App Store Search Ads

App Store Search Ads – Top 5 Strategies for the Best Search Ads

Apple’s new Search Ads initiative has opened up a whole new route to the top of search results. Bidding on a Search Ad is easy, but don’t think that just because you paid the highest amount you’ll suddenly see a huge increase in downloads. To fully take advantage of App Store Search Ads, your app needs to be optimized.

Here are the top five strategies for creating a successful App Store Search Ad.

 1. Target Popular Terms

Deciding which terms to target should be the first step for each of your App Store Search Ads. While it might seem simple to pick and choose terms that are relevant to your app, stop for a moment to consider what exactly your potential users are searching for in the App Store. The terms most closely tied to your app may not always be the terms that will drive the most high-quality traffic to your page. The idea terms are both relevant to your app, and frequently searched by users in the App Store.

2. Establish Relevance for Your Terms

While you do want to target frequently searched terms, remember that Search Ads are ultimately based on relevance. That’s why Search Ads and App Store Optimization often go best together.

Say you have a workout coaching app. The most relevant terms for your app would primarily be fitness and health related – you could get away with targeting “free workouts” or “personal trainer”, for instance. On the other hand, don’t expect to land any terms that aren’t related to your app, like “free games”.

Some terms fall in between, though. The term “run”, for example, could refer to either a game or a fitness app. If you find that it is in your best interest to target a fringe term, or a term that isn’t explicitly discussed in your app description, you will need to create relevance for that term by optimizing your app listing. This involves establishing relevance through your description, among other things.

3. Show off Your App in the Best Light

When it comes to displaying your Search Ad, Apple affords you numerous options.

You can opt to show off merely a small Ad featuring only your app icon, title, developer and ratings, or you can include screenshots in a variety of layouts.

If you opt to include screenshots, the orientation does matter. Just like in traditional App Store search results, the best layout for your App Store screenshots depends on the layout and features of your app itself. You’ll get three times the number of screenshots in your Search Ad if you opt for portrait, but landscape is ideal for apps that are naturally landscape and need that space to show off additional information.

Similarly, make sure that your icon is polished and your reviews average is solid. Even if your app is placed on a pedestal at the top of search results, fewer users will bother with your app if they don’t like the look of the ratings or can’t tell what it does.

4. Optimize Your Screenshots

On that line of thinking, should your Search Ad include screenshots it is necessary to optimize them for conversion. This will enable users to see clearly and precisely what your app does and whether or not it is of interest to them.

Just as in traditional App Store search, your screenshots are essentially your advertising banners. Use this space to show off the key functions of your app.

There are several key differences in the presentation of Search Ads versus traditional search results that necessitate a few addendums to the classic rules. First, using portrait screenshots in a Search Ad affords you with three screenshots to show off instead of two (this includes your preview video, if you have one).

While this does put you at an advantage compared to traditional search results, consider how this difference affects the size of your screenshots on a user’s mobile display. Even with an iPhone 7 Plus, your screenshots will be smaller than they would look in search results.

Cluttered screenshots can lead to confusion on the part of the user as they try to make out what is happening in each image. Make sure that if you intend to use screenshots, the imagery and text in them is legible to users on both standard and Plus-sized iPhone screens.

5. Track Trends

Remember Step One, where you plucked out the search terms with the highest growth potential for your app? Chances are, those terms won’t always reign supreme.

Trends change all the time in the App Store, whether as a result of new app releases or external events. Consider a few trends that came and went in 2016 – from politics to Pokémon, many terms reached an astronomical peak before settling down to a more reasonable, albeit still often highly-searched, position. Your goal is to have your Ad at the top of search results when those terms peak, not afterwards when other developers are also scrambling to purchase Ads.

Whether you use software or simply devote time every day to tracking trends, be sure to stay on top of what’s hot in the App Store and how it can be relevant for your app.

ux in mobile

UX In Mobile – UX Trends of 2017

User experience design is constantly evolving, and there will no doubt be many advances to the field in 2017.

UX in mobile is one of the most crucial elements of user monetization and retention; spurred on by Apple and Android’s elegant designs, users expect a similar level of finesse from their app experiences.

Here are a few ways you can expect to see UX move forward in 2017.

UX Gets Personal

For years, UX has emphasized simplicity and responsiveness above all else. Elegant interfaces are king, but sometimes they don’t leave a lot of room for personality.

As phones become smarter and more autonomous, UX designers must take care not to make the end design feel too inhuman. The growing trend, then, has been for designers to intentionally build in more personality and charm into their feedback mechanisms. Author William Gibson calls these personal flourishes “Tamagotchi Gestures”.

As 2017 winds on, UX designers will begin utilizing Tamogatchi Gestures to imbue their apps with a warm, human touch.

AI Communication

iPhone users have been talking with Siri for years, and Android users are also familiar with Google Now. Windows devices have Cortana, and Amazon has Alexa.

