Tag Archives: Apple

iTunes Affiliate Program

Apple Ends iTunes Affiliate Program for Apps

Apple’s iTunes Affiliate program, which  has allowed websites to earn commissions by linking to apps, is now ending.

As of October 1, Apple will drop apps and in-app purchases from the iTunes Affiliate Program, although content such as music and books will remain. With this change, app developers will lose a source of impressions and traffic. As such, a solid App Store Optimization strategy and Search Ads campaigns will be even more important.

Until now, the program provided Apple’s App Store and iTunes additional avenues to reach users, while enabling affiliates to add value to their sites and apps. It has helped third-party websites and apps earn money via promotions for other apps, games and purchases. Though the commissions were small (2.5 percent as of last year, itself a decrease from the original 7 percent), those that could drive enough purchases were benefitting greatly from them. With the program changing, affiliates are scrambling to prepare for the loss that this will bring.

Why the Change?

Apple explained its reason for changing the program as a result of the App Store providing a better means of app discovery. The email announcement it sent to affiliates states:

“Thank you for participating in the affiliate program for apps. With the launch of the new App Store on both iOS and macOS and their increased methods of app discovery, we will be removing apps from the affiliate program. Starting on October 1st, 2018, commissions for iOS and Mac apps and in-app content will be removed from the program. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) remain in the affiliate program.”

While non-app content will remain, apps and in-app content were a major driver for most affiliates. Apple’s mobile gaming revenue alone brought in $16.3 billion in the first half of 2018, so affiliates earning even a tiny fraction of that were still benefiting greatly. It seems that Apple does not agree, though, as it wouldn’t remove a source of new users and sales if it was proving profitable.

How Are Affiliates Reacting?

The overall reaction has not been positive. TouchArcade writer Eli Hodapp states:

“Through thick and thin, and every curveball the industry threw at us, we always had App Store affiliate revenue- Which makes a lot of sense as we drive a ton of purchases for Apple. I don’t know how the takeaway from this move can be seen as anything other than Apple extending a massive middle finger to sites like TouchArcade, AppShopper, and many others who have spent the last decade evangelizing the App Store and iOS gaming- Particularly on the same day they announced record breaking earnings of $53.3 billion and a net quarterly profit of $11.5 billion.”

On Twitter, users and affiliates are equally upset.

However, it is unlikely that the negative reaction will change Apple’s stance. With the release of iOS11 and the revamped App Store, Apple has been diminishing the Browse traffic presence of elements like “New Apps” and “Top Apps” as its main focus – shifting instead to curated content like stories on the “Today Tab” and “New Apps We Love.”

Along with the removal of Apps from the iTunes Desktop Application and continuing to expand Search Ads to more territories, this focus on internal content curation and severance with external Affiliates further drives discovery to be within the App Store mobile application itself. Apple already cites that 65% of App Store downloads come from organic search on the platform, and cutting out affiliate kickbacks to external channels may drive that percentage even higher.

This change comes at a big expense to affiliates that have survived off the income from the Affiliate Program. Books, music and shows may still provide some income, but getting cut out of the app market will undoubtedly have severe consequences for them.

The October 1st change will have a big impact on App developers as well. Losing a previously reliable source of impressions – and noting the longer-term trend of Apple herding discoverability drivers within its own platform – makes a strong ASO foundation along with tactful Search Ads campaigns even more essential to visibility.

Search Ads Targeting Competitors

Search Ads: Pros and Cons of Targeting Competitor Brands

Apple Search Ads has proven to be a successful way to reach new potential users on the Apple App Store. It boasts a conversion rate of around 50 percent and a cost per acquisition of under $1.50, making it an efficient and cost-effective advertising tool. Apple continues to roll out new updates and expansions, including new territories and creative sets, so Search Ads will continue to expand.

Search Ads is part of a strong App Store Optimization strategy. By targeting relevant keywords, it can help ensure reaching a wide and interested audience. Like with keywords, Search Ads can even be used to target specific brands.

Is it a good idea to target a competitor’s brand when you’re bidding on Search Ads? There are benefits and downsides to such a strategy, as well as missteps you’ll want to avoid.

Pros

Targeting a competing brand can be beneficial for app developers looking to move in on established markets. By using a competing brand as a keyword for Search Ads, developers can piggyback off the traffic that an established and popular app draws. Users searching for that competitor by name will also see the ad for your app, building recognition and appearing as a viable alternative.

Additionally, targeting a direct competitor ensures your app will reach a relevant audience. Users searching for an app will typically be intending to download it, so if they need the features it offers, appearing as a viable alternative can draw in new users.

Targeting specific brand names also drives much more traffic than targeting terms or keywords. Out of the top 25 keywords people search for in the App Store, the vast majority of them are brand names. In the top 10 every single one is a brand. While non-branded keywords begin to grow in usage the wider the range grows, even the top 100 keywords are composed primarily of branded terms. As such, targeting a brand will typically mean targeting a more popular keyword than another term.

