Tag Archives: ASO

Want to know what mobile trends 2017 holds in store?

Mobile Trends 2017 – What will Hit in Q1?

The New Year is here, and with it comes a whole new batch of trends to stay on top of.

With regards to mobile trends 2017 has the potential to be a unique year. Last fall Apple shook up the world of mobile in a major way by shortening their Title field and introducing Search Ads. This quarter, expect app developers to refine their technique when it comes to mastering the new App Store ecosystem.

Look out for these trends in Q1 2017:

Search Ads Get Refined 

As the year moves on, more and more app developers will begin to discover what performs best for Search Ads. Look for major developers to hit Search Ads even harder in an attempt to expand their search footprint into any relevant keywords.

Similarly, as more developers begin to target wider swaths of Search Ads, they will also refine how to best convert users from Search Ads.

As the New Year begins, make it a priority to learn the best practices for landing and converting from Search Ads.

Services Continue to Grow 

App Store Services picked up major traction in 2016. Expect that trend to continue as 2017 winds on.

Service subscriptions have traditionally been confined to service-based apps like Netflix and Spotify. However, games like Boom Beach have also experimented with subscription plans, showing that recurring payments can be molded to work in a number of formats.

Services have been popular for Apple, too. Service revenue grew by 24% in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. Earlier, Apple had announced they would be offering successful Service subscriptions a more favorable revenue split of 85-15, as opposed to the usual 70-30. In order to qualify for the new split, developers would simply need to maintain a user’s subscription for one year consistently.

Superbowl LI Drives Sports Searches

Sports apps will have a field day with February’s Superbowl LI. News apps, fantasy apps and football games stand to benefit the most directly. If your app is relevant for “football”-related terms, update your metadata and creative to reflect this.

Cards, Dates and Flowers Go In Demand 

The first major holiday of 2017, Valentine’s Day will be accompanied by a surge in searches for dating, events, shopping and gift apps.

Whether your app offers gifts for couples, flowers for the parents or in-person meetup opportunities for everyone else, you can capitalize on Valentine’s Day by including relevant keywords and expanding upon them in your description and creative.

Following Valentine’s Day, some apps may want to look ahead to Easter. While the holiday falls in early Q2, apps that offer relevant services (flowers, gift baskets, candy, etc.) will want to pivot towards Easter sooner than that. Change out your Valentine’s Day marketing language and keywords for Easter by early Spring.

While gift apps will have a field day, games can get in on the holiday fun too. The later winter to early spring season is often a popular time for game developers to run special events, like last year’s Angry Birds Epic mini-campaign. This event introduced a miniaturized version of a standard Angry Birds Epic campaign for Valentine’s Day, featuring new levels, special items and more.

If your app can be positioned as relevant for winter and spring holidays, be sure to have your metadata and creative updated in advance so that you have already begun indexing by the holiday.

Super Mario Run launched for the App Store on December 15.

Super Mario Run ASO Report Card

Like Pokémon GO before it, Super Mario Run hit the App Store hard when it launched on December 15th and quickly rose to number one on the Top Grossing charts. The game’s whirlwind success is certainly worth celebrating, and shows the enduring strength of Nintendo’s key properties. But in a market dominated by King and Supercell, will Nintendo have the savvy to keep Mario on top?

That is the question we aim to answer with Super Mario Run’s first ASO report card. Nintendo is still new to the mobile market, after all, and they are facing off against companies that have had years of practice creating lasting brands in the App Store. Apple conferences and press tours have given Super Mario Run a fantastic start, but Nintendo also needs to consider the long tail profits of the app.

With that in mind, it’s important to first examine the history of Nintendo products in the App Store. While Mario might be the most prolific of Nintendo’s characters to enter the App Store, he isn’t the first. Nintendo launched Miitomo in North America on March 31, and the app peaked at number one on the App Store’s Top Free Downloads chart. The app never got so high on the Top Grossing chart, topping out at just under 100 before falling back off. Today, the app does not place on either of the two charts.

Perhaps a more immediate point of comparison, though, would be Pokémon GO. While not technically developed by Nintendo, the Pokémon brand is partially owned by the gaming giant, and Pikachu is considered one of Nintendo’s most recognizable mascots. The game also launched to a similar level of success as Super Mario Run, placing number one on both the Top Free Downloads and Top Grossing charts. It eventually went on to become the fastest mobile game to gross $600 million.

