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How to Choose an App Category

Coming up with the next great app can be exciting, but when looking at the current mobile app market, entrepreneurs realize that the nearly 3 million apps completely saturate every app category.

It’s tough to get noticed in any category, but how do the top apps do it? They start by monitoring the current app market, researching user trends, defining user behaviors, creating a targeted demographic user base and carefully distinguishing which category fits their app best.

By monitoring competitors and current app market trends, developers can make crucial changes using ASO best practices before wasting their time and resources launching an app prematurely.

Estimating the Market Size

Estimating the current app market size can save many developers from wasting time, money and resources. With so much congestion in the app stores, it’s important to know which users to target.

It is crucial that developers always keep in mind who they are making their app for. Certainly, part of estimating the app market is considering the volume of the target audience. The problem lies in developers paying too much attention to their competitors instead of focusing on who they are targeting.

When creating an app, developers should be constantly monitoring their audience’s size to ensure it’s not shrinking. Understanding who to target is important to determining which app category to target. An app will only become more discoverable and expand their brand’s name if they understand the current market.

How to Choose an App Category

Any user browsing through the App Store can easily find the app they want in one of the 26 app categories. For some categories like games, however, there are sub-categories that users can search through, meaning there are competitors in every category.

Developers need to determine what category will serve as an app’s primary and if it applies for any other categories. First, developers need to ask the simple question: what does the app do? Depending on the core features, it is easy to estimate which category an app will do best in.

Monitoring Top Competitors

To further gage how well an app will do, developers can monitor what apps are trending on the Top Charts. While the Top Charts are a quick, easy way of monitoring what’s trending, developers can gain beneficial insights on what their competition is doing well on.

Keep in mind that the Top Charts are basically a black hole that are often determined by paid apps ranking above subscriptions. The Top Charts are not incredibly realistic to use as a comparison point since most developers don’t have the capital to get there.

The Top Charts, while they can help gage what app is doing well, still proves how stiff the competition is. It may be more difficult for an app to rank in a popular category like “photo & video” as opposed to “beauty.” Depending on an app’s core features, it might be best to choose a more realistic category and work on getting ranked.

Monitoring the competition is also good because it gives developers an edge to see where their competitors are lacking and incorporate what works well. This gives developers the chance to adjust specific areas of their app’s metadata.

Examining Current Ranking

If an app is live on one or both app stores, it’s good to look at how it currently ranks in its primary and secondary category. Sometimes, developers are not doing well in their rankings because their app name does not target many relevant keywords or their downloads and positive ratings are low.

Understanding top competitors is also a key step of any ASO strategy to track who is moving up and down in the rankings. Developers looking to monitor their movements with categories can use DATACUBE for a better understanding of trends to make appropriate changes to their app’s metadata to attract more users.

Key Takeaways

It’s good to make a routine out of monitoring the Top Charts and estimating the current app market before developing and launching an app. Estimating the current market and understanding who to target will save time and money and ultimately create a more successful app.

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The Death of Chart Boosting

At WWDC Apple announced that the App Store will be completely redesigned in the Fall of 2017. It seems that from the changes that are being made, Apple’s goal is to help improve the overall discoverability of content by breaking Games out from apps as well as highlighting more unique editorial handpicked content.

This change is a very strong indicator that Apple feels that Games as a category is becoming more dominant and needs its own spotlight. Games account for 81 percent of the App Store’s revenue, meaning the separation of games from apps will help level the playing field.  This change will allow apps in other categories to have a chance to flourish in the top charts that have consistently been dominated by games for years.

Another interesting twist from the announcement issued along with iOS 11 is that top charts will be moved off the home page where it previously existed under its own tab. Top charts will now be moved to an area within the respective category tabs, Games and Apps. Moving top charts out of the homepage marks a paradigm shift on how Apple views discoverability. This shift will push users away from finding apps via charts, ushering in greater discoverability through search and editorial placement.

But what does moving the top charts further inside the App Store mean for developers? It means that the death of “chart boosting,” a technique used by some developers to manipulate their chart ranking and downloads, is going to accelerate. With charts having less exposure, the ROI from these kinds of activities will likely plummet.

