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SearchAds Lessons

So Apple just gave us $100 after announcing SearchAds Basic, and everyone is talking about it again (Under the Radar, Waiting for Review and etc.). So I wanted to share some numbers and lessons I learned during last year of using it.

Let me start by saying that I was running SearchAds since last October they were announced, continuously until last week, for my paid app. Last week I had to replace my credit card, but failed to update it immediately in SearchAds portal, so one payment was denied, thus my account was put on hold, and my ads were pulled from the App Store. I have replaced it since, but as I learned from Apple, it takes up to 72 hours for them to retry to charge me, and then unto 48 to process it. So basically right now I'm running unplanned experiment how not running SearchAds is affecting my sales...

After listening to the last episode of Under the Radar I got an impression from David Smith that his experience was that running ads for paid apps was working but failed to scale. Basically, I agree - I would like it to scale more, much more, but I'm happy with its current scale. Here are some numbers for my campaigns for US, UK, AU in last 12 weeks. All but one of those campaigns are for my paid ($5) app. Important to say that with the better rating I saw better conversion rates (currently my app is above 4.5 stars in most of the countries).
As you can see my conversion rate is around 4% (I'm not sure what to think about it - is it good or not, cause I haven't found others sharing their data) for my paid app. Obviously, the conversion rate for the free app was much higher than that :) but as Marco and David said, math is hard when you try to figure out how much install worth you for free apps... So for me, it was a nice experiment I ran for a couple of days, trying to see how high will it go, and if my App Store metadata (app name, subtitle, and screenshots are good enough to drive users to install the app).

And here is a report of my sales from iTunesConnect, as you can see most of my paid downloads are coming from SearchAds. For me, it says that once people see my app they will buy it, but without SearchAds my app is ranking low in the search results, and not many people will go past first 3 or 4 results before they decide which app to install. If your app is 10th or 20th - Google 2nd page of results rule applies (its the best place to hide the dead body).
So the math goes like this: I have sold 2300 units in last 12 weeks in US, UK & AU. From those 2300 units, 1765 units came from SearchAds...

Three points on the graph where sales go down to zero are me putting the app on sale (free), and the last couple of days decline is my ads not running due to credit card problems. So at least for me, SearchAds are working, and working great when I'm able to run them.

If you wish to start - I suggest you start small, add all of your keywords - just to check which of them you should keep, and which you want to replace. And to find out new keywords - run search match campaign for a week or so, and check which keywords have the best conversion rate. Also, use negative keywords to save money on those keywords that cost too much or don't convert very well. Personally, I can't wait until my problem is resolved and I can run ads again, and for Apple to expand into additional markets, a specially in Europe, China, and Japan.

If you want to discuss this - I'm on Twitter @cherpake