Job: App Store optimization (ASO) specialist

The role: Similar to a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, only confined to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store environments, ASO specialists are responsible for landing their clients as close to the top of the results page in relevant searches as possible.

A relatively new discipline within the mobile marketing industry, ASO specialists can increase an app’s search ranking by adjusting the description, icon, video and image previews as well as other elements when presented in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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“It’s a lot of data analysis; you’re comparing the app with its peers,” explained Gary Yentin, chief executive and founder of Toronto-based mobile marketing agency App Promo. “If you’re an application in the calendar space, you’re going to be mapping yourself against competitors in the calendar space, seeing what their keywords are, seeing how they rank, seeing what they wrote in their description, each of which is a data point you can use to evaluate your own application and hopefully increase its ranking.”

While there are some Canadian firms that specialize in ASO services, the majority of the industry operates within larger mobile or digital marketing agencies.

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Gary Yentin, the CEO and founder of Toronto-based mobile marketing agency App Promo, says career opportunities will increase as ASO services become a necessity in the industry.

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Salary: As a specialty within the mobile marketing industry, ASO specialists typically command a higher than average salary. “It would probably start around $50,000 [a year] and it can go up to $150,000, but it’s based on what you bring to the table,” said Mr. Yentin, explaining that an employee’s results are very easy to measure. “It’s driven by success, because you can show what you’ve achieved based on your campaigns. If they can show positive results they can [command a] higher salary.”

Education: The Apple App Store and Google Play Store are themselves hardly older than 10 years, and ASO has only really become a stand-alone profession in the past three or four, Mr. Yentin said , meaning there are few formal standards and educational programs.

Instead, the industry typically requires practitioners to have a university-level education in either computer science or marketing, and some experience in either SEO or mobile marketing more generally. “The best training in this field is hands-on training,” Mr. Yentin said.

Job prospects: While there are few companies that only offer ASO services, many larger mobile marketing firms have incorporated the service in recent years.

“There’s a lot of technology, app development, app marketing companies in Canada, but the reality is to have a successful business you need to be global. There just isn’t enough business in ASO in Canada to sustain a company of three to five people,” Mr. Yentin said.

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Mr. Yentin does, however, believe that career opportunities will only increase as practitioners further establish their services as a competitive necessity within the wider mobile marketing industry.

Challenges: There are two primary challenges that ASO specialists contend with, first and foremost being the gradual nature of the work. “People want to see instant results, and like SEO, ASO takes time,” Mr. Yentin said.

Another significant challenge, according to Mr. Yentin, is the ever-evolving arena in which ASO specialists work, as Apple and Google can make changes to their search algorithms at any time.

“You’re at their beck and call,” he said. “You really have to be up to date on what they’re doing … If you’re static in this environment, you’ll fail.”

Why they do it: ASO specialists typically have a passion for digital marketing and enjoy the added challenges that come with the confined space of the App Store and Play Store. “You can make small suggestions that have big results,” Mr. Yentin said. “It’s very rewarding to see how what you recommend produces results.”

Misconceptions: Mr. Yentin says many still confuse ASO and SEO, even within the digital marketing industry. Furthermore, he suggests many in the industry fail to appreciate how the practice differs from other roles that fall under the mobile marketing umbrella.

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“It’s a specialty, you can’t just generalize it as mobile marketing, you need experience to do it,” Mr. Yentin said. “Saying any mobile marketer can do it is a misnomer; you need to earn your stripes by doing it on a regular basis.”