Apple Search Ads Tracking for Subscription Apps

Apple Search Ads is a powerful platform to promote your app. With Apple Search Ads, you are getting users with the high intent looking to solve a specific problem. As Apple highlights, 70% of the app store visitors use Search Ads to find apps, 65% of all downloads happen after customers carry out a search, and the average conversion of the search ends is 50% percent. These numbers demonstrate that Apple Search Ads is one of the most effective tools in user acquisition.  

However, if you don’t know how to measure and optimize your ads, your campaigns may never reach their true potential. Before to proceed further, make sure that you’re familiar with a high-level introduction to Apple Search. In this article, we’ll discuss how to track Apple Search Ads, attribute subscription revenue to ASA campaigns and what metrics you should be tracking on when making decisions on scaling your campaign.

Apple Search Ads Attribution

Let’s have a look at the differences between Apple Search Ads and some other customer acquisition channels. 

After the introduction of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework last year, it became much harder to accurately attribute revenue to the ads and measure their performances. 

How to track Apple Search Ads

How to track Apple Search Ads revenue. Apple Search Ads Attribution API vs. SKAdNetwork

The biggest advantage of Apple Search Ads is that, in a sense, it’s the only platform that’s not affected by Apple’s privacy policies. Even if a user chooses not to be tracked in the ATT prompt, you can still receive accurate attribution data from Apple itself.

If you promote your iOS app on Facebook or Google, you need to use SKAdNetwork API to attribute users. For ASA attribution, you should refer to ASA API. Here are the main differences between those solutions:  

1. Apple Ads Attribution API contains more granular data than the SKAdNetwork postbacks.

You have information on creative sets, keyword IDs, and the country of the devices, significantly increasing the level of your attribution accuracy.

2. Apple Search Ads Attribution API doesn’t use a timer system.

Installs that occur through ASA are attributed as they happen, unlike with SKAdNetwork which is subject to a minimum turnaround time of 24-72 hours from the ad click to install postback.

3. ASA attributes installs regardless of ATT status. 

Overall, with Apple Search Ads, you get almost real-time data for the attribution, and the data available is much more granular.

You need a couple of steps to get ASA attribution data. First, you need to implement Apple Ad Services’ framework. Second, apply API integration for server-side communication with the Apple attribution server. This might be tricky, but with the right tools, you can get accurate subscription data including cohort revenue at campaign and even keyword level. This enables you to measure the efficiency of your marketing expenditure. 

Track Apple Search Ads Costs, Revenue and ARPU, not Installs

The main problem with the Apple Search Ads’ interface is that it does not include any in-app data including the crucial revenue metrics. The data available includes impressions, installs, CPA, conversion rates, tap-through rates, and new downloads.

How to track Apple Search Ads for subscription apps.
How to track Apple Search Ads. Native Apple Search Ads reporting vs. Qonversion.

Ideally, you need to track revenue from a cohort of users at a campaign and keyword level. Only in this case you can make data-driven marketing decisions, maximize your ROI, and run effective advertising campaigns.

How to track Apple Search Ads.

Native Apple Search Ads reporting to track Apple Search Ads.

Let’s take a closer look at the sample data. In this example, we can see the two keywords bringing in the same amount of installs. The second keyword has installs at a 20% lower cost. By looking at this data only, you might think that the second keyword looks like a better option for scaling and getting more installs at a lower cost.

But once you attribute subscription revenue to the keywords, you’ll see that the first keyword (“budget” in this case) generates more revenue while the second keyword didn’t bring any subscribers to the app at all. So ultimately, you should be scaling user acquisition with the keyword that is more expensive.

How to track Apple Search Ads.

Qonversion Apple Search Ads reporting to track Apple Search Ads.

How to track Apple Search Ads for Subscription Apps

You can set up Apple Search Ads attribution and start to track ASA with Qonversion in 30 minutes by following these simple steps: 

1. Install Qonversion SDK and enable data collection

  • Enable data collection with this simple method of Qonversion SDK 
Qonversion.launch(withKey: "projectKey")
  • Import the ad services framework into your Xcode project 
  • Create the API user in Apple’s Search Ads account
  • Provide the credentials in the Qonversion project setting

That’s it, you are all set! 

2. Track Apple Search Ads with Qonversion Apple Search Ads Attribution dashboard

Once your Qonversion account is configured to receive Apple Search Ads’ attribution data, follow these steps:

How to track Apple Search Ads for subscription apps.
How to track Apple Search Ads for subscription apps.
  1. Select the period of time that you want to analyze. 
  2. Select the level of data – data can be grouped by campaign, ad group or keyword.
  3. Check your set of metrics including number of installs, subscriptions started, number one of in-app purchases, and install-to-trial and install-to-subscription conversion rates. You will also have the data on total cumulative revenue, and you’ll have average revenue per user and average revenue they’re paying for users (ARPU/ARPPU). The metrics are updated when new revenue events like subscription renewals happen. 
  4. If required, export your data into a CSV format with just one click. 


One of the crucial components to a successful user acquisition campaign is utilizing the right tools to measure advertising performance. Don’t miss the chance to increase the efficiency of your marketing dollars and get the most from Apple’s advertising capabilities. And once you succeed, you can scale your campaigns and maximize your profits.

Qonversion Apple Search Ads attribution provides you with the tools to monitor and manage your ASA campaigns so you can stay on top of the important metrics of your subscription-based apps.

We hope that you found this article useful. If you have any questions or ideas regarding Apple Search Ads, feel free to reach out to us at Subscriptions Apps Slack community here.