When the App Store launched and Apple’s ecosystem was still growing, top charts were the main way in which users discovered apps. This caused developers to prioritize chart boosting over other marketing methods. As the ecosystem matured, the number of users that discover apps through charts has dropped to under 25 percent, while 65 percent of apps are now found through App Store searches. This shift has helped make chart boosting significantly less relevant, especially at a CPI of $1 to $5 per download. Chart boosting is expensive with a whopping 40,000 downloads needed a day to rank in the top 25.

With Apple moving top charts out of the home page, and announcing that search is the largest channel for app discovery and downloads, developers must start embracing organic and building a more sustainable marketing strategy.

Nearly all marketing efforts need to start at the organic level, making ASO essential for a cost-effective app rollout. App Store Optimization helps developers keep up with the latest trends, boost visibility through keyword ranking and optimize creatives to increase conversion. By employing ASO best practices for the launch of an app, developers can create a more impactful marketing push, helping apps appear more frequently when users are searching for related keywords. Using ASO best practices can drive more users to click “Get” when they see the feature they are looking for.

If an App Store user is specifically looking for a meditation app, will they scroll through Top Charts to find one? No. They will directly search keywords such as “meditation apps” and glance trough the listings for the app that best represents what they are looking for. Developers must let go of chart boosting and focus on the future by embracing ASO to heighten visibility and improve conversion in the new world of iOS 11.

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How Preview Videos in the New App Store Will Affect Conversion

On June 5th, Apple announced that the App Store will also feature editorialized content focusing on apps, games and developers handpicked by Apple.

This editorialized content will feature all pieces of metadata including multiple App Preview Videos. Preview Videos are a crucial piece of metadata that many developers have been experimenting with for years. With the release of iOS 11, developers will then be able to submit up to three Preview Videos.

Having more Preview Videos is a fantastic way to see the app or game in action, next to directly downloading it for yourself. Creatives are important for conversion because it helps showcase what is unique about the app or game that words in the app name or description cannot convey. Preview Videos give users an in-depth look at the UI and gameplay, two critical points in conversion.

Developers looking to add additional Preview Videos to their App Store product page need to ensure that the content showcases their app’s core features and functionality while being visually compelling.

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Preview Video Changes

While developers scramble to put together content for two additional Preview Videos, it worthwhile noting the other significant changes such as auto play capability and where additional Preview Videos will be displayed on the product page.

That’s right, Apple is allowing developers to set up their Preview Videos for auto play with muted audio. Developers that select auto play for their Preview Videos need to note that the poster frame will not be displayed. If developers set up their Preview Videos without auto play, the poster frame will be present and continue to be considerably useful for conversion. Any additional Preview Videos will also be moved below the description, in turn pushing screenshots significantly down the product page.

While these changes are incredibly important for conversion, developers need to keep in mind that only users running iOS 11 and later will be able to see any additional Preview Videos added to their product page.

Pros & Cons of More Preview Videos

With every update, there are pros and cons that will directly affect developers. While there will be multiple opportunities for developers to engage with users and encourage them to download, they need to be careful with the decisions that go into making their Preview Video.

Pros:

  • Developers can submit up to three Preview Videos
  • Multiple opportunities to engage with users and clearly show how an app works / gameplay
  • Preview Videos can more easily be localized so a customer in any country will see a customized version
  • Preview Videos can now be on auto-play with muted audio

Cons:

  • More Preview Videos could possibly confuse users and send unclear messages
  • Auto-play Preview Videos means no Poster Frame and a possible loss of conversion

Based on our research, we’ve seen that apps that have a great Preview Video can improve their conversion up to 30 percent. Inversely, if an app has a bad Preview Video, it can decrease their conversion up to 30 percent. Apps that suffer poor conversion typically have a Preview Video that is confusing and does not highlight the app’s core features.

Having three Preview Videos is incredibly important because it can open more chances for developers to improve their conversion. It is also crucial that before submitting multiple Preview Videos, developers properly test their video with focus groups for feedback on what images and keywords appeal most to users. Properly testing Preview Videos can help developers avoid falling into a slump and decreasing their conversion rates by 30 percent.

