In the ASO Monthly-series by ASO Consultancy Phiture, we reflect on the previous month and shed a light on trends in app store optimization, algorithm changes, insights in conversion rate optimization and tools updates.

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This update was prepared by Cécile Guibé, an ASO Consultant at Phiture.ASO Monthly #35 March 2019- More Countries in Apple Search Ads, Google Play Custom Store Listings and more

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March 5 — Android developers can now increase their revenue in the Play Store with “rewarded products”

As a start, developers will be able to monetise their free users through rewarded video ads. Users will be able to elect to watch a video advertisement and upon completion be rewarded with in-app items or currency.

in-app products

(Source: Android Developers Blog)

March 8 — App Store Connect bug in app units source type

Flagged by Mithun Jhawar on ASO Stack & Isak Ström as a thread on Apple’s forum: App Store Connect shows inaccurate data related to source types of app units. App units from search and referral were attributed to Browse. If you saw a drop in search and referral app units from March 8th until approximately a week after on your App Store connect, this is likely the cause.

Isak Ström via ASO Stack slack channel

Source: Isak Ström via ASO Stack slack channel

March 10 — Results in App Store’s Today tab can change during the day

As shared by Ilia Kukharev on ASO Stack — apps in the Today tab on the App Store appears to change throughout the day. This could potentially give more apps the chance to be discovered by users via Browse (if the tab is updated several times a day, a more diverse list of apps can take turns to appear there). It could also shorten the amount of time an app stays featured in this tab, reducing the impact of getting featured. We’ll keep an eye out on this and keep you posted with any news.

Results in App Store’s Today tab can change during the day

(Source: Ilia Kukharev via ASO Stack slack channel)

March 11 — Google running A/B testing on Similar apps, Reviews & Search Results.

As shared by Ivan Farias & Hiroto Inada on the ASO Stack Slack, some Android devices no longer see similar apps while navigating through the Google Play Store. Potential negative impacts might have been caused by this, such as a decline in installs from browse.

Spotted by Martin Mazanec on ASO Stack Slack, search results also seem to be undergoing experiments on Google Play. Users can now see the short description in the search results; the screenshots are also larger than before.

fitify search on google play

(Source: Martin Mazanec via ASO Stack slack)

March 13 — Google Play releases Custom store listings

Perhaps the most anticipated Google Play news of the month is the arrival of the Custom store listings.

Developers now have the ability to create customized store listings, thereby appealing to users across different countries.The listings can be translated to engage all users within your target countries.

custom store listings

(Source: Agata Jajszczyk via the ASO Stack slack)

Our first thoughts on Custom Store Listings:

  • They enable you to target specific countries. This was not possible before for some countries which were grouped under one big language umbrella, such as Spanish in Latin America (LATAM)
  • They let you reach all users within a country where several languages are spoken by translating your Custom Listings. In Switzerland for example you can now have one Custom Listing in French and translated in Italian and German to cater to all Swiss users.

In theory it sounds great: more localization and customization have been proved to increase conversion rate. But before you get started with Custom store listings, it’d be best to keep the following in mind:

  • You can only have 5 Custom Store Listings
  • Google does not recommend running Store Listing Experiments while having Custom Store Listings. This seems obvious but it doesn’t hurt to point it out: Your Experiments are per locale; if some users within those locale match your Custom Store Listing criteria, they are not going to be shown the experiment. We would recommend keeping an eye out for this. Experiments on Custom Store Listings could be coming to Google Play in the near future.

More on their potential implications can be found in this blog by YellowHead.

March 13 — Giving users more control over their location data

Google rolled out a beta for Android Q, the upcoming software update for Google’s mobile OS, meaning: higher security requirements! It seems like there’s a strong emphasis on location-related data and permission-related data in general. Bottom line: make sure you only ask for the relevant permissions for your app.

