Welcome back to the 9th edition of Moburst’s monthly mobile marketing news roundup, where we give you insights into the latest ASO (App Store Optimization), developers, and MMPs (Mobile Measurement Partners) news & updates for the current month.
In this edition, we’ll delve into TikTok’s advanced attribution metrics that are set to boost ad conversions, Google Play’s new app discovery solutions, Apple’s iOS 17.2 beta release, and much more.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!
Elon Musk Unveils New AI Chatbot ‘Grok’ Amidst Controversy and Skepticism
Elon Musk’s X is officially in its generative AI era with the upcoming launch of xAI’s first chatbot, “Grok,” which is set to be part of the platform’s Premium+ subscription tier.
Grok aims to be “anti-woke” and offers less censorship on sensitive topics, sourcing its data from X and having full access to the platform’s information.
However, it’s worth noting that X has been experiencing reduced traction as a news discussion platform or an advertising one due to changes implemented by Musk in recent months, leading to many journalists and advertisers migrating to alternative platforms.
Advertiser Concerns Heighten for X Platform
Amidst the buzz around Grok’s launch, increasing concerns about advertising on X are simultaneously emerging due to potential risks to brand reputation and data privacy. Reports reveal instances of ads being displayed alongside inappropriate content and hate speech, which has prompted major companies like Disney, Apple, and Microsoft to suspend their ads on the platform. This action has been reported to potentially result in revenue losses of up to $75 million.
Another significant risk factor is the occurrence of false advertising claims on X. Renowned brands such as Apple and Samsung have been criticized for misleading ads, leading to a loss of consumer trust and raising legal issues, considering that false advertising is governed by federal law.
In response to these challenges, X has announced “new brand safety measures” and has partnered with Integral Ad Science to provide “premium, vetted inventory” for safer ad placements. However, it remains uncertain whether these steps will effectively address the escalating concerns.
Apple Joins Meta and ByteDance to Push Back Against EU’s ‘Gatekeeper’ Designation
Apple has recently joined Meta and ByteDance in opposing the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). This legislation allows regulators to label dominant companies’ services or platforms as “gatekeepers,” powerful enough to create a bottleneck between businesses and customers. The DMA currently targets 22 such services run by six Big Tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google, Meta, Amazon, and ByteDance’s TikTok.
- Apple’s move to contest this designation is significant for app owners and marketers. It signals that the tech giant is pushing back against regulations that could change how it operates its App Store and iMessage platform.
- If the designation stands, it could mean a shift in the dynamics of customer interaction and potential fines for behavior deemed prohibitive by the EU.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has also challenged the gatekeeper labels on its Messenger and Marketplace services.
- Meta argues that ‘Messenger’ is a chat feature on Facebook, not an online intermediary, and ‘Marketplace’ is a consumer-to-consumer service. This could have implications for brands using these platforms to reach their audience.
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ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, also contests its designation. The company argues that TikTok is a challenger in the social market rather than an established gatekeeper. This perspective could influence how the platform evolves and how marketers leverage it for engagement.
The DMA, along with the Digital Services Act (DSA), can impose hefty fines on non-compliant companies – up to 10% of their global turnover, increasing to 20% for repeat offenders. In addition, penalties could include the divestiture of parts of a business following market investigations.
- This unfolding situation underscores the importance for app owners and marketers to stay informed about regulatory changes that may impact their strategies and operations.
As the debate over “gatekeeper” designations continues, businesses should be prepared to adapt their marketing approach accordingly.
TikTok Introduces a New Mobile Measurement Framework to Boost Ad Revenue
TikTok’s recently launched Self-Attributing Network (SAN) integration offers advertisers a broader view of all conversions driven by their TikTok ads beyond standard mobile measurement partner (MMP) last-touch attributions.
- The SAN integration provides better visibility into campaign performance, customizable attribution windows, and access to advanced attribution metrics such as Engaged View-Through Attribution (EVTA).
EVTA is a new attribution method that measures conversions influenced by views of six seconds or more. This metric gives advertisers a better understanding of ad impact beyond clicks and optimizes campaign performance by showing ads to users who are more likely to take action.
It also brings TikTok’s attribution methods in line with other platforms, providing a clearer comparison of performance across different platforms, which is great news for marketers.
