Doing user-acquisition can be quite intimidating for newcomers given a product owner needs to do attribution tracking, technical barriers, a jungle of ad networks, agencies and other channels, plus the existence of ad fraud can be quite overwhelming.
Apple Search Ads & Google App Campaigns are both pretty easy to set up and manage. The basic solution doesn’t need a third-party attribution solution and the algorithms do most of the auto-optimization, making it an easy to use option with pretty competitive results.
Alongside Facebook, Google App Campaigns and Apple Search round out the top three best advertising networks for mobile app installs according to the Appsflyer Performance Index.
Besides being easy to set up and manage, both networks are also the only place directly available in Apple’s App store and the Google Play Store. This is a major factor in its success since due to the stats 70% of App Store visitors use the search options there to find new apps. So these ad spaces really help visitors to find apps they’re looking for.
And lastly, users in the app stores, and for Google App Campaigns, a user that performs a google search are users with a high intent. They are already quite far in the funnel. They are looking for an app, so they’re really responsive and would create good life time value as an app user.
There is not a lot of room to manually optimize the campaigns or twitch setting to improve stats. In Apple Search, you can choose to do basic and advanced. The basic version leaves little room for any manual settings. Switching to advanced solves this a bit, but the options are still limited if you compare it to programmatic buying for instance.
The same goes for Google. You have to trust the algorithm to find you the best placement and it’s still quite a black box model with little transparency as to where your ads are visible. For Google, the algorithms need some time to optimize. So for this, you need a bit of patience and some budget to allow the learning. For a CPI campaign, this is estimated to at least 50 times the target CPI.
Another downside might be that they’re OS specific. Apple Search, obviously, is only available for iOS apps. With Google you can do iOS campaigns, but because the inventory is limited, we have had quite a challenge with scaling IOS apps through Google.
Lastly, it’s good to mention that you don’t need a third-party attribution tracking solution to get started with these ad networks since they have their own stats for conversions. However, we often notice that if there is a third-party attribution solution in place, stats can look quite different. Both Google and Apple wear different hats, serving as ad networks as well as the analytics party to attribute installs to the ad placements. We tend to see that they judge their own performance quite a bit more favorably than an independent attribution party.