March 15 — Introducing a new Google Play app and game icon specification

We keep seeing changes in the Google Play Store; this time it’s the icon. Icon assets will remain the same size (512 x 512), but transparent backgrounds will no longer be allowed. Additionally, Google Play on Android and Chrome OS will dynamically apply rounded corners and drop shadows to icons. The corner radius will be 20% of the icon size, to ensure consistency at different sizes.

new Google Play app and game icon specification

(Left to right: original icon, new icon (example), original icon in legacy mode — Source: Android Developers Blog)

You will need to ensure you update your icons to follow the new specs, and that every new icon you upload follows them. The timeline, as explained by Google, is as follows:

  • Early April: you can start uploading new icons;
  • May 1st: you will no longer be able to upload icons in the Play Console which do not meet the new specifications;
  • June 24th: ‘old’ icons will be converted to legacy mode by Google (see above).

It is still unclear as to whether this will have a sizeable impact. If it does, it will mainly be on search or browse conversion rates. Unfortunately, it will hardly be measurable, because the Google Play Console does not provide the needed data granularity on this front. However, we’ve witnessed that Google has been taking some steps to make installing apps from search results easier — it might mean a move to additional source data and metrics in the Google Play Console.

March 19 — Google introduces Stadia, “a new way to play”

Google will be launching Google Stadia later this year as announced at the Game Developer Conference. Stadia will be a cloud-based games streaming service including all your favourite games in outstanding quality (console games as well!). According to Google, all you need to play with Google Stadia is a good internet connection and a controller.

Google introduces Stadia, “a new way to play”

(Source: Techcrunch)

It will be accessible on a variety of devices through the Chrome browser and gamers will be able to open and start playing a game from clicking on a simple link (from YouTube for example). There was no mention of iOS devices.

While this is good news for gamers, this may change things for ASO practitioners for games. If a majority of users will have access to direct streaming, this may reduce the relevancy of games released on the Play Store.

March 20 — Ability to target multiple countries in one campaign on ASA

Running and managing ASA campaigns has been a challenge in its own right due to the amount of manual work involved. Overseeing a large project with multiple campaigns in multiple countries can be a nightmare. This can now be improved, as one more level has been added to help the organization of the campaigns within Search Ads. One campaign can now be run in several countries:

Ability to target multiple countries in one campaign on ASA

(Source: Nadine Garouche via the ASO Stack slack)

This will definitely help in making campaign management across countries more efficient.

March 21 — Google Play dedicated tab for gaming events on Google Play console

Other news for gaming developers: Google Play has added a specific ‘Event’ tab for Games. Users browsing the stores can find specific events related to your games there, instead of visiting each individual Game’s page to check its events. That’s potentially a big theme to drive and boost user engagement in your game — or even new installs, as it also shows for users who do not have your game installed. If you are unsure about what those events are, here’s a case study published by Google back in 2017 on how they can help drive user engagement.


(Source: Rafal Baranowski via ASO Stack slack)

March 27–46 new countries in ASA

We’ve all been waiting for it, and there was some speculation as to when it was going to happen, and finally here it is! Apple added 46 new countries to Apple Search Ads (full list here). This is huge. New acquisition sources, new insights, better informed acquisition and keyword strategies, etc.

Interesting facts:

  1. Some of the biggest markets are not covered yet, such as China, Russia or Brazil for example.
  2. Some countries that don’t have a storefront are available for targeting through Search Ads (Arabic countries for example).

Some practicalities:

  • Changed visualization for the search popularity index. This gave some people a scare as it looked like the popularity score had been removed; thankfully it can still be accessed.
  • Changed vocabulary: installs instead of conversions
  • The number of recommended keywords has significantly increased (Venkat Bugga reported up to 213 keyword recommendations in the ASO Stack slack channel).

March 25 — Apple announcing Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service

Apple Arcade is to be launched this fall as a gaming subscription service encompassing a variety of high quality, exclusive games.


