App Promotion Strategy

2021 Recap: A Major Year in ASO

google play store keyword tool

2021 was a much-anticipated 12 months for app advertising and marketing, with the app ecosystem beginning the 12 months on an all-time excessive! On the identical time, we additionally spent a few of 2022 questioning when the financial system would be capable to restart “after” COVID-19, and the vast majority of professional conversations revolved round when Apple would implement its privateness adjustments and the way a lot influence they’d have.


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But extra bulletins and adjustments made 2021 a good larger 12 months than anticipated and one that can most likely be thought of as a turning level in App Store Optimization’s position in app advertising and marketing. As we get to the top of the 12 months, let’s evaluate crucial ASO adjustments of 2021.

1. Affect of iOS privateness adjustments on ASO & app advertising and marketing

The start of 2021 was characterised by many conversations round Apple’s looming App Monitoring Transparency framework and the specter of many apps shedding entry to the vast majority of consumer system identifiers, that are essential to deterministic advert campaigns. Though ATT was solely launched with iOS 14.5 on April 26, and its progressive rollout meant that the majority apps solely skilled its full influence from June onwards, builders began getting ready new advertising and marketing methods from the very starting of the 12 months.

With expectations that paid consumer acquisition (UA) efficiency campaigns would expertise a extreme drop in effectivity and grow to be dearer, app entrepreneurs confirmed a newfound curiosity in ASO, which manifested in 3 fundamental methods:

  • Extra app firms began opening ASO positionsor growing the dimensions of their ASO crew, with the objective of mitigating—and even canceling out—their losses in paid UA with a brand new inflow of natural customers. In flip, this led to an enhance within the competitors for natural search visibilityon the App Store, with ASO practitioners concurrently needing to coach executives on the variations between ASO and paid UA.
  • Many firms elevated theshare of Apple Search Advertisements (ASA) of their paid UA combine, as Apple’s advert community is partially exempted from the principles of ATT (customers needed to opt-out as an alternative of opt-in, which was then changed by opt-in with a a lot friendlier consent display screen than the ATT consent immediate system). This pattern was additionally inspired by the launch of Search tab campaignsin Might, and Apple including China to the listing of nations the place Apple Search Advertisements can be found in June.


  • Corporations investigated the depth and granularity of knowledge out there in App StoreConsoles and ASO instruments, because the installment of ATT additionally led to losses in consumer attribution capabilities with cellular measurement platforms. With the problem of measuring the effectivity of selling efforts with probabilistic strategies and/or uplift measurements, entrepreneurs had been confronted with the issue of reconciling information factors and discrepancies from totally different sources.

In abstract, privateness adjustments launched by Apple within the first half of the 12 months began to reveal the interdependencies and synergies between paid UA and ASO, at the good thing about the latter. Nevertheless, this pattern immediately accelerated within the second half of the 12 months as Apple introduced iOS 15 and began rolling out new functionalities.

2. iOS 15: A brand new period for App Store Optimization

“When Apple closes a door, they open a window.” This saying was utilized by a number of trade consultants after Apple unveiled its plans for brand spanking new App Store advertising and marketing functionalities for iOS 15 throughout WWDC in June. Though their releases had been finally delayed to the final quarter of the 12 months, in-app events, product page optimization, and custom product pages all instantly stirred up new conversations about how builders ought to put together to make the most of the App Store much more for advertising and marketing, as Apple made nice efforts to advertise its market because the central stakeholder in app discovery once more.

Nevertheless, some not-so-small adjustments had been launched even earlier than the discharge of those functionalities: The discharge of iOS 15 on September 29 noticed the introduction of search solutions, now including a brand new layer of complexity to key phrase optimization, in addition to the elimination of screenshots for already put in apps in search outcomes, presumably redistributing the playing cards within the battle between apps for search visibility. This second case additionally added to the worth of in-app occasions, as these might change the screenshots in search outcomes for apps a consumer has already put in, due to this fact serving to in style apps preserve their edge over opponents in search.

New App Store Join metrics had been additionally launched quickly after the discharge of iOS 15, together with a breakdown of downloads into new downloads and redownloads, in addition to a measurement of app updates and proceeds, all damaged down by supply.

This transformation, although not as anticipated by entrepreneurs, added appreciable worth to the position ASO practitioners typically play in analyzing information past pure natural outcomes. That is particularly the case within the context of different information sources, like cellular measurement suppliers (MMPs), shedding reliability and firms now in search of a number of sources of knowledge reasonably than contemplating one single supplier because the supply of fact.

The largest adjustments had been nonetheless but to come back, as Apple launched in-app occasions on October 27, and product web page optimization and customized product pages on December 7:

  • First, concerning product web page optimization, the function, an A/B testing software native to the App Store, was not revolutionary (the same software had already existed on Google Play for a number of years). Nevertheless, it was long-awaited given the appreciable added worth of with the ability to consider the conversion uplift of artistic adjustments on the App Store. Moreover, the A/B testing system additionally represented a chance for entrepreneurs to now replace screenshots and app previews exterior of recent app construct submissions, although their belongings would nonetheless should bear evaluate by Apple Editors to validate compliance with Store
  • As for in-app occasions and customized product pages, each functionalities represented a brand new stage in App Storeadvertising and marketing, as they each provided new alternatives for engagement and retargeting campaignsresulting in the App Store, and put a relative finish to the precept of 1 single Store web page to advertise an app to all customers in a single nation or area.

