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Apple Introduces Search Ads Basic (apple.com)
125 points by dottrap 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

Since others in the thread are discussing a lack of "targeting" and such, see also "Search Ads Advanced" [0], which allows you to "refine your audience" -- "by gender, age, and show your ads only to devices located in specific geographic areas."

[0]: https://searchads.apple.com/advanced/

For paid apps, you're largely concerned about targeting because of the increased conversion rate from impression to purchase.

Apple here is offering a cost-per-intallation pricing, so it's to their benefit to improve the targeting on their end.

That's not very targeted. Real targeting would be using the contents of your email, iMessages, browsing history, etc.

I will assume that you do not actually want this. However I do feel that there could be a bit of more targeting options without being creepy.

For example Apple could infer categories of users according to their Appstore profile and permit you to target people by their trade.

Also if DuckDuckGo can target you based on what you're searching there and then, is that not targeting? It's not stalk based targeted advertising, but you're still an ideal target since they're showing you something you're searching for, in some cases it might not be fully relevant to what you wanted, but close enough to be shown (not sure how highly relevant DuckDuckGo ads become relative to search terms).

I'm just a user of Apple products so I wouldn't, but I could see how developers want better targeting.

It's already too much, though. As far as I'm concerned, only location and "is this an adult?" should be allowed.

Geographic location makes sense. If you have an application that is quite local it might make sense to not display ads elsewhere. Removing it from other stores is not really a solution because there might be tourists who would still like to be able to get it. Gender makes sense too because let's face it, there are lot of applications that are specially targeted at women or men.

Location makes sense, that's what I meant. Gender is too private, is represented naively, and exposing it to advertisers results, in my (trans) experience, in actively unpleasant ads.

Oh, and from my experience with things like YT flipping the gender bit on me regularly: you may be cis, but you should be concerned too. The way ads are targeted based on gender is _not_ benign at all.

I see. I kind of supposed that one could choose to not expose the gender to Apple and then the ads could not use this. Actually I do not know where do they get this information from. If they try to infer it then it is of course a problem.

How long before we see a post that people are being fooled into installing some copycat apps which are nearly identical to original apps but are getting promoted by Search Ad Basics?

I've made this mistake already. The search ads show apps that are very similar-looking to what I am obviously trying to find.

How long? You can already do this with the existing search ads.

By promoting your app through search ads you are greatly increasing your chances of getting detected by app review or the company you are cloning very quickly. Meaning you are going to get pulled pretty fast, and are still paying for it. I don't see how the economics would work out.

Tt is more used for competitor apps stealing the top search result for things they aren't ranked highly for.

Isn't Apple's detailed vetting the difference between the App Store and Google Play? Apple should be able to catch these scammer apps.

Maybe 5 years ago, but I don't think they have any quality bar now. For every decent quality game on the app store there are dozens of terrible clones: https://youtu.be/yU6WC4dpaHM?t=12s

Omg that first one even uses the default Unity player model, it looks worse than most Ludum Dare games

Cant wait for Grab that auto V: Online

You'd think, but they still let some absolute trash through:


It's incredible that on one hand, they can pull up competent and dedicated developers for a minor transgression, but then allow something as ugly and misleading as the above example.

I know it first hand. Our app has an auto-renewing subscription, and they are nitpicking every little detail on it (Not letting us say "Free Trial" even though it is literally a free trial for a week, with the subscription price/renewal stated clearly on the same view.) Yet an app like iHeartRadio has a "Free Trial" button with no visible terms, no visible price, and no renewal frequency listed gets a pass.

Plus they let those scam VPN apps through with a "Free Trial" that immediately charges you $99, and they stayed at the top of the grossing charts for days. It is insanely frustrating. The app review process at Apple is a joke now, honestly. I'm pretty sure it has been outsourced to some third party, we always get through on appeal, but why should a year old app with a 4.6 star rating with thousands of reviews have to appeal every single update submission.

Sorry for the rant, just dealing with this exact problem as we speak.

App Review hasn’t been outsourced to anyone.

As far as every single time having to appear — have you considered making the change that wouldn’t require an appeal?

Thing is you can just keep trying to submit crap until you find somebody off-guard.

The App Store ads are a disgrace. 100% of my older relatives get fooled and install the first app that comes up in App Store when searching for something.