But again, the initial success of the app was not necessarily indicative of long-term legs. Pokémon GO currently sits at number six on the Top Grossing charts (certainly not a bad position, but still a steep drop from number one) and number 50 on the Top Free Downloads chart. Keep in mind this is just after the launch of new collectable Pokémon, a time when the user base should be expanding.

The quick success and sharp decline of Miitomo and Pokémon GO tell a story of big brands drawing mainstream attention, but a lack of long-term marketing coordination to keep those brands at the top. As we pointed out in a similar piece about Pokémon GO, these trends have a lot to do with the app’s keyword rankings.

Pokémon, for example, failed to pick up rankings for feature-related keywords like “RPG, collect, catch, raise”, etc. It even missed out on rankings for famous Pokémon like Mewtwo and Charmander. Its rankings for more generic terms like “Pokémon game” and “mobile games” were strong, but ultimately it failed to reach out to a wider audience by neglecting feature-based keywords that users might be searching for.

At this early stage, Super Mario Run looks to be following this trend closely. Take a look at a sample of its relatively limited rankings below.

Super Mario Run ASO rankings

Currently, the majority of Super Mario Run’s rankings revolve around the Mario franchise itself – See “Mario Games” and “Mario Bros” above. A few come from the company itself, like “Nintendo”. The app also ranks well for its major characters – “Mario” and “Luigi” are number one, and “Peach” is number 33.

But when it comes to genre or feature terms, there are many highly-searched areas that Super Mario Run leaves on the table. The app is unranked for very popular, relevant terms like:

  • Platformer
  • Runner
  • Running Game
  • Kingdom
  • Build
  • Collect
  • Multiplayer

The absence of rankings for Running-related terms is especially surprising given the “Run” in the game’s name. The app also fails to capitalize on its platforming gameplay, its asynchronous multiplayer mode, or its kingdom-building feature in its keyword bank. These are all popular search terms that would serve to expand the app’s search rankings and notify users of important features.

If Super Mario Run continues with its current rankings, it’s not hard to see the app following a similar path as Pokémon GO or Miitomo. All three launched at a high point, but have limited rankings that fail to capitalize on all the app’s features. Super Mario Run in particular may drop farther on the Top Grossing charts than Pokémon because of its in-app purchase structure – Mario only has a one-time in-app purchase of $9.99 to unlock the full game.

Ultimately, Super Mario Run fails to capitalize on its features and genre. A strong optimization could expand the app’s keywords to more relevant areas, ensuring that it maintains a high place on the charts and expands to an even wider audience.

Search Ads – How Paid Search Will Impact iOS Developers

This Fall Apple is preparing to initiate the biggest shift for App Store search yet in the form of Search Ads, sponsored app placements that will appear at the top of certain searches within the App Store.

Apple’s developer page bills Search Ads as “an efficient and easy way for you to promote your app within the U.S. App Store search results, helping people discover or reengage with your app at the very moment they are searching for apps like yours”. Sounds helpful, but to developers who make their living from apps, any change in the App Store can seem worrying. How will Search Ads impact the store’s ecosystem? Nobody knows for sure, but we can make a few points with confidence that show Search Ads may be the next great thing for developers.

To start, let’s talk about just what a Search Ad will look like in the App Store. When a user types in a targeted search term (“photo filters” is the example used by Apple), if a developer has bought an ad and Apple deems the app relevant for that term, it will appear at the top of the search results above the first organic search result. That means the ad will now be the first app users see. However, top ranking apps don’t have to worry about being pushed off of the front page, because Apple has designed the search ad to be smaller than a traditional search result. This means that both the ad and the top organically-ranking app will be visible to searchers right away.

A Search Ad also differs from a traditional listing in the number of screenshots shown. There are many different display options when your search ad goes live. Portrait ads generally seem to display three screens, at a smaller size than a standard App Store search result. Screenshots can also be displayed in landscape, or even not at all. Potentially, though, apps advertising through Search Ads will have one more chance at converting a user than traditional app listings.

A small blue “Ad” notification will appear next to the developer name, indicating to users that this is not a standard organic search result. Pertinent information such as an “Editor’s Choice” banner can also be displayed, should your app have received the honor from Apple in the past.

