How to use Apple Search Ads to Increase User Acquisition

Apple Search Ads (ASA) are sponsored ads that appear at the top of search results on the Apple App Store on iPhones and iPads. The Apple Search Ads platform is one of the newest and highest converting PPC channels available to marketers today.

Mobile devices (e.g. iPhones and iPads) are the primary digital tools used by most of the population. 71% of overall digital time is being spent on mobile devices.

There were 194 billion global app downloads in 2018, up 35% from 2016 (comScore). Worldwide consumer app spend in 2019 is forecasted at $121 billion (State of Mobile 2019). The current app landscape offers a strong opportunity to attract users, particularly in the gambling market.

Why choose Apple Search Ads?

70% of App Store customers use search to find apps. With Apple Search Ads you can reach the right people when they’re searching for apps.

This is particularly important for gambling apps. It’s a highly competitive market and most Tier 1 bookmakers have their own native app. Targeting on Apple Search Ads allows you to focus on Brand, Category, and Competitors meaning you can have your app appear when users search for your competitors. More than 50% of people who tap on an ad will download the app.

ASA can be a great avenue for betting companies to build brand awareness and their user base.

The platform is available to use in most of the main betting markets too. We currently manage campaigns for bookmakers in the U.K and North America.


Control How Ads are matched to Searches

Apple Search Ads campaigns are run based on keywords. You can target customers based on how you predict they will search. Ongoing research of successful keywords can help you optimise your campaigns.

We have a structure in place that controls how your ads are matched to searches and keywords. This is broken down into three categories.

Broad Match

  • Covers a wide pool of search terms.
  • Your ad will appear on relevant variants of the keywords you choose.

Exact Match

  • This version of keyword matching provides the tightest control over targeting.
  • These ads may have fewer impressions, but higher conversions.

Negative Keywords

  • This ensures that your ads don’t appear against certain terms.
  • They will help improve campaign efficiency and control your costs.

How does it work from a user’s perspective?

Let’s say I am thinking about placing a bet on this weekend’s Premier League action. I pick up my phone and look to place a bet. I don’t have an app so I can either go on to a browser or download an app. 87% of total minutes spent on mobile devices are in apps (comScore) so it’s no surprise what I do next. I visit the App Store and search for a bookie I’m familiar with.

App Store Search Results Page

That brings up the search results page.

Bet365 Search - App Store Results

As you can see, Betfair is targeting their competitors’ search results with their advertisements. In this case, they most likely targeted the exact keyword [Bet365] to get their ad placed above their competitor who is unsurprisingly ranking in first place in the organic search listings.

It’s well known that the first ranking gets the most clicks. This is true for nearly all searches across all search platforms.

App Download

Now, am I going to scroll down and download the app of the bookie I searched for but have no affinity to? Or am I going to download the app that appears top of the listings and has their sign-up offer nicely displayed in their creative assets?

I download the Betfair App and place my first bet, get my sign-up bonus and continue to bet with them for the rest of the Premier League season.

That’s a fairly simplified version of a potential customer journey but it rings true for many, especially in the betting industry.

Event Focused Journey

Let’s take another example. I download the Bet365 app and place a bet on the Grand National. My bet wins, I withdraw my winnings and delete the app again because I’m not a regular bettor. The Grand National rolls around again next year and I want to place another bet. I’ve seen an advertisement on TV that William Hill are running a special offer for the Grand National. However, when I search for William Hill, the first result is an ad for Bet365. I already have an account with them so I download the app and place my bets for this year’s race.

This was probably achieved through Apple’s targeting functions. Apple Search Ads allows you to target ‘redownloads’ i.e. someone who previously downloaded your app and deleted it. This targeting usually see high conversions and a lower CPA.


Increase User Acquisition with Apple Search Ads

So, how can we use Apple Search Ads to increase user acquisition for your sportsbook or casino app?

We find that most bookmakers use digital advertising to a) increase brand awareness and b) increase user base. There are very few channels better at doing both of these than Apple Search Ads.

We typically see app downloads increase and cost-per-acquisition decrease. The targeting and campaign strategies employed on ASA make it really effective and easy to track.

It can play a crucial part in your overall acquisition plan.


Apple Search Ads Certified

We are Apple Search Ads Certified and we are already managing a number of clients in the gambling sector. If you want to find out how you can leverage Apple Search Ads to acquire new users then get in touch with us at

Don’t forget that by March 3rd 2020, only native betting apps will be available on the App Store. If you want to keep your customers betting on iOS devices you will need to have transferred from a wrapped app to a native betting app. We can help you with that too. Get in touch with us here if you want to find out more.