The Expansion of the App Store Search Universe

Today, app stores are mainly platforms that assist users at the moment of conversion, but that may soon begin to change. Presently, often, users go to the stores with an idea of the precise app they are looking for, causing the stores to lean heavily towards navigational type keywords. Terms such as “Amazon Music” and “Univision NOW,” form a majority of the traffic share—taking users on a straight path from search to app. Only a minor portion of the traffic is informational in flavor, e.g. “photography app” or “stream tv.” The lack in balance between search term types is most likely due to the app stores’ incapability of providing a deeper search experience. A lack of utility in informational search drives users towards the most known apps, which causes an imbalance in downloaded apps and skews installs towards the few.

From an App Store Optimization (ASO) perspective, a more balanced app stores, where users can search for informational, research, and navigational search terms, would be ideal. If the stores were able to support a deeper search experience, it would help users discover, learn about, and acquire apps more easily. The app stores would evolve into more of a search engine, allowing for a greater breadth and depth of app exploration.

There are some changes on the horizon. Right now, we are witnessing an adjustment to the store that may afford the users a more balanced search experience. At M&C Saatchi Mobile, we’ve discovered a small shift in the UI over the past few weeks. Searching for informational terms results in richer content results. For example, searching for “stream tv” results in an article providing a list written by Apple’s editorial team of movies and tv streaming apps. Another example, search for a content title like, “Altered Carbon” and an article about the Netflix show will now appear. At some point, the ability to write information rich articles may be given to individual app developers to help scale the number of these types of articles available in the App Store.

Result of searching for “stream tv” within the App Store. An article appears at the top of the search result page.

The search result page when a content title is searched (left). Example of the “Altered Carbon” article (center). The article appears in long form with a clear call-to-action when the reader scrolls down (right).

If the App Store continues to move in this direction, it will begin to provide a more complete discovery experience. A move in this direction will make great strides in evening the playing field for smaller developers. Searchable content expands the current app store search universe, potentially increasing the amount of time a user will browse the store, thus increasing the chance of discovery. This further means increases in the number of ASO avenues available.  Developers and marketers will now be able to capitalize on engaging articles and other content about their product to bring it the attention of possible users. A more complete discovery experience may also arm marketers with different types of paid ad products, such as native ads embedded within the search result page, even further increasing the possibility of discovery. Taken altogether, this could help bring many quality apps and smaller brands the attention and user base they deserve.

It’s refreshing to see that the App Store is expanding its capabilities to provide a deeper exploration experience. Hopefully more relevant, inspirational, and useful content will be abundantly available for users soon. At mobile-first agencies, such as M&C Saatchi Mobile, these store developments will continue to be closely monitored and used to tailor ASO and other digital marketing efforts, so that brands can take full advantage of them as they evolve.

If you would like to discuss the evolving landscape of the app store and more with us, then then get in touch today.

Peter Yoon

App Optimization Strategist at M&C Saatchi Mobile
Peter Yoon is currently an App Optimization Strategist at M&C Saatchi Mobile. He has worked in the mobile advertising industry for over 5 years, specializing in building new marketing products with a recent focus on ASO.

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