This time last year, Google Play introduced its first paid search model for app developers. The search giant understands how people use apps as part of their day-to-day media usage pattern to accomplish tasks while barely thinking about it, which is why app discovery is such an integral part of their business strategy. Need an app to workout in your hotel while traveling? Check. Need an app to discover new recipes for a housewarming party? Check. Need an app to find the lowest travel fare? Check. We could go on, but suffice it to say: there’s always an app for that.
This month, we were excited – but not surprised – to hear that Apple has taken a page out of Google’s playbook. This fall, Apple will be rolling out a full-scale paid search model in their App Store. Combining paid search with app discovery reduces friction in customers’ media usage pattern lifecycle by making it easier and safer for them to find reputable apps that meet their needs when they want them. In other words? This is beneficial for the end user (because they can find what they want more seamlessly); beneficial for app-based businesses (who want to encourage app adoption and discovery); and potentially very lucrative for Apple (hello, ad sales). Apple’s App Store is Google Play’s biggest rival and the only game in town for apps developed for iOS devices. In 2015, Apple earned $20 billion in revenue from the App Store and other services (think: Apple Care, etc.). Although Apple executives tend to keep the granular details of the company’s financials tight to their chests, rumors suggest close to two-thirds of app downloads come from search hits in the App Store. If this is true, paid search in this space could drive a substantial amount of exposure to emerging apps and significantly improve the customer discovery experience.
APP SEARCH FOR ADVERTISERS TO FIT CUSTOMERS’ MEDIA USAGE PATTERN:
The best part about Apple’s new paid search model is that it fits seamlessly into the App Store experience people already expect during their typical media usage pattern. Only one featured app will appear at the top of customers’ search results in the App Store, and the only distinguishing difference between a paid app and a non-paid app will be a blue ring around the app badge indicating these results were sponsored. Unlike paid search engine ads that sometimes feel jarring or separated from organic search results, Apple’s new model makes it easier for advertisers to promote their apps without disrupting the customer experience.
Naturally, this prime real estate will be a pay to play opportunity for search marketers. Advertisers will participate in a bid auction to secure top keyword terms correlated to their app based on a pay-per-click pricing model (there will be no pay-per-impression option at this time). In tandem, Apple will also offer demographic and audience targeting to keep advertising costs reasonable while ensuring app discovery is as close to a perfect match as possible for the customer. It goes without saying that businesses can use this inconspicuous search experience to support their paid SEO and AdWords campaigns and close the loop between website engagement and mobile app discovery. This is especially important as customers’ media usage patterns almost always include multiple devices across their smartphones, tablets, and computers. No matter where your customers are surfing, your paid search strategy can support their habits and needs.
THE WINNING PAID SEARCH MODEL FOR APP-BASED BUSINESSES:
Although Apple’s new paid search program is currently in beta testing, the full program will be released this fall. And we couldn’t be more excited. That’s our way of saying there’s no time to waste if your business has (or is developing) an app. Our team of Orlando marketing experts can help you balance your current paid spend to include app advertising while guiding you through this new experience from audience selection, to keyword term bidding, and everything in between to create a seamless end-to-end app experience that supports your customers’ media usage pattern.
The paid app program presents a unique opportunity for businesses to reenergize sluggish app usage and encourage adoption if your website and social channels haven’t been as successful as you’d like them to be in reaching this goal. Even if all your channels are performing well, paid app advertising supports an increasing trend of customers searching for apps or related tasks directly in the App Store as part of their media usage pattern. We predict this will be an integral part of the paid marketing mix by the end of the year and one your business should not miss.
Click here for current case studies that showcase how our team has helped support app discovery in the digital age. By this fall, your business could be taking part in one of the most important new search trends of the year, so don’t wait to give us a call.