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Advertising in the App Store Search Tab: Tips for Achieving Better Results

Mobile App Marketing
Digital Marketing
June 17, 2023
12 min

In May 2021, Apple announced a new way of displaying advertisements in their Apple Search Ads service. Since then, businesses have had the ability to promote their own app in the Search tab. In this article, together with Victoria Loshak, an expert from the Mobile department, we will talk about the possibilities and advantages of advertising in the Search tab in the App Store, as well as share useful tips for 2023.

What is App Store Search Tab Advertising? How do App Store Search Tab Ads Work?

Apple Search Ads (ASA) is a platform for advertising mobile applications, which allows you to place advertisements at the top of the search results page in the App Store for iPhone and iPad. 

Overall, Apple Search Ads in the App Store offers four ad placements, each serving a specific purpose:

Today Tab:This type of ads in app store are displayed in the Today section of the App Store, providing visibility to users exploring featured apps and content.

Search Tab: This Apple appstore ads are shown in the Search tab, appearing at the top of the Recommendations list after the search bar and tag sections. This placement allows ads to be seen before the user finalizes their search query.

Search Results: As for search result displayed within the search results page, appearing alongside organic app listings based on relevancy and user search intent.

Product Pages: Apple app store ads on product page are shown on individual app product pages while users browse through specific apps. This placement allows advertisers to capture attention during the app discovery process.

In this article, we will specifically discuss the app store search tab ads. These ads will be positioned at the top of the Recommendations list, offering visibility even before the user completes their search query.

"This is a relatively simple format: ads are automatically generated using the metadata you provided in the App Store Connect settings. Your ad will feature your app's name, app icon, subtitle, and the label "Ad." Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

The app store search tab ads are also not keyword-dependent, unlike other types of ads. It utilizes intelligent technology that considers various factors such as relevance, effectiveness, and cost to determine which ad will be shown to the user. According to the 2022 update, payment is only charged when a user clicks on the ad (CPT).

CPT (Cost Per Tap) is the cost that Apple charges a campaign for each tap on the ad. It depends on how relevant the app is to that particular search, the maximum bid, and how much the nearest competitor is willing to pay.

How Does Ad Targeting Work for Search Tab Ads?

The Recommendations list in the search tab is generated based on user preferences, such as their download history, similar applications, device type, and more. It can be assumed that users will appreciate this personalized experience during the search stage.

Do the same factors apply when evaluating the relevance of your search tab ads?

"The algorithm can indeed be highly intelligent and analyze numerous signals. However, when setting expectations for the effectiveness of your campaign, it's important to consider the current trends in personalized ad settings". Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

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What to do When personalized Ads are Turned Off?


In 2021, Apple released the updated iOS 14.5, which allows users to opt out of personalized advertising. To do so, apps must obtain user consent to track their activity through a prompt asking if they want to receive personalized ads.

In 2023, the majority of users choose not to receive personalized ads. According to Apple Search Ads data, in the first quarter of 2022, 78% of search traffic in the App Store on iOS 15 came from devices where personalized advertising was disabled. Currently, the majority of iPhones are running on iOS 16, so it is unlikely that this figure will get lowered.

Users have the option to allow or block tracking for each individual app or opt out of personalized advertising altogether. In such cases, if these settings are disabled, the app's ads will be displayed but the user's information will not be used for ad targeting.

What does this mean for marketers who wish to include advertising in search as part of their marketing mix? The answer is quite simple: conduct a test campaign and see if this placement works for your app. By running a test campaign, you can evaluate the performance and effectiveness of search tab advertising for your specific app.

"In general, our clients more frequently use the search result. However, to attract a larger audience, it is possible to launch additional new placements". Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

Advantages of App Store Search Tab Ads

Increasing App Visibility and Brand recognition

Advertising appears at the top of the recommendations list in the search tab, which is one of the most frequently visited sections in the App Store. This means that these advertisements are likely to be seen by users actively searching for new apps.

Potential Positive Impact on Click-Through Rates and Conversions

We have signals indicating the halo effect for apps, which means that being featured in the search tab leads to increased click-through rates and conversions in search results, both for paid and organic listings.

