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Google I/O 2018

What to Expect at Google I/O 2018

With Google I/O taking place from May 8 to May 10, technology enthusiasts and developers alike can expect major updates and new additions to Google products and services.

If you can’t make the massive conference, Google will be providing ways to follow events and announcements online through live streaming sites like YouTube, Twitch and Mixer, as well as the Google I/O conference app.

As Google Play Store updates are released throughout the year, changes related to App Store Optimization (ASO) at Google I/O tend to be light. However, it’s still an important conference for the future of app development, as well as emerging technologies.

Here are a few things you can expect at Google I/O 2018:

Flutter Beta 3

App developer? Watch for the third beta release of Flutter. After a year of anticipation, the company promises to reveal the latest version of its beta at Google I/O.

Google Flutter gives developers the tools to create native apps for both iOS and Android simultaneously. This allows developers to save time on creating cross-platform apps and provide a consistent experience across platforms. The first beta version launched ten weeks ago and is already used by large apps such as Groupon and Alibaba.

With the latest version of the beta, Google offers a focus on three key areas: fundamentals, ecosystem and tooling. This includes new support, flexibility, widgets and more, as the mobile app SDK comes closer to its completion. We can expect Flutter to be a major part of I/O, as developers are eager to see the new features.

Changes to Google Assistant

In the last two years, Google Assistant has helped change the way users search online and in the Google Play Store. Google I/O will be hosting sessions on “An introduction to developing Actions for the Google Assistant,” a meetup for Google Assistant developers and several other Assistant-related events.

While no specific updates or changes to Google Assistant have been announced yet, those with Google Home devices or Android phones with Google Assist should still keep a close eye on the conference. With sessions like “What’s new with the Google Assistant SDK for devices” on the agenda, there will likely be new advancements to watch out for.

Android Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly, but with its growth come security risks. Even lamps and cycling helmets are connected to the Internet of Things these days, but users rarely install firmware updates for them. After all, one rarely thinks to plug a bicycle helmet into their computer.

Android Things is designed to address this concern, by uniting IoT devices and managing their firmware with OTA updates. With the release of Android Things 1.0 this week, I/O attendees can look forward to events such as the Office Hour event “Android Things and IoT,” the after-hours event “Android Things & Nest Sandbox” and a session on “What’s New in Android Things.”

Android P?

Google has been dropping a number of hints regarding the Android P, so attendees anticipate a proper preview of the new Android update. While there is little known about it at this point, a clever Easter egg hunt from the Google Developers Twitter account lead to the initial announcement for I/O 2018. This was accompanied by a picture of a pineapple upside-down cake. Given the name “Android P” and Google’s love of naming their versions after dessert, there’s a good chance the name of the new version will be revealed at Google I/O.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is still a growing field, and Google has been making its own investments within the industry over the past three years with Google Cardboard and Daydream VR. Google I/O will be holding sessions on AR (Augmented Reality) & VR, including a session on the “Impact of AR and VR on education and beyond,” and attendees are anticipating new VR uses and software from the conference.

With new budget-friendly headsets like the Oculus Go being released, VR is becoming more affordable to the average user. Google must increase its efforts to maintain relevancy in the VR field, and Google I/O is the perfect opportunity to unveil its advancements.

However, most of the AR & VR sessions are focused more on augmented reality. While Virtual Reality is still a hot topic, most of the sessions are focused more on augmented reality. This isn’t surprising, especially with the success and growth of AR games such as “Pokemon GO” and the upcoming “Wizards Unite.”

Conclusion

These are but a few of the potential announcements and subjects that will be covered at Google I/O. There is sure to be many more, including unexpected surprises we can’t even begin to speculate on.

If you can’t make it to the conference, keep an eye on Google Developer’s official YouTube channel and be sure to follow our Twitter account for the latest news as it’s announced. Check back at the end of the week for our Google I/O recap to see all the news that the week has in store.