Ultimately, developers will have plenty of opportunities to engage with their users and show off more facets, gameplay and features, but will need to make sure their Preview Videos continue to adhere to Apple’s strict guidelines.

Preview Video Guidelines

Despite Apple tripling the number of Preview Videos displayed on an app’s product page, the guidelines for creating and submitting a Preview Video stay the same.

The basic guidelines go as follows :

  • Preview Videos can be up to 30 seconds
  • Preview Video must use straightforward transitions
  • Needs to display real-world usage and functionality of the app
  • Cannot have people interacting with a device that displays the app on it

Apple’s guidelines are not a way to try and shoehorn developers, but are set in place to ensure Preview Videos will represent an app’s the company will allow developers the possibility to choose the order of their Preview Videos, meaning it is crucial that the video clearly demonstrates the user experience, core features or gameplay.

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What Does All This Mean for Conversion?

Apple’s changes to the App Store along with adding multiple Preview Videos means huge changes for the developer community and how they approach their app’s creatives. Tripling the number of Preview Videos means developers seriously need to make sure their Preview Videos capture their core features or gameplay to successfully impact their conversion.

The impending App Store update proves that Apple realizes just how crucial creatives are to conversion. Developers should make sure their Preview Videos are prepared and clearly highlight their core features before iOS 11 is released this Fall.

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App Store Faces Huge Changes this Fall

In case you missed any details from the WWDC 2017 keynote on June 5th, Gummicube has everything to keep you up-to-date. Apple announced spectacular improvements to their hardware, SDKS and developer tools. The jaw-dropping moment happened during the iOS 11 announcement, where Apple divulged the App Store will be completely redesigned in the fall, making this the biggest update to the App Store since its launch 9 years ago.

App Store Changes

The new App Store layout will distinguish between games and other app types with two unique tabs – effectively creating two new app stores. Within each category, there will be even more custom experiences with curated lists and editorialized content.  The changes to the product page will offer more opportunities for apps to become visible through App Store Optimization.

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Today Tab

The first page of the App Store has been completely redesigned to feature an editorialized page called “Today.” This page will feature new apps, new updates and more with editorial pieces Apple calls “Daily Stories.” The apps on the Today tab are handpicked by Apple and give users an inside look on newsworthy apps around the world. The Today tab will contain information on the app and developer as well as providing users with in-app videos and images. Users can also share or download the app directly from this page. Apple is also adding an “App of the Day” and “Game of the Day” that will be updated daily on the Today tab.

Games & Apps Tab

Apple has finally made Games its own accessible store with a navigation button, making it easier for users to discover new games instead of wading through all of the App Categories. Games are the largest revenue generator and accounted for 81% of revenue in 2016. By separating Games, it allows users quicker access to discovering new and existing games. Apple has also introduced a section for “featured in-app purchases,” which will offer users direct access to purchase in-app content from the App Store Listing. Having a separate space on the product page that features in-app purchases will give developers a great opportunity to highlight any new promotions, subscriptions, new features and more.

App Store Listings – Display Changes

Apple’s announcement regarding the redesign of the App Store means the addition of two new text fields (Subtitle and Promotional Text) to product pages, ultimately changing the way App Store listings are displayed. The App Page will continue to show the App Preview Video, but it will now be on auto play. Apple is giving Reviews more recognition by increasing the size of an app’s star ranking and is placing it directly above the Preview Video. Apple has also tripled the number of videos and now allows developers to submit up to three Preview Videos. The addition of more Preview Videos is a shift in the App Store UI to a more immersive, in-game action, making creatives increasingly important to conversion.

App Name & Subtitle

We all know the app’s name plays a critical role in discovery. Apple announced that they have reduced the app name character limit from 50 characters to 30 characters. Reducing the character limit will help developers de-clutter their app names and serve as a space that highlights the name and most important features. The introduction of Subtitles, which are also limited to 30 characters, will essentially serve as another set of descriptors for apps and become supplementary to title tags. This text will appear below the app’s name and serve as a summary of the app to encourage users to download.

