Apple App Store 2.0 – Paid Search Discovery and Subscription Model


Apple Search Discovery

Apple paid search discovery is exciting news for all the indie developers out there!.It’s in beta now, but officially launching in the fall. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what this is, but I am going to break it down a little. What it will include and what it won’t.

If you’ve ever sold anything on amazon and used their sponsored ads to get your product in front of customers you know how big this could be. You probably either made a ton of money or lost a ton. If you were lucky maybe you broke even and gained “market perspective”.   I know when I was selling on amazon 2 years ago, I lost a ton of money trying to compete with others using those ads. I also didn’t know what I was doing. I’m sure at first, the bids and cost were reasonable, but eventually (like anything else) more people started to use it /abuse it and it drove prices up.  Specific categories also got super competitive which drove the bids up too.

If you’ve never sold on amazon, then maybe you’ve clicked on a sponsored ad when you searched for something on their website. Maybe you’ve clicked on an ad while browsing Google. Paid search is great for sellers / publishers that may lack organic traffic, but still have a great product. They just need to get it in front of people.

Apple paid search is similar, but there are some limitations. In other forms of paid traffic (depending on what you are using), you have a lot of control over the ad copy, ad creative and even where you send your users. Maybe you need to push them through a special link for tracking, but you can’t do that with these new ads.

This app discovery system is heavily controlled, by making you use your meta data to create the ad assets. Your copy and images will be pulled from a preapproved listing. So a way around this would be to setup your meta data the way you would want your ad to look. Your description, keywords, title and screen shots need to be positioned in a way that your target user / audience would click on the ad. That has not changed, but some of us have forgot that over the years. I goal is to raise your conversion rate. Not many people are talking about app views vs. downloads. The conversion rate of an app within the app store is something we will be digging into down the road. It will look across several categories and see what is bad, normal and great.

*To hear more about this case study when it comes out CLICK HERE and we will let you know.  (You just need to enter your best email. If you are already subscribed to your our list, that’s ok. It will still work 🙂

To learn more about Apple’s paid search ads as we use the platform, please CLICK HERE.



Subscription Monetization Model Available In All Categories 

This one is big. Ok, I mean BIG!!!! I will be writing a follow up post to this one which will be a much more comprehensive guide on what all this means for you, but for now, let me keep it simple.

The subscription based monetization model has become more and more popular accoss a variety of platforms / markets. It used to be more on the service side of things. Think about your cable, internet and a home security system. You pay in order to keep your service. As this model evolved, we started to see more and more.

Let me list some subscriptions I pay every month (other than those mentioned above). Some links may be affiliate referral links so we can keep the lights on.  I only mention services I currently use in this post.

  • Netflix (you know what Netflix is)
  • Dropbox (cloud storage service)
  • Apple iCloud – (cloud service for your devices)
  • Deposit Photos (get pictures for blog posts, apps and emails)
  • Leadpages
  • Click Funnels (like leadpages, but more customizations for up-sells)
  • Clipping Magic (lets you quickly remove parts of an image)
  • Active Campaign (email marketing service we use)
  • Wista (video hosting)
  • Gym membership
  • Mobile device insurance

If you take a look at all those, most of them are service based. They give you access to a service or tool that you can use whenever you want in exchange for a monthly subscription. It doesn’t matter how much or little you use. You will still get charged. I’m sure it’s similar to other areas in life; some people use way more than you would expect and it may increase those companies expenses. The resources needed, time and money to keep the wheel turning. However, some people sign up and never use the service. They can forget about it and the company can still collect. The small fish make up for the big fish.

Did you ever wonder how buffets can stay in business when they charge so little for all you can eat?

Q copy 3 copy
What about insurance? Life, Auto, Home, Cell Phone…etc?


It’s probably because some risk calculation expert (similar to the position Ben Stiller played in the movie “Along Came Polly” that figures all this out).

So when you think about service and utility based apps this is a no brainer. Many of them are already doing this. Those that are not will move to this model. Instead of upselling free users on feature packs, why not convert every user that thinks they may need this app once in awhile and give away all the features. As a user, instead of spending $5-19.99+ to unlock all the features of a utility/service app, why not just subscribe at $1-2 a month and get it all right then. If you don’t like the app and the awesomely mentioned up-selling features, you just saved yourself all that money. You maybe loose a few bucks instead of $20.  If you do like the app you get the same features for up to 20 months until it starts to cost more. Not many apps stay on my phone or get used more than 20 months other than the big dogs.

Ok, what about games? Yes. This is interesting and not something that I’ll completely dig into here because in order to make my points I need data. Preferably case studies and because this model is so new to games there isn’t any data. So we will be working on this, but in short, think about some of the same points I made above on the model that is / could be used for more utility based apps and apply it to games.

*Do you see how interesting this could get? CLICK HERE to be notified when we complete our research on this and have a case study or two for you to read. (You just need to enter your best email. If you are already subscribed to your our list, that’s ok. It will still work 🙂

Until Next Time…Keep on hustling!

4 thoughts on “App Store 2.0 – Apple Paid Search Discovery Ads and Subscription Monetization.

  1. Do you know if Apple is going to provide search data on keywords the way Google does? It would be really helpful when deciding what keywords to advertise on.

    1. Hey Dave!

      I am not completely sure, but if I was a betting man..I’d say no. What they do is let you pick the app and then they auto generate an ad for you based on your meta data. If you want more control you can:

      *Target specific keywords (They will have suggested keywords too based on your app)
      *Target specific audience (Choose new users, your apps existing users or customers of your other apps)
      *Target other things (Gender, age, device type, location, specific times of the day or week)

      Don’t forget that this will be a relevance based ad system. So if you have a calculator app and you are trying to get users from a slots app using the keyword, “slots”, it will not work. It probably wouldn’t be approved.

      However we will not have access to there data and as of now, no other third party sites will either. A much more in depth article coming soon 🙂

      1. Have you tried advertising with companies like Chartboost? If so what does that cost and how do you think it will compare to Apple’s new deal? I saw chupamobile had some deal of guaranteeing 1,000-3,000 installs. Is that worth trying?

        1. Hey David,

          Yes I have. When you look at installs you have to consider incentivized vs. non incentivized. The non incentivized package that they offer is completely fair, but you don’t have any control on the users you target. It just says high quality users. High quality according to who?

          If you are looking to monetize your users, then I prefer non incentivized. They are the users that click on an ad and install your app.
          Incentivized users are pushed through another website or app to download your app in exchange of receiving a reward or points on another platform / game. This could come in more handy just to drive downloads to boost ranking rather than generate revenue. Hope this helps. We will be doing more detailed posts about this in the future.


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