Aside from these differences, it’s business as usual for Search Ads being displayed in the App Store. The app’s title, visual elements and developer are all displayed front and center. The “Get” button is the same as well, meaning that users will be able to download advertised apps with one tap.

According to Apple, “various targeting features will enable deeper discovery of apps, including lesser known or niche apps”, and “by default a user won’t see ads for apps they already have downloaded”. Similarly, a Search Ad for your app will be shown when Apple deems your product to be relevant for a user’s search, so you won’t have to worry about your app only appearing for users who type in one specific phrase.

Continuing on that theme, Apple will by default automate much of the process of buying the ad for you, should you choose. When you buy a Search Ad, Apple will automatically match your app to relevant user searches in the U.S. store. You don’t have to type in any terms off the top of your head or search up the most popular terms, by default at least. If you do want that granular level of control, Apple will allow you to target specific keywords and audiences, and provide APIs for campaign creation, management and reporting.

Once your ad is live, payment will function similarly to a Google Adwords campaign. Purchasing an ad plays out like an auction, and you only pay when a user actually taps on your ad. There’s no minimum amount to spend and no contracts, so it seems as if Apple is keeping things flexible, for now at least. This also means that anyone who has spent time with Google Adwords should be able to pick up Search Ads relatively quickly.

Apple’s insights suite offers buyers a chance to track the impact that their Search Ad is making on their product. The Attribution API breaks down results by each keyword bid upon, and supposedly emphasizes privacy for both you and the user as information lookup occurs exclusively on the user’s device.

All of that sounds great, but how will Apple’s Search Ads actually play out when millions of apps potentially have access to them? To find out, we’ll turn to Google’s Search Ads as example. Google released Search Ads for the Google Play storefront a year ago, and were met with a similar mixture of excitement and trepidation from developers.

Even during the beta period, though, Search Ads were found to be a great way of converting high-quality users. Nordeus CEO Tomislav Mihajlovic, for example, told TechCrunch that his company saw “significantly more app installs from Search with the addition of Google Play inventory for [their] game Top Eleven”. Other developers, like Uber competitor Honk, claimed that Search Ads through Google cost as little as one-third the price of a Facebook ad campaign.

History shows, then, that Apple’s Search Ads could very well be a boon to developers in the App Store.

The Apple Search Ads beta is available now for curious developers out there.

500px Photo ID: 28795857 - The seats of the Olympic Stadion in Munich.

ASO Trends for Fall 2016

Another season, another batch of brand-new App Store trends. This Fall you’ll find everything from presidents to Pikachu ruling the mobile roost.

Look for these topics to dominate the mobile conversation in Fall 2016.

2016 Summer Olympic Games

One of this Fall’s biggest search trends has already kicked off in grand fashion. The Summer Olympic Games began on August 5th with a widely-publicized opening celebration, but the games themselves had been a hot topic for months due to an unprecedented combination of controversy and hype.

The lead-up has made the 2016 Rio Olympics one of the most buzzed-about ever, but now that the games themselves have begun the sports and the stars are taking the limelight. Terms like “Olympic games 2016”, “Olympic games” and “Olympics” have naturally seen massive surges in App Store search volume. So have the sports (“tennis”, “archery games” or “gymnastics games”) and the stars (“Michael Phelps” or “Usain Bolt”).

Expect this trend to carry through early Fall as hype from the ultimate results of the Olympic Games, as well as any scandals or news after the fact, keeps the topic in public consciousness for a few months.

Football Season

Speaking of sports, if there’s one event every search industry can count on it’s the kickoff of football season. Starting in early September, popularity for football-related search terms in the App Store will skyrocket yet again. The sport should remain a popular topic throughout the Fall, as excited fans initially rush to cheer their favorite teams on in the beginning, and stay to see who makes the Playoffs and eventually the Super Bowl in Houston, Texas.

The immediate connotation with football apps is probably games like Madden for most fans, but don’t forget that football is a massive industry that expands to news sites, data tracking services and fantasy leagues.

Pokémon Go & Augmented Reality Gaming

Pokémon Go has already taken the world by storm and introduced tens of millions of rabid fans to the new world of augmented reality gaming. But what happens when players start peeling off and searching for new, similar experiences?

“Augmented reality” and “augmented reality games” have already become popular search terms in Pokemon’s wake, but don’t expect it to stop there. With Pokémon making over $1 million per day, fans (and developers) have taken notice.