In addition to SAN integration and EVTA, TikTok has expanded its “Clicks (All)” metric to include interactions like likes, shares, comments, follows, and more. This allows advertisers to see how these engagements contribute to conversions, even when users don’t directly navigate to an advertiser’s specified destination.
For app owners and marketers, these updates offer a more complete picture of how users are converting on TikTok and a more transparent and holistic view of their ad impact.
App Store Updates
Tax Updates for Apps, In-App Purchases, and Subscriptions
The App Store recently updated tax rates and categories for apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions in specific countries. This move is part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to accommodate new regulations and rate changes across various regions.
Specifically, the proceeds from eligible apps and in-app purchases have been adjusted to reflect reduced value-added tax (VAT) rates in Austria, Cyprus, and Vietnam. Furthermore, VAT rates for certain app categories, including Video, Books, News Publications, Audiobooks, Magazines, and other periodicals in these countries, have been reduced or eliminated. It’s important to note that these changes do not affect the prices on the App Store.
- Moreover, Apple has introduced a new ‘Boosting’ tax category for apps and/or in-app purchases that offer resources to enhance the prominence and reach of specific content within the app.
There are also new attributes for books and videos, including one specifically for textbooks or educational publications used for teaching and studying between ages 5 to 18.
- These updates can have a significant impact on how app owners and marketers strategize their pricing and availability. They offer an opportunity to increase proceeds from the sale of eligible apps and in-app purchases without altering the prices on the App Store.
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iPhone App Sideloading is Coming to EU Users
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, iPhone users within the European Union (EU) will soon be free to download apps from sources other than Apple’s official App Store. This change, known as sideloading, is a direct response to new DMA European regulations and is expected to be implemented in the first half of 2024. By allowing customers to download apps from alternative sources, developers will no longer be obligated to pay Apple’s percentage fees.
Apple intends to introduce a “highly controlled system” allowing EU users to install apps from external sources. In conjunction with this, Apple plans to adjust Messages and payment apps as part of these changes. These updates are likely to be incorporated through a localized iOS 17 update.
Apple has argued that sideloading undermines the privacy and security protections that iPhone users rely on, leaving them susceptible to malware, scams, data tracking, and other issues. However, the company will have to comply with the DMA to avoid fines for violating EU laws.
If other nations were to adopt comparable regulations, the reach of alternate app stores could extend beyond the confines of the European Union. As an illustration, the United States is presently contemplating legislation that would mandate Apple to allow sideloading.
Play Store Updates
Google Play Store Enhances Screenshot Viewing Experience
Google has unveiled a new feature designed to enhance the way users view screenshots of apps on the Play Store. Now, instead of scrolling through a lengthy carousel of images, users can select specific form factors – Phone, Watch, Chromebook, Tablet, Car – to update the screenshot gallery below.
This upgrade is not yet widely available, but it promises to offer a more tailored viewing experience for users across different devices. It’s part of Google’s ongoing efforts to make the Play Store more user-friendly and accommodating for various devices, including watches, phones, tablets, Chromebooks, TVs, and even cars.
- In addition to this, tablets and Chromebooks are gaining a “New” tab in their navigation rail, functioning similarly to the “Offers” feed found on phones. This feature highlights editorial content, upcoming games, ebooks, movie/TV deals, and more, making it a valuable tool for marketers to reach their target audience effectively.
These updates, while seemingly small, could have a significant impact on how users interact with app listings, potentially affecting app discovery and installation rates.
The Latest App Growth Updates from Google Play
Google has recently introduced a few exciting updates to enhance app growth and engagement on the Play Store. These updates focus on the following features:
Custom Store Listings
App owners and developers can now optimize conversion rates and user acquisition by tailoring messaging for different user segments. The new features for custom store listings simplify the creation and management of listings. They allow saving drafts for later editing, scheduling listings for specific publishing times, and testing them with a portion of the audience before full rollout.
Deep Links Page in the Play Console
Google introduced new metrics and insight enhancements to maximize the effectiveness of developers’ deep link strategy on the Google Play Console. These enhancements include:
Ensuring deep linking for landing pages from ad campaigns, monitoring the percentage of top-performing deep-linked URLs, and discovering top-performing URLs that are not yet deep-linked.