Simple AI assistants have officially achieved mass penetration, but the functions they perform are still relatively simple in scope.

Individually, Apple and Google have taken steps to improve their AI experiences. For instance, last year Apple made Siri compatible with certain apps with the launch of iOS 10. However, almost none of these individual assistants are made to work together.

Some apps, like astra, allow users to communicate with Alexa from an iOS device, but further compatibility updates are certainly coming. At the moment, there’s just too much redundancy and incompatibility between the different AI assistants, encouraging users to stay within their bubble.

Hapnotic Feedback

 This is one of the more experimental trends in UX design, but potentially one of the most interesting too.

The term “Hapnotic Feedback” is a combination of “hypnotic” and “haptic feedback”. The idea is that by utilizing certain patterns or sequences of haptic feedback, designers may be able to guide users towards certain interactions within apps.

Take a shopping app for instance. If the user has added items to their cart but is stalling on proceeding to checkout, Hapnotic Feedback may be able to guide the user towards checkout with subtle vibrations.

It’s still a pretty new idea, but one that could have a lot of potential for UX designers as it continues to evolve over the year.

Mobile Trends

Mobile Trends 2017 – What will Hit in Q1?

The New Year is here, and with it comes a whole new batch of trends to stay on top of.

With regards to mobile trends 2017 has the potential to be a unique year. Last fall Apple shook up the world of mobile in a major way by shortening their Title field and introducing Search Ads. This quarter, expect app developers to refine their technique when it comes to mastering the new App Store ecosystem.

Look out for these trends in Q1 2017:

Search Ads Get Refined 

As the year moves on, more and more app developers will begin to discover what performs best for Search Ads. Look for major developers to hit Search Ads even harder in an attempt to expand their search footprint into any relevant keywords.

Similarly, as more developers begin to target wider swaths of Search Ads, they will also refine how to best convert users from Search Ads.

As the New Year begins, make it a priority to learn the best practices for landing and converting from Search Ads.

Services Continue to Grow 

App Store Services picked up major traction in 2016. Expect that trend to continue as 2017 winds on.

Service subscriptions have traditionally been confined to service-based apps like Netflix and Spotify. However, games like Boom Beach have also experimented with subscription plans, showing that recurring payments can be molded to work in a number of formats.

Services have been popular for Apple, too. Service revenue grew by 24% in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2016. Earlier, Apple had announced they would be offering successful Service subscriptions a more favorable revenue split of 85-15, as opposed to the usual 70-30. In order to qualify for the new split, developers would simply need to maintain a user’s subscription for one year consistently.

Superbowl LI Drives Sports Searches

Sports apps will have a field day with February’s Superbowl LI. News apps, fantasy apps and football games stand to benefit the most directly. If your app is relevant for “football”-related terms, update your metadata and creative to reflect this.

Cards, Dates and Flowers Go In Demand 

The first major holiday of 2017, Valentine’s Day will be accompanied by a surge in searches for dating, events, shopping and gift apps.

Whether your app offers gifts for couples, flowers for the parents or in-person meetup opportunities for everyone else, you can capitalize on Valentine’s Day by including relevant keywords and expanding upon them in your description and creative.

Following Valentine’s Day, some apps may want to look ahead to Easter. While the holiday falls in early Q2, apps that offer relevant services (flowers, gift baskets, candy, etc.) will want to pivot towards Easter sooner than that. Change out your Valentine’s Day marketing language and keywords for Easter by early Spring.

While gift apps will have a field day, games can get in on the holiday fun too. The later winter to early spring season is often a popular time for game developers to run special events, like last year’s Angry Birds Epic mini-campaign. This event introduced a miniaturized version of a standard Angry Birds Epic campaign for Valentine’s Day, featuring new levels, special items and more.

If your app can be positioned as relevant for winter and spring holidays, be sure to have your metadata and creative updated in advance so that you have already begun indexing by the holiday.

Apple Search Ads

January 2017 Search Ads – What Will be Popular?

Search Ads may seem straightforward at first blush – Just target a highly searched term, bid higher than the competitors and watch your app take off. In reality, placing a successful Search Ad is more complex.

In order to have the best possible Search Ad, you must meld your advertising strategy with your ASO strategy. You should also take into consideration how your iOS screenshots, title and icon will display in your Search Ad.

Even with an optimized listing, your Search Ad means nothing if it doesn’t place your app in front of numerous new users. For this reason, your Search Ad strategy must constantly evolve, just as your keyword and creative strategies likely have in the past. Make an active attempt to stay on top of all relevant, popular search terms that you can, and jettison old ads that are no longer converting for your app.

Below, we will take a look at several trends that will impact popular Search Ads over the first month of 2017.

