Now that we’ve discovered all the ‘hidden iOS 11 features worth knowing’ in Apple’s recent update, we’re starting to see the potential effects on marketers. Most notably, we’re observing how the redesign of the nine-year-old App Store is impacting how users browse and discover apps, as well as how developers and marketers promote apps.
We’ve identified the five major ways app creators and advertisers are being impacted by the new App Store and what should be done now to keep up.
It’s all about features–in a big way
While app developers and marketers have always leaned on the elusive App Store feature, Apple has emphasized the value of being featured with this update. A study by App Annie shows just how impactful being featured in the App Store can have on downloads. The new App Store puts features front and center in the all-new “Today” tab. Featured apps now take up the majority of the screen, a significant departure from the tiled icon view of versions past.
As tens of thousands of new apps are launched in the App Store each week, this move towards a more curated, editorial angle underscores the importance of the relationships between developers and Apple. Clearly, the goal is to encourage browsers to connect with Apple endorse Apps through long-form stories, and ultimately install those apps.
So, what can advertisers do? Easy: get featured. Head over to appstore.com/promote to tell your app’s story and get placed in front of millions of daily users.
We know how difficult it is to weasel your way into those highly sought-after featured placements. So while there certainly are ways to improve the likelihood of being graced with an App Store feature, promotion outside of the curated App Store is more important than ever.
Apps have less competition… or more
The second biggest change to the App Store is the separating out of ‘Games’ and ‘Apps’ and the disappearance of the ‘Categories’ tab.
One could argue that this separation between games and apps is designed to help developers get their apps in front of more interested user groups. On the other hand, with the departure of the ‘Categories’ tab, app marketers may now have a harder time reaching users looking for specific solutions. While categories do exist in this new reality, they’re much more difficult to find. This move elongates users’ browsing journeys and forces the consumption of more curated content.
How can you combat this challenge? While gaming apps are more exposed in this dual-category world, others may want to focus more on ranking in the ‘top charts,’ which leads us to the next topic…
Change in rankings
With the omission of the ‘Top Charts’ tab in this update, top-ranked apps are generally much less visible. The lists (for both paid and free apps) are now available in each of the aforementioned categories. While the separation of these lists does potentially expose more relevant apps to interested users, one major App Store staple is missing: “Top Grossing” chart.
For the past nine years, revenue has been an essential way Apple has measured app performance and for companies to get more exposure. Showing up on the “Top Grossing” chart has been a goal for companies around the world.
What does this mean? In short, your business value is irrelevant in the new App Store. Apps that relied on a boost from appearing in the “Top Grossing” charts may need to pay more attention to their placement on top ranking charts and curated lists.
This redesign is far from cosmetic, and fundamentally changes the way app browsers search, evaluate, and, ultimately, interact with apps. This update imposes four major changes for search–shorter headlines, the addition of a sub-category, more app preview images displayed, and more room for competitors. App developers and marketers should also rethink their app page as a whole.
Text plays a smaller part and is more clearly organized, with a shorter available description (from five lines to three) and more prominence given to ‘evaluation.’ The new text structure will force marketers to update their app store descriptions and to think critically about each and every word.
In addition, this change will heighten the importance of video creatives. With iOS 11’s redesigned app pages, videos will automatically begin to play (without sound) while scrolling. This move brings Apple’s video behavior more in-line with that of Facebook who has auto-played videos for years. Get our tips on designing video without sound >
What should be done about these changes? Marketers need to immediately reevaluate how their apps appear across the App Store, and optimize their listings for search. Early stats by SplitMetrics show that tap through rates have decreased 7% for listings that have not been optimized.
In-App purchases may increase
In-App purchases and subscriptions can now be purchased directly from the app listing page. Developers can (and should) showcase up to 20 items on their listing page, and customers can even start an in-app purchase before their app download is complete.
Perhaps this update will have the biggest impact on future app interaction and user behavior. By providing more value to businesses by lowering purchase barriers to entry, Apple clearly aims at getting more high-value users downloading apps.
Ideally, this shift will balance the overall decrease in app downloads we’re likely to see over time. Time will tell how these fundamental changes will affect the app ecosystem and how mobile app advertisers will make the most of the platforms at hand.
The one thing that is certain is that app marketers will have to adjust their App Store strategy and focus more on their app promotion strategy as a whole. In the wake of this update, we’re helping our clients maintain healthy installs through strategic, direct-response paid social campaigns.