(Source: Apple Newsroom)

No details have been shared yet on the price of the subscription or the dividends to participating developers, however it’s been communicated that Apple will contribute to development costs for this initiative. It won’t have in app purchases or ads, and developers won’t get access to any user data. It will be interesting to see how this platform can be optimized for search and conversion.

Upcoming Events in April

April 1

CodeMobile Android and iOS Developer Conference – CodeMobile

CodeMobile is a UK developer conference that has been created by developers who love creating apps in the mobile space…

April 4

App Promotion Summit London 2019

THE ORIGINAL AND BEST APP GROWTH EVENT Launched in 2013, App Promotion Summit is London’s leading app and mobile…

App Growth Summit NYC 2019 – April 4, 2019

After a sold out event last year, App Growth Summit NYC 2019 returns to New York City for the second straight year on…

April 8

ContentTECH Summit –

Come to the ContentTECH Summit to learn how new technologies and innovative processes are fundamentally changing what…

April 9

Revisit Next ’18 – Google Cloud

At Google Cloud Next ’18, the cloud is made here. Together. Anything’s possible and everyone’s invited. Watch session…

April 10

Mobile Marketing

Mobile Marketing.

April 22

Homepage – Activate 19

Join 600+ of the industry’s most innovative marketers to transform the way we think about customer engagement. Activate…

April 23

Android Makers Paris 2019

Where the Android dream comes true

April 29

App Builders 2019 – Lugano, Switzerland

One of the biggest European conferences about mobile technologies taking place in the heart of Europe. Get inspired by…

Tools updates

Track daily app performance & ASO KPIs on Slack – ASO Blog

AppTweak now integrates with Slack! Recieve a daily ASO report on Slack with our new integration and easily monitor…

Ranking Difficulty & Chance Score Now on AppTweak – ASO Blog

See how hard it will be for your app to rank for a certain keyword. Find keywords with the lowest difficulty score and…

Introducing Similar App Cards Data for Google Play Store & SVRank

This month we are on fire 🔥 and we can’t stop releasing new features in order to give you the top-quality ASO tool…

New Rich Results & 100% Accurate Data for iOS 12 & Real Time Search

Not long ago we announced new features regarding our Global section: the introduction of Global Search Visibility…

Unlock the Complete Mobile Picture: App Annie Introduces Mobile Web Data | App Annie Blog

For the first time ever, businesses can unlock the complete mobile picture – featuring both mobile web and mobile app…

Interesting reads

Just How Impactful is Being Featured on the App Store?

Maggie Ngai, ASO consultant at Phiture, helps companies to optimize visibility and conversion of their apps in both App…

The Mobile Triforce: Marketing, Tech, and Data.

In this article, I’ll try to highlight what makes, from my point of view, a good “tech-marketing stack” and how you can…

The problem with the 30% platform fee on mobile in three charts – Mobile Dev Memo

Last week, Apple announced that it will allow developers to discount in-app subscriptions on iOS to current and recent…

44 ASO Expert Tips for 2019 – yellowHEAD

So you have an app and you think you are on the right track with your growth strategy. If you’ve Googled ‘app…

Should You Run Apple Search Ads for Branded Keywords?

Marketers voice many cons to running Apple Search Ads for branded keywords. Well-known companies usually say, “We have…

Grow your games business with ads

Acquiring and retaining users is important, but retention alone doesn’t generate revenue. Our internal data shows that…

How to interpret the 1000 most searched keywords on the App Store

Looking for an app idea? Here is what people are looking for.

App Store and Google Play A/B Testing Strategies to Try in 2019

Noga Szpiro from StoreMaven talks about App Store Optimization strategies, experiments, and ways to increase conversion…

App Pricing: To localize or not to localize?

It’s been a while since we (Fitify) were facing this tough question. In this blog post, I would like to sum up some…

Predictive Modeling for App Marketers: The Complete Guide – AppsFlyer

Martin is currently a marketing analyst at AppAgent. Originally a game developer, Martin founded BeerDeer Studios back…