The newly added metrics include Deep Linked Coverage (showing the percentage of top URLs already deep-linked), user reach – comparing the percentage of users who have installed your app from the URL versus those remaining on the web, and a side-by-side comparison of the app and web experience.
The Play Store will now offer enhanced monitoring capabilities for app developers, which include hourly vitals data instead of daily, expanded performance historical data up to the last 3 years, vitals showing in Android Studio, improved notifications for the flagging of bad behavior, and last but not least potential fixes for crash and ANRs.
Google has been introducing new features on its commerce platform to help developers generate more revenue from their audiences. These features optimize prices, expand reach, and improve user purchase management.
- Starting next month, the Play Store will allow for saving experiments as drafts, removing poorly performing variants, receiving warning notifications for price configuration issues, and applying the winning price to all products within the experiment.
Additional updates include the display of available products and offers based on regional availability and the offer of popular payment methods. Moreover, an alternative billing system using APIs is now available.
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MMPs & Developer Updates
Apple Releases Second Developer and Public Betas for iOS 17.2, watchOS 10.2, macOS 14.2 & More
Apple has released the second developer and public betas for iOS 17.2, along with other updates for watchOS 10.2, macOS 14.2, and more.
The latest iOS 17.2 beta is introducing an exciting change to the App Store, spotlighting app categories.
This update could significantly enhance user navigation and discovery in the App Store, potentially leading to increased visibility and downloads for various apps.
- In the “Apps” section of the App Store, a new top navigation bar will allow users to scroll through various app categories such as Entertainment, Education, Photo & Video, Music, Navigation, and more. These categories reflect those found at the bottom of the app section in the “Browse Categories” menu.
- The “Games” section also features a similar list of categories, including Puzzle, Casual, Racing, Indie, Simulation, Casino, and Adventure. Clicking on one of these categories reveals apps that fall under that specific category, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.
Previously, this top bar navigation was only available for Apple Arcade, but with iOS 17.2, it will be expanded to other App Store sections.
This update is currently in beta testing and is expected to see a public release sometime in December.
Google’s New App Testing Mandate is Set to Improve App Quality & User Experience
- For an app to be published, it now requires comprehensive testing with at least 20 users over a two-week period.
These policy changes may initially result in delays in app approvals; however, they are designed to yield long-term benefits. The testing mandate has been shown to increase app installs and user engagement by threefold, thus providing an opportunity for developers to refine their apps based on user feedback before launching.
New Play Console accounts will require this testing mandate, while existing developers must meet specific verification requirements, including providing a D-U-N-S number, to publish their apps. This move aims to ensure a secure, high-quality app environment for users.
Furthermore, Google is enhancing its app review process, adding an extra layer of protection against fraud and ensuring user safety. The upcoming Android 14 release will also offer more precise permission flow options for developers, giving them greater control over app functionality.
Play Integrity API Changes
Google has recently implemented significant updates to the Play Integrity API to enhance the user experience with apps and games. These updates include faster integrity verdicts, thanks to low-latency Play Integrity API standard requests.
Additionally, users can now opt-in for Play Protect signal checks to detect known malware and ensure Play Protect status. Moreover, developers can benefit from new reports and improved controls that help identify issues and refine their anti-abuse strategy. Lastly, the Play Integrity API integration can be managed conveniently through the Google Play SDK Console.
SplitMetrics Acquires App Radar to Elevate App Growth Services
SplitMetrics, a leading name in app growth solutions, has acquired App Radar, an acclaimed app marketing and analytics platform. This deal brings together two industry powerhouses to create a robust, AI-driven platform that provides comprehensive app growth services.
The merger aims to deliver a market-leading end-to-end solution for driving growth, combining resources for user acquisition, app store optimization, conversion rate optimization, and data analytics. The strategic move is designed to capitalize on the growing influence of AI in transforming the app marketing landscape.
With SplitMetrics managing an annual ad spend of over $250 million and App Radar serving 30,000 app developers and marketers, the merger promises to offer an extensive suite of tools for app developers in major app stores.
To fully leverage the capabilities of SplitMetrics and App Radar, it is highly recommended to engage the expertise of an app store optimization agency like Moburst, which specializes in a wide range of services, including user acquisition, app store optimization (ASO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), and data-driven insights.
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