The only thing that gives Apple an edge over Google/Amazon is that they are not an ads company or retail shop.

Such a pity seeing them to want to move into that space.

There are even ads now in the News app.

I mean, I paid $1k for the iPhone X and iOS, why the hell do the native apps come with ads?

What's next? Ads in Calendar and Mail?

Those ads are probably to pay the news companies, not Apple. They probably don’t get any money from Apple so they need some revenue to justify licensing their content for Apple news.

Yes. If there weren’t ads, publishers would make no money on their content and it would make no sense to publish through Apple News.

I think app store is fair game, if the adds are well done they can actually be useful. Overcast adverts prove this.

I think they need to invest heavily in making it very very difficult (impossible?) for copy cat type apps to appear in search and making sure that adverts are clearly marked as adverts... It will just turn into a shit show otherwise...

Sounds similar to Windows 10.

I've never seen an ad in Windows 10. Not once.

Serious question: where are these ads supposed to be showing?

Lock screen, start menu, various system menus at that.

There are a few less of them if you remove internet access.

Then there's the nagging about getting office or whatever latest software that pops up in the corner occasionally.

It is somewhat dependant on your version of Windows 10.

I'm using the normal home version of Windows 10.

I've never seen the office nagging. I've never seen a single ad. Not from first boot that I can recall. There are no ads on my lock screen, there are no ads on my start menu.

The only things I can think of, is that I immediately turned off as many bs anti-privacy type settings as possible when I initially set up the system. I also use glasswire and restrict most things that try to go out without my permission (or anything I don't want to allow in general).

When I fire up my start-menu, I've got it defaulted to pinned tiles, there doesn't even appear to be space for an ad that might be getting blocked on there. There are no ads in the all apps section either.

My lock screen only has a background image.

If you had Windows Spotlight on (like the changing background image for lockscreen), they used to show occasional ads there. It could be they removed that.

Pro has zero ads, never seen them.

I cannot confirm this. I have Pro and get the same Popups and shortcuts to Candy Crush etc. They usually get installed during your first setup.

Yeah, it takes me about 20 mins to de-crappify windows 10, and then I get this.. https://imgur.com/a/SaphU

Which is what I mean.

The app stores links are as much ads as bundling software in the old days.

Bundling Software was not part of clean installs with ISOs from Microsoft. Now they are.

This is why I'm resistant to dual boot my workstation. I 'just' want Windows 7 with security updates.

Does Candy Crush not come back for you? It always did for me.

It hasn't so far.

Ads are those nasty interruptions on YouTube videos, not a bunch of links for app store applications.

So Candy Crush and Facebook popping up in your Start Menu are not ads?

I have never seen them, beyond the first install, just like bundled software used to be.

Bundled software is not an ad, it is already there.

I also haven't seem them, but I think they were removed by this tool: https://www.winprivacy.de/english-home/ (PLEASE, please check before downloading, I installed it a year ago or more, back then it was ok, I can't guarantee how it's now).

This disables a lot of tracking, but I assume, also disables ads. (I've seen only 1 ad, and that was for the OneDrive in explorer).

Pro has the same ads as Home.

Just open the start menu after a fresh install. Candy crush, Facebook etc. will welcome you.

Are those dependent on the OEM? My start menu never had any of that from the first setup. Neither of those are on my system anywhere. The only really super annoying thing on my system has been cortana, being unable to fully remove it.

You are being disingenuous because you are a power user who has admitted to carefully reviewing your settings and running a third party cleaner, but you are acting like you are the kind of standard user we are talking about.

It could be. I think it also depends on if you are online at the time of setup.

Technically they are not ads. You remove them after fresh install and they never come back.

By your logic, ads on website aren't ads either. I remove them once with an extension and they never come back.

Me neither but I wonder if it's because I'm in Africa

I’ve never seen them on pro either. Maybe there is an option to turn them off on install that everyone but me missed.

Google this: Windows 10 ads site:reddit.com

It’s why I prefer Apple TV over fire or roku.

App Store search is a disgrace. At least the apps in ads are still being developed. Google search has ads taking up the whole page preventing you from seeing actually good results

The new Apple is just another corporate-American company run by an MBA. That's exactly what such companies do.

I hate to whine but I hope ads are clearly labeled as ads, and also that this doesn't replace their efforts to make the app store and app discovery more friendly.