Essentially, targeting a top-ranking competitor in Search Ads means targeting the top spot for the keyword.

Cons

While targeting brands through Search Ads may seem like the best choice, there are some potential drawbacks. Because brand names tend to be high-volume keywords, there will be plenty of other apps competing to target it. In this vast app ecosystem, there are countless competitors for any high-volume term – competing for the highest value spot may prove futile.

Similarly, high competition will lead to higher bids for the Search Ads spots. This can lead to a higher cost per install (CPA), cutting into profits and wasting advertising dollars.

When targeting a competing app, it’s essential to also organically index for the keyword and related phrases. Search Ads are designed to appear on relevant searches, so if your app is not appropriately relevant to the competitor, it will do you no good.

Be Careful

Is there a way to get the pros while avoiding the cons? It can be done, but only with careful research and consideration.

Is the app you’re targeting relevant to your own? If they’re not relevant enough, it will not index properly or reach a relevant audience.

Is the competitor brand a keyword people are searching for? While the top keywords are all brands, not all brands are top keywords. If there is a relevant, non-brand term that people are searching for over the competitor’s name, your marketing dollars would be better spent targeting that term. Make sure it has search volume in both the App Store and Search Ads.

Be sure not to start off spending too much at once. Check your impressions and CPT to determine if you’re getting the most out of your marketing expenses; adjust as needed until you find the right balance.

Targeting a competitor with Search Ads could result in reaching an interested and relevant audience or in competing with too many other apps to be viable. It’s important to know your audience and your competition, then you can launch an optimal Search Ads campaign.

Apple VS Google Revenue

Apple App Store vs Google Play: Whose Revenue is Higher?

We’re over half-way through 2018 and revenues are on the rise for the app economy. Between the two app stores, though, which one is seeing higher profits? More importantly, why?

In the first half of the year, Apple’s App Store brought in nearly double the revenue of the Google Play Store, in spite of seeing fewer downloads overall. However, this is not bad news for Google Play by any extent (its own profits remain at a comfortable $11.8 billion), and there are several factors behind this gap.

First and foremost, Android users can get apps from more than just the Google Play Store. While it is the most common storefront, the Samsung Store or Amazon Appstore also sell apps for Android devices, whereas iOS devices can only get their apps off of the Apple App Store.

This discrepancy is particularly noteworthy in certain overseas markets. For instance, there are multiple stores selling Android apps, including Myapp, Huawei App Market and Xiaomi App Store. While Android users there outnumber iOS users significantly, this is not reflected in the Google Play Store’s sales numbers.

Additionally, we need to look at the growth of each store. The app market continues to grow at a steady rate, although Google Play is seeing slightly more, at a 29% growth compared to Apple’s 26%.

Apple’s lead over Google Play has been consistent. In 2017, Apple’s App Store brought in $38.5 billion, compared to Google Play’s $20.1 billion. The factors driving this division have remained mostly unchanged, although both stores are on track to surpass those earnings by the end of 2018.

App profits are in part being driven by subscription-based services, such as Netflix and Pandora. However, mobile games remain responsible for the largest portion of revenue for both app stores, representing 78% of the total spent across the two.

So, what does this mean for developers? Simply put, it’s a good sign for both stores. Profits are on the rise, and what Google Play lacks compared to Apple’s raw numbers, it makes up for in growth. Consumer spending does tend to be higher among iOS users, so if a developer can only make an app for one store, that may be their best choice.

With that said, there is no need to design an app solely for one store. Both App Stores are successful and growing at a fine rate, so app developers can and should develop apps for both. There are numerous tools for developing apps on both platforms, so developers should try to reach a wider audience by releasing across devices.

When releasing apps on either App Store, it is important to remember best practices for both stores. Each store has different requirements for creatives, different ways of storing keywords and different best practices for descriptions. By using a solid App Store Optimization strategy for both stores, developers can ensure they’re getting as much as they can out of this ever-growing industry.

It’s not a matter of Apple versus Google. Each one is seeing tremendous profits, and although Apple’s may be higher, both are strong indicators that the app economy will only continue to grow.

App Store Connect Regional Filters

App Store Connect Adds a Territory Filter – Here’s What it Means for You

Apple recently launched a new update for App Store Connect, which replaced iTunes Connect earlier this year. This update helps filter ratings by territories and saves filter settings for easier access, which will enable better regional responsiveness and localization.

The App Store Connect update enables a territory filter for Ratings and Reviews, which defaults to “All Territories.” When users apply the filter, it will automatically save their settings, eliminating the need to reapply the filter each time they use it.

The new filter will be useful for app developers looking to localize and address issues in specific territories. Localizing is essential for ASO – keywords, search trends and consumer behavior change from region to region, so being able to identify needs and issues by location will help target each region’s market.

