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App Store Optimization – Announcements from Google I/O

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, looks at the key announcements affecting app developers from Google's recent I/O Conference. 

Many exciting features were announced by Google this year at Google I/O on 18 May. Among these developments, there are four key changes concerning the Google Play Store that are particularly relevant to app developers and marketers. Read on to learn more about what the latest announcements from Google could mean for your App Store Optimization strategy.

Key updates – an overview
Google has included tiered service fees that aim to improve the success of Android developers, particularly smaller companies and individuals with lower revenue. The first $1m (USD) in earnings will be subject to a smaller 15 per cent service fee, compared to the current flat fee of 30 per cent.

Google I/O also brought with it the unveiling of a new policy compliance section on the Google Play Console, where developers can view and appeal violations, access guidance for resolving violations, and see upcoming policy changes. Additionally, they will soon be able to get warnings for potential violations before enforcement occurs.

New data insights on the Google Play Console will allow developers to access more in-depth key performance metrics, with contextualized peerset performance comparisons.

Lastly, in a bid to increase revenue on the Google Play Store, users will have access to more payment options with Google Play Billing version 4. 

15 per cent service fee for the first $1M USD in earnings
Starting on 1 July this year, the service fee for each developer will be changing from a flat 30 per cent fee to a tiered option to boost financial success. The first $1m of earnings will be eligible for a lower 15 per cent service fee for the sale of digital goods and services. Earnings exceeding the first $1m will be subject to the standard 30 per cent fee. These earnings are calculated by calendar year, so 2021 will be prorated at $500,000.

Revenue will be calculated across all Associated Developer Accounts (ADA) for each developer. Enrollment for this tier will begin the week of 7 June, and developers can enroll by creating an account group and adding all Associated Developer Accounts, then accepting the terms of service outlined for the 15 per cent service fee tier. Account Groups represent a single enrollment, so the primary group should apply on behalf of all associated accounts.

Unlike Apple’s recent commission policy change, companies of all sizes are eligible for the 15 per cent commission up to the first $1m, not just those that make less than $1min IAP and app sales revenue annually. For developers and marketers, this lowered fee means more revenue can be used for app development and marketing for further growth.

Improved tools for managing policy compliance
A new dedicated Policy and Programs section in the Google Play Console provides a centralized location to manage policy compliance. Developers can access details about app compliance on the Policy Status page, as well as viewing information about upcoming policy changes.

Developers who have apps that are found to be in violation of existing policies can find additional information concerning these violations by clicking “More Details” for the app in question. This will provide developers with guidance on how to resolve compliance issues, as well as the ability to appeal violations and track these appeals.

Coming soon, this area will also provide warnings for apps that have potential violations before enforcement. Developers will be able to access detailed information on how to resolve potential violations, as well as a time frame for when enforcement is set to occur.

Staying on top of policy changes and addressing any violations is vital for App Store Optimization. Time may be spent creating assets that end up getting an app rejected- such as an app icon that includes the word “Best” or “Free”, which will no longer be compliant with Google’s policies later in 2021. Rejection issues mean new updates cannot be published; having the ability to address them efficiently is critical.

New data insights
New engagement metrics offer deeper insight into key performance indicators within the Google Play Console. Developers will now be able to see how their metrics are improving relative to over 250 peersets with the Compare to Peers feature. 

Contextualized performance against peers gives a more accurate view of app performance by comparing how similar apps have improved in the same timeframe. The key engagement metrics available include Daily Active Users (DAU), Monthly Active Users (MAU), DAU/MAU ratio, and 28-day returning user ratio. These statistics allow developers to see if users are regularly accessing their apps, and compare them to peerset benchmarks.

It’s important to note that these peer group benchmarks come from Google’s categories and tags – so while they do provide valuable information, comparing benchmarks for a broad category of peers such as “Productivity” or “Social” may not paint the full picture of how your app is performing against other more specifically similar apps.

Expanded commerce capabilities
Google has expanded the ability to increase revenue with Google Play Billing version 4. Users now have the option to select more than one in-app purchase item in the cart with multi-quantity purchasing. This will encourage users to spend more in single transactions, rather than relying on repeated engagement with purchasing interfaces.

Another update that Google Play Billing v4 brings is multi-line subscriptions. Multi-line subscriptions allow subscribers to select multiple products and services provided by an app as part of a single monthly subscription. This provides a wider range of customization based on how much a user wishes to spend.

Additionally, users will have the option to select prepaid plans, which grant users access to content for a set amount of time. Users can easily extend these plans at any time to continue accessing content.

Google announced that all newly submitted apps must use Google Play Billing v3 or above starting 2 August this year, with existing apps needing to upgrade by 1 November. A Google Play Billing v4 migration guide will be available to developers soon to help them transition to the new version.

These new billing methods should be tested to see how they impact conversion to paying users and subscribers against previous implementations of purchase methods. Outside of testing for optimal performance, developers will need to at least upgrade to v3 if they haven’t already to remain in compliance.

In summation
Google I/O 2021 unveiled many exciting developments for users, enterprises, and developers alike. A tiered service fee option offers lower fees for the first $1m (USD) earned each year. A new Policy and Program section of the Google Play Console gives developers more access and control over policy compliance and violations management. Contextualized performance against peers is available in the Google Play Console as well, and offers a more holistic view of key performance indices. Finally, with the release of Google Play Billing version 4, developers may see an increase in revenue as more payment options become available to users. As the Play Store evolves, developers and marketers will need to take advantage of every new feature available to continue to stay optimized, relevant and compliant.

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube. Gummicube is a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 11 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.