They’re very clearly labeled as ads, and as far as I can tell there’s only like one at the top usually, not taking up all the screen space, and has a different background color even.

Apple's help docs show how the ads appear: https://searchads.apple.com/v/help-basic/a/images/overview/h...

They seem quite clearly marked as ads.

Yet my elderly parents(50+ and 60+) and quite a few non-techie friends tap on the first result that comes up when I ask them to install an App.

It’s a reason to not buy them a premium Apple device next time.

I either gift the app or send the link instead of just the name. That turns it into a click instead of a search.

An unambiguous search would take a paragraph to describe.

That's an awesome idea, thanks!

Is the Play store better about this?

No, but Apple is supposed to be better than Google about this.

What a shame.

Being in one’s 50s is considered “elderly?”

No wonder there is ageism in tech. 50 year olds are considered feeble minded and apparently unable to read.


I think many companies can run their ads as pay for performance. eBay's ads are a fixed cost of the product sale - the higher you set it, the more often your ad shows but you only pay if it leads to a sale.

Platforms simply have so much data and scale they can do a much better job of targeting than their customers can. It's not efficient for lots of marketers to test out lots of ads, carefully track conversions, and decide what to spend on. Just let the platform maximize ads given a certain amount per sale, and the platform will naturally target based on what converts best (and since this is Amazon scale or Facebook scale, they can do these tests automatically for every campaign and get statistically significant results very quickly).

I wish Amazon would roll out eBay style ads. They have all the data and could do a much better job than sellers, and could capture a significant portion of the added value it would provide.

Wow, I just set this up for an app and it took less than 60 seconds. That's surprisingly fast. Good job Apple.

Its definitely fast, but... is it actually going to be effective for the cost? Probably not in the long term.

Having used this “one click” setup on Twitter and Facebook before I know these campaigns are increasingly ineffective.

That said, the App Store is a different kind of ecosystem so things could go differently.

It's pay-per-user-install so I think it is very easy to determine if it is worth it for you/

This will canibalize part of your organic traffic thus even if the cost per install is lower than your users lifetime value this is not obvious.

Advertisers love segmenting and targeting their audience. With Apple's stance on privacy, how effective will these days be?

In other words - I thought it was widely understood that Apple made excellent products and was poor in services that required personalization.

This ad product doesn't rely on personal information which is why it's the perfect kind for Apple. Once you've typed something into search they have your intent and can show related apps to it.

On other types of ads, a former iAd exec said it did hold them back [1].

[1] https://9to5mac.com/2015/07/14/iad-user-data-privacy-policy/

> With Apple's stance on privacy, how effective will these days be?

IMO Apple's stance on privacy is a bit smoke and mirrors when they allow tracking services like flurry to exist in apps.

I don’t think we can hold Apple responsible for 3rd parties like Flurry. Those companies will always find a way to do what they do because there is incredible value in having access to such data (as a developer).

I'd imagine it will be the same as google's stance on segmenting audience in search - you can't do it. You can really only target based on search query and very little else (geo, etc).

The better question is what is the purpose?

Don't apps sell themselves?

This seems incredibly similar to pay per click.

Just because someone downloads and an app doesn't mean that they're going to use it.

If only there was some sort of retention statistic on how often an app is downloaded and deleted.

I just hope that quality does not suffer. I'm genuinely curious to see if this will drive user engagement/retention

Apps haven't sold themselves for a while now, unless you have a specific reason people should share you (see HQ Trivia's growth.) If you build the world's best todo app it will have zero traction without a massive marketing budget because the competition is already settled. And if you build something new, but niche, you have the same problem - you need to get to the top of search results, but you can't do that without download quantity.

You do get retention stats from Apple, I think it also breaks it down via source (organic vs search ad). Also I'm not sure why people are just realizing this now, these ads have existed for the past 6 months or so. This is just a way to set it up faster for people that don't want to configure their targeting.

Search Ads aren't a new product. Apple says they have 50% conversion on average.

Do apps really sell themselves? Not really. Plus, with so many apps, the real challenge is getting visibility.

In that sense, I think search ads could offer a ton of potential, but don’t think it’s running correctly now/yet.

The ads are very insidious. I've never seen such deceptive ads on the Google Play store, but here we are on the App Store.