Just as many competitors will soon be coming to the augmented reality field, Pokémon Go will be trying to wrangle as many players as possible away from those competitors and back into their corner. Expect some major updates throughout the end of the year which will keep the title trending in App Store search.

United States Presidential Election

The United States’ Presidential Election is, again, a topic which has been building in popularity and which will reach its peak this November. Whether it’s a news aggregator or a political game, politics has never been a bigger search topic in the App Store. Look for terms related to the election, the political process and the candidates themselves to hit their peak late this Fall.

And there you have it – Four of the biggest upcoming trends in the App Store this Fall. Can your app reasonably capitalize on one or more of the above? If so, you might just be caught up in the wave of trending organic search.

PokeGo

Pokémon Go – Why the Hit App Needs ASO

Pokémon Go – It seems like all anyone can talk about lately. And why not? It became the top grossing app in the US within 13 hours, raising Nintendo’s market value by $9 billion in five days. 21 million users play the game daily. Between four and five million more download it each day. And with well over $1 million daily setting the app above competitors like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, it seems like The Pokémon Company and Niantic are on top of the world.

It might come as a shock, then, that Pokémon Go is in desperate need of ASO.

Beneath the sheen of the Pokémon brand, surprisingly little has been done to market Pokémon Go to mobile users. And while brand recognition and online chatter have contributed significantly to make the app number one on the charts, those factors can only take a game so far. As of now, when the social media masses move on to the next big craze, Pokémon Go won’t have a leg to stand on.

Let’s start with the app’s most crippling weakness – its keyword rankings. As expected, Pokémon Go ranks for multiple Pokémon-related terms, such as “pokémon games free” and “pokémon RPG”.

However, many of these rankings fall well below what you might expect. For instance, as of this writing the app is only rank 8 for “pokémon games free” and a whopping rank 600 for “pokémon RPG”, a shocking figure given that Pokémon Go is, for all intents and purposes, the biggest Pokémon role-playing game of all time.

The rankings only get worse from there. A series of surprising oversights means that users who may connect with Pokémon Go will likely never find it through search. For example, the app does not rank at all for Nintendo, a brand closely associated with the Pokémon legacy. Similarly, the app doesn’t register for its world-famous mascot, Pikachu. Nor does it rank for other famous creatures like Mew, Mewtwo, Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur.

Even generic phrases are missing from Pokémon Go’s keyword rankings. Core words and phrases that are extremely relevant and could help the app grow by leaps and bounds are outright missing, such as:

  • Collect
  • Catch
  • Raise
  • Breed
  • Trade
  • Dragon/s

The list goes on and on. Just take a look at the snippet of Pokémon Go’s ranking report below.

Datacube Pokemon Go Rankings 5

As you can see, the app ranks well for some generic terms like “mobile games”, but lacks rankings for crucial relevant terms that could help more users find the app organically. Just look at how mixed the app’s ratings for Pokémon-related terms are, with most Pokémon rankings falling in the high hundreds or worse.

It’s not just the app’s metadata that’s suffering, either; Pokémon Go’s store page is surprisingly lacking, too.

For starters, the app is completely lacking a preview video. Thousands of users have taken to the Reviews section to complain about a lack of clarity in Pokémon’s features, and the absence of a preview video only compounds confusion around the game’s feature set.

Without a preview video, the task of convincing a user falls to the app’s screenshots. The first screenshot is simply a digital Charmander standing against a barren street corner. There are no feature callouts, no explanatory text to guide users, just a barren and boring image.

The same can be said for each of the following screenshots. Each image is simply a capture from the game, with little to nothing to offer context to the user about what they are seeing. There’s even a low battery shown atop several of the screenshots, highlighting a common complaint from users that the app drains battery too quickly. Next to the battery percentage a charging symbol can be seen, giving the impression that the developers were rushed in creating the screenshots and didn’t have the time to take captures at full battery or edit the images before they were uploaded.

With the massive success of Pokémon Go, it can be easy to overlook just how many ASO best practices the app completely ignores. While the brand’s worldwide recognition has already been enough to launch the app to massive success, once the fires die down on social media, Niantic and The Pokémon Company will need to make sweeping changes to their App Store presence in order to keep their spot at the top.