Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization: Complete Guide for 2023/2024

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Katherine Nelidova
Apple Search Ads and App Store Optimization: Complete Guide for 2023/2024

Table of Content:

  1. Behind the scenes of mobile app marketing of 2023
  2. The positive mutual effect between ASO and Apple Search Ads
  3. ASO and Apple Search Ads cannibalization
  4. How to boost ASO & Apple Search Ads strategy synergy for efficient app growth:
  5. What’s next?
  6. FAQ

Guest post prepared by Asapty, the platform for advanced Apple Search Ads optimization

App store optimization (ASO) and optimizing Apple Search Ads (Apple Search Ads) are two key strategies used together in mobile marketing both aiming to show your app in the App Store search. Though both ASO and optimized Apple Search Ads aim to enhance app discoverability and acquire more users, they have an intricate relationship.

We gained valuable insights into the significant interplay between ASO and Apple Search Ads optimization. In this article, we aim to share our main discoveries about ASO/Apple Search Ads relations and how to make them work together and not against each other to ensure the most efficient mobile app growth.


App Store Optimization (ASO) - is a structured approach designed to elevate an app's ranking within app stores, thereby boosting organic downloads. ASO employs a variety of methods, including keyword refinement, eye-catching visuals, and user reviews.

Apple Search Ads (ASA) - Apple Search Ads is an ad network that enables app developers to place paid advertisements atop the App Store's search results. It aims to reach users who are in active pursuit of apps that are similar in nature.

Cannibalization - refers to a situation where an advertiser's search ads end up competing against their own organic app listing in the search results.

Behind the scenes of mobile app marketing of 2023

As the app market gets more competitive, it's costing more to get new downloads. The year-over-year rise in mobile advertising spending worldwide grew from 16% in 2021 to a predicted 22% in 2024 reaching 399.6 billion U.S. dollars. Because everyone is spending more on ads, you'll also need to increase your budget to even get a spot in the ad auction. So, finding ways to make the most out of every ad dollar is crucial. A good but often overlooked way to get better results while spending less is through a smarter and more efficient app store optimization strategy.

If you’d like to get the proven tactics to dominate the app market during this festive season with a killing app growth strategy, register now for the webinar on November, 1st:

The positive mutual effect between ASO and Apple Search Ads

App store optimization aims to optimize your app’s metadata to match the keywords that your target audience is searching for. Your app’s relevance to a keyword determines how well it ranks in the search results.

Apple Search Ads is the platform that allows you to bid for keywords and display your app as an ad in the search results. Your app’s visibility in Apple Search Ads depends on several factors, such as the relevance of your keywords to your app, the search volume and competition of your keywords, the optimal bid amount and match type for each keyword, and the structure of your campaign and ad group. To increase your chances of winning the ad auction, you need to align your metadata with the keywords you are bidding on in Apple Search Ads. A high organic ranking, achieved with an effective ASO strategy, will boost your app’s score in the Apple Search Ads algorithm. This will result in lower bids and more efficient use of your budget.

On the other side, Apple Search Ads provides an effect on ASO as well. Apple Search Ads plays a crucial role in creating a keyword database by allowing you to monitor the click-through rate (CTR) for each keyword within your campaigns. This helps identify which keywords yield higher conversion rates. Executing an ASA campaign enhances an app's ranking by consistently achieving favorable CTRs on selected keywords.

In addition, if the app’s organic rank is not high enough for specific keywords, this can be addressed by initiating Apple Search Ads campaigns targeting those keywords.

ASO and Apple Search Ads cannibalization

Traffic cannibalization occurs when multiple marketing channels or tactics vie for attention, thereby reducing the impact of each individual channel. As both ASO and Apple Search Ads aim to bring your app to the top in search results, a phenomenon of cannibalization may occur.

Apple Search Ads traffic cannibalization occurs when a user downloads an app via a paid ad rather than through organic search results. For example, a user searching for "Uber" would likely see it as the top organic result. However, if the user clicks on the Uber ad instead, the ad spend effectively cannibalizes the organic discovery. Although the user might have converted without any cost, the paid ad diverts them, potentially incurring unnecessary expenditure. Cannibalization should be factored into your overall app growth strategy.

How to boost ASO & Apple Search Ads strategy synergy for efficient app growth:

Monitor Your Paid/Organic Ratio

Diligently observe the balance between organic and paid downloads to maintain sustainable growth. Pay special attention to the performance of brand-related terms. Should organic installs decline upon initiating brand campaigns, it could indicate unnecessary expenditure on users who would have converted organically. Assessing the interplay between organic and paid metrics for brand keywords is essential for optimal efficiency.

ASO, Apple Search Ads and custom product pages

Custom product pages can significantly boost the performance of Apple Search Ads campaigns. By guiding users to custom variations of your app page that are more relevant to their search queries, you get more app downloads and an elevated conversion rate. A high CVR, in turn, amplifies keyword efficacy, boosting the app's competitiveness in ad auctions and leading to superior click-through rates. This sequence of events culminates in an improved organic search ranking for the app.

What’s next?

ASO and Apple Search Ads are closely connected, and strategized properly can considerably increase your app performance. In the next part, we’ll delve deeper into how to create an efficient Apple Search Ads account structure, start running campaigns, allocate your budget efficiently, and get ready for the holiday season. Meanwhile, take your chance to join a webinar on November 1st, where the experts from YodelMobile,  Appfollow, and Asapty, and will share the dedicated tactics to win the holiday race this year with the most successful app growth strategy.


What's the connection between ASO and Apple Search Ads?

ASO optimizes apps to rank higher organically in the App Store, while Apple Search Ads are paid ads that display atop the search results. Both strategies aim for app visibility but require synchronization for maximum growth.

How do Apple Search Ads work together with ASO?

Apple Search Ads helps build a keyword database and monitor click-through rates, offering insights into high-conversion keywords. Successful ads can improve an app's organic ranking.

What is “cannibalization” in Apple Search Ads?

Cannibalization occurs when a paid ad competes with an organic listing. For example, if a user clicks on a paid Uber ad instead of the organic Uber result, the ad spend cannibalizes organic discovery and is likely to waste money.

How to use both ASO and Apple Search Ads?

Monitor the balance between organic and paid downloads, especially for brand-related terms. Using custom product pages can also boost Apple Search Ads performance, leading to more downloads and better organic ranking at the same time.

Do I need both ASO and Apple Search Ads?

Yes—combining ASO and Apple Search Ads is very likely to significantly boost app performance. Align both strategies to get high app discoverability and rapid user acquisition.

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