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Promotional Text

The Promotional Text will appear at the top of the description and is limited to 170 characters, serving as a mini-description that can be updated at any time without submitting a new version of an app. Apple suggests using this text to share the latest news such as new promotions, features, content and more. The brief character space means it’s important to be concise about app features and functionality, and should entice users to download before moving along to the main description.

We are excited that the App Store is getting a new design that will feature editorialized content and new additions to the product page. To stay up-to-date on all App Store changes, follow us on Twitter.

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Google Makes Major Updates to AdMob & UAC

Competition in the Google Play Store is fierce and the opportunity size is huge with more than 2 billion monthly active Android users.  Developers are engaged in a constant battle to grab users’ attention and gain marketshare.  Google, which built its business making online advertising more effective, is now rolling out major changes to improve its mobile marketing platforms.

During the Google I/O conference on May 17th, the company simultaneously unannounced a completely redesigned AdMob and impressive new features for their Universal App Campaign (UAC) format which is accessible via the AdWords interface.  While the changes to AdMob are aimed at providing greater transparency and a better experience to end users, Google’s refreshed UAC format presents app developers a serious opportunity to access highly coveted ad inventory in the Play Store.

Newly Designed AdMob

AdMob is one of the most established mobile ad networks in the world, having paid out more than $3.5 billion in ads revenue to developers since its founding.  While this is impressive, any established product needs to have the cobwebs cleaned out every few years.  The changes that are coming to AdMob include the adoption of Material Design, which will provide developers with a familiar and elegant interface across web and mobile platforms.

In addition to improvements in the user interface, this update will allow developers to easily track performance of their app and related advertising campaigns with the integration of Google Analytics for Firebase.   Google has made it simple for developers to link their AdMob and Firebase accounts to gain access to crucial performance data all in one place.  This means it just became much simpler to look at the entire funnel of your AdMob implementation, from clicks all the way through to app monetization.

It is clear that Google, with their broad rollout of Firebase, is aiming to become a complete solution for attribution across the entire funnel.  The inclusion of Firebase in AdMob follows a similar planned rollout across Google’s AdWords platform, creating a unified attribution environment across Google mobile channels.

UAC Updates

Through AdWords, Google presents app developers with a number of different channels where they can market their app and boost installs.  In addition to traditional channels including paid search, display, and video that have traditionally been Google’s “bread and butter”, another format exists called Universal App Campaign (UAC).  The promise of UAC is simultaneous access to inventory across all Google channels, with Google tuning user acquisition cost based on your CPI goals automatically.

While UAC sounded great for many developers, the reality is that the program is a kind of black box where the source of installs aren’t transparently disclosed.  This caused many experienced marketers to de-prioritize UAC in favor of manually managing their Google ad campaigns one channel (and one click) at a time.  Many apps were able to achieve better CPI’s (cost per install) using this manual method.

Google has responded to the concerns of marketers by offering a new incentive to use UAC campaigns, even if in conjunction with traditional manual campaigns.  This incentive offers up prime ad inventory and placements in the Google Play store only to developers running a UAC campaign.  This means that even when running specific search, display and video campaigns from the AdWords interface, developers will need to turn on UAC to access some of the best inventory.

At the same time as Google is reserving some of the best inventory for UAC campaigns, they are also improving how UAC campaigns perform.  To help apps appear more in the Play Store, Google has added the new expansion called Smart Bidding. This strategy has been expanded to help acquire more high-value users and create tailored bids unique to a developer’s business goals. Through Smart Bidding, UAC will find the right users based on installs, events and value to attract high-valued users.

Additional Third Party Attribution Options

Despite having improved integration and performance of their own attribution tools, Google is also making it easier to work with third-party measurement providers. Google has now integrated seven global companies (Adjust, Adways, AppsFlyer, Apsalar, CyberZ, Kochava and TUNE) into AdWords to ensure that developers have consistent data to review their app’s metrics. This data will provide valuable insights on where users engage most with an app to help developers make necessary adjustments to their ad campaigns.

The updates to UAC and the integration of these leading third-party attribution partners into AdWords shows that Google understands that developers need not only more distribution, but also greater transparency into where the highest quality users are coming from.  Whether focused on improving performance of advertising campaigns in Google channels or seeking a simple view of performance across all channels, these changes should make life easier for app developers.