> No expertise needed. > > Setting up your account is easy. Simply tell us your app > and monthly budget. Our intelligent automation creates your > ad and matches it to interested users.

Wow -- you don't have to have any marketing competence whatsoever. Just pay Apple per install and they'll magic it up.

And here we go, slipperiest of slopes

To me this looks like an indirect way for Apple to extract more money from developers.

Since it's so easy to set up a campaign that does not lose money (it's pay per install), imagine _every_ developer setting up a campaign with their app's price as maximum bid (ignoring revenue shares to simplify). Lots of installs, but zero revenue for developers.

I don't want to buy installs, I want more engagement that I can't buy but need to deliver.

This is about risk. You want less risk and so does Apple. Since app quality is a crap shoot, they won't and don't need to offer that kind of model. Likewise, you should build into your model how much you can afford to spend knowing some subset of installs will be lower quality.

Apple store had search ads for a while now, does this mean that they are out of beta?

I can't see how this is different from payola. (Saying that Google does it too is not an argument, btw.)

Ah, damn. There goes Apple's Privacy Favoritism.


> No user tracking - Search Ads does not profile users based on their search queries, and no data from other Apple Apps — including Health, Apple Pay and HomeKit — is used to deliver ads.

> No data sharing - No individual user data is exposed to advertisers, only aggregate campaign delivery information is made available.

For how long, though? If this service will become successful (which it likely will be), there will be a huge monetization opportunity by allowing more targeted ads e.g. based on other app installs.

Google doesn't allow anything like that in search, why would apple?

Google allows all other kind of targeting to happen on their platform. If Apple doesn't want to track users' and their past behaviour, they might use things such as "currently installed apps" as an alternative.

Having said that, it was merely to illustrate an example of things they could do -- there are tons of other ways to to increase the value of searches.

Apple is in the hardware business. They don’t want to get into ads.

Without meaning to be a tit;

> Search Ads Basic

Why does this not count as "getting into ads"? Genuinely don't see the difference. And to be fair, the product kinda puzzles me in the first place. Is it really only an ad at the top of app store search pages?

Let me clarify for you: They’re not _seriously_ in the ads business and they never will because it’s full of privacy issues. They’re using ads here to help people find the app they’re looking for - that’s it. It’s contained within the App Store to help people find ads. How much rev has apple made from iAd? Prob not a lot

That's literally what they're doing here. Selling advertising. Yes, you can say—and I hope—that they won't compromise their other lines of business to increase ad revenue. But this is a step closer to that precipice.

They've been 'into ads' for years. They were in a bidding war for AdMob in 2010, lost out to Google. They've bought ad technology companies. They haven't been super-successful in the space (iAd didn't work out) but you don't do those things if you 'don't want to get into ads')

That doesn’t address his/her point, though. If Apple realizes they’re leaving billions of dollars per year on the table, there is very little to stop them from spinning up an analytics division to rake that in.

Unless they feel their public stance on privacy is responsible for a non-trivial portion of their current revenue.

They've never seriously compromised their privacy stance that I've seen, with the arguable exception of their unfortunate position in China. This would be a big step off an uncertain cliff, and their CEO has a personal history that lends credence to his argument that privacy matters.

So you think Tim Cook will wake up tomorrow and realize there’s money in advertising?

They could’ve done that years ago but they are not in the business of advertising. They sell hardware with complimentary services and ads are an accessory to that mission — not the mission itself.

> Show your ads only to new customers, existing customers, downloaders of your other apps, or to everyone. You can also refine your audience by gender, age, and show your ads only to devices located in specific geographic areas.

> By adding just a few lines of code to your app, you can easily understand the value of different customer groups over time and the keywords that drove their conversion. You can use this information to optimize your CPT and CPA targets for different keywords, ad groups and audiences.

> Ad groups are a collection of keywords relevant to the app you’re promoting in App Store search results. You can set specific criteria and bid amounts for each ad group. Ad groups are an effective way to define who sees your ad.

Ads do not have to invade your privacy. DuckDuckGo has their own ads too.

> Available in U.S. storefront only.

Wait, what? Why is it only in U.S. storefronts? Does this mean I have to walk into an Apple store to get the Ads?

no it means that ads are only being rolled out to the US app store at the moment

[off-topic] Is the MacBook Pro 15 available in gold now? https://searchads.apple.com/v/basic/a/images/overview/hero_m...

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