Incipia blog

How to Optimize for Promoted IAP (In App Purchases)

Gabe Kwakyi | November 19, 2023

One of the major paradigm shifts in iOS 11 was the ability for apps to promote up to 20 of their In-App Purchases directly into the app's product page, search results, and even Apple's featured tabs, leading to a potential 20x improvement in visibility.

To understand how the industry has adopted promoted IAPs, we conducted a small-scale study of 10 random keyword searches, in order to analyze how many of the top 10 organic app results were promoted IAPs.

To our surprise, we found that only 3 (3%) of the top 10 keyword results for 10 keywords were promoted In-App Purchases. Even scrolling past the top 10 results into the 30th results and beyond yielded no significant increase in the number of promoted In-App Purchases.

promoted iap study

From these results, we can infer that not many apps are have yet successfully begun optimizing for promoted In-App Purchases, which either means that A) Apple's promoted IAP was a fail or B) there is plenty of opportunity for capturing more real estate via promoted IAP.

Our opinion is still that promoted IAP are an incredible, brand new opportunity for apps to boost their ASO performance, and given that the industry has yet to successfully implement promoted IAP it remains a gold mine of an opportunity. Read on for an explanation of how to get that gold while it's good.

During our searches, we found that only 2 keywords returned promoted in app purchases in the top 10 app results (photo - 2/10 and fitness - 1/10). This indicates that certain categories may be well-positioned for IAP, which makes sense. If your app is a photo or fitness app, then it's time to get on the promoted IAP train.

promoted in app purchase

promoted in app purchase study

We also found that promoted IAP only appeared directly following the app result (as a note, we are running a beta version of Apple's first post-iOS 11 update).

promoted IAP studypromoted IAP study

promoted IAP study

In terms of the mechanics for how promoted IAP index, we found that promoted IAP rank for both partial and full phrase matches of keywords found in either the app's title or In-App Purchase name. We even found certain cases where the promoted IAP ranked (but not the app result itself) for a match of the app's name and a word from the promoted In-App Purchase name.

promoted IAP study


Furthermore, we found that promoted IAP do NOT rank for partial/full matches of an app's subtitle, keywords field, or developer name. This means that your app's title (but not keywords or subtitle) serves an important role in determining what keywords your promoted IAP are eligible to rank for.

Promoted IAP icon design was pretty varied, but one important thing to remember is that your app's icon appears in the bottom-left of your promoted IAP's icon, so don't place imagery in this corner.

Check out our post on 10 Promoted-IAP Icon Examples for more visual examples and common Promoted IAP visual design trends.

Distilled recommendations for optimizing promoted In-App Purchases

  • Ensure you have the right price point for your promoted In-App Purchase - test different price points and measure request/purchase volume from the promoted IAP UX.
  • Do not name your promoted IAP "premium" or "monthly." This only makes sense for a non-promoted IAP or for users who have become familiar with what a premium purchase may entail after downloading your app. Understand that the users to whom you are promoting your IAP in the App Store are likely to know nothing about your app or its premium features.
  • Make sure your In-App Purchase is easily understandable in a 30-character title and a 45-character description. This especially goes against the popular practice of naming IAP "premium" or "monthly."
    • If you cannot effectively describe an In-App Purchase's features in the space of a promoted IAP's elements, consider breaking it up into smaller promoted IAPs that can be effectively described within the limited space available. Even if you need to charge a premium for each smaller promoted IAP, it will allow you to use your promoted IAP as a fishing line to draw users into your app's product page, where you can really explain to them what your app does. You can also keep your bigger, premium offering on hand for users to purchase.
  • Do not repeat messaging in your promoted IAP in the description. Leverage your space to explain as much as possible of the key value that your promoted IAP has to offer.
  • Last but not least - be sure to use important keywords in your promoted IAP name!


Stefan Bielau also shared a potential concern of ASO vs in-app purchase conversion rate during a Twitter discussion shared by Thomasbcn:

"[What's missing from this post is] optimizing IAP display name for ASO purposes vs. risk of churn due to confusing on confirmation dialogs" (see below image)

promoted IAP tips


In a future study we will explore the trends in how IAP purchases, downloads of an app or the app's keywword ranking movements affect promoted IAP rank. As of yet ASO tools do not report on promoted IAP rank and we are not aware of Apple providing App Analytics reports on promoted IAP purchases vs in-app sourced purchases, both of which will make performing this research challenging.


That's all for now, folks! Be sure to bookmark our blog, sign up to our email newsletter for new post updates and reach out if you're interested in working with us to optimize your app's ASO or mobile marketing strategy.

Incipia is a mobile app development and marketing agency that builds and markets apps for companies, with a specialty in high-quality, stable app development and keyword-based marketing strategy, such as App Store Optimization and Apple Search Ads. For post topics, feedback or business inquiries please contact us, or send an inquiry to