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.

Phiture is hiring for a key role to lead our evergrowing ASO team. You’ll be responsible for leading and overseeing the success of our App Store Optimization service team and help Phiture to lead the way in mobile growth. Read more about the role here

This update was written by Andrew Hart, ASO Consultant at Phiture.

ASO Monthly #43 November 2019- Metadata Policy updates, Apple Search Ads Glitches and more

November 4 — Google Play Points

Google Play has rolled out their Play Points engagement program to the US market following a successful release in Japan and Korea earlier this year. Google Play Points is a reward system designed to “to show appreciation to our users and help increase engagement with your games and apps”. Users gain Play Points for making purchases within the Play Store — including apps, games, in-app items, music, movies, books, and subscriptions — and for downloading select apps and games.

The advantage for developers lies within the user’s ability to cash in Play Points for special items and discounts within apps, although this is currently only available in apps from a select group of major US developers (Niantic, King, Electronic Arts, etc.). As this feature creates further synergies within the Play store ecosystem, we imagine it will become available to all apps upon the success of this initial release.

The Play Points program will put Google Play on the same level with the Amazon Coins program, which was the core USP that the Amazon App Store had for consumers over the Google Play Store.

November 4 — App Store : Changes to Local Age Ratings in Brazil

Due to regulations in Brazil, Apple has made adjustments to its automatically generated Local Age Ratings for the Brazilian store. The local age rating is shown as a badge displayed alongside Apple’s rating on the App Store in Brazil.

If you’re catering to a market under the age of 18, you might want to double-check your content description submissions and whether or not the new ratings will affect your store listing in Brazil.

November 6 — Google Play’s App Defence Alliance and the war on Play Store malware.

“Fighting against bad actors in the ecosystem” is a top priority for Google and they have enlisted the help of cybersecurity experts ESET, Lookout, and Zimperium to create the App Defence Alliance and ensure the safety of the Google Play Store. The Alliance plans to quickly find potentially harmful applications and stop them from being published by analysing risk intelligence data and acting as another, vital set of eyes prior to the release of new apps on the Play Store.

Although no guidelines have been published as yet, you can find out more information about The Alliance and the work they’re doing here.

November 13 — Google Play Metadata Policy Update

Google Play Store updates its Metadata Policy

As part of a collection of improvements to its Developer Program Policies, Google has updated its Play Store Metadata Policy, emphasising formatting and clear information.

“We don’t allow apps with misleading, improperly formatted, non-descriptive, irrelevant, excessive, or inappropriate metadata, including but not limited to the app’s description, developer name, title, icon, screenshots, and promotional images. Developers must provide a clear and well-written description. We also don’t allow unattributed or anonymous user testimonials in the app’s description.”

Changes included in the new policy indicate that improper formatting and non-descriptive metadata is a no-no. Amongst these formatting faux pas are word blocks and vertical/horizontal word lists, although Google hasn’t otherwise outlined what it considers to be improper formatting. On a positive note, they have loosened the buckle on user testimonials, allowing props to be given as long as they are attributed to a name — most likely an actual human being.

rescue rover

  1. Unattributed or Anonymous User testimonials
  2. Data comparison of apps or brands
  3. Word blocks and vertical/horizontal word lists

The main focus of this update is to regulate formatting and make descriptions clearer. As long as you’re across the changes and at least following Google’s own best practices (listed at the bottom of the metadata page) you will be ok!

November 14 — Google Auto-Play Toggle

The Google Play store is possibly A/B testing an auto-play toggle since rolling out auto-play Promo Videos in September.

A few months ago Google activated auto-play of Promo Videos in the Play Store and although that may be a dream come true for content creators, it may well be an annoyance for users browsing the store. Google seems to have anticipated this problem and has begun A/B testing a toggle feature, according to news leaked by Android Police earlier this month. Although this is not live as yet, it may be something to consider if it’s rolled out across all Play Stores in the future.

November 25 — Xyla ASO Keyword Micro Tool

Incipia offshoot Xyla have just launched two new ASO Keyword tools for iOS and Android. For iOS developers, the tool will automatically build a keywords field from your own prioritized list of keywords, which they claim is “Great for managing the tedious process of making a de-duplicated comma-separated list and especially for international optimizations”. In Android, it will count the total exact mentions of keywords in your excel keyword list across the title, short description and long description.

November 26, Apple Search Ads Glitch?

