All Apps Steal from Each Other. How Does This Affect the Mobile Industry and ASO
Being influenced by trends, apps fight for the attention of users, and the same ‘new’ formats appear even if they seem unnecessary. We’ve recalled the most important changes to analyze their impact on the mobile industry and ASO. Besides, we’ve collected some useful tips for marketers and app publishers on how to respond to the trends and what there is to learn from.
Thanks to its Rooms, Clubhouse had a blast late last year, hitting the top 20 apps in December. Its smartest competitors immediately started using the tool for business and personal brand development. Even if voice-based social networks are not new, Clubhouse became quite a killer. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk checked in, and users hunted for free invites. Even though Twitter and Telegram have already made similar rooms, and Facebook is now trying to test a similar format on Instagram, Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison is not at all worried about it. In an interview with CNBC, he explains that there are many apps on the market that focus only on photos or videos, while Clubhouse focuses on the community and on getting people to communicate by voice. Nevertheless, the app began to decline in popularity in March, dropping to rank 200. In April, the rank dropped to 573, and in May it was already at 679.
Being a voice-based social network, Clubhouse had over 9M monthly installs in February 2021 and topped the list of custom audio platforms
Large-scale apps, of course, did not stand aside and rushed to implement the audio format for themselves. Of course, this couldn’t help but impact the declining popularity of Clubhouse. Let’s look at some of the major ‘borrowings’. Twitter tested the audio format back in June 2020, and launched Spaces voice chats in May. Facebook announced the Live Audio Rooms, a Clubhouse clone. Telegram introduced the feature of ‘your own radio station’. Reddit launched its own Clubhouse, Reddit Talk. The more clones Clubhouse had, the less installs it got. Already in March, they sank by 72%.
What about ASO? The ‘voice chat’ keyword began skyrocketing in popularity in December at the same time as Clubhouse. Now its Search Volume has almost halved compared to its peak. You can track the dynamics in the Checkaso’s Performance section.
Why are keywords becoming more popular and why track them
Monitoring the semantic core relevance is a must. Search queries are an unstable parameter as they are frequently updated. Everything depends on demand. The interests of users change; thus, search queries and the frequency of those queries change too.
- The mobile industry is very dynamic and constantly evolving. New formats and trends emerge. Therefore, being attentive, fast to respond, and introducing qualitative changes to your product (including relevant keywords in the semantic core) are a necessity.
- The seasonality factor plays its part too. You can — and should — get ready for seasonal trends in advance. Diligent projects have an update schedule for public holidays and events. By the way, we have an article on seasonal ASO.
- Events matter. COVID pandemic is a relevant example. Many apps — from medical services to post-apocalyptic games — grabbed their piece of the pie (traffic) by including the COVID-themed keywords in their metadata. So far, app stores haven’t introduced any restrictions to that, but still.
Competent event marketing, flexibility, and quick response to relevant queries will contribute to an increase in audience. That’s why you may want to check and update your text metadata so that your semantic core contains only trendy keywords.
TikTok is another format trendsetter. This hasn’t been news for a long time, but it’s interesting to see how other social media use the trend for short videos. Instagram launched Reels, and now it wants to implement ‘vertical stories’, which are no longer similar to Snapchat, but you know what they resemble. Snapchat itself made a feed similar to TikTok. Even Netflix is experimenting with full-screen vertical video streams of comedy clips. Looking at TikTok and how bloggers sell live, Facebook has expanded monetization options for content creators. First of all, it will be possible to add ads to short video content (up to 1 minute instead of the previous lower limit of 3 minutes). Ads will play 30 seconds after the short video starts.
Competition is a natural process, and there have always been and will always be ‘parasitic’ apps. But there are ways to squeeze them out. A piece of advice: Register a trademark, improve your ASO, use Search Ads and Google Ads, and optimize IAPs in App Store. In general, ranking only by brand name is not cool. Many apps miss the opportunity to acquire more users due to poor optimization.Alena Konasheva, ASO Manager at Checkaso
Stories are one of the most memorable thefts in the modern mobile industry. The format, coined by Snapchat, appeared on Instagram in August 2016 and pulled a large chunk of the audience away from the competitor. Then Stories appeared on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and YouTube – the list goes on. But users associate Stories with Instagram.
At the same time, if you use the keywords ‘stories’ or ‘instagram stories’, Instagram is ranked 99th and 66th, respectively. When it comes to the first keyword, the search results show mainly interactive games, whose plot development depends on the user’s choice. The second keyword shows editing apps for Instagram Stories.
Our advice is to study the current search results by keywords that seem relevant to you. Maybe some of them will drop out.
