IOS 8 has been heralded as one of the most significant updates yet to Apple’s mobile operating system, bringing a number of number of changes to the App Store, which has gotten marketers – and ASO specialists in particular – busy analysing how app discovery will be impacted. So what better way to judge Apple’s new mobile OS than to ask the experts themselves? Below are the opinion of some of the leading ASO and app marketing specialists on what they think of Apple’s WWDC 2014 announcements. Agree, disagree? Why not let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter @mobyaffiliates.
But first we’ll start off with a rundown of what new features iOS 8 brings to the app marketing table.
iOS 8 and App Marketing: Top new features
Apple is now allowing developers to bundle apps together as package deals, which could be a great way for publishers to breathe life into old apps and bring in extra revenue. It will be interesting to see if freemium publishers can bundle in-app purchases together as special offers, or even bundle them into app deals.
Apple’s new app bundle feature
Apple has made its universal search tool, Spotlight, a lot more universal. Searches via Spotlight will now not only link to apps installed on a device, but also to apps on iTunes. Spotlight is also incorporating news, restaurants and other location-based searches, which means more people will be using the tool. This will have a knock on effect with ASO because developers will need to start keyword optimising for searches that may not necessarily start as “app searches” but can still nonetheless result in an install.
Apple is taking a leaf out of Twitter’s book and rolling out Trending Searches, which will lets users see what other people are searching for. It will be interesting to see how Trending Searches compliments the chart rankings and to what extent it will diverge from those rankings. But again, this seems to be another attempt by Apple to reduce the importance of charts for developers.
Spotlight searches now bring up App Store results
This flew right under the radar for many people, but amidst Apple’s iOS announcements was the reveal of an analytics platform offered via iTunes Connect. The platform for the first time allows developers to get official App Store data on page views, retention, ARPU and much more. For a detailed look, check out AppLift’s blog post on the platform.
Fewer chart entries
Just ahead of the iOS 8 announcement Apple decided to drastically cut down the number of entries on its Top Paid and Top Free charts, from 300 to 150. This move now makes more sense in light of iOS 8’s enhanced search functions and trending feature. Apple wants users to rely less on charts to find new apps. Another clear signal that app marketers need to drop the chart-centric view and focus on quality of users.
Google Play has allowed developers to add a video to their app page for some time now and now the App Store will give devs the same option. There’s plenty of data out there showing the power of video marketing, especially when it comes to games, so this is certainly a welcome and overdue addition from Apple.
iOS 8 The Industry Reacts
What we are just experiencing the next step in the evolution of the app store detail page, moving from a static outlet into a true landing / product page. The introduction of video app trailers and two screenshots being presented within the search result list, instead of one, will require developers to invest even more resources into the visual design of their meta data. To be able to measure the impact of this marketing tactics, using the new iTunes analytics of Apple, is the icing on the cake.”
iOS 7 made some sweeping changes, but it turns out that they were mostly cosmetic, in comparison to the changes in iOS 8. If iOS was a car, 7 was a new paint job and nicer seats. The 8 update is going to be more like swapping out the engine and adding a custom exhaust.
The exact effect of the expanded Spotlight functionality on app discovery can only be measured after iOS 8 is deployed to the public, obviously. But adding app suggestions to the results of what people are naturally searching for in their everyday lives seems like a great way to help people find apps that are related to what they care about most and could possibly be a big piece to solving the app discovery issue that has hindered the App Store.
Ouriel Ohayon, CEO, Appsfire
Apple has announced important cosmetic changes and fixed some important mistakes, but has not fixed the core which could dramatically improve app discovery. They got read of the “nearby” central tab which was of low utility and replaced it with deeper exploration, they finally brought back vertical scrolling to search results, they plugged app search in Spotlight and Safari. But at the core, top ranks are still the major driver of discovery when the key should be personalization (a store based on one’s taste). The most important for app discovery – underrated in my opinion – announcement is the new analytics for developers who will finally know where their downloads are coming from. No more walking blind.
This is the biggest news in ASO for some time. iTunes is still all about discovery, and that’s made very clear by these changes to iOS 8. The addition of videos is huge, and adding another screenshot shows Apple’s commitment to help users understand what they’re downloading. Both ‘related terms,’ which has been in beta for a while, and trending searches also add another route to discovery. In all, I’m very happy with the announcements.
