Creative Sets as an alternative to A/B testing and useful tool for improving the conversion rate on the App Store.

Running Apple Search Ads campaigns is one of the most reliable ways to gain the best results on the App Store, unlock the potential of your app and improve the conversion rate. Just like mobile A/B testing is. But what if you could combine both methods, all in one? 

The truth is, you can run mobile A/B testing experiments right in Apple Search Ads with the help of Creative Sets. Since Creative Sets enable publishers to align screenshots & app previews with ad group keyword themes and audience segments (gender, age, location), you can test various combinations of screenshots, track their performance and find out what variations work best. 

Thus, by running ads with custom ad variations that validated their efficiency during Creative Sets testing, you can improve the performance of your app’s ads in search results and consequently increase the tap-through rate (TTR) and the download rate. High TTR, in turn, will help you win more auctions, which will lead to more downloads… You get the idea.

Below I will share some Apple Search Ads best practices and actionable tips on how you can leverage Creative Sets as an alternative to a full-fledged A/B testing platform like SplitMetrics

Best Practices for Creative Sets in Apple Search Ads

1. Test screenshots that are hidden in the default Apple Search Ads. 

When customizing Creative Sets note that screenshots will save the order in which they were uploaded to App Store Connect. 

However, you are free to make some tweaks and thus test those screenshots that are usually not displayed in your ads and can only be seen on the product page.

For example, you can choose Creative Sets with the following variations:

  • 1) A + B + D
  • 2) A + B + E

By comparing the performance of these two Creative Sets in Apple Search Ads you will find out which one of the screenshots below the fold – D or E – performs better. 

2. Test planned features and check users’ reactions. 

Imagine that you are going to add a few features to your mobile game. Create screenshots that would reflect new features, configure custom Creative Sets and see whether the conversion rate is higher or lower with ad variations that include these screenshots. Based on this information, you will find out if users are interested in these features and decide if you should add them to your app. You can also promote new cool features in your game or app via custom Creative Sets and thus re-engage users.

3. Make sure all core features of your app are displayed. 

There are many apps that incorporate several functional options. For example, there are apps for booking flights and hotels or mental health apps that combine features for meditation, stress release and better sleep. But you cannot fit all the features on the restricted amount of screenshots visible in the ads.

Here is what you can do with the help of Creative Sets in Apple Search Ads. Put various features on different screenshots, make a Creative Set dedicated to hotel booking and another one dedicated to booking flights, bind each of them to specific ad groups, and voilà! None of your app’s functional features will be unnoticed. The same applies to mobile games: with the help of Creative Sets, you can introduce users to all game characters.

4. Schedule ads for various audience segments.

Referring to mental health apps that incorporate a number of diverse features, by binding screenshots of such apps to specific keyword themes, you can get through to users interested in a specific feature of your app at a point in time.  

Build custom Creative Sets and schedule ads with them for various segments. Part of your target audience will see your app’s ads in the morning. They will contain screenshots giving a hint on how to wake up without a cup of coffee. Other users will see your ads late in the evening, with your app showing them how they could fight insomnia.

5. Adjust your app to each target audience. 

Tie your Creative Sets to location or demographics, and users will see your app’s or game’s screenshots tailored to their age, gender or country. For example, you may show your mobile game’s screenshots with a male character to women and ads with a female character on screenshots to men or vice versa. Just compare two such Creative Sets and find out what works better for your mobile game.

6. Make your ads perfect.

Just as simple as that. Create custom Creative Sets, tie them to an ad group and then compare the performance of these ad variations. With such an opportunity for A/B testing in the App Store context, you will be able to make your visuals as relevant to the keywords you’re running ads for as possible. Users will not scroll over your ads. On the contrary, they will tap on them and download your app.

Shortcomings of Creative Sets in Apple Search Ads

Creative Sets is a truly great tool for increasing user engagement and the conversion rate on the App Store. But there is always a small fly in the ointment. While some limitations of Creative Sets were already mentioned in another PPC Hero post, I’ll specify those ones that come up to the surface when we compare this Apple Search Ads in-built tool with a high-grade A/B testing platform.

  • In contrast to an A/B testing tool, with Creative Tests you cannot test the whole App Store product page, including your app’s icon, title, and other important elements.
  • Your visual assets can work in different ways for Apple Search Ads campaigns and organic search results. 
  • In case your app is published on both the App Store and Google Play, you cannot apply the results you gained by testing Creative Sets in Apple Search Ads to your product page and ads on Google Play. 
  • You cannot run an unlimited number of tests simultaneously, as the number of Creative Sets is limited.
  • While A/B testing tools are widely used for mobile app idea validation and on the pre-launch stage, you cannot utilize Creative Sets for that purpose.
  • You don’t see the big picture and don’t have comprehensive data on how all your Creative Sets, both custom and default ones, perform. However, you can work this out if you use a third-party platform fully integrated with Apple Search Ads, such as SearchAdsHQ.
    For example, in SearchAdsHQ, you can track post-install events and get Creative Sets’ performance indicators, such as CPI, ROAS, cost per goal, install rate and many others.

Featured image and all in-article images provided by Splitmetrics