On March 27, 2019, Apple Search Ads announced that it was expanding to 46 new countries and regions. Previously, marketers had to target their campaigns towards one country at a time, but that’s no longer the case. With the new ability to bundle countries for mass campaign targeting and more countries available than ever before–the potential is enormous.
Of course, launching an ad campaign in a new part of the world isn’t as easy as copying and pasting. There are a plethora of things to manage–research, targeting, keywords, budgeting, and more, all while adhering to Apple Search Ads’ strict guidelines. Luckily, the marketing pros at Bidalgo are here to help! If you’re hoping to capitalize off this opportunity and expand your Apple Search Ads campaigns into new countries, here’s a list of things to do before going live to make sure you make the most of the opportunity.
Step 1: Know Your Brand
This is something you should already be doing, of course, but you’ll want to keep your brand consistent across the globe. Your visual language and creative guidelines should be well established. If you’ve got plans to update any aspect of your brand’s visual identity, now might not be the best time to expand advertising operations.
Wait until you’re ready to deliver a constant and recognizable brand identity across regions. If it’s already performing well in your current markets, you’re good to go! If you’re struggling with brand recognition, however, you might have more work to do.
Bidalgo can help you understand your own brand keywords through search term analysis in a cross campaign aggregated view. This is especially impactful for discovery campaigns to crystalize your brand keywords and how they may differ in different regions. Bidalgo’s keyword management tools automate the process of list saving, and with a click of a button add these keywords to all your ad sets, as exact/broad/negative or combinations.
Step 2: Research & Targeting
So your brand is strong and you have Apple Search Ads’ master list of territories; what’s next? Well, you have to narrow that list down. It doesn’t make sense to blindly launch in every available country; you’ll need research and data to determine which ones are right for your campaign and your product.
You may need to collect some data if you don’t have it readily available. For example, does your app perform better on iOS than any other platform? Is iOS widely used in the country you’re targeting? Does your app run on older device models? If not, is there sufficient current-generation device adoption in the countries you’re targeting to make expansion worthwhile? These kinds of data-driven decisions will determine where, exactly, you should prioritize expansion efforts.
For example, using the two charts below, we can see that even though the United States leads in the number of iOS devices in circulation, it’s down to number seven in terms of iOS market share, with Macau dominating the US, Hong Kong, and others. Based on this, you might decide that Macau will be your next point of ad expansion, even if it wasn’t on your radar before.
Data Source: StatsCounter Global Stats
If you’re new to the ad game, you might wonder if there’s any harm in advertising in every available reason, but the data rarely supports this initiative. Using iOS as the platform example again, you’ll see that in certain regions of the world, like Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East, iOS devices are less common. With limited resources, it’s more worthwhile to redouble your efforts in more effective markets.
Thanks to Apple Search Ads’ recent update, you can also now bundle countries together, but it’s up to you to determine how to do that.
There are 2 main ways you may want to group countries together:
- By country or region localized language. This will enable you to use international languages keywords alongside localized language keywords.
- By country scores that combine the analysis from the charts above. Generating a single score from both market share and number of devices per country reveals the interesting potential bundles of countries you haven’t targeted before as they were only introduced as part of the expansion.
- Hong Kong
Africa, Middle East and India:
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
PRO TIP: Bidalgo customers can cross pollinate learnings from other channels running through Bidalgo by reporting aggregated MMP + Channel data grouped by country.
Step 3: Keywords
As with any search ad, keywords are, well, key to being found. Bidalgo categorizes keywords in four ways: brand, competition, generic, and discovery, the last of which is an internal grouping.
Brand keywords are those that match, or come close to matching, the proper names surrounding your brand’s specific identity in the app store. This includes things like your app’s name, variations on that name, the name of your publisher/development company, and even any characters or IP touchstones that your product may feature.
In our experience, advertisers will often see the best performance from this category, as it’s safe to assume that users searching for these keywords are doing so with very specific intent. They’re already looking for your product in particular, and an appropriately targeted ad campaign will ensure they find it.
It’s also always important to have contentions for potential misspellings and typos. And defending your brand–and your ads–against competitors is an ongoing challenge that will continue as you expand your reach. Competition keywords, like the name of a competitor’s brand or product, will help your product show up in relevant searches for competing products–and hopefully have your product coming out on top.
When expanding to a new country, however, the majority of keyword work will go into generic keywords, which aim to attract the attention of users searching for terms related to your app’s core service offering or aesthetic. This is where knowledge of your brand, as well as your target audience’s needs, will pay dividends.
The first step will be localizing; not every word or phrase will have an exact translation in a new culture, and you’ll need to understand how to adapt. Capitalize on trends, games, and apps that are region-specific. For example, if you’re promoting a card game in Asia, you may want to use “mahjong” to draw in a new audience. In fact, finding region-specific generic keywords could lead to entirely new revenue streams from different audiences, so don’t be afraid to explore!
Finally, the discovery category covers all exploratory campaigns, and takes advantage of Apple Search Ads’ broad match targeting capabilities rather than exact matches, as is the case with the other three categories. These are the keywords that may be subject to internal disagreement, or have yet to prove themselves within a particular country. Don’t be afraid to invest in these. There’s plenty of precedent for discovering new pockets of inventory that can end up outperforming your top keywords.
As for how to divide your budget amongst the keyword categories, Bidalgo has a ground rule: generally speaking, 30% of the budget goes to discovery. Beyond that, brand, competition, and generic budgets will fluctuate based on what’s needed in each particular area. However, as we’ve noted, you’ll often get the most bang for your buck out of brand keywords.
Step 4: Launch! And Be Ready for Next Time
As you can see, it’s not easy adapting ad campaigns for new marketplaces, languages, and regions. Unfortunately, even if you’re an Apple Search Ads Partner, you won’t get much (if any) lead time on when it’s going to roll out support for new countries. You must be ready to adapt and strike while the iron’s hot; otherwise, your competitors will take over the new territory before you even get a chance.
When Apple Search Ads revealed its new countries in March, Bidalgo announced its support for every new region that same day. As a leader in the AI-powered mobile advertising space and Apple Search Ads Partner, we’re able to quickly adapt to changing marketplace trends and expand to new Geos at a moment’s notice. It’s not easy expanding ad campaigns across the globe, but with this handy checklist–and the right advertising partner–you’ll be ready to take on any challenge.