Optimizing App Store Search Tab Ads: Tips for 2023

Finally, we have prepared a short list of effective tips to increase the effectiveness of advertising campaigns in the App Store search:

Don't be Afraid to Compete with Large Brands 

Prominent brands use this placement to capture users from their competitors. It makes sense for them, considering that many search queries are actually brand names (apps).

Utilize the Advantages of Your Brand

The more attractive and user-friendly your app is, the easier it will be to present information to users. For example, a well-designed icon, title, and app description will increase the likelihood of downloads.

Test your Ad Campaign before the Launch 

Consider running a test campaign before fully launching your campaign. Remember, brand appeal and selecting the right category play an important role in the effectiveness of your Search tab advertising.

Optimize Your Text and Visual ASO

Before launching your advertising campaign, ensure that the textual and visual content on your app page is optimized. From a textual perspective, this means choosing the right name and description. In terms of visuals, your icon, screenshots, and videos are crucial.

Reach a Wide Audience

This placement is suitable for advertising universal apps that cover a wide range of functions.

What Other Types of Advertising Placements are Available in the App Store?

As mentioned earlier, there are generally four placements for advertising in the App Store.

Search Results Ads

search result ads

It captures users at the moment when they are actively searching for an app to download.

This type of ad placement is the most important and widespread in the App Store, and it depends on keywords.

It is also the most prioritized channel for user acquisition. Here, ads are displayed based on search queries, which are direct signals of user intent. Apple Search Ads takes into account both relevance and bids and does not allow applications that do not match the query to participate in auctions.

65% of downloads happen immediately after a search, and 70% of App Store visitors use search to find new apps.

Default ads are created based on your app's page. Additionally, you can create custom product pages for your app, which can be customized in App Store Connect. These pages will be created for ads and will redirect users to them. Ad variations allow you to tailor your creative to specific audiences and keyword themes (up to a maximum of 35 variations). Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

Today Tab Ads

Each week, over half a billion App Store users start exploring new apps specifically on the Today tab.

Because it is the most prominent advertising placement on the main page of the App Store. Placing ads in such a prominent position allows you to increase the visibility of your app, which is especially important during periods of adding new content, running special events, and seasonal promotions. It can also be used as a method to engage and re-engage with your existing customers.

today tab ads

To advertise on the Today tab, you need to create an advertising campaign in Apple Search Ads and select this placement type. You can configure the budget, audience, geographic targeting, and the timing of ad displays. You can also track the performance of your ads and optimize their effectiveness.

"Your advertisement will utilize a customized app page that is created in App Store Connect". Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

Product Pages Ads

The advertisement will be displayed at the top of the "You Might Also Like" list to users who have scrolled down the respective app pages.

product page ads

"This is an effective way to reach interested users who continue to browse relevant applications, as they may be dissatisfied with the ratings, reviews, or advertisements of your competitors. Your advertisement can be displayed in the following categories: all app categories, similar categories, different categories.You can choose one of these categories when setting up the display in App Store Connect". Victoria Loshak, Mobile App Marketing Specialist.

Featuring as a Way to Promote in the App Store Catalog

Featuring increases the visibility of an application and, of course, contributes to an increase in the number of organic downloads. According to Apple's guidelines, there are general recommendations for developers to get their app featured.

Featuring is the placement of an application in one or more thematic collections curated by the App Store editorial team.

By being featured, your application becomes selected and is showcased for free on the front pages of the store in one or multiple categories, occupying prominent positions on the platform.

In our new case study, we share how our team at PlantIn managed to get featured and occupy multiple positions in the App Store search results.

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Written by
Anzhelika Krasiienko

Content Manager at Promodo since 2023.

In 2014, I started my professional career as an assistant literary editor. Currently, I am actively gaining experience in writing articles about digital marketing and other related topics. In my work, I strive for an expert approach and creativity, which helps to create unique content aimed at providing a high-quality and effective solution in this area.

Written by
Victoria Loshak

Mobile App Marketing Specialist

June 17, 2023
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