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'Featured' Status Drives App Store Downloads

Winning the approval of Apple’s editors means a significant uptick in installs

October 26, 2017 | Mobile

With its September redesign of the App Store, Apple’s editors have started to surface a daily featured app that was placed front and center among browsers. New research from Apptopia underscores just how dramatically being featured can change the fortunes of app and game developers.

According to the firm, nongaming apps that earned featured status on the App Store saw their downloads spike by an average of 1,747%. That figure was less dramatic—but still significant—for games, which saw their downloads boosted by an average of 792%.

Average Increase in Downloads from Being Featured as Apple App Store's 'App of the Day'/'Game of the Day' Among US iOs Apps, by Day/Type, Sep-Oct 2017 (% change vs. prior day)

Gains for featured apps were strongest during the week, when downloads climbed by 2,172%, compared with a 580% increase for apps featured over the weekend.

Free apps also benefited more from featured status, as download levels climbed by an average of 2,033%, while paid apps experienced 321% bump.

Clearly, getting named a featured app is something close to hitting the lottery for developers. But there are other ways app publishers can get their product in front of eyeballs, specifically by optimizing their apps for the store.

App publishers can help their product get a leg up by carefully choosing keywords in app titles, subtitles and descriptions with the goal of improving organic search results—where more than 65% of app downloads originate, said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president for worldwide marketing, in a John Gruber blog post.

Additionally, they can improve their status by choosing visually striking screenshots and thoughtful app descriptions to help surface their app to Apple’s editors.

The App Store’s redesign is intended to improve the user browsing experience, meaning that an app description’s imaging and text must draw in consumers who are probably quickly skimming over a number of apps. Apple’s addition of short video previews to app product pages can also help to grab the prospective downloaders’ attention.

And, as always, mobile app publishers can lean on paid campaigns to help drive downloads. According to a survey of mobile app developers worldwide carried out by AdColony this spring, nearly seven in 10 respondents named full-screen video as an effective ad channel for driving app installs, more than any other ad format. Some 67% considered social video as effective, followed by 47% who cited social display.

As time spent with mobile apps keeps outpacing time spent on the mobile web, driving app installs will remain an important goal of businesses. eMarketer estimates that mobile app install ad spending in the US will total $7.57 billion this year, up 29.0% over 2016, and will account for 13.0% of total mobile ad spending.

—Rahul Chadha

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