Football and Sports Terms

Superbowl LI doesn’t technically fall in January, but as the month comes to a close you can count on football searches picking up in a major way. Games like Madden stand to benefit heavily from this, as do apps like ESPN and Draft Kings.

If your app can be seen as relevant to football, now is this time to start staking out popular terms and brands related to the sport. Find out which search terms will be most popular as the football season comes to a close, and optimize your app description and screenshots if necessary to target them.

Remember that Search Ads are based on relevancy, and Apple is very intelligent about determining this relevancy. You don’t necessarily need a football game to land a Search Ad for the word “football”, for example. A soccer game also makes a compelling case. A baseball game could be positioned as perfect for football fans looking for their next sports fix.

If you have a sports app, terms like these could help you expand your app’s search footprint:

  • Football games
  • Madden
  • ESPN
  • Sports games
  • Sports app

To find more rising keywords to target, consider conducting your own research using software. Just make sure your app is at least tangentially related to the terms you’re looking to target.

New Games in Popular Series

A handful of new games have come to the App Store in popular genres, and several more will be arriving before the end of January. If your game is similar enough to any of these highly-searched games, you may want to consider branching out with a Search Ad targeting their titles.

Five Nights at Freddy’s: A fifth game in the ultra-popular series just hit the App Store, and both “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and its abbreviation “FNAF” are highly-searched terms in the App Store. Horror buffs and fans of interactive storytelling will be the primary users searching for terms like this.

Super Mario Run: Although Mario released in mid-December, the game still sits at the top of the most-downloaded list. Ranking for “Mario”, “Mario Run” or other search terms will no doubt be contentious, but also take into consideration the other terms that Mario will raise with him. “Nintendo” is popular, for instance, while “running games” might capture users who were disappointed in Mario’s debut as they search for an alternative.

Yo-Kai Watch: Although not yet a household name in the United States, Yo-Kai Watch is a hugely popular Pokémon-like in Japan, and the series has picked up enough of a following in the United States to make “Yo-kai watch” a highly-searched term. A new game in the RPG series is slated to hit iOS, and games that revolve around collecting monsters may find an audience by placing their Search Ads here.

Star Wars Force Arena: While the latest Star Wars mobile title won’t technically be out until March, it will no doubt be popular once it launches. Hearthstone currently has a Search Ad at the top of the term, and it seems like a good fit – Force Arena will be a strategy-based, competitive title when it releases. Having your ad at the top of search results when the app releases could draw sci-fi and strategy fans.


2017 is just getting started, but already you can see the foundations of the year’s popular Search Ads forming. With Superbowl LI and a new Star Wars game coming up, along with Mario and Five Nights at Freddy’s still drawing searches, developers have many options for positioning their Search Ads in the month ahead.

Google Play Rules

Google Play Metadata Rules Updated for Improved User Experience

Google has updated its metadata rules in order to create an improved experience for users. The new rules outline suggestions based on appropriate content, as well as best practices for highlighting your app’s best features in the Google Play store.

Many of the new updates simply reflect what Google has been saying all along – don’t lie about the functionality of your app, don’t stuff unrelated keywords into your description, and don’t use the names of other apps out of context.

In the below screenshot, Google outlines how some developers try to scam their way to rankings by stuffing inappropriate keywords into their app descriptions.


In case the above points aren’t clear, Google outlines specifically what they are not looking to see in a description:

  1. User testimonials
  2. Excessive details
  3. Misleading references to other apps or products
  4. Further misleading references
  5. Repetitive, excessive, or irrelevant keywords

When writing a Google Play description, it is important that you use keywords that are relevant for your app. Placing those keywords in a Google Play-friendly location of your description, such as at the front of a sentence, can also help you pick up rankings, no keyword-stuffing needed.

Google then goes on to list examples of inappropriate text, images, or videos within your app listing:

  • Imagery or videos with sexually suggestive content. Avoid suggestive imagery containing breasts, buttocks, genitalia or other fetishized anatomy or content, whether illustrated or real.
  • Language inappropriate for a general audience. Avoid profane and vulgar language in your app listing. If it is a critical element of your app, you must censor its presentation within the Store listing.
  • Graphic violence prominently depicted in app icons, promotional images, or videos.
  • Depictions of the illicit usage of drugs. Even EDSA (Educational, Scientific, or Artistic) content must be suitable for all audience within the Store listing.

Finally, Google lists off several best practices to adhere to when crafting your app listing.

  • Highlight what’s great about your app. Share interesting and exciting facts about your app to help users understand what makes you app special.
  • Make sure that your app’s title and description accurately describe your app’s functionality.
  • Avoid using repetitive or unrelated keywords or references.

These are just a few of the tips that Google had in store. To see the rest, head over to their Metadata page.

For the most part, these tips go along with what ASO experts have recommended. Keep the focus on your app, not on testimonials or competing app names, and Google should have no problem with your app’s metadata.