ASO – Apple’s Product Page Optimization

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, explains how developers can leverage Apples recently-introduced Product Page Optimization and Custom Product Pages tools in the App Store. 

Since May of 2015, Google Play Experiments have been a staple in App Store Optimization (ASO) strategies for the Play Store. These experiments enable the process of A/B testing, which is a valuable tool to help understand user behavior and implement assets that drive more conversion. In comparison, the iOS App Store has been lacking an equivalent feature, which forced developers to rely on creative set testing via Apple Search Ads or comparing metrics before and after a deployment. This all changed in the evening of 7 December, when Apple finally released two long-anticipated tools: Product Page Optimization and Custom Product Pages.

Before diving into the details of what Product Page Optimization brings to the table for ASO, we need to first distinguish the two new tools. Product Page Optimization is Apple’s version of a native A/B testing feature which allows developers to test up to three treatments alongside their live original product page. Treatments are allocated a percentage of the user traffic and shown to users on the App Store at random. In contrast, Custom Product Pages present developers with the opportunity to optimize for nuances within their target demographic and create up to 35 different product pages. These Custom Product Pages are tied to a unique shareable URL, which can then be used within external marketing channels such as a Facebook ad.

Features and function of Product Page Optimization
As mentioned above, Product Page Optimization introduces a long-awaited A/B testing tool for creative and metadata assets. iOS developers now have the option to set up three alternate product page versions against their default product page. When testing creatives, Product Page Optimization enables incorporating treatments to the app icon, preview video, and screenshots. Although it can be tempting to test as many assets as possible, this can actually hamper your ability to clearly assess which alternative elements have what impact. When launching an A/B test, it’s imperative that you keep a clear objective in mind for each test.

Making iterative changes to individual assets at a time can help you measure their impact more accurately and incorporate any findings into the next round of tests. With A/B tests, it’s important to remember that there are no bad results. Even if a treatment proves itself to convert worse than your original product page, this result still provides you with insight into what your users value and how they behave on the App Store.

When setting up a new test and deciding on how many treatments you would like to go live against the original product page, you have to consider your traffic proportion. This determines what percentage of people will be shown a treatment at random over the original product page. Depending on your strategy you might prefer to allocate the traffic equally between each product page, or you might want your original product page to maintain a higher number of overall impressions. For example, if 50 per cent of the original traffic is allocated towards the test and two treatments are running, then each treatment will receive 25 per cent of the total traffic. The original product page will receive the remaining 50 per cent.

Additionally, Product Page Optimization offers the ability to conduct localized tests in the territories in which an app is already live. Depending on the localization, a test may take longer to collect valuable data that show actionable results. In general, it is important to keep in mind that only users with iOS 15 installed on their iPhones will be able to view different treatments in the App Store.

Overall, incorporating an iterative testing strategy can help developers ensure that their apps stay up to date with the latest trends. Considering that trends on the App Store are always changing, being able to launch tests with a quick turnaround time is valuable. This is something that Apple took into consideration with their new updates. With the introduction of features like Product Page Optimization also comes Apple’s new submission experience. This promises the ability to submit Product Page Optimization tests for review independent of a new app version, as well as the ability to include multiple items in one submission. By removing the necessity of a new build for each test, developers can cycle through creative tests much faster and gather more data in a shorter period of time. However, it is important to note that for any metadata testing, a new build will be required for submission as per usual.

Benefits and importance of testing
Product Page Optimization introduces a game changer for iOS developers. Since creative elements are not indexed by Apple, their main purpose is to convince users that an app is suitable for them and encourage downloads. A/B testing can be an essential tool in measuring and improving an app’s conversion. By conducting tests for different creative elements, developers can for example gain an idea on what design styles resonate best with users or what feature callouts have a greater impact. Does seasonal content have an effect on app downloads? And what unique features and characters are more popular in different localizations? These are all questions that A/B testing can help answer and therefore help solve in the long-term.

A/B testing brings a lot of benefits to App Store Optimization strategies. One of those benefits is their ability to significantly reduce the time needed to determine what kind of strategy to move forward with. Although you still need to wait for the test data to accrue, now with Product Page Optimization you no longer have to wait for a new deployment to go live. Instead, this new A/B testing tool makes it easy to compare how live assets are performing against treatments. Testing different variants means testing different creative styles and ultimately gaining insight on what your target demographic is looking for. By creating a strategy that incorporates iterative creative testing, each asset can be put under a magnifying glass and be tweaked and improved upon to ultimately drive more user conversion.

Tracking performance
For each test that is launched, App Analytics will collect performance metrics that can help you understand how your test has been received and whether a treatment is worth applying to your original product page. App Analytics gives developers data on the number of impressions, conversion rate, percent improvement, and confidence level compared to a chosen baseline. By default, the baseline for your test will always be your original product page. However, in the event that a test includes multiple treatments, the baseline can actually be adjusted in order to compare performance at any time.  

In order to take full advantage of A/B testing, it is important to understand the key metrics in Product Page Optimization and why they are noteworthy. Conversion rate is one of the most commonly used metrics tied to A/B testing, and measures how often users download an app upon seeing it in the App Store. Ultimately, it is the key indicator that demonstrates which creative set performs better with users and drives them to download more. Another core metric visible on App Analytics is the confidence level. The confidence level is the chance that the data collected in a test indicates that two variants are performing differently. So if a treatment is “performing better” according to Apple, this signifies that it is performing better than the baseline with at least a 90 per cent confidence. Apple’s “performing worse” indicator follows the same concept with the intention of calling out poorer performance.

When analyzing Apple’s performance indicators and breaking down the metrics for each test, developers can gain a better comprehension of their target audience. Building on previous actionable insights allows you to widen the funnel to convert the widest range of users. With each test conducted and good results applied, each subsequent iteration presents an opportunity to convert even more users.

Product Page Optimization is an exciting new addition to Apple’s developer tools for both App Store Optimization experts and iOS developers themselves. The introduction of a native A/B testing tool presents an opportunity to conduct quick iterative creative set testing without the need of a new build submission. As improving conversion is at the forefront of each developer’s objectives, A/B testing significantly eases the process and provides a new tool to gain valuable learnings and actionable insights.

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.