By sorting ratings by region, developers can identify what works and fails where. If an app is performing well in many regions except for one, this update will make it easier to identify what aspects of the app are falling short there.

As the app market continues to go global, app developers must adjust their ASO strategies accordingly. Localizing apps means more than just translating the description and keywords into another language – there are entirely new demographics and consumer habits that must be taken into consideration. This means that each new region requires individual analysis and marketing, which is made easier by filtering reviews by location.

According to our internal data, localizing an app can increase download rates by an average of 130% compared to its performance pre-localization. As such, it’s essential that an international app is not only localized to each region it’s released in, but also provides constant maintenance and updates for every one of them.

On a similar note, being able to filter reviews will be particularly beneficial for reputation management. It’s vital that developers can respond to user queries and issues in a timely manner, so sorting by region can help locate problems that may be causing negative reviews in that location.

This may be a simple matter of changing consumer trends in one region. It could also indicate a bug that only impacts a certain region’s version of the app, due to the language or devices used there. No matter what the cause, being able to identify this negative trend in the areas it impacts will help developers maintain a positive reputation among their users.

It could also serve as a way to pinpoint issues for updates affecting certain territories. If you are noticing negative reviews after an update, the region filter can help you determine if the bug is occurring globally or can be narrowed down to a specific area.

While this may seem like a minor update, the impact it can have on developers is not to be underestimated. Adding a location filter to Ratings and Reviews will be beneficial to both localization and reputation management, two key factors for successful App Store Optimization.

App Store Turns 10

Apple’s App Store Turns 10 – How Has it Changed?

Ten years ago, Apple launched its App Store and reshaped the way we use mobile devices. Suffice to say, the app ecosystem has changed significantly in that time, and the app economy is on track to be worth over 6 billion by 2021. With ten years behind us and an infinite future ahead, it’s time to look back and see how the world of apps has changed.

How it Started

When the Apple App Store first launched, it had a mere 500 apps available. Several apps that do still exist today were just a shadow of what they would one day become, such as Facebook’s minimalist newsfeed. Other apps that are commonplace today, such as Twitter – which didn’t release its app until 2010 – didn’t even exist then. Many of the websites and mobile services that users are so used to having readily available had yet to create apps.

Many of the first apps available were simply experiments of the iPhone’s functionality or an avenue for brief amusement. Take iBeer and Lightsaber Unleashed: these were ranked in the App Store’s Top 10 while only filling the screen with beer or creating lightsaber sound effects. In fact, there was a novelty app called “I Am Rich,” priced at $999.99, which consisted solely of a glowing red button that boasted about how rich the user is.

Lightsabers Unleashed

Suffice to say, the app environment was a very different beast in its early days.

How it Has Grown

Today the App Store hosts over 2 million apps, a significant increase from its original 500. The saying “There’s an app for that” is truer than ever. We use apps to check on our homes during vacation, to order food, to buy movie tickets, connect remotely with friends and colleagues all over the world, and of course, for games.

Previously top-rated apps have shifted dramatically as well. Novelty apps are a thing of the past, and new tools and social networks have risen. Man apps relied on existing services and were simply a convenient mobile extension. Today, entire businesses, games and services are built with the App Store at their core. Few would have predicted that we’d be using apps to ask for rides from strangers, but now we have ride-sharing apps like Uber. Meanwhile, apps like Koi Pond no longer exist as the app economy has moved on.

Notably, Facebook has managed to remain relevant and constantly update throughout all these years, consistently maintaining a spot in the top 10 free apps. That is due in large part to its updating and adapting to the changing app environment. Other apps, including mobile games like Angry Birds, have managed to remain popular and relevant by becoming a brand and releasing new versions and spinoffs while improving.

How Times Have Changed

Technology has advanced since the early days of the App Store, and apps have grown with it. The Internet of Things (IoT) allows us to be more connected to everything, Augmented Reality (AR) has become more accessible and businesses of all sizes are learning the benefits of having an app.

App Store Growth

Furthermore, we’re seeing shifts in the demographics and markets. Mobile games dominate the app market at 17% of all existing apps, followed by business, utilities and entertainment. Free apps, which once consisted of only 25% of the apps on the store, are now widely available, with 89% of existing apps available for free.

Most importantly, apps have become a part of our lives. Users constantly wanting something to make their lives easier drives growth and demand, causing the number of apps readily available to the market to increase. Now, we have popular businesses at our finger tips, which has led to those not utilizing apps to be at a severe disadvantage.

So much has grown and changed in the ten years since the Apple App Store first launched, from the kinds of apps used to the technology behind them. One thing has remained constant throughout all the change, though: an app is only useful if users download it. For that, App Store Optimization is and will always be key to an app’s success. With ASO, you can keep up with the changes and developments in the App Store and app ecosystem to remain relevant no matter how times change.