Apple’s iOS 15 Custom Product Pages & Their Impact on ASO
During the Worldwide Developer Conference 2021 (WWDC21), Apple announced a number of important changes coming to Apple products later this year. The most significant new features for App Store Optimization (ASO) include in-app events, product page optimization (native A/B testing on the App Store), and custom product pages.
In this blog, we will take an in-depth look at custom product pages and their impact on ASO. In particular, we will answer the following questions:
- What are custom product pages?
- When should you use custom product pages?
- How will custom product pages impact ASO?
- Tips to set custom product pages up
- How to leverage custom product pages on the App Store
What are custom product pages?
Custom product pages are alternate versions of an App Store product page that app marketers will be able to create to highlight different functionalities, content, or offers than those shown on their default page. As a result, marketers will be able to leverage these page variations to target different segments of their target audience. With custom product pages, developers will be able to create up to 35 customized variants of their default product page and change their promotional text, screenshots, and/or app preview video with each variant.
Custom product pages will be accessible via a unique URL. As a result, traffic driven to the custom product page will come from referrals, thus helping app marketers better adapt their message to audiences coming from outside the App Store (and thus improve the performance of efforts such as paid ad campaigns, influencer marketing, or other marketing initiatives).
Apple’s custom product pages will allow app marketers to customize their app preview videos, screenshots, and/or promotional text on the App Store. They will be localizable and accessible via a unique URL (source: developer.apple.com).
For ad campaigns, marketers will have to check which ad networks are compatible with custom product pages as certain networks may use their own linking method to measure post-install events. While custom product pages are not expected to be released in September 2021 or immediately with iOS 15.0, some networks may not be compatible once this functionality is released. However, Apple has hinted that once available, custom product pages will be compatible with Apple Search Ads and will replace their ‘Creative Sets’ feature.
When should you use custom product pages?
With a maximum number of 35 custom product pages and no limit to the number of pages per country (unlike Google Play’s Custom Store Listings), Apple is providing developers with many opportunities to target specific user personas throughout the store. As a result, developers can consider implementing custom product pages to highlight the following elements of their app:
Using custom product pages to promote specific features/benefits can be particularly valuable for apps or games that offer multiple main features. For example, the social networking app Bumble is divided into three main functionalities: Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, and Bumble Bizz. Custom product pages would allow Bumble to showcase each functionality for different demographics depending on its market research. Bumble could then add the relevant page URLs to its marketing messages, directing targeted users to the custom page that highlights how the app serves that user’s specific needs.
Apps that offer a wide variety of content may also look to promote targeted content to different audiences based on their preferences. For example, the ESPN sports app could create a variety of custom product pages on the US App Store to appeal to American football fans, baseball fans, and basketball fans by showcasing their respective favorite sport rather than displaying all three at the same time. Pushing this logic even further, a basketball-oriented App Store page could even showcase multiple variants during the NBA Playoffs and display creatives that feature the teams left in the competition and promote interest-based ad campaigns. Highlighting users’ favorite teams/players is more likely to appeal to store visitors and encourage them to convert a page view into an app download.
Apps and games that run special discount campaigns or other promotions only available to specific audiences could also consider making their special offers a prominent element of their custom product page creatives. This would be impossible on default product pages as ineligible users would also be exposed to the offer. For instance, the French music streaming app Deezer could create a custom product page to highlight a ‘3-months free’ discount exclusively for French consumers buying a sound device in a partner electronics store; Deezer could then have their partner link to this custom product page. In such a case, a custom product page would be a great way to reinforce the “now or never opportunity” effect for specific audiences, thus maximizing downloads while avoiding any frustration from ineligible users.
Similarly to content preferences, specific targets may react better to a custom product page that showcases creatives linked to the specific medium that drove them to the App Store. For instance, the game Dragon City may want to create a custom product page highlighting the role of a popular influencer that was asked to drive awareness around their app; this technique would aim to extend the impact of the influencer campaign and increase conversion. Harmonizing creatives and messages with custom product pages could therefore drive downloads without creating confusion in users coming from other traffic sources.
