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Home Blog App Promotion Strategy App Store Hack: Are ASM and ASO in Competing Relationship?

App Store Hack: Are ASM and ASO in Competing Relationship?

Jul 29 2021

asm & aso

For developers, should we continue to do ASO? How do we use the two together? So what is the difference between ASM and ASO? First of all, a brief understanding of ASM.

What is ASM?

App Store Search Marketing, or ASM for short, has two main factors in the display of ASM ads: relevance and placement price. 

The charging model is CPT (Cost Per Tap), which is generally referred to as CPC per click.

  • Display position: the top of the keyword search results page, with an obvious advertising logo


  • Advertising ranking considerations: bid price and relevance


For ASM ad ranking, two main elements are considered: bid and App relevance. Bid, as the name suggests, is the price for a single click, while App relevance, the highest priority factor in bid ranking, refers to the text relevance of App name, keywords, graphic elements, descriptions, etc. In addition, the click rate of users also affects the relevance of the App.

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  • Keyword ad implementation form: specified match, fuzzy match


Specified keyword matching ads: you can set keywords, user search keywords, etc. Fuzzy matching ads: After setting the ads, the system will automatically match your keywords. 


The difference between the two is that designated matching will be of higher quality at present, but it is more suitable for APPs with ASO foundation, higher relevance and better brand awareness in the early stage.


Fuzzy match mechanism is a very good method for APPs with weak ASO base and just started advertising, ASM would be a very good method to use to discover valuable keywords, pick out the better efficiency (conversion rate, display times) from the keywords derived from fuzzy match, and then use specified match to re-price the keywords so as to maximize the value of the keywords.


There is a competitive relationship between ASM and ASO

Since ASM and ASO are both promotion channels, let's take a look at the exposure position of each product.

ASM refers to the purchase of keyword search ad space on the App Store, and the position is the first position on the search result page for the keyword you are bidding on.

For ASO, what we do most is the keyword search optimization, and its product exposure position is in the natural search result page of the keyword.

We can see that because of the existence of ASM advertising space, the first place of the natural search results of the keyword will be squeezed to the second place, and so on for the products behind, therefore, in the product exposure position, ASM will steal part of the exposure of ASO products.

If the same budget before can achieve the first place in the search results, now the same budget, but can only achieve the second place in the search results, and there may even be stories and developer business cards on it, resulting in the product being squeezed to the second page.

For example, in the picture below, the first product in the natural search result is squeezed to the second page position, which may cause developers to take out part of their budget to do ASM.

Five dimensions to compare the difference between ASO and ASM


The two are suitable for different products, industries and keywords

For example, the financial industry words, medical industry words, ASM has a very strong brand advertising advantage, just like the medical industry in the PC must do SEM in the past. 

For such CPs, ASM is extremely tempting. But for many social, tools industry words, users will favor ASO such non-advertising search display results, the user's choice of weight will be different.

ASO can make up for the inherent limitation of one ad space in ASM

ASM has only one advertising position, while ASO keyword optimization, or keywords optimized in the form of a point wall, can help APP rush the top three or five, as usual, have a strong impact.

So if you can't compete for the ASM ad space, you still have to get down to business and do a good job with ASO, and catching ASO can also make up for the lack of ASM.

Compared with the static display of ASO, ASM is real-time dynamic change, which will rely more on artificial intelligence

In the past, ASO was a kind of static maintenance. With the addition of bidding ad play, ASM becomes confusing, and the monitoring in the first hour may change the situation completely in the next hour because of a certain company's bidding ad.

So who has the ability of real-time dynamic monitoring, as well as the ability of real-time optimization, in order to better maximize the effect of placement. Real-time optimization depends on artificial intelligence, that is, machine learning and big data algorithms, which will require more big data technology to come into play.

ASM ad groups can be infinitely fine, which will test the refinement operation ability of keywords

In the past, ASO was relatively static and would not have too drastic dynamic changes, and it was relatively easy to operate.

The finer the structure of the ASM account settings, the better the results, for dozens of groups of words or even hundreds of words to choose and optimize, what time period, which channel, which point in time, what gender, what age group.

This is an absolute test for manual operation, imagine a person can do dozens of phrase optimization all day long staring at the computer is already very good, but the finer the ASM granularity, a large number of advertising group combination and optimization, real-time updates, etc., is very difficult to be completed by manual work.

This is also the biggest confusion of many APPs at present, if it is based on big data machine algorithm, which can quickly react and crawl keywords by itself to generate the best description and other text information, it will significantly save labor cost while improving the placement effect.

ASM is coming, in fact, ASO is more important, because ASM depends on APP relevance

ASM is a commercial product and ASO is an optimization concept. ASO can be done with or without budget, so ASO is more widely used.

ASO is the optimization of the entire text content in the App Store, which contains a multi-rounded content from keyword coverage, subtitle, comments, top position, ranking, etc.

ASM is important based on APP relevance, and relevance is the highest priority factor for bidding ranking, so the ASO groundwork of optimizing APP name, graphic elements, description and keywords, etc. to improve relevance is even more important. Relevance done poorly will also affect ASM efficiency. So ASM is here, not only ASM should be professional, ASO also requires more professional.

