ASO Trends to Look Out For in 2024
As a new calendar year begins, sharing expectations and predictions for App Store Optimization (ASO) in the next 12 months has become a perennial tradition (as in many other industries). However, there’s a downside to this tradition, with an abundance of blogs, videos, and webinars circulating similar ideas, leading to a content saturation that causes these insights to fade quickly.
This year, the focus shifts away from predictions. Instead, we discuss three of the most important trends already at play in ASO. These insights should serve as a practical radar for what may be worth keeping an eye on in the coming months, and more specifically what questions to consider as you decide whether or not to make changes to how you work in ASO and app marketing.
AI in ASO is here to stay
Artificial intelligence (AI) quickly became a major talking point in 2023, and there’s no reason to believe 2024 will be any different. The popularization of large-language-models and text-to-image technologies by softwares like ChatGPT and Midjourney have already led to many case studies of how to change ASO processes – from keyword research to app icon design, from copy brainstorm to review management.
With the growing competition in the AI space, it’s likely that the use of AI in ASO will continue to be a hot topic in 2024. We can expect more case studies, and hopefully, some examples of unsuccessful attempts, which can inspire the use of AI tools in ASO and provide insights into making them work effectively.
But with many more conversations to start about AI in ASO, the key points to monitor for the near future are:
How are AI models trained & its impact on their production
For digital marketers, the challenge of personalization is crucial. When using AI, the accuracy of results is a key consideration, mainly influenced by the size and quality of datasets used in training. Generalist tools, like ChatGPT, may lack accuracy or consider irrelevant data, while specialized tools might produce stereotyped results due to smaller datasets. Choosing the right tool for your specific needs is crucial.
The discussion around balancing AI use in ASO tasks (and beyond) will likely gain more attention in the coming months, as efforts focus on clarifying AI beyond being just a buzzword and examining AI training processes, especially with tools like ChatGPT.
This is also where ASO tools will play a central role. This could be as prompt “optimizers” taking the lead in the trial & error phase of crafting an efficient prompt for generalist generative AI tools. But the difference we’ll see coming from tools like AppTweak that have developed their own AI model. AppTweak’s Atlas AI isn’t just another language model. It’s a sophisticated model that has been exclusively trained on millions of apps, keywords, and their ranking relationships spanning almost a decade.
Such tools are especially important in helping ASO practitioners go from lengthy data analyses to more focused sessions on how to leverage insights found with AI, whether in the keyword or creatives optimization process. One such instance where AppTweak has already made some progress will be regarding the identification of salient topics in user reviews and how they can lead to new marketing efforts.
Can AI deliver improvements to reporting processes?
While the short answer is yes (there have already been examples of how various AI tools can help generate, structure and/or analyze graphs and tables), it is somewhat a surprise that reporting was mostly absent from early case studies for how to use AI in ASO. As more tests are done with generative AI tools, the analysis of test results is likely to become a key aspect of how AI adds value to the ASO industry, addressing the challenge of measuring impact effectively.
Expert TipLook for AI tools that can sift through data and quickly identify the most relevant insights to improve your reporting efficiency and accuracy.
How can AI be utilized to enhance value in ASO?
Though the “wow” effect of AI has been undeniable from the start, so far its identified value potential for ASO practitioners has been limited to time-saving benefits. While this is appealing, as the industry matures in its use of AI, the focus is expected to shift to how the time saved can be reinvested.
Factors like store page crawling frequencies, app release cycles, and marketing seasonalities often limit output in ASO compared to paid advertising. With reduced stress on output, the question arises whether the time saved with AI tools should be reinvested in other tasks or directed towards areas where AI is not yet as efficient as humans.
In 2024, we expect to see real-world cases where ASO practitioners using AI not only save costs but also create extra value. Keep an eye on whether this AI impact breaks down silos between ASO and paid UA, sparks a renewed focus on marketing research in ASO, introduces new trends in the ASO landscape, or a mix of these developments.
Third-party app stores
AI will be a significant trend at the operational level. However, in 2024, the focus in the ASO space will shift to the question of third-party app stores. The European Union’s Digital Market Act, passed in 2023, requires Apple to allow app downloads from outside the App Store on iOS and iPadOS by March 2024. This has sparked speculation about the introduction of third-party app stores on iOS and who would run them. While the conversation has complex implications for app distribution costs and revenue share on iOS, it’s important to note that any new app store will face challenges in convincing developers and users to switch from the familiar store they are used to.
As a result, the question of new app stores and their benefits should not eclipse that of the changes coming to the existing app stores, and how those changes contribute to user acquisition and enhancing the user experience.
In 2023, both Google and Apple made efforts to further improve marketing features for app publishers. These efforts included introducing region-specific pre-orders on the App Store and conducting pricing experiments on Google Play. In 2024, the trend should continue, with similar questions regarding which store related features will prove valuable to marketers and whether they can increase the value of the App Store and Google Play Store as places for ad discovery and not only app download platforms.
- On Android, expectations for 2024 are that Google will finally go through with the release of promotional content (still in beta and not available to all apps), which will finalize the change in how Google identifies apps to feature on the Play Store, after it was disclosed in 2023 that using high priority promotional contents is becoming a criteria for featuring eligibility, despite not all apps being able to run them.
- Additionally, Google will be experimenting with a new editorial feature, the Play report, which will see content creators recommend and introduce various apps in a video series directly in the Play Store.
- Apple, on the other end, has yet to communicate on its upcoming App Store features but hopes are to see more features for custom product pages, while rumors of an Apple-built search engine also fuel speculations about a potential overhaul in search results.
In 2024, ASO practitioners should therefore prioritize the user experience for app discovery as app stores evolve. It’s crucial to have a broad perspective on these changes and decide which efforts to focus on and which conversations to tune out.
Paid UA trends that could impact ASO
Last but not least, the impact of non-ASO trends and changes on ASO will once again be essential to how ASO is conducted in 2024.
The rumors about Apple developing its own search engine raise questions about the potential impact on the app store and how Apple Search Ads (ASA) may change. ASO practitioners play a significant role in leveraging this ad network, so any changes could have implications. Similarly, Google has been testing manual keyword bidding in the Play Store through Google Ads. If successful, this could become the standard in 2024, requiring ASO practitioners to navigate this otherwise opaque ad network.
Moreover, the expected release of Google Privacy Sandbox and potential changes to Apple’s SKAdNetwork (SKAN) framework may affect paid user acquisition efforts and processes. This could increase interest in ASO as a growth channel or as a complement to a holistic marketing approach. ASO practitioners should avoid working in isolation and consider how their work can add value to the larger marketing efforts of their company.
Looking ahead to 2024, ASO faces interesting perspectives as trends from 2023 shape the industry’s evolution. Regardless of major changes, it is crucial to view ASO as adaptable to each app and company’s unique context. Investing in ASO remains worthwhile.
Happy new year, everyone! 🎉