It appears Apple have made an adjustment to their search ranking algorithm at the expense of app reskinners.
Over the last few weeks, we have noticed that certain apps and developers have seen significant changes in their daily app sessions, leading us to believe that Apple has pushed live an update to their search rank algorithm.
Why have developers turned to reskinning?
Reskinning is a much safer business model on the App Store, as it negates the high risk associated with app store discoverability. Many developers have built profitable and engaging app networks, with the mentality being that it is easier to create 100 apps that make $5 per day than create 5 apps that make $100 per day.
However, app reskinning has also developed an association with lower quality applications , and this has led to many developers questioning if the practice will soon be barred by Apple.
Has this question now been answered?
What We Have Observed
Here at Tapdaq, we track the number of daily app sessions registered by all applications on our platform. At the end of August, we noticed that a large group of apps started to see a significant drop in daily app sessions. Why?
We did some number crunching on 5 developers of varying size, and extracted their daily app session data from the last week of August and first week of September. Below are our findings:
We have kept all our developers data anonymous, but the sample size includes data on over 10 million app sessions.
The obvious trend here is that developer size (no. of apps) appears to be strongly correlated with the decrease in app sessions. However, there is one exception in Developer F, and can Apple really be penalising apps purely based on the number apps held under each account?
This can’t be the case, as that would discourage larger developers such as EA and King to produce new games. This is where reviews come in. By calculating the average reviews per app, Apple can gain a clear understanding of the quality of a developer’s network of applications.
1 app with 1,000 positive reviews = 1 great app.
100 apps with 1,000 average reviews between them = 100 average applications.
Let’s test this theory:
From this set of data it is clear that as apps per account increases, reviews per app decreases, and for Developer D and E, they drop significantly.
The anomaly in the data is Developer F, who has significantly more reviews per app when compared to reskinners D and E. Is this the reason as to why Developer F has not experienced such a sharp decline in app sessions?
How Can App Reskinners Fight Back?
If the above analysis is correct, then emphasis needs to be placed on improving the quality of your app network. Specifically, you need to be generating as many genuine reviews for your product as possible.
Here are 3 examples of how you can ensure that more users start leaving a review of your application:
#1 Ask Users for Reviews
You have probably seen this in other apps, if not your own, where users are prompted to review the application they are using.
There are a number of plugins that facilitate this, with the most popular being Appirater. Be sure to test and iterate on where you place this popup within your application. If shown too soon it can appear to be spammy and actually lead to a negative review, so ensure you experiment with a few locations in order to get optimum results.
#2 Focus on Improving App Quality
This is a simple science. The better the quality of your application, the more likely it is to receive a 5 star review. So how do you improve the quality of your applications whilst still running a reskin model?
Everything is about balance, here are a few thoughts to consider:
- Starting right at the beginning of the process, the source code you purchase has to be stable (well built + documented), and it has to be very customisable. For the sake of a few $100, invest in a high quality source code right at the start of your project that will serve you better in the long run.
- Look out for source codes that include social integration, particularly games which feature collaborative gaming SDKs such as Nextpeer. This will help you to build a viral loop into your application, thus making user acquisition more cost effective. Most importantly, the more users within your app, the more potential your app has to generate reviews.
- Think about your ad placement and quality. Whilst publishing revenue is the primary source of income for many app reskinners, it can also destroy your app’s chances of getting positive reviews. Ensure that placement is frequent but unobtrusive (no ads popping up during gameplay), and that where possible, the ads you show are relevant to your user base.
#3 Leverage Communities
Both on Tapdaq and on other forums, developers congregate in order to review and provide feedback on each other’s applications. This is a huge positive for 2 reasons.
Firstly, other developers often provide tips on how you could improve your app further.
Secondly, you’re receiving genuine reviews of your product which will affect your rankings.
If you want to discuss other ways to generate reviews with other developers, you can talk to the community on Tapdaq’s forum.
So, Are Apple Getting Tough On App Reskinners?
Having analysed data on over 10 million app sessions from 6 different indie reskinners, the evidence certainly suggests that this is the case. To see such a significant and rapid decrease in app session data across multiple developers seems like an unlikely co-incidence, leading us to believe that Apple are taking steps to clamping down on app reskinners.
To summarise the data we have collected:
- Out of the developers we looked at, their daily app sessions have all decreased, with the biggest drop being 17.7%.
- Developers with a large app portfolio and a low number of reviews are being targeted the most.
- Higher volume and quality of reviews is key.
- As you expand you app portfolio, you have to ensure there is a correlation between the number of apps in your network and the number of reviews across your products.
If you’d like to learn more about Tapdaq and how you can start advertising within relevant apps for free, then please click here.
Thanks for reading and thank you Evaldo for your contributions to this post, it is appreciated. 🙂