Facebook Marketing

Facebook Marketing for Mobile Growth

Marketing an app exclusively within the Apple App Store or Google Play Store will severely limit its visibility. A good marketing strategy has to draw users in from a wide range of sources, including both paid ad campaigns and social media. As one of the most frequently used websites and phone apps, it’s no surprise that Facebook ads are used by 93 percent of social media advertisers, and 62 percent of marketers consider it to be their most important platform.

Utilizing Facebook as a marketing platform can help mobile apps grow significantly. By incorporating a Facebook strategy alongside App Store Optimization (ASO) in an existing marketing strategy, a company can drive new users to their app’s download page and stand out from their competitors.

However, there’s more to Facebook marketing than solely running an ad campaign. Engaging with users properly through Pages, sharing relevant content and boosting individual posts are all vital to getting the most mobile growth from the social network.

Facebook Pages

In addition to regular social media advertisements, marketers need a Facebook page to direct users to, and in fact cannot start an ad campaign without first having a page created. This makes sense, as a well-designed page is vital to reaching customers, whether they’re visiting the page to get a better understanding of the app or “liking” it to show their support.

The Facebook page serves as a secondary landing page for the app. It should feature promotional material from your product page and proper links to the app store(s) it is available at. The page should also include contact information, promotional art, in-app videos and any other information that may be important to the user.

As Facebook’s algorithm makes it nearly impossible for a single post to reach every viewer, high customer engagement can only be achieved with a steady flow of posts. As such, the page should be updated consistently to ensure maximum reach.

Understanding best marketing practices will ensure a page sees the greatest amount of views. The average brand posts eight times per day on Facebook to achieve the greatest outreach. Studies have also shown that the best times to post are from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, with Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays seeing the best results.

User Engagement

Once users are coming to and following the page, maintaining engagement with them is necessary. In fact, Facebook and other social media platforms are key to customer support and service.

In 2017, over 2/3 of consumers turned to social media to resolve their customer service needs. Facebook, Twitter and other social networks continue to grow as a user-preferred method for reaching a company or business.

Maintaining user engagement starts with companies responding to Facebook messages and posts. Pages on Facebook are given ratings as to how fast they respond and the percentage of messages they reply to or leave unanswered. Users will see if they can expect to get answers to their queries or not, so a drop in percentage will lower user confidence.

However, user engagement means more than just replying to messages. Any posts made on social networks will receive interactions from users. While it isn’t necessary to respond to every one, it is still important to determine which require action and respond accordingly. Even occasionally giving a “Like” reaction to a comment can let users know they’re being heard, thus improving the customer relationship.

Sharing the Love

The goal of using Facebook Pages for marketing is to get users and followers sharing posts on the page’s behalf. When users are encouraged to share posts, they’ll reach significantly larger audiences, as well as feel more connected to the company.

Getting users to share a page sounds easy in theory, but it can be tricky in practice. Sharing amusing images may seem like an easy way to get views, but those do not tell potential users about the app or encourage them to follow the page. Instead, share posts with useful information that benefits a user. If a user feels the post has helped them, the odds they will share or like the page increases.

Some mobile games, for instance, run a post campaign where all users will benefit in-game if the posts get enough shares or likes. As everyone gains from its success, both new and old followers will be encouraged to share and contribute.

Thanks to any shares generated from the post series, the mobile game can reach potential users that were previously unaware of it. By having users share posts that highlight the mobile game’s features and gameplay, these new users are encouraged to download the app and follow the page themselves. When the page does a similar campaign again, the cycle repeats itself – the new users will like and share the posts, reaching new audiences, and so on.

However, contests where those who share a post only have a chance of winning could potentially violate the Facebook’s terms of service, so it’s important to be careful. Users are also less likely to share those posts if there’s no guarantee of winning anything, which is why posts where everyone benefits tend to perform better.

