you developed an app for your company and are you now looking to market it via the relevant channels? We would be happy to provide our expertise for use in your campaigns.
Would you like to learn more about exciting topics from the adesso world? Then take a look at our blog posts that have appeared so far.