ASO can improve the advertising data of ASM


ASO can increase the display of ASM ads

Display is the amount of ad exposure a product competes for. Apple allocates different percentages of display to bidding products based on the bids and relevance of the products.

We can improve the relevance of our products by using ASO to cover keywords or optimizing natural search rankings to increase the amount of display in ASM.


ASO can increase the conversion rate of ASM


Conversion rate is divided into click rate and installation rate.

The click-through rate mainly depends on whether the product matches the user's needs and whether the advertising material is attractive enough to the user; the installation rate is mainly affected by the content of the product detail page.

Titles/sub-titles, icons, screenshots/videos, descriptions/promotional text, and rating reviews are all metadata belonging to the product and can all be optimized through ASO to improve the conversion rate of the product.

ASM can help developers develop a more refined ASO strategy


Developers who have done ASO will have a problem that we can only estimate the volume by comparing it with the volume of users before promotion, and we cannot know how much volume we have specifically acquired by doing ASO and what is the quality of the users brought, let alone analyzing the value of users brought by each keyword.

This will lead us to have a lot of budget may be spent on the words that are not high value.

ASM can solve this problem. The ASM backend can see the number of clicks and installs under the keywords, and if it is connected to Apple API or third-party attribution tools, it can also see the retention, payment and other follow-up behavior data of users brought by each keyword.

With these data, we can objectively and accurately determine the quality of keywords, and put more budget on better quality words to get more and more valuable users when doing ASO strategy.

In addition to testing keyword quality, ASM can also test the conversion rate of material.

When we upload and optimize screenshots and videos, we don't know how attractive the material is to users.

ASM has the function of creating custom clips, which can create multiple groups of clips with different clips, or groups of clips in different order.

For example, you can place two material groups with different images at the same time, and by the conversion rate of the two material groups, you can choose the material with higher conversion rate to update, which will not only improve the conversion rate of ASM, but also improve the conversion rate of the natural result of the product.

Leverage ASM to increase exposure and downloads

Most people will just see no more than 7 lines of texts at a glance, that’s why sometimes we don’t see a particular app in the result lists. Therefore, use both ASO and ASM will increase the chance for your app(s) to be seen, noticed and downloaded.

In this process, ASO serves better for the branding works, because users give a little bit more trust to the natural search result, when comparing with the Search Ads.

On the other hand, an extra exposure from ASM provides another opportunity, as your Ads will be shown at the very top of the list, if it’s highly relative to the users’ searching, there is a great chance that it gets installed.

ASO reaches places that ASM doesn’t


  • Lower versions of iOS
By far, the Apple Store Search Ads only display on iOS 10, the previous versions have no Ads yet in the Apple Store. Per a report from Apple, about 70% devices are updated to the newest version, (Nov. 2016), and more and more devices are joining. However, there will be also some devices that're running under the previous versions.
  • After 6 searches
In the purpose of improving user experience, Apple Store will stop displaying Search Ads after 6 times, for the same keyword. That's why ASO is still important to give your apps enough awareness.


  • Users under 13-year-old


According to Apple’s policy, the Apple Store Search Ads are hidden to users less than 13 years old, the age info is collected from the user profile. This will affect significantly on some categories, such as Education or Children.


Under the above circumstances, ASO is almost a necessity for an Apple Store marketer.


It costs less when use both


All we care about is the ROI, right? According to insight data from ASM Radar, the investments on ASM will actually reduce the whole cost, because it saves you lots of time, and will increase installs in a settled period of time.

For instance, a total amount of 10k installation is achievable buy using ASO solely, but it may take too long. Meantime, if Search Ads Campaigns are deployed, you may only need 1/2 – 1/4 time to get to the target, this is how ASM saves.

ASM (Apple Store Search Marketing) is a supplementary, yet powerful way to help you get more by doing less.


ASM helps make your business data driven


One of the significant advantages of ASM is that, you can find enormous data in the dashboard, know clearly which keywords are better than others. It’s even possible to discover user actions after the installation, such as keep using, make payments, etc.

This will not only help you make your Apple Store Search Ads perform better, but also offers a reasonable way to optimize your ASO strategies.


Broaden your keywords scale and explode


As mentioned above, you know which keywords are more accurate & effective for your apps, you can now use them in your ASO practice. But, don’t stop here, because you can dig much deeper.

By using the Search Match and Broad Match function, lots of related keywords will appear in the result page. Filter them carefully, definitely there will be quite a few suitable keywords for you, use them for both your Main Keywords and Long Tail Keywords.


Smarter strategies based on competition

Once you collect enough Main Keywords and Long Tail Keywords, it’s time to decide how to optimize them:

For Main Keywords that’s too fierce to rank in top 10, just add them into your ASM Campaign list, make sure it appears on the first screen after a user searches;

For Long Tail Keywords that are [high volume + high price], use them in your ASO processes, place in your title and description. As they are all Long Tail Keywords, there is a chance you’ll rank higher than your competitors, while they use Main Keywords only;

For Long Tail Keywords that are [high volume + low price], don’t hesitate, just start your campaigns with them, it will give a good result, or it is nearly free, as they are really cheap.

In a word, use both ASO and ASM simultaneously and properly, will help you rank higher in the natural searching result, have more exposures, and most important, get more installations.


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