How will custom product pages impact ASO?
As custom product pages will not allow app marketers to adapt an app’s title, subtitle, keyword field, or category, they will not have a direct impact on app indexation. However, marketers should understand that the feature could still impact ASO since custom product pages will help boost the download velocity and conversion rates of apps and games that implement them well. As a result, the most successful apps in custom product page implementation could, in fact, see organic rankings increase as the aforementioned criteria may act as signals for Apple’s ranking algorithms.
Furthermore, as custom product pages are expected to be compatible with Apple Search Ads, they could also be beneficial to keyword-specific conversion rates which play a major role in organic keyword rankings. Overall, while much of the challenge will lay in the hands of the referrer and the efficient segmentation of consumers, ASO teams will play an important role in understanding the potential of different sources of referral traffic, and accurately creating store-appropriate assets for these custom product pages to match the relevant user personae.
An example of Apple’s custom product pages on the App Store (source: developer.apple.com).
Tips to set custom product pages up
In their dedicated session at WWDC 2021, Apple shared that all developers will be able to set up custom product pages from their App Store Connect consoles. Furthermore, uploading assets for custom product pages will not require developers to submit a new app build; this means that marketers will be able to set up custom product pages independent of their iOS developers’ submission schedule. However, this does not exempt custom product pages assets from being reviewed by Apple, so remember to make sure all your custom product page creatives are compliant with App Store guidelines, and that you upload them for review at least a few days before their associated referrer campaign goes live.
Last but not least, Apple has yet to release specific information regarding the localizability of custom product pages, so keep an eye out for announcements as to whether a single custom product page can be created in multiple languages, or if every language will require one dedicated custom product page out of the 35 maximum announced.
How to leverage custom product pages
In their WWDC announcement, Apple disclosed that the Analytics section of App Store Connect will allow developers to measure impressions, downloads, conversion rate as well as proceeds and retention per custom product page. This means that custom product pages are not only optimizable at the store conversion level, but also for retention or revenue efforts. As such, the feature will play a major role in re-engagement efforts or driving more subscriptions/purchases.
In particular, keep in mind that such metrics aggregated in App Store Connect will not be subject to the same type of user consent required by the App Tracking Transparency framework: While Apple does require user consent to collect user data, this process is independent of the ATT consent prompt that any app must display before sharing data with third-party attribution tools or advertising networks. Consequently, data observed in App Store Connect might be based on larger volumes than in third-party tools if users consent more easily to Apple’s data collection than to app tracking.
To maximize the impact of your custom product pages, start by determining which objective you want to accomplish (whether that be new user acquisition, re-engagement, revenue increase, or otherwise), and isolate your core KPIs for every objective. For each purpose, also consider A/B testing your assets and/or dynamically optimizing your performance by using two or more custom product pages served by the same campaign. For instance, you may want to use one custom product page on weekdays and another on the weekend as part of the same campaign.
Last but not least, consider the possibility of A/B testing some assets ahead of time with product page optimization in App Store Connect. Since Apple hinted custom product pages would most likely not be released immediately with iOS 15, developers may want to anticipate their release and test assets to 100% of their audience for short periods of time. This may help developers identify the creatives that perform best for specific segments and isolate the custom product pages that should be created first.
- Custom product pages will be the first customizable store landing pages on the App Store, allowing developers to showcase different promotional text, screenshots, and/or app preview videos than on their default product page to maximize the performance of specific referrer traffic segments.
- These pages will be invaluable when running ads from multiple paid UA channels or other efforts such as social media contests, influencer campaigns, or email marketing. Messaging can match many different sources by driving traffic directly via a unique App Store URL.
- While they should not directly impact organic rankings, custom product pages could still benefit the ASO of best-in-class apps that do improve their overall conversion and download velocity.
- Setting up custom product pages will not require a new app submission but will still be subject to Apple’s creatives review.
- With analytics going beyond app downloads, developers will be able to optimize custom product pages for revenue and engagement, thus multiplying marketing efforts that pass through the App Store.
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