Running discovery campaigns using match types with the widest reach – Search Match and Broad Match - is a good way to find new keywords that can drive more traffic and generate conversions.

Search Terms generated by discovery campaigns should be consistently monitored and analyzed. We recommend the following algorithm for search term optimization:

Step 1.Analyze search terms performance.

Give your campaign a couple of weeks to run. This will guarantee that you collect sufficient data to analyze new search terms that Apple Search Ads matches to your ads.

Go to the “SEARCH TERMS” tab and set a 14-day timeframe. The best way is to analyze search terms every week or fortnight.



To filter out Search Terms brought by Search Match (i.e. not matched to any keywords), apply Match Source filter.



Arrange the search terms (STs) into 3 groups — Good search terms, Bad search terms and Insufficient data — and work with them as shown in the chart below.



How to determine an appropriate category for a search term?

Here you should keep in mind that due to the Search Ads data privacy policy, search terms which converted into installs are not reported to MMPs (only the keyword and the match type). Therefore, it is impossible to analyze post-downloads metrics. 

Step 2.Identifying Good STs.

Good STs are relevant high-performing search terms which make the traffic grow, without hurting its quality. All the steps above lead to discovering these queries. They should be moved to the exact match keywords group.

The best way to evaluate the quality of search terms is to look at their Cost per Acquisition (CPA). For example, if your CPA threshold is $5.0, then queries with Downloads > 0 and CPA < $5.0 can be considered winning ones. Below are the filters you should use to discover winning queries:



After you’ve found your winning query, take the following steps (see in the chart above):

1. Add the winning search term to the exact match group. Depending on your account structure, there can be several exact groups where you need to move this keyword.

2. Add the winning query as an exact negative keyword to your discovery campaign, just the way you did in Step 1. This keyword is included in the exact match group, so you have to make sure that Search Ads doesn’t match ads to this search term in your discovery campaign.

Negative exact match excludes your ad for searches of the exact keyword phrase, but it may still show for searches that include related and long/short keyword versions. That’s why it’s reasonable to add close variants (e.g. “game” and “games”) and misspellings to negatives as well.

Step 3.Identifying Bad STs.

Bad STs are irrelevant or non-performing search terms. They don’t bring any dowloads and eat up a sufficient amount of money, usually 3 x Target CPA. Here are the examples of filters that can help find such queries:



Once you’ve discovered such search terms, add them to your discovery campaign as exact negative keywords.

Step 4.Identifying keywords with insufficient data.

These are search terms with insufficient data to be moved to any of the categories. There are 2 cases:

  1. There are no conversions and your spend threshold hasn’t been reached yet. For example, the search terms have spent less than 3 x Target CPA and haven’t brought any downloads yet (e.g. Download = 0 and Spend < $15).


2. Low volume term. The data you’re requesting may be below Apple’s privacy threshold. For example, search terms must reach at least 10 impressions, otherwise the “low volume” value appears in your search term report. Age, location or gender reports require minimum 100 impressions before Search Ads can show any values.

If you report has returned the “low volume” value, give the data some time to accumulate or extend the date range up to 30/60/90 days to get more data.

Step 5.Keep mining new keywords.

Take steps 2-4 every week or fortnight and use the data from the latest review up to the present moment. By following these recommendations step-by-step, you can gradually increase the number of relevant keywords and, as a result, boost your traffic volume.

Naturally, the traffic volume in discovery ad groups will start dropping in a while. It has to do with exact negative keywords which are regularly being added to discovery ad groups. To keep mining new relevant keywords, you can gradually increase the CPT bid in discovery ad groups in order to make it into the auction with more expensive keywords.

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