App Store Optimization – A/B testing coming to the iOS App Store

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Dave Bell, Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, welcomes Apple's move to allow to developers to conduct A/B testing on the App Store Product Page.

The Google Play Store has allowed developers to conduct A/B testing through Google Play Experiments since May of 2015, providing developers with a valuable tool for their App Store Optimization strategy. Until now, iOS developers have had to deploy a new build and compare metrics before and after to gauge how changes to the Product Page impact conversion.

With WWDC21 came the announcement of iOS 15, as well as another big announcement: developers will be able to run A/B testing on the App Store Product Page.

Along with the ability to run A/B testing, Apple will soon allow developers to implement custom product pages for external marketing efforts. New metrics will also be coming soon to give developers more performance insights.

Product Page Optimization

Developers will soon have a streamlined way to test changes to their creative sets. Historically, iOS developers had to fully deploy creative changes to the iOS App Store, then measure traffic before and after deployment. This process doesn’t always provide the best insight, because trends and traffic can change significantly from the pre-deployment to post-deployment periods. Product Page Optimization will allow A/B testing to take place live, directly on the app’s default product page.

Using Product Page Optimization, developers can test variations of app icons, screenshots, and preview videos. Apple will allow three different treatments to be applied at a time, and each test can have a maximum duration of 90 days.

While it may be tempting to test as many changes as possible, Apple recommends limiting the number of creative changes per test – a best practice for any iterative test. By limiting the variables, it will be easier to isolate which specific changes are leading to the best results. To view performance and compare it against baseline, developers can access these tests in App Analytics.

Custom Product Pages
An exciting new feature for developers riding in on the back of iOS 15 is Custom Product Pages. Custom Product Pages are a novel way to curate a listing to be simultaneously relevant across different demographics. This new tool will allow developers to showcase the most pertinent positioning to different sets of users, all leading to the same app.

Apple will allow up to 35 unique Custom Product Pages, each one providing insight into various features through different screenshots, app previews, and promotional texts. Developers can then drive traffic to the appropriate product page through the use of unique URLs, which would be placed in relevant advertisements or third-party referrals.

Performance data for custom product pages will also be available in App Analytics. The unique targeted page view will provide actionable data on impressions, downloads, conversion, and retention.

New metrics in App Analytics
Along with giving developers more tools to optimize their performance, new metrics will allow them to understand performance in ways previously unavailable from App Analytics. Unlike when Google changed many of its reported metrics with the new Google Play Developer Console in 2020, Apple will be keeping familiar metrics such as Impressions and App Units, while adding new ones.

Developers will now have a dedicated pre-order dashboard, separated by familiar metrics such as territory and device type- with device type now including macOS for compatible apps. On the metrics tab, pre-orders can be viewed on a line graph over time to understand engagement at the start of the pre-order, up to the day before it launches.

Proceeds are another new metric developers can see via App Analytics, along with the currently existing “Sales” and “In-App Purchases”. Further insight into how an app monetizes can help developers get a better understanding of how to optimize towards improving purchase rate.

Apple will also be adding “Updates” and “Re-downloads” to App Analytics, both previously unreported metrics. This will allow developers to see not just first-time downloads via “App Units,” but a gauge of total downloads, with the ability to differentiate between new and previous users. Developers will finally get insight into not just new user engagement, but in continued existing user engagement via updates and re-engagement of existing users via re-downloads.

These are just some of the new features and abilities announced at WWDC21. A/B testing has historically been a more involved task on the iOS App Store compared to Google Play’s Experiments feature – these new tools will be a long-awaited improvement for iOS developers.

Accessible from App Analytics, performance data from Product Page Optimization and Custom Product Pages, as well as user analytics and campaign data, will provide developers with the insight needed for continued growth.

About the Author
Dave Bell is Co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, a global leader in App Store Optimization with more than 11 years of experience optimizing and marketing apps. We offer the leading enterprise ASO technology and agency services, providing support to clients around the world. Our company is trusted by thousands of enterprise brands and leading startups including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Bethesda, SWEAT, GrubHub, McAfee and many others.