One of the main changes brought about by iOS 8 went somewhat unnoticed, because it was made during one of the smaller developer sessions at WWDC14. It seems that Apple are tackling the app analytics and attribution space head on with a platform directly integrated into the iTunes Connect console.
First, Developers will now have access to a myriad of important metrics throughout the user lifecycle, from app page view to in-app purchase. For instance, iTunes Connect will be in a position to show retention and engagement. The platform will obviously offer the possibility to break down this data by relevant parameters, such as geo and device type.
The second big novelty is attribution tracking. By adding a provider and campaign ID at the end of their app’s URL, developers will now be able to see the performance of their campaigns directly in iTunes, across all relevant metrics.
These are quite big changes and it will be thrilling to see how this pans out.
The much anticipated announcements at WWDC have certainly created some exciting opportunities for app developers and marketers. Changes to the app store to assist app discovery were long overdue. The ability for users to browse the app store based on what’s trending is certainly a welcome move! Even more interesting for us at MobPartner though is the addition of location based app recommendations. It’s a step in the right direction for retailers and big brands who want to encourage their customers to download their app.
We also liked the inclusion two-way push notifications, which allow an app to serve an offer or notification to a user without being open. We anticipate is going to be an excellent tool for developers to serve notifications for their apps, re-engaging users. Importantly, it’s going to give users the chance to interact with these notifications without having to close the app they are currently using. Which simply means serving a notification isn’t going to be a disruptive experience for the user.
Also, we liked that Apple has opened TouchID to third parties, because it presents some seriously tangible opportunities for app acquisition and monetisation. With this, integrated app ads will now have a call to action to use the TouchID to download and install a recommended app, or making in-app purchases, for example.
The announcements were really exciting for developers, whether it’s better access to in app analytics, which gives them deeper insights into their consumers, or deeper access to functionality through APIs, more console like gaming experience through metal or faster time to market with the new programming language swift. Of course, the promise of more tools and quicker time to market means that app discovery is going to continue to be a challenge. That said, these things should all drive more usage and an improved consumers experience.
For us, iOS8 will have a huge and positive impact on App Store Optimization. Indeed, the Apple App Store major overhaul is mainly focusing on improving apps discoverability. With more than 1.2 million iOS apps today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an app found on iTunes. Apple has clearly shown its will to improve the App Store experience for both app developers and app users.
New features like “Related Search Suggestion” or “Trending Searches” will facilitate the search; “App Bundles” will help developers to get their other apps known and to sell them more easily…
However, the biggest change – and to us, the most important one – is the possibility for developers to upload a “Video Preview” of their app in addition to screenshots. This will give users a strong idea of the app before downloading it. We believe it is a source of high potential for developers as they now have one more chance to convince their audience. If well executed, demo videos can be a good way to show off an app features and get some coverage. This will make users more incline to take a step further in the conversion process.
App developers will therefore need to adapt their App Store Optimization strategy to these new changes. If done well, they will certainly increase their chances of getting their apps discovered and downloaded.
Veronica Ciecierska, developer relations manager, AppFlood
I think what iOS 8 introduces in terms of app delivery and app marketing will have impact especially on indie developers. The new improvements tend to lean more towards those less known, more difficult to discover apps with little or no advertising budget. There will be a tab called ‘Explore’ in App Store with apps of different categories, which I think will make a good place for apps to gain visibility. Better App Store search results means apps without a very high rank now have a better chance to appear in search results. Plus apps can be searched directly from spotlight search.
What’s novel is that developers can sell several apps as a bundle for a discounted price, which can be good for cross promotion. Since they will also be able to submit video previews of their apps it is possible videos can be used as a tool to promote apps.
Everyone seems to agree iOS 8 is a firm step in the right direction. With the addition of trending searches, location-based recommendations and App Store-linked Spotlight searches, it’s clear Apple is trying to reduce reliance on the almighty store charts – further reinforced by the decision to cut the charts from 300 places to 150 (whether or not it’s doing enough in this area, is still an open debate). When it comes to ASO, the addition of video is a long-overdue feature that will help developers and consumers, while smaller tweaks such as additional images in search results, will require even more emphasis on visual meta data. But perhaps the biggest announcement to come from WWDC is the roll-out of analytics data to iTunes connect, finally giving developers info on referral traffic to their app page. For more info and analysis check out the eight must knows for marketers on iOS 8, posted on our sister site Business of Apps.