Two weeks ago, Apple put the rumors to bed and confirmed that they would introduce paid search ads to their App Store. Meaning, they will let developers pay to have ads, for their apps to appear at the top of search listings or results.
For me, this is quite odd. Instead of fixing the app store since it is broken from a developer’s perspective. They decided to implement this controversial move. As of this writing, apps are being lost in search results, their customers are struggling to find apps and ultimately, developers are missing out on a lot of things such as customer base and revenue.
Apple’s effort to improve discovery is not enough, their auto complete and the trending search feature is not the things that we expected from them. Most especially, this paid search ads model.
Are you familiar with Google Adwords? If so, then you’d easily understand how it works. App publishers will now have the option to bid on specific keywords within App Store search. So far, there is no clear indication of how many ads will appear, but considered the limited amount of space available on iOS and Android devices, we couldn’t see them (Apple and Google) inserting more than two ads. Here is an example of how an ad would look.
We don’t need to panic as of now because no one really knows for sure how this will affect App Store Optimization until ads are available to the general public.
The real question that needs to be answered is: Will the ads be cheap enough to make App Store Optimization obsolete?
Will It Make It Easier to Optimize Apps in the Long Run?
I can’t see App Store (even Google Play) ads reducing the need for app store optimization at all. For sure, there will always be a need for organic traffic. Take for example, in SEO, organic traffic is just as important, as it was when Google Adwords first came out.
In fact, if you’ll think more about it, there’s a possibility that it could make optimizing apps a lot easier. Testing keywords require a lot of time and effort. Many app publishers may just spend money to rank for keywords, as opposed to striving for organic rankings.
Why not do both? Don’t worry if you do not have a big budget, the introduction of ads may still work in your favor.
So what to do?
As I mentioned earlier, don’t panic. Continue what you’re doing and monitor your keyword rankings, to see if it will be affected by the introduction of ads or not. It may or may not have an effect, but the important thing here is to be alert, so you can make your next move, and take advantage of any benefits.
Just like with Google search, traffic score will probably be available with the new Paid search ads. It’s just a wild guess, but it would make sense. This would be good news because instead of having to approximate search traffic using ASO Tools, we can just get it directly from Google or Apple.
This could make ASO tools obsolete when it comes to search volume estimation. But then again, you can still rely on ASO tools to get other ranking factors such as difficulty score, an approximate number of apps using a specific keyword, and much more.
Remember when new ad networks first started or launched? Take for example Google Adwords or Facebook ads, it’s easy to buy cheap clicks and it took some time to for users to start to catch on the new trend.
Once people became educated, however, ads cost increased and the easy money was gone. Ad networks can provide good value, but then again, it require time, effort, and you really have to test your ads every once in a while.
Just like in life, there’s still no guarantees, but if you’ll base the outcome of the past (SEO : Ad Networks), things will probably normalize after a while. Yeah, we might initially see the ad costs relatively high, but soon, it will drop across the board. Oh wait, this is just Google Play obviously. For iOS, the ad costs will probably continue its climb no matter what.
I just hope that this article has given you some ideas on what to look out for when “Paid search ads” comes out of beta testing. We’ll just have to wait and see how will this pan out. But take Apple’s history when it comes to launching new products or services. Their iOS isn’t great. Their App Store is broken, their iTunes is weak (iTunes connect was almost unusable for years), and iAds shut down after a couple of years.
Let us know your thoughts! Are Paid search ads going to be a good or bad thing for App Store Optimization? Let us know in the comments section below.