Sponsored Posts and Ads

While Facebook is a valuable organic source of new traffic, paid advertisements and sponsored posts still serve an important purpose. Utilizing paid ads and sponsored posts will help reach a wider audience, thus drawing new users to the page and the app.

Facebook tends to limit the reach of regular posts, which means a single one will never be seen everyone who follows the page. They will, however, extend the reach for a fee. Best practices recommend using this to “boost” only important posts to reach the widest audience.

Regardless of the post’s purpose, photos and videos are essential for catching users’ eyes. Strong visuals encourage users to click on the app, and without them, most posts will be ignored, no matter how many feeds they reach. These visual assets are so important that research has shown that images account for 75-90 percent of a Facebook ad’s performance.

The text used in an ad or boosted post should call out the app’s value, but also be brief. The most effective length for an ad’s title is four words, and the description should not be more than 15.

Ad Wordcount
Graph via Sproutsocial.com

Facebook Marketing in a Nutshell

Facebook advertising is a key tool for mobile marketing. In 2016 alone, 79 percent of American Internet users had a Facebook account and the social network has grown steadily since then, making it a valuable tool for reaching large and relevant audiences.

Customer engagement is the key, whether through responding to user messages or encouraging them to share posts with their friends. A well-managed page can bring in and retain multitudes of users while reaching a wider audience. However, a poorly-run page or one that doesn’t properly engage with users will prove fruitless.

 

Google Play Store Changes

Another Google Play Store Overhaul

Google has launched yet another set of updates for its Play Store with changes that could effect how apps are found and viewed. Developers are working on adjusting their ASO strategy accordingly based off how the updates will impact downloads.

A quick note. Some of these changes seem to be live across all devices, while others, specifically the featured image change, is still rolling out. Of the 5 Android devices we tried, only 1 had the change.

Here’s a full list of updates:

A Change in Creatives

Until now, there was a feature graphic prominently placed at the top of each Google Play Store product page. Following the new update, however, the feature graphic has been removed. Instead, there is only the app’s icon, name, bubbles featuring category information and the install button.

Without the feature graphic, developers have lost a great way to grab users’ attention when they click on the page. The new layout brings the rest of the creatives higher up on the page, so it’s more important than ever to have strong screenshots and videos that draw in users and highlight the app’s core features.

 

Google Play Featured Image

 

However, Google has also lifted restrictions on the screenshots. No matter the kind of image – landscape or portrait of any width or height – it can be added to the Google Play Store product page and will be displayed appropriately.

With this change, app developers now have more flexibility and can fit four portrait images on a single screen (depending on the device screen size), make one large landscape screenshot that monopolizes the view or split the difference and fit a few moderately-sized images together.

It’s important to remember that, no matter what combination of creatives you use, the screenshots and video need to tell the users all they should to know about the app, grab their attention and showcase the core features. Screenshots should never be an afterthought, but now their value has increased significantly, pushing the importance of ASO best practices.

Top Features

We have seen an expansion of rankings tied to individual features across more apps in the Play Store. Apps that boast features such as “great deals” or “HD graphics” will be given scores for each feature, as determined by relevance.

 

Google Play App Features

 

Developers that market their app’s core features well will see high scores in these areas, helping to draw in new users that are looking for something specific. However, having a poor score will do the opposite and drive users away. A solid set of features that work well is invaluable, proving the importance of monitoring the user experience via Reputation Management to ensure any and all issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.

Developer Pages

While the apps’ pages are seeing a redesign, developers now have their own pages to serve as a one-stop-shop for users to see other apps they’ve created.  The developer page also allows users to learn more about them with a bio, screenshots and featured image.

Despite Google removing the feature images on product pages, it appears that the developer pages have a feature image to catch the users’ eyes and get them interested in not just one app, but all apps the developer has to offer.

 

Google Play Developer Page

 

This page represents an entire company or developer, rather than an individual app. This is where the developers must sell themselves, build trust and establish a relationship between developer and customer to help foster growth.

