What do these changes mean for existing app publishers and for
publishers planning to launch an app? Is Apple about to remove your
app from the app store? How will the new app naming guidelines
affect ASO (app store optimization) efforts? And why is Apple doing
this now? Here are some things brands need to know.
Are you a rotten apple?
Since its launch in 2008, the app store has become home for 2
million apps (as of June 2016), but Apple is no longer boasting
this vanity figure. With good reason, too.
Sure, the ever-growing number of mobile apps for iOS devices is
a sign of a healthy app ecosystem and platform popularity. But too
many apps are over-egging the app store pudding, so to say, making
it confusing and cumbersome for users searching for the solutions
they want and need in a haystack of faulty, spammy, irrelevant and
Apple aims to improve user experience in the app store, so it is
taking quick action before the release of iOS 10. On a dedicated page by Apple Support,
the company detailed (in part) the criteria for app removal and
what will happen to problematic apps that have been flagged by
For app publishers, this is great news. Fewer old, broken or
abandoned apps in the app store means more exposure for quality
An app by any other (short) name
The second update Apple announced in the email to app publishers
is the shortening of the app name field in the iTunes connect
console to 50 characters from 255 previously available. This change
is more significant than many app publishers might think.
Up until recently, iTunes app publishers had only the
100-character keyword field and name field to list relevant
keywords to get found in the app store. Since Apple approved most
app names composed of up to 15 words or so (as long as they did not
include disallowed terms) and keywords in the name field had more
weight in SERPs (search engine results placements), many app
publishers listed popular (but not necessarily relevant) keywords
in the app name field, creating pretty ridiculous sounding
Publishers of apps with names exceeding the limit are likely to
receive an email asking them to update the app name within 30 days
of receiving notice in order to comply with the new app submission
guidelines. App publishers who will not shorten their app name will
get booted from the app store until the issue is resolved by the
Quality over quantity
Google Play doesn't have a keyword field but instead indexes all
app metadata the same way the Googlebot indexes content on
webpages. Apple is moving in the same direction with a recent
change to its indexing algorithm that now detects keywords in app
In addition, Google keeps the app names on Google Play looking
tidier with a 30-character limit. So Apple's 50 is actually a lot
of room for relevant keywords, especially for brand publishers with
numerous apps (like Nike and Pfizer) who won't have a hard time
including their brand name in the app name.
The main challenge, however, is not the constraint in character
quantity, but rather the lack of precise tools for measuring
keyword "quality" in terms of performance, not just visibility.
Spamming with irrelevant but wildly popular keywords was easy, but
now Apple is pulling the plug.
Publishers, even those who didn't misuse the name field length,
will have to find new ways to remain on top of the search results,
and focus on making the most of every user visit to the app page
through optimization of content for conversion.
App search ads are coming
Back in June, Apple (among others) announced its app search ads,
launched in beta and free to iTunes publishers. While this service
is being tested, publishers have little to no control of the
keywords and settings used in these ads. However, according to
Apple's Phil Schiller,
developers will be able to target competing brand names with app
store search ads in the future with "conquesting ads."
Currently, the app search advertising algorithm only uses app
metadata to insert the ads in search results, but once the service
goes live, there will be no shortage of publishers directing their
budgets to "conquesting ads."
The introduction of app search ads is bound to have a huge
impact on ASO efforts, forcing app marketers to finally synergize
ASO with media-buying strategies across advertising platforms. It's
hard to tell how much of an impact app search ads will ultimately
have on the app marketing world, but Apple is trying to get
publishers on board in any way it can, including the reduction in
characters in the app name field.
After all, with iAd being less than a hit, Apple needs to find
ad revenue sources. And what better place to start than the highly
competitive app store search results?
As the iTunes app store cleans itself from low-quality apps and
spammy search results, the apps that will survive this shake up are
those with a solid app store content strategy. So better strengthen
your app marketing foundations now.