Confidentiality and restriction of access to IDFI
The data privacy trend is rather controversial, but very relevant. It seems that Telegram is one of the leaders now. After WhatsApp users received a new ultimatum, Telegram’s popularity has begun to grow. But in the end, under the yoke of criticism, Facebook decided to delay the very thing with data transfer for three months — until May 15. Apparently, the company needed this time to find suitable and reassuring wording. However, Telegram has grown a lot thanks to that. It has been growing anyway, but due to Facebook errors, its user base surpassed 500 million monthly active users in the first week of 2021 alone.
There is quite an edgy quote, but we like it:
I hear Facebook has an entire department devoted to figuring out why Telegram is so popular,” Pavel Durov posted on his Telegram channel on January 8. “I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect your users.
The private messenger Signal has also grown in installs. In January — after Trump had been banned on Twitter and the Republican app Parler had been removed from app stores — it outnumbered even Telegram in the US. Signal ranked first there in terms of installs, not without the help of massive and aggressive advertising at the right time, launched immediately after the ban.
You don’t need to search long for a good example of aggressive Signal advertising. At the same time, it is a classic guerrilla marketing — minimum budget with maximum effect.
Recently, Signal representatives got banned in the Facebook advertising ecosystem, explaining that “Facebook didn’t like that we tell their users the truth about what personal data they collect”. However, Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, claims that the case was falsified completely as the screenshot about the Signal’s ad account being banned was taken in advance, and the reason for the ban (temporary one) was the lack of funds, while the creative ads “that Facebook banned Signal for” have never been launched at all. But the viral effect could no longer be stopped as users massively supported Signal ‘in the fight against a corporation that disposes of other people’s personal data as it pleases.’ If, in fact, everything was as the Facebook representative claims, then launching such an ‘advertising campaign’ could cost Signal about $ 0.00 and several business hours, while the media coverage was multi-million and worldwide.’
With the release of iOS 14.5, App Store limited app access to IDFI. What all marketers and app developers long feared has happened. Facebook began to prepare users for this already last year in order to achieve agreement in the future. Now iOS 14.5c users can see the message “Help keep the social network free” on Instagram and Facebook. There’ve been many angry comments, but they seem to be inappropriate. After all, a “refusal” to personalize ads does not imply there are none. It means poor quality.
Some more things that come and go
Twitter wants to launch emoji reactions like Facebook. Instagram apparently decided to take part of the active audience and launch a version for children under 13 years. And TikTok is launching new challenges, now with a’no beard’ filter, just like Snapchat. Facebook is testing a feature in India that will allow sharing Instagram videos in the Facebook newsfeed. That seems to be a double whammy for TikTok — one may only wonder how it turns out. Besides, Instagram can now automatically add captions to Stories while TikTok has been using them for a long time.
How to use trends correctly?
Situations when competing products are desperately copying technologies from each other within the same market segment, are quite common. To get a good understanding of ‘how everything works’, you may want to take a retrospective look at the competition. A striking example of the digital development level is the primeval chaos unfolding in the messenger market. What is now perceived as an unconditional and compulsory standard may have previously been someone’s unique feature. For example, ‘going cloud’ was first announced by 4Talk IM (old-timers might recall how they had to say goodbye to all their messages when deleting a Viber-like app since they were stored on their devices). Has anyone ever used 4Talk IM at all?
At the same time, Instagram was testing Bolt, a messenger that made it possible to send not text messages but short videos. Realizing that they turned in the wrong direction, Instagram multiplied Bolt by zero and added a built-in messenger to their major product, subsequently expanding its functionality to the level we’re now used to. Audio calls too were once not associated with messenger apps in particular as they looked like “a replacement for SMS, which you don’t have to pay for.”
For example, Viber of all the ‘larger and well-known’ messengers got audio calls earlier than others, Tango — earlier than WhatsApp, and Telegram — later than everyone else. However, Telegram implemented them fast by boosting user engagement (with audio calls activating for users who received others’ calls on Telegram; the developers chose their primary focus group by themselves. As a result, they increased DAU, tested the technology, and received feedback.Yaroslav Chuikov, Product Marketing Manager at Checkaso
We can draw three conclusions here.
- What is a trend or someone’s USP today may become a compulsory industry standard tomorrow, and those who don’t implement new features in time run the risk of being at a loose end?
- What may seem a breakthrough or a milestone in product positioning at first glance, might narrow your target audience in the end. The possible solution is repositioning — and launching the same feature ‘among many’.
- Globally and in general, digital products often compete not with functionality, but with the level of service, understood as both consistency of operation and customer service. The near totalitarian changes in WhatsApp’s ToS in 2021 managed to infuriate even Americans, and Telegram keeps increasing in loyalty because Pavel Durov is some kind of super-entrepreneur in this regard.
In the mobile industry, it’s all about speed, whether it’s making use of themed or ‘seasonal’ queries in ASO, or successfully adopting a trendy format. It’s important to not only monitor your closest competitors, but also be in the know in general. Catch trends, adopt them, and test your hypotheses, and do it quickly. We’ll help you with relevant figures and analytics.