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October 20, 2023
6 min read

How to Calculate Apple Search Ads Campaign ROI for your Subscription App

Today, in the post-IDFA era, Apple Search Ads (ASA) remains the unique traffic source for which full attribution is available. It allows you to track performance and optimize your campaigns on the keyword level.

How to Calculate Apple Search Ads Campaign ROI for your Subscription App

In this article, we'll take a look at:

Metrics for Apple Search Ads ROI calculation

So let's review the key metrics of campaign performance.

To calculate the ASA ROI of acquired users, you can use 2 different approaches. The first option is to compare all campaign/customer costs to their total revenue. This approach can provide a general understanding of traffic profitability.

But to compare the cost of acquired users from different geo/keywords, to compare the effectiveness of Apple Search Ads with other paid channels, it is more convenient to count the cost per install (CPI) and the average revenue per user (ARPU).

Since optimization in Apple Search Ads is mainly done per user, it is convenient to calculate the ROI of marketing efforts in terms of installs.

CPI (Cost Per Install)

To estimate how much a purchased user costs us, we usually use the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) metric. However, as mentioned earlier, for ASA we are more interested in Cost Per Install, or CPI.

In this example from Apple Analytics, we can see that the cost per install (Apple calls this metric CPA) is calculated as follows:

CPI = Spent / Installs

i.e. the ratio of money spent to the number of target actions (installations).

Apple Search Ads Ad Groups analyticsApple Search Ads Ad Groups analytics

LTV (Lifetime Value)

In addition to CPI, it is also important to understand how much we can earn from the group of users we acquire.

In our case, LTV is a metric that reflects the average revenue from a user over the lifetime of that user. It is also irrelevant whether the user is a paying user or not, as we are optimizing for installs. Therefore, in this case, we calculate LTV based on ARPU.

If we only wanted average revenue per paying user, we would calculate based on ARPPU.
Cumulative LTV chart, ApphudCumulative LTV chart, Apphud

An important point is that we can calculate LTV not only for the entire lifetime of a cohort of users but also for the Nth day. Thus, we can understand the exact moment when the acquired users start to pay off and bring profit.

Now let's look at the LTV graph aggregated by keywords.

Cumulative LTV chart by keywords, ApphudCumulative LTV chart by keywords, Apphud

In this case, we can see that users coming from different keywords initially bring about the same revenue. However, over time, the revenue from users coming from the first keyword (blue graph) starts to significantly exceed the revenue from users coming from the second keyword. We are starting to scale user acquisition from the first keyword.

ROAS (Return on Advertisement Spend), ROI (Return on Investment)

Now that we understand the cost of engagement and how much revenue users are bringing us, we can calculate the return on our investment (ROI) for our Apple Search Ads campaigns. The ROAS calculation in percentages is shown below.

ROAS = Revenue (total ad revenue) / Cost (total ad spend) x 100%

If ROAS is less than 100%, we have made a loss; if it is more than 100%, we have made money.

We are not talking about ROI metrics in the classic sense, as ROI takes into account various fixed costs (team costs, and other fixed costs). Now we are primarily talking about the ROI of the marketing cost of attraction.

Apple Search Ads ROI calculation in practice

How can analyzing LTV, for example by keyword, in Apple Search Ads help you find the most effective traffic?

Let's take a look at a simple spreadsheet that you can easily create yourself. In this case, we'll use Google Sheets.

ROI calculation exampleROI calculation example

So here are the step-by-step instructions on how to fill in this table. Suppose we take all the data from the user cohorts by day (Date column).

The values of the other columns are:

  • Keyword: the keyword from the search that led to the installation
  • Spend: total cost to acquire users from this cohort
  • Installs: total number of installs for the day's cohort
  • CPI: cost per install (spend / installs)
  • LTV(30/180/365d): average revenue per user on the Nth day of life
  • ROAS: Return on investment in percent

Data for calculations:

The cost for each key can be taken from the Apple Search Ads cabinet as shown in the screenshot above.

The number of installs and LTV on the nth day is available in Apphud, Cumulative LTV graph.

Note that we count ROAS using LTV for three different time periods. Counting LTV for specific days allows us to better understand how revenue grows and when purchased traffic reaches profitability.


So, as we can see, Apple Search Ads, along with other popular traffic channels, can attract valuable users to the application and bring significant profit.

An important advantage of ASA is the fact that this channel allows us to get accurate data on user attribution (at the level of a campaign or even a single keyword). That's why Apple Search Ads ROI calculation is a necessary action for your strategy. 

Thus, we have a full opportunity to analyze the effectiveness of marketing efforts in detail.

With the help of Apphud, you can effectively measure the LTV of ASA campaigns and correctly calculate the ASA ROI in order to make the right decisions. Sign up for Apphud today and let's grow your app revenue together!

Head of Product at Apphud
10+ years in mobile. Anton started his career as a backend developer, last 3 years has been working as a product manager. He created a podcast dedicated to software dev. Successfully launched (and sold) his own apps.

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