While some developers have had access to this in the past, it seems to be rolling out to everyone.

Conclusion

Like many of Google’s changes, the new updates came without warning, but there is no cause for alarm. Developers should update their ASO strategy with the changes above in mind and determine if they need to make any additional changes to their screenshots and videos to build a strong product page and developer page. Go into this update with a positive mindset and focus on the potential new ways users will find and download an app.

Social Media Ads

How to Leverage Social Media Ads to Market Mobile Apps

Who among us hasn’t clicked on an ad for an app while scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Very few social media users can honestly say they haven’t, which is why more and more Advertisers are turning to it to capture the attention of potential users.

 

Instagram Ad Claritymoney

 

It’s not just the social experience that draws them in, but also the fact that social media ads are very effective. Almost half of the U.S. population who have spent time on a social networking site reported buying something after seeing an ad.

How Social Media Ads Can Benefit Developers

Social media marketing is especially advantageous for Advertisers for several reasons.

  • Social media advertising is a cost-effective alternative to TV, radio or newspaper ads, which is why they are an effective resource for indie developers and big brand names alike.
  • Social media ads have the versatility to be wherever the consumer is, meaning your advertising space is being put to better use.
  • When a consumer is directly targeted in alignment with their interests or through a social media influencer they trust, they are more likely to convert.

Social Media Advertising Do’s and Don’ts

For those who are new to social media advertising, fret not. Here are some of our tried-and-true social media marketing Do’s and Don’ts that will help to increase visibility with high-quality users and start driving those downloads.

Social Influencers

Do: Reach out to social influencers who are part of your target market. They are a great way to promote an app without making users feel like they are being directly advertised to.

The most successful platforms for social influencers are Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat because they typically see much higher engagement rates than Facebook and Twitter. In fact, about 60% of Instagram users report that they discover new products on their feed. This is because these influencers build a sense of trust with their users based on shared interests, goals and lifestyle habits.

Don’t: Reach out to social influencers without first doing your research. Ensure that they have a decent engagement rate with their followers, so the ad is reaching an optimal amount of people. Otherwise, those marketing dollars might not be used to their full potential.

Creatives

Do: Consider how many ads a person sees in one day.

When a potential user is scrolling through their feed, an ad needs to stand out enough to capture their attention and convince them to consider it. Many developers are already well acquainted with this strategy when adhering to screenshot best practices for use in the app stores, but the same can be applied to social media ads.

Overall, researchers have found that ads receive a higher rate of engagement when they are bright, high-resolution images featuring people. For example, the Wish App follows all these tactics by featuring models wearing their clothes in aesthetically pleasing pictures.

 

Wish App

 

Don’t: Forget the consumer.

While it is important to stay on-brand with social media ads, the consumer should always be your first priority. Research what types of images perform best with your users on each platform.

For example, advertisements on Facebook should not contain more than 20% text on the ad image to adhere to Facebook guidelines. That way, your ad won’t be rejected, and will also reach a wider audience.

Callout Texts

Do: Use attention-grabbing callout text to reel in consumers for the final click.

Consider Headspace’s call-to-action below. Their ad states that the meditations will be able to pacify any mood. Then the caption below the image directly speaks to the user to say that, while they don’t know what mood the user is in, headspace will bring peace to any situation.

 

app ad on instagram

 

Don’t: Use overcomplicated or lengthy callout text.

Whether it’s a pricing promotion or informational ad, do not overwhelm the users with too much information. Callout text should still leave a little room for mystery to persuade the user to click on the ad to find out more.

Key Takeaways

Curating the perfect advertisement is a delicate balance of placement, creatives and persuasion. While it may take some trial and error, find which social feeds are the best fit for your audience. Then, do some research to pick the best images and text that they respond to. Once you’ve mastered the art of social media ads and App Store Optimization, you’re sure to see the increase downloads and visibility that your app has been dreaming of.

