Expert Predictions for 2017 App Store Optimization Trends

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Posted: January 24, 2017

Kathryn Kosmides is a lover of learning, cats, and mobile apps. She’s thrilled to be the Marketing Manager at Aprenita – a NYC-based FinTech company providing funding solutions to growing mobile app companies. Want to know how we can help scale your user acquisition efforts? 

Keeping up with app store optimization in 2016 had app marketers changing courses throughout the year. Transitions in app name limitations, cracking down on app ratings, the evolution of app indexing, and, of course, the introduction of Apple’s Search Ads were all huge game changers this year – which forced app marketers to rise with the tide. Discover what the top ASO experts had to say about 2016 and their predictions for app store optimization in 2017.

Laurie Galazzo, AppTweak

Currently the Inbound Marketing Manager at AppTweak, Laurie has been with the team since their launch in 2014. AppTweak is a SaaS platform that focuses purely on ASO – “including keywords, app metadata, app listing optimization… and a big focus on keywords.”

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“If I had to choose I would definitely say the biggest change is the Search Ads introduction. This is huge not only for the possibilities [but] for the data that comes along with it.”  With both Apple and Google admitting that nearly two thirds of all app installs are generated by search the floodgates of brands adopting Search Ads into their strategies have opened.

iTunes App Store Search Ads interface

Laurie cleverly breaks down the two strategies for Search Ads – “you have a defensive strategy or offensive strategy. The defensive strategy would be to target keywords you’re already ranking for organically and even on your brand name as you really want to maintain your top position. The offensive way is you try to see what keywords your competitors are good at and you would try to steal them.”

Thinking about which strategy your app should take is key to success with Search Ads.

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“It will go like it did in 2016 – it will keep on increasing on the focus in quality of user experience, of removal of obsolete and bad quality apps, and both stores will keep on doing everything they can to prevent app re-skinning… while providing ways for app developers and marketers to contribute to the stores in the best ways possible.”

Gabriel Machuret, ASO Agency

As the first person to publish a book on ASO and course on Udemy and managing to publish a 98 page ebook on Apple’s Search Ads a week after they were launched, Gabriel Machuret is a thought pioneer in the space.

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“Education and companies starting to do ASO in-house… In 2016 I trained over 30 companies that moved from hiring ASO companies, to start doing ASO in-house and educate their teams to learn about app store optimization.” This shift highlights both Google’s and Apple’s analytic upgrades on the app stores – which allows companies to understand their own data without relying on outside sources.

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“Now that we have Search Ads we can really understand what a “buying keyword” really is… so for the first time we can really justify our efforts. The competition for long tail keywords will come back stronger than ever. 2017 –  it’s the year to have the smart companies win and the lazy ones behind.” With over two million apps in both the App Store and Google Play Store, we can’t help but agree with Gabriel – great ASO strategies will help edge out the competition in 2017.

Steve Young, App Masters

Steve, the founder of App Masters, disclosed “I’m probably better known for some of my black hat strategies…”  in our brief conversation – which we can’t disagree with. Through talking to app experts on his weekly podcast, he soon realized the potential of ASO and began App Masters which helps app developers of all sizes growth hack their way to the top.

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“I think the most dramatic would be the fifty character keyword length for the app name because a lot of people were relying on stuffing it.” The app name is a huge influencer in keyword ranking and Apple’s out of the blue shift from 255 character app names to only 50 characters in September left app marketers scrambling to be savvy and sunk rankings of keyword stuffing apps.

iTunes App Store Search Ad

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

Firing off his answer with “Apple Search Ads – that’s going to explode” made his prediction for 2017 pretty clear. “What I’ve learned is…  be early and make a bet – don’t be afraid to be wrong. So, from an ASO perspective, Apple Search Ads are still early enough that you can start really maximizing your efforts on there and really increase your keywords.”

Aykut Karaalioglu, Mobile Action

As the founder and CEO of Mobile Action, a leading tool in app store analytics, intelligence and optimization software, he lives and breathes App Store Optimization and sees big changes coming in 2017.

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“ASO is starting to gain traction in countries where startup culture is still in its early days. For example, one of our Ambassadors is going to be doing an ASO workshop at one of the co-working spaces in Lebanon, and he says that most people there who are developing apps have no idea how to do ASO, or even what it is.”

Apple’s Search Ads are only available for US-English keywords so it hasn’t reached these emerging markets yet – so they will still have time to catch-up on the basics before expanding into newer strategies.

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“I think deep linking will play a bigger role in ASO in 2017. It is the biggest opportunity for app publishers who have already maxed out their ASO. The line between SEO and ASO will get much blurrier.” With companies like Branch.io exploding in growth, we agree with Aykut. Deeplinking provides a seamless experience for users going from mobile web to native apps – especially when we know native apps convert 3x higher than mobile web and 90% of all mobile usage is spent in-app.

Ian Sefferman, TUNE

As the General Manager of the TUNE Marketing Console – a SaaS provider for mobile analytics, advertising, and app store optimization – Ian has his hands full with staying on top of the industry.

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

The biggest shifts we saw in 2016 were a focusing on A/B testing and a lot more comfort with keyword testing and optimization, especially in light of Apple Search Ads. ASO is absolutely a messy business lacking in deterministic measurement; however, we’ve seen a lot of large brands change mindsets and approach it from an experimentation-driven perspective.”

Tune App Store Analytics Dashboard

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“I think we’ll see a more wholesale adoption of universal links. It signifies the convergence of web and app, and ASO and SEO, not to mention the vast improvements in user experiences…Oh, and of course Apple Search Ads going global – that will release even more data to marketers.”

Moritz Daan, Phiture

As a Co-Founder at Phiture, the company behind the Mobile Growth Stack, Moritz and his team offer everything from hourly consulting to a 2-day Mobile Growth Audit starter session.

The Mobile Growth Stack 2017

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“End 2015 and during the first half of 2016, we’ve seen a dramatic shift from keyword optimization to conversion rate optimization. Whilst bigger publishers were already working with… their own A/B testing tools in 2014 and onwards, developers of all sizes suddenly got a great tool in hand with Google Play Store Listing experiments.” Keyword optimization or conversion rate optimization? That’s for your team to decide.

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“…if I’d had to predict (and hope) is that both Google and Apple will crack down on Black Hat ASO, the incredibly lucrative but shady side of app marketing, and make regular ASO be fair again. Whilst some fraud might be harder to combat algorithmically, a lot of easier detectable Black Hat ASO techniques seem to yet go unpunished.” We wonder how well Steve Young & Mortiz would get along – but we’ll save that for another day.

Gabe Kwakyi, Incipia

Gabe is the Co-Founder and CEO of Incipia – a full service mobile agency that develops and markets apps in a variety of niches. Gabe focuses on the business development and marketing side of Incipia – so keeping up with the trends is crucial to their success.

What was the most dramatic shift you saw in ASO in 2016?

“In two words: ads & data. On the advertising side, things got harder as organic rankings are beginning to take a back seat to making money (just like PPC vs SEO).We also saw things get easier with access to more data, via Apple’s search popularity data point..the expansion of the iTunes Connect App Analytics Dashboard and several updates to the Play Console.”

What is your #1 Prediction for ASO in 2017?

“I think that the process of app discovery will undergo a major overhaul by the hands of Apple and Google respectively, to support the growing app revenue streams and protect the future earnings that the app industry represents for each company.”

Conclusion

App Store Optimization is not a hit it and quit it game – app marketers must be in for the long haul in order to find success in ASO. Jump into Search Ads while they’re still new, look further into deeplinking, and be sure to create a high-quality product and your sails (and sales) will be pointed in the right direction in 2017.