Flagged by Parv Bhargava in the ASO Slack Channel this week, it looks as though Apple may be hiding screenshots in an app’s organic listing if it’s also being listed as an Apple Search Ad. Here’s what it looks like for the meditation app Headspace, with three landscape screenshots, Apple skips the first screenshot in their organic listing and goes straight to the second. In this case, the result is a positive one, with Apple displaying two value propositions in quick succession.

meditation - headspace


This could be a bug or potentially Apple testing new ways of displaying creative assets in relation to ASA results. Either way, if you’re running Apple Search Ads, be mindful that your first four screenshots are working in harmony to mitigate this potential problem — for example, if you’re only running three screenshots, this glitch will create a gaping hole in your organic listing.

video edit search on app store

Picture: Luca Giacomel

There has also been some interesting behaviour reported from the iOS 13.3 developer beta environment with Apple Search Ads. Sylvain Gauchet posted a video last week of an ASA listing refreshing and displaying a different ad after he scrolled down, and back up to the beginning of his search results. You can see the anomaly here.

It’s possible this is Apple’s way of displaying two ads in its search results, although from a user perspective it might not be ideal if after scrolling down, they decide they want to click on the initial advertisement. Something to keep in mind but also be aware that this has only been reported from the developer beta for the time being.

November 27 — New Ad Type in Google Play

It looks as though Google may be developing a new ad variety thanks to a screenshot shared in our ASO Slack community at the beginning of the month by Ilia Kukharev. The screenshot shows a search query for “to do” returning an ad at the top of the results including an image, title, developer name, rating and most importantly an Install button however we have been unable to find any more information regarding a new advertising platform. Could this be Google’s answer to ASA? It is certainly one to keep an eye on.

to do search on app store

Upcoming Events in December

Dec 3 Webinar: AppFollow: ASO Year in Review

Dec 4 in Berlin: AppFollow’s Berlin Meetup

Dec 5–6 in Hong Kong: Digital Marketing Leaders Summit Hong Kong 2019

Dec 5 in Berlin: App Promotion Summit

Dec 10 in Seattle: AGS Mastermind Roundtables

Dec 11 Webinar: TheTalks by TheTool Episode 1: 2020 — A New Scope for ASO

Tool Updates

Introducing Spy Downloads, Keywords Tagging and Much More

In this article, you will discover all the new features that we have been working on during the last weeks and that we…

5.2: November Update

TL;DR: replies to Amazon reviews, beta reviews sent to Slack and e-mail, Similar apps in Timeline, filtering modified…

Use App Review Sentiment Analysis to Make Product Decisions – ASO Blog

We’ve just added a keyword density analysis to our Reviews and Rating section. AppTweak now automatically reveals the…

November 2019: NEW ASO Comparative Report, Mobile view and more

We glad to introduce you to an entirely new ASO Comparative report with a possibility of connection to App Store…

Xyla | App Marketing Attribution | MMP & ASO Reporting & Analytics

Xyla simplifies reporting routines for paid and organic app marketers. It’s easy to setup/customize, and built by…

Interesting reading

Infographic: the 25 Most Downloaded Games of the History of Google Play

We use first and third party cookies to analyze our user’s browsing habits. By browsing we’ll assume that you give us…

Advanced Machine Learning Helps Play Store Users Discover Personalised Apps

One of our aims at DeepMind is to bring the benefits of AI to the world in partnership with Google. In practice, that…

How App Store Optimization Has Changed in 2019 and What’s Next

This is a guest post by Ilia Kukharev, Head of ASO at AppFollow. Ilia won ASO Personality of the Year at ASO Conference…

The ASO Review Podcast – Phiture – Mobile Growth Consultancy

Important news from the world of App Store Optimization brought to you by Phiture. This podcast is a bitesize review of…

How to stop Apple rejecting your App Store app preview videos

Every day Apple seems to get stricter with store assets. At least, that’s what we at AppAgent and other publishers have…

Huawei AppGallery: Search Visibility

How does the AppGallery index and rank apps in its search results? What ASO efforts can we employ to increase…

How to Improve Organic Conversion Rates with Testing | StoreMaven

They’re supposed to just… happen. The concept of organic traffic originally began to materialize when paid web-based…

A guide to the perfect keyword research in ASO with clusters

Using the right methodology and dedicating time for keyword research means setting yourself up for success in the…

Increase organic downloads this Christmas and New Year

The Christmas and New Year period is an excellent opportunity to obtain more organic downloads. However, choosing the…