Did Apple Just Kill the Burst Campaign?
Any time Apple changes anything about the App Store, app publishers worry, and they worry most when the changes affect the editorial layout of the App Store and the highly coveted feature positions.
It was no surprise then that app marketing forums started to throw up flags when Apple adjusted the way they handle the launch of new apps earlier this month, and removed Top Apps from the AppStore. Previously, each category in the App Store had its own featured section of new apps that was algorithmically determined by a new app’s sudden rise in downloads. When an app’s downloads spiked, it not only moved up the “Top Apps” chart, but the combination of new app plus sudden popularity made it possible for an app to get an additional featured position in the App Store. Featured positions in the App Store are one of the best ways to drive new downloads: The app winds up right in front of customers who are specifically looking for a new app.
The Top Apps chart has been removed – and replaced with a “Best New Apps” section that is purely editorial. No amount of downloads will get you into these featured spaces if the editorial team at Apple has not first given your app their blessing. This means that marketers looking for an extra boost in downloads by using a burst campaign (high frequency advertising that pushes lots of downloads over a short period of time at a low cost, with little regard for the quality of the download) are not going to get it.
Does that mean the burst campaign is dead? Not by a long shot. The ranking system of the App Store is still very much in place, and apps that manage to get into the top ranks of their categories still get added visibility as people peruse the top lists looking for their next app. Using a burst campaign to get to these slots also nets additional attention from Apple’s staff; an app that is doing well in the App Store charts is more likely to have Apple’s editorial team review it for a feature placement.
For this to be effective, however, your app has to still be of excellent quality. Getting additional attention, both inside Apple and with the app user community at large, will only help it be successful if your app has a compelling set of features and functions that keeps your users coming back for more.
In the long run, what matters to an app is not the number of people that download it, but the number of people that use it. In an ecosystem with millions of competitors and only a select few ranking and featured positions in the App Store, it is important to remember that getting one of those hallowed spots is not a strategy as much as it is the result of a well-designed app with a great user acquisition and retention plan. Burst campaigns can bring visibility, but acquiring high-quality, active app users is what will make an app ultimately succeed.