How to Optimize Search Ads for Conversion

Search Ads are on the rise and is cited in the top trends for developers in 2017. Typically, Search Ads appear at the top of search queries providing vital information regarding the app’s name, the first line of its description and screenshots.

Since Apple models Search Ads after your app store listing, it is imperative that the listing is appealing for it to successfully convert users. The only effective way to make sure you will have great Search Ads is by using App Store Optimization (ASO) to improve key aspects of your app’s metadata and guarantee that your Search Ads are relevant to user searches.

How Do Search Ads Work?

Search Ads are created using your app’s metadata and imagery. Think of Search Ads as a smaller version of your App Store listing that highlights only the important aspects such as the core features and visual representations.

Since most App Store listings use relevant keywords to target the intended audience, your Search Ads need to be adjusted with the same mindset.

Keywords are often selected based off current user trends and user behavior. Users tend to search using one or two-words to quickly search for features they are interested in. Keywords that relate to current trends are best because they are more likely used in user searches.

Keep in mind that Apple restricts developers on Search Ad keyword bidding  so that a developer’s app will not appear is results more frequently than competitors. While bidding on keywords is necessary in some cases to boost visibility, your app will not appear at the top of searches unless it is deemed relevant for those keywords by Apple.

How Search Ads Can Be Displayed

While you are limited to your app’s metadata serving as the content of your Search Ads, there are two ways that your search ads can be displayed.

  1. Icon plus first line of the App Store listing’s description
  2. Icon plus screenshots and Preview Video (if applicable)

How to Optimize Search Ads for Conversion

How to Optimize Search Ads for Conversion

How to Optimize Search Ads for Conversion

For Search Ads with the screenshots or Preview Video, make note that the display orientation is also something to consider. Only your first three screenshots will appear if they are in portrait. If the screenshots or Preview Video are oriented in landscape, only one will be shown.

Regardless of which variation appears, your Search Ads need to highlight your app’s core features and show users what they will experience if they download your app.

Ways to Improve Conversion with Creatives

Your creatives, otherwise known as the icon, screenshots and Preview Video, need to be legible and clearly communicate your app’s core features. You can follow these steps to make key improvements that will help your Search Ads appear more frequently.

1. Icon

The app icon, which is the first visual representation users will see, needs to be unique and memorable. Regardless of how often your Search Ads appear, if the icon is not easily recognizable with a branding image or core features, you are less likely to convert.

2. Screenshots

Screenshots are the selling point and can be used to call out new features to help your app’s relevancy. The screenshots cannot be confusing or cluttered with too much text or imagery, which can convince indecisive users not to download. Users are less likely to convert if they cannot clearly understand your app’s intended message.

3. Preview Video

The Preview Video takes the place of screenshot and uses a still image with the play button placed in the middle. This still image is called the poster frame, meaning it carries the same weight as a regular screenshot. The poster frame cannot be cluttered or confusing and needs to be a relevant image that represents core features while highlighting those features with high-volume keywords.

4. Description

While the description is not truly a part of your creatives, it is still important to selling your app to potential users. Users will see the first line of your App Store listing’s description, meaning this text needs to market your app effectively and entice users to download. Make sure the description is polished with relevant keywords to help it appear in user searches.

5. Test Icon & Screenshots

Since you want your creatives to be visually appealing and reflect your app’s core features, you can test which icon and screenshots attract and engage with users best by conducting group surveys to see what appeals to your audience.


Before you dive into Search Ads, you need to make sure the metadata emphasizes your app’s core features and uses relevant, high-volume keywords so it will become present for user searches. To make key improvements, you can continually track your conversion once you have optimized your Search Ads using an ASO strategy.

Search Ads will only be beneficial if you use ASO to make sure your App Store listing is clean and visually appealing. Despite being able to bid on relevant keywords, your app needs to be relevant to the keywords you are targeting so your Search Ads appear in user searches.

About the Author

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

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