To not underestimate adjustments on Google Play in 2021

Turning to the Play Store, it could appear that Google had a a lot quieter 2021 at first look. However, Google’s a number of adjustments all year long shouldn’t be underestimated, from the enlargement of the LiveOps beta to the influence of recent metadata insurance policies or adjustments within the common score system:

Google Play LiveOps beta

Whereas in-app occasions made a bigger commotion on iOS, it’s value noting Google Play was the primary of the 2 shops to allow sure app builders to advertise in-app content material with the LiveOps beta. Initially solely out there to cellular video games candidates, Google seems to have began responding to Apple’s launch by permitting extra builders into the closed beta, and updating its coverage round LiveOps to additionally permit apps to promote digital gross sales, which Apple clearly doesn’t permit (actually, some app builders shared their in-app occasion submissions for Black Friday had been rejected by Apple reviewers on the bottom they weren’t selling any explicit in-app content material however merely providing reductions). Though unclear when Google will make LiveOps out there to all app builders, these adjustments appear already properly underway in 2021.

Play Store metadata coverage updates

In the meantime, probably the most notable change on Google Play in 2021 was a brand new metadata coverage that performed on two particular dimensions:

The discount of Google Play app titles from 50 to 30 characters contributes to the ever-increasing convergence between the App Store and Play Store, and will spotlight Google’s will to drive builders to simplify app titles to keep away from false info and likewise facilitate work for its algorithm.

On the identical time, a number of new guidelines surrounding app icons, titles, and brief descriptions (similar to forbidding the usage of sure phrases like “free” or “#1”) are extra clearly focused at stopping builders from utilizing darkish patterns on the expense of customers.

Whereas the change is greater than welcomed in precept and factor for ASO, the early implementation confirmed that, in observe, Google’s evaluate algorithms don’t distinguish between totally different semantic conditions. For example, an app utilizing the phrase “hands-free” or “past love” could also be flagged by the algorithm regardless of not utilizing these phrases to advertise a value or declare a selected rank. In consequence, it’s probably that ASO practitioners will search for circumvention methods in 2022.

Common score system: from international to native

Final however not least, Google’s change in apps’ common score system has been a little-commented change that might nonetheless have appreciable impacts. With extra customers declaring they provide honest weight to an app’s common score when contemplating whether or not to obtain it, Google’s change from a worldwide to native common score is prone to have each constructive and detrimental impacts on Play Store conversion.

  • The constructive facet is that apps are actually extra prone to be rewarded by higher conversion in the important thing marketsthe place they make investments most of their sources and may (hopefully) get the very best client satisfaction.
  • Nevertheless, the detrimental facet is that app launches in new markets might be extra prone to endure from points early on, and would require extra time to achieve stage of visibility and conversion. Moreover, a harmful facet impact of this variation might come from search engine optimisation: Apps with a low common score in america attributable to a restricted presence there might seem to have decrease rankings on the internet than on the Play Store, attributable to internet crawlers for search engine optimisation usually specializing in US pages.

4. Extra adjustments to the App Store/Google Play are within the making

Lastly, a number of adjustments that began taking type in 2021 and can carry over in 2022 concern privateness on Google Play and new insurance policies concerning app Store charges:

  • Regarding Storeprivateness, Google has begun to comply with in Apple’s footsteps; the Play Store is ready to show a brand new part on Store itemizing pages in February 2022 that informs customers of the information collected and utilized by apps and third events. To that finish, builders have been in a position to present Google with the data to be displayed right here through a type out there since November. Moreover, Google introduced entry to system identifiers for Youngsters’ apps might be strictly restricted beginning subsequent 12 months, a change that could possibly be step one in the direction of a stricter coverage for all apps and advertisers, taking inspiration from Apple’s ATT.
  • Lastly, each Apple and Google have began strikes concerning app Storecharges in 2021. In July, Google first introduced it will lower its charge from 30% to fifteen% for the primary million US {dollars} of builders’ income, earlier than saying later within the 12 months that it will simplify its charge coverage for apps utilizing a subscription-based income mannequin to fifteen% fully, beginning January 1, 2022. In the meantime, Apple handled the fallouts of its authorized battle with Epic, saying a brand new coverage that authorizes builders to tell their iOS customers of strategies of fee different to Apple IAP. Nevertheless, Apple additionally finally obtained a suspension on the injunction that allowed builders to allow in-app alternate options to the IAP system. Regardless of the keep on the injunction, different authorized procedures, together with new laws in South Korea, led each Apple and Google to start out considering the potential for claiming a charge on all app revenues, even for purchases made exterior of their proprietary programs.

It seems 2022 is ready to be one other necessary 12 months for App Store Optimization; so keep tuned for our predictions for ASO in 2022!