What is Organic Uplift?
Modern ASO is no longer just SEO for the App Store. This is because modern ASO requires much more collaboration across business units than traditional ASO, from product influence, to user engagement, to Organic Uplift and beyond.
On the topic of Organic Uplift in particular, it’s important to note that it not only has an influence on an app’s top chart ranks, but also an app’s keyword ranks (although to a smaller degree than a direct keyword download), as well as an app’s explore/browse downloads, which is most critical for the direction that app discovery is progressing in the Google Play Store.
Therefore, for modern ASO managers, it is imperative to have a proper understanding of the technical underpinnings of organic uplift, in order to be equipped to make the best strategic decisions on considerations which influence the success of ASO.
Let us begin with establishing a strong, technical definition of Organic Uplift:
Organic Uplift as a working definition refers to “the portion of organic visibility which is influenced by inorganic activity.”
The term organic is defined as activity from the App Store or Play Store, from the search or explore/browse segments (with Apple Search Ads app units removed from App Store search app units).
The term visibility is defined by either impressions or downloads. This is an expansion of the traditional Organic Uplift scope which has focused on downloads only. This is useful to encapsulate the full potential scope of uplift; Organic Uplift increases the number of people who see an app in the store – whether by top chart or search – whereupon it is the individual’s discretion whether or not to download. This means that Organic Uplift has the most direct influence on driving impression-based visibility, with a significant but less direct influence on driving downloads.
Second, an MMP’s definition of an install or download is different from that of the App Store or Play Store. An MMP will record a first open, while the stores report on a download, which may or may not ultimately lead to an app open.
Moving on, the term inorganic activity is defined as all activity that is not organic. That means impressions, clicks, and downloads sourced from advertising, email, PR, website referrals, etc. – anything that is not store search/explore activity sourced from within the stores.
This is also an expansion from the traditional understanding of Organic Uplift, which focuses only on advertising activity. This is an important distinction because it supports the realization that an uplift coefficient can be applied to not only paid activity but all inorganic activity, such as PR or referrals as well; if these other sources of inorganic are not studied in addition to paid activity, it can cause gaps in the study’s ability to know which factors influence organic activity. It’s also important to know that, while Organic Uplift refers to inorganic-influenced activity, organic activity can influence other types of organic visibility. For instance, a large increase in feature downloads can cause an increase in search or top chart visibility.
How Does Organic Uplift Affect ASO Success?
Now that we have established a technical understanding of the nuances of Organic Uplift, let us proceed into the influence that it has on modern ASO success.
We all know that store algorithms care about presenting users with the most relevant app to download. Yet what we may not fully comprehend is that, while metadata plays an important role in helping algorithms to determine relevance, metadata is ultimately not the most important signal and reaches its end of usefulness for apps that have very similar metadata (e.g. keywords or Play Store tags).
Furthermore, store algorithms also have the benefit of understanding app groups, vectors and competitor relevance, which diminishes the need for algorithms to rely on an app’s direct metadata, and causes them to look more-so at user-sourced data points such as download velocity, conversion rate, ratings/reviews, user retention, and other signals. Of these signals, download velocity serves as the initiation point wherein the other signals serve as a quality-based, course correctors.
This in turn reveals that an ASO manager’s ASO success potential is really capped by their app’s download velocity. Unless they are equipped to factor organic uplift into their ASO strategy (e.g. by interfacing with decision-making on inorganic budget and target-setting), the ASO manager is not doing all they possibly can to raise their ASO success potential.
For instance, if an ASO manager’s organic downloads are currently averaging 4,000 per month with inorganic downloads of 6,000 per month, then the realistic ceiling of organic potential, all things equal, may be 7,500 per month. This is not to say that keyword optimization, localization, A/B testing, ratings prompt optimization and other forms of ASO cannot unlock organic growth; these still matter tremendously and still do convert incremental or even blockbuster organic growth (especially when unlocking new markets through localization or achieving a massive creative win).
Yet managers of modern ASO will ultimately still encounter some form of limitation on how many downloads they can unlock by tackling growth without the support of being able to influence other key factors such as inorganic growth. By increasing the inorganic downloads to 8,000 per month in the above situation, the realistic ceiling of organic potential may increase from 7,500 to 10,000 or more given the additional support in the critical download velocity signal that the algorithms look for. Note that these numbers in this example are not real numbers but meant to be illustrative only.
How is Organic Uplift Calculated?
Calculating Organic Uplift is typically done via regression or other correlation analyses, which focus on studying how the fluctuations of organic visibility influence the fluctuations of inorganic activity while extracting other influential factors such as seasonality, app stability, user retention and more. The outcome of most Organic Uplift studies is a coefficient to describe the degree of influence of the relationship between inorganic activity and organic visibility.
A regression may indicate for instance that the organic download uplift of search downloads from inorganic downloads is between .2 and .35. This means that for every inorganic download an app drives, another .2 to .35 organic downloads has been observed to be earned from store visibility gains through organic keyword searches.