A good app store listing is a finely-tuned representation of your app, and developers spend large amounts of time (and sometimes money) on making them perfect. With all of that effort and expense, there’s one extremely powerful tool that many developers overlook: the app store video.
When Apple introduced App Previews to their developer community at WWDC back 2014, they emphasized that these videos are “strongly encouraged.” Apple knows that video is an extremely effective way introduce prospective customers to an app — just look at their TV ads that focus on just one app. They added embedded videos to the App Store so that developers could take advantage of the power of video right in their app listings.
Developers publishing on Google Play were able to add a video to their app listings for years before Apple introduced the option, and they’re equally encouraged to do so there. In fact, our founder heard from a top member of the Google Play team that having a video embedded in a Play Store listing makes a big difference in the visibility of the app – basically, Google’s algorithms prioritize listings with videos.
So, unless you have an app that is so simple that it can be fully explained in a few screenshots (a basic calculator, for example), a video should be an essential part of your app store listing — no matter which store you use.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the same video for both stores, as Apple’s rules for App Preview videos are very strict. Here’s what you need to know about both video types:
App Previews (for iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV)
An App Preview must follow very specific guidelines:
- 15-30 seconds in length, made only from screen-captured footage of your app with minimal other graphics.
- Device-specific (separate videos for each iPhone screen shape, with another for iPads and/or Apple TV)
- Cannot show the device or any interaction (i.e. just the screen — no actors, real-world footage, hands, or phone/tablet edges)
Basically, an App Preview is supposed to look like your app “coming to life” on the viewer’s device. This is a great idea in theory, but can be tricky in practice. Without seeing the taps and swipes that it takes to actually use the app, these videos have the potential to be hard to follow, even if overlaid touch indicator circles are used. To avoid confusing viewers, make sure the video isn’t too fast-paced.
Another major factor to consider is that videos in Apple’s App Store play automatically as soon as they appear on the screen — both in the App Store listings themselves and in search results. This means that apps with App Previews are much more visible, with the video immediately drawing attention to the listing any time it appears.
Unfortunately, autoplaying video is a double-edged sword: because App Previews autoplay silently, most people will never hear your App Preview’s sound. This means that a good App Preview should make sense with or without the audio — so voice overs aren’t a good idea.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do with App Previews.
Apple lets you add up to three App Previews for each device type to your listing, which gives you the opportunity to share a lot of detail about your app — voice over or not. You can also use their Product Page Optimization and Custom Product Pages tools to A/B test different App Previews for optimization purposes and even create up to 35 custom “landing page” versions of your app listing (complete with their own App Previews) to target different audiences.
Here’s another App Preview for Zooroom, a social video chat app:
Note: Apple has also introduced Mac App Previews, which are somewhat different. This article focuses on App Previews for iOS and tvOS apps.
Google Play Videos (for Android phones and tablets)
Google Play is much more flexible when it comes to videos, with very few limitations on what you can post. This leads to lots of apps having very poor-quality “homemade” videos, which means that posting a quality video can really make you stand out from the crowd.
Despite being able to post just about any video on Google Play, we have some guidelines that we recommend you follow:
- 30 seconds – 2 minutes in length (which is exactly what Google recommends), though most videos are typically in the 45-90 second range
- Show realistic use of the app, including real interaction with it (hands touching the screen are a lot easier to follow than a disembodied phone acting on its own)
- Make sure that the app is clearly visible, and that its main functions are obvious to viewers
- Include either a voice over or onscreen text to explain the visuals (and get a good recording — preferably from a professional — to make sure that it is clear and engaging).
Here’s a Google Play Promo Video we made to go along with the Activote App Preview above. Since it’s essentially the same video for another app store, take a moment to watch both and notice the differences:
Just by comparing our examples, you can clearly see that Google Play videos are basically a normal “promo video” that is embedded into an app’s listing. This means that any video you create for Google Play can also be used more generally on social media and video sharing sites, your website, or sent out with a press release or other publicity communications. App Previews, unfortunately, are pretty limited in their usefulness because they only contain screen capture from the device.
So, if you have a multiplatform app and can only create one video, we recommend that you make a video that is suitable for Google Play, as they are much more versatile. However, creating a video for each app store listing is definitely the best option, which is why we offer discounted App Previews with our other videos — we believe that they are an essential part of any App Store Listing.
Need videos for your Apple App Store or Google Play listing? Let us know – we’re here to help!