ASO Teardown: News Break Gets the Downloads, but Not Because of Its ASO Strategy...

Ariel Michaeli Ariel Michaeli
#aso-teardown
ASO Teardown: News Break Gets the Downloads, but Not Because of Its ASO Strategy...

Welcome to ASO Teardowns, a series where we dissect the strategies apps use to gain visibility on the App Store and Google Play for you to learn from.

To say a lot has been going on lately would be a gross understatement. In times of great uncertainty, many turn to the news to figure out just how things are out there. And when it comes to news, there are news outlets and news aggregators. News Break is the latter and the leader in its category.

We'll look at what they're doing right and what can be improved in this ASO teardown.

News Break's overall ASO score: C+

News Break by the Numbers

Before we start examining, here's News Break's performance on the App Store in the U.S.:

  • 📈 728K downloads in the last month
  • 3️⃣ #3 in the News category
  • ⭐️ 94% of new ratings were positive in the last month
  • 👋 Audience is older and leans male
  • 💰 Primary competitors include Smartnews, CNN, and Fox News

News Break vs. the Competition

News Break is an aggregation service, which means they compete with other aggregators as well as the news sources they aggregate. In the App Store, the closest competitors in terms of keyword and category rank are Smartnews, another aggregator, and channels CNN and Fox, which sit on either side of the political spectrum.

Here's how they're all performing in the U.S. App Store, based on our app intelligence:

News apps competitive intelligence on the App Store

It's very clear that people prefer aggregators to news outlets, and also that News Break is the clear leader in this bunch. With nearly twice as many downloads as its closest competitor, expect the algorithm to be in its favor more than the usual.

Analyzing News Break's ASO Strategy

Now, let's look at the key components of ASO: keywords, to get found and send more people to the app's page, and visuals, to convert those people into users (aka. downloads).

Keyword Analysis

For iOS apps, there are three areas Apple looks at for keywords: the app's name, subtitle, and keyword list. The first two are public, so we'll start by analyzing those:

  • Name: News Break: Local & Breaking
  • Subtitle: Local News at Light Speed!

Strictly based on these, it looks like News Break's keyword strategy is targeting the following keywords:

  • news
  • news break
  • local news
  • breaking news

Here's how the app's ranked in these, along with keyword insights:

News Break's target keyword performance | Keyword ranks tool

There aren't too many because the name and subtitle weren't designed to play together. This really limits what you can do with just 30 characters, not including the brand name itself. In addition to not playing well together, they also don't read well. The name feels like an incomplete sentence, and the subtitle doesn't really offer much value.

It's easy to only think about these pieces of text as ways to feed keywords to the algorithm but keep in mind that people will read them as well. An incomplete sentence may not deter them from downloading the app, but it just might.

Beyond these keywords, the app ranks in a few other popular keywords:

News Break is ranked in many popular keywords on the App Store | Tool for ASO ranks

This is a very short list, which indicates that News Break isn't focused on ASO, and gets to the top simply by having lots of downloads which are likely acquired through paid ads in and out of the store.

Takeaways:

  • When you are the leader in downloads, the algorithm is your friend.
  • Having the same keywords in the app's name and subtitle is a waste of characters.
  • When your app's name and subtitle don't play well together, the algorithm will associate you with very few keywords.


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News Break's Keyword List

The keyword list is private and can only be seen by the developer and Apple's search algorithm, so we're going to have to reverse-engineer it as well. Based on keywords the app ranks in that aren't already in the name and subtitle, we believe it looks something like the following:

daily,us,nyc,austin,video,weather,smart,live,sports,fox,cnn,cbs

A mix of news-related terms, competitors, and locales make this keyword list half decent, but it's not one we recommend learning from.

Takeaways:

  • Use the keyword list to create keyword combinations that might be less popular but potentially easier to rank in.
  • If you encompass a specific competitor's functionality, like in this case, provide their content, it might be ok to target them in your keyword list. Emphasis on the might. If in doubt, don't.
  • Use your analytics to identify large enough locations that use your app and target them as part of your long-tail strategy.

Screenshot Analysis

Screenshot analysis of News Break | ASO tools by Appfigures

The screenshots try to convert, but leave a lot to be desired.

Takeaways:

  • Using contrast to separate the background from the app from the captions makes things very clear, which means users will actually look at them.
  • Content heavy apps are tricky. You need to find content that's neutral, relevant, yet still interesting.
  • Don't overload your screenshots with complex UI, lots of text, and multiple levels of captions. If you want people to read them.

Suggestions:

  • Start over.

Video Analysis

News Break isn't using a video. Because the app is really a frame for content, that's probably fine. However, given Apple's acceptance of less UI and more marketing videos, having a short slideshow-type video could help improve conversion.

Takeaways:

  • Use a video when your app's UI is the focus and not the content it serves.
  • If your UI is too complicated or is meant to get out of the way, use a slideshow approach to highlight what's unique about the app and how the user will benefit from downloading it.
  • Test your video to make sure it resonates with your target audience.

Summary

We're going to guess News Break isn't focused on organic growth. A solid paid user-acquisition strategy, however, keeps News Break at the top of its category. With an older audience, it's possible App Store search isn't as relevant to the marketing team behind the app, but with minimal effort, they could put the app in front of an even wider audience, and without the per-download cost they bear now. Sounds like a missed opportunity to me.

Your Turn

How's your ASO strategy performing? The key to success with ASO is to constantly make changes, and base those on data. Appfigures has all the tools you need to find and evaluate keywords, track performance, and monitor the competition. Get started


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