While spring cleaning is the traditional time to kick out the clutter and start with a fresh focus, mobile developers work on a shifted calendar. Fall is the new spring, blowing in fresh new mobile devices, new system updates, and new app storefronts for users to explore. Apple has been updating the App Store to coincide with the expected general release of iOS 12 this month. Are you prepared to grab the first-mover advantage and increase App Store discoverability over your competition?
Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me …
Yes, advertisers are already spinning in the craziness of “The Season,” with significant monthly holidays occurring through the end of the year. Times are never busier, but working on supporting the new iOS 12 updates to improve App Store discoverability right now has never been more important.
Why? For the simple reason that increasing app store discoverability and engagement now can yield an in-store ranking lead over competitors. This organically supports your paid strategies throughout the all-important November and December timeframes when digital downloads are concentrated thanks to cyber promotions and digital gift cards.
Let’s quickly remember two other truths that affect your bottom line:
Apple’s App Store is still the revenue leader. Even though the quantity of Android devices is driving a lead in total app downloads, Apple customers spend more on apps and bring in more total revenue across all app developers. The Apple brand reflects a focus on the quality of the experience rather than lowest cost, and Apple consumers are willing to pay for that value.
As of May 2018, iOS 11 adoption was over 80% across all iOS devices. Equivalent numbers for the latest Android version measure in the 6-10% range.
This reveals an important psychological aspect of iOS users: they are more willing to trust, download, and try new software in Apple’s ecosystem.
If past patterns prevail this year, a majority of iOS users will actually upgrade to iOS 12 within the first 4-6 weeks of release…and those system updates are accompanied by more app browsing to find apps that highlight the latest features in Apple’s devices and software.
As highlighted at Apple’s developer conference in June, iOS 12 may drive even faster adoption than before: iOS 12 promises to increase system performance and improve battery life even on older devices! This could result in record-breaking adoption rates and a commensurate increase in searches and downloads of updated apps.
For all of these reasons, this is the time to act to improve your App Store discoverability!
Fall Cleaning Recipes
So, now that you’re ready to begin your fall cleaning, let’s run down the steps and get your Apple Search Ads campaigns polished and squeaky clean!
Fall Cleaning 1: Update Your Campaign Locations
Since Search Ads launched in 2016, it has rolled out to more of Apple’s localized app stores, with Search Ads Basic rolling out to all thirteen app stores that support Search Ads, and Search Ads Advanced hitting seven. However, as new stores are added, you need to revisit your campaigns and manually opt-in to the new locations (and most likely update your campaign budget too).
As you perform this location review, also remember to create or update localized versions of your key app assets for the new storefronts and highlight user interface improvements or new app features to maximize the visual impact of your messaging in each store.
Fall Cleaning 2: Upgrade from Search Ads Basic to Search Ads Advanced
While Search Ads Basic offers simple cost-per-install campaigns that automatically use a subset of your store assets, Search Ads Advanced offers a key advantage if you can accept that your ads will run in fewer localized stores. This advantage is due to running multiple ad groups within a single campaign, with each ad group running under distinct sets of keywords and audience targeting parameters. The precision of matching audiences and keywords with campaign objectives provides a level of precision that has been the best practice with SEM practitioners for years.
Now is also the time to review the updated keyword frequencies and audience patterns associated with your app’s organic store traffic and align your ad group definitions to boost or conquest across your competitive space.
Remember though that you can’t spend your way to app store discoverability with new app categories…Search Ads will not run if you overextend your advertising reach into complementary areas where your app does not offer direct functionality. Boosting your pizza ordering app when people search for football games sounds smart and clever, but Apple will throw a flag and you’ll be penalized 30 yards. This is the equivalent to trying to buy your search ads out of a “quality score” deficit in SEM campaigns…you will go broke quickly with these tactics.
Fall Cleaning 3: “Set” Your Creative
Assuming you are running Search Ads Advanced, you should make use of the Creative Sets feature that was added over the summer.
In the example above, you can see that different creative is displayed when different keywords are used, making the ad even more relevant to the user. Apple will also apply machine learning algorithms to show different dynamic combinations of your selected creative when triggered by the different keyword groups, thus automatically optimizing the ad appearance to drive higher levels of performance across your chosen audiences. This is key for App Store discoverability—do not pass this option up!
Fall Cleaning 4: Beating the Browse
Although Search is king, organic store browsing is the second highest discovery method used by users. To succeed, make sure your app’s store copy is up to date, and utilize the extended media slots of 3 app preview videos and 10 static screenshots. These should be checked against the different device size settings and specialized for each supported locale.
Apple’s curated articles in the App Store (eg, App of the Day, Game of the Day, and special Topics) also typically drive order of magnitude increases in awareness, and with the rollout of iOS 12, these curated articles will be presented in a personalized fashion based on app download history, along with other factors. This means that we expect Browse to be an even greater factor in driving app downloads, so get your app page polished right now!
Fall Cleaning 5: Going Beyond Apple Insights
While Search Ads are a fantastic tool in-store, we need to message prospects wherever they are. Now is a great time to review the audience, creative, and messaging insights from your other app advertising campaigns that are typically running on other popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube or Snap. Applying those insights to the organic traffic keyword and audience patterns from the App Store can provide compelling updates that truly reflect your customers’ personality and interests.
Spick and Span and Ready To Go!
Congratulations…you’ve done your best to take advantage of this very special fall cleaning and to improve your App Store discoverability! Now take a short rest (not too long!) for the inevitable announcements and the new wave of downloads to begin!
If you’re interested in easily scaling your App campaigns across multiple publishers and stores and gleaning powerful insights to maximize your customers’ lifetime value, please reach out to us and get a demo of our Kenshoo Apps solution. It can help you quickly manage all your fall cleaning in one place, and help you with winter, spring, and summer cleaning too!
Senior Product Marketing Manager @ Kenshoo