The Power of Users

The Power of Users: Can User Feedback Force Developers to Make Changes?

Users are the undeniable backbone of any product’s success. While it is best to develop a commodity that is well-received by users, it is just as crucial to keep users engaged and happy so they are actively using that product. To stay ahead of this, developers and companies maintain consistent Reputation Management strategies using user feedback to ensure that the needs of their customers are heard and to keep them coming back.

But what happens if there’s an update or new product that isn’t well-received? If the users are unhappy and the developers stand their ground, can a company, product or app still find success? Let’s look at the power users have on apps, developers and companies and whether they were able to force change.

Updates Gone Wrong

Back in February 2018, Snapchat updated their app and immediately received backlash due to a completely redesigned interface. The users spoke and they weren’t happy, which resulted in Snapchat receiving nearly 83% negative reviews in the App Store.

The update surprised users despite the fact that the company announced they were going to be making major design changes in November 2017. Users were outraged to the point that a petition was signed by 1.2 million people, calling Snapchat to rescind their design changes. Despite the overwhelming disapproval, the company stood firm on its decision. They stated that while they understood users’ frustrations, they asked them to give the update a chance.

Snapchat’s stock took a hit following the update, despite opening at 40% within the first few weeks of 2018. After the update, it was reported that their stock was down by 7%. The messaging app’s value also recently lost $800 million after a celebrity urged fans to delete the app. It appears that Snapchat’s update also affected celebrities, causing them to uninstall the app and move over to competitors.

 

how did snapchat screw up?

 

This isn’t the first time that an app has released an update that upset their audience. In recent times, users have complained that Facebook’s changes to its algorithm consistently show outdated content. In response, Facebook explained that the algorithm alteration is an effort to prioritize “meaningful interactions” with user’s friends and families.

While users may be happy that they’ll see more up-to-date content, advertisers were concerned that they would see a loss of revenue and profit. Similar to Snapchat, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stood firm on the decision and asked everyone to give the updated feed a chance before snubbing the idea.

Even though some publishers were worried that Facebook’s new algorithm would hurt their chances of consumers/users seeing their ads, a handful of marketing experts felt that this change could be seen as an opportunity to start leveraging new marketing strategies. As some examples, these experts encouraged marketers, developers and companies to incorporate the following:

  • Encouraging fans via Facebook
  • Start incorporating Facebook Live into their strategy
  • Build out Facebook groups
  • Focus less on the number of posts and more on the content
  • Stop encouraging clickbait

Despite these being examples of companies standing firm, there have been instances where tech companies have listened to their users and enacted change.

Companies that Listened to User Feedback

While many companies have made updates and stood by their decisions, some put their customer service where their mouths were and listened to user feedback. Companies like Unicode Consortium, who creates emojis and provides sample images to Apple, Google and more, received terrible backlash after announcing a lobster emoji with only six legs, rather than eight.

The announcement was ridiculed by users on the internet, and even a Maine senator was vocal about the error. The company responded to the egregious error and stated that they would be making a fix and giving the lobster its correct number of legs.

 

How Many Legs Does a Lobster Have
Image credit Grub Street

 

In a similar scenario, Samsung listened to their users and updated their emoji library with the release of Android Oreo (Samsung Experience 9.0). Samsung updated the emojis to no longer be tilted and adjusted their facial expressions to look similar to those used by other operating systems.

These two companies made adjustments to their releases according to user feedback. Despite making changes, some users were still unhappy, including those that noted the posted emojis would look different for iOS and Android users. While you can’t please everyone, these companies still tried their best and listened to what their users wanted.

Listen to Feedback

Developers and companies need to understand that their users define how successful their products and apps are. It’s for that very reason that they should listen to what users have to say to continue making lucrative products and apps.

By attempting to understand the user perspective, developers and companies can implement changes that will benefit their users and keep them coming back for years to come.