App discovery is one of the most annoying parts of the development process. After spending so much time ideating, building, and testing an app, a developer needs to position it for maximum visibility—in an environment that’s only getting more and more crowded by the day.
As of late last year, Apple’s iOS App Store contained approximately 1.5 million apps; Google Play, Google’s app emporium, had roughly 1.6 million. If you’re a massive company like Facebook or King, with a huge user-base and a long history of releasing apps, your latest bit of software has a good chance of placing in the top ranks. For every other developer, though, there’s the omnipresent risk that your software genius will disappear without a trace right after release, lost in a massive online crowd.
Apple, recognizing that developers will pay for a more prominent placement in the App Store rankings, will now offer ads in app search results. That doesn’t mean the company will allow developers to plaster every spare pixel with flashing advertisements for their respective wares; there will only be one ad at a time on a particular search page, determined by an auction-based “Cost Per Tap” model.
The Search Ads platform will debut this fall, but interested developers can sign up for the beta on Apple’s developer Website.)
Combined with shorter app-approval times and a new subscription model, search ads could make the App Store a more welcoming place for middle-tier developers who feel they can reach the audiences they want. Even with those new tools, though, transforming an app into a revenue-generating hit will still take a lot of hard work and more than a little luck.