App Previews - The App Store Video Guide | Moburst

App Store Preview Videos – Do’s and Don’ts

Ian Griggs | 18.1.21

With their ability to bring your app to life, demonstrate its flow, and get users excited, app preview videos are one of the wisest investments you can make in your ASO. Video is one of the most potent weapons you have – it helps to appeal to and engage potential users, therefore also to increase app downloads, and to ensure they stay engaged after download. An often overlooked benefit of a great app store preview video is that it can inform the user of what to expect after downloading, which makes for much better retention rates post-download.

There are many ways to go about creating one, from doing it in-house with free online tools to using a professional, full-service video production team like we have at Moburst, so there really is no excuse not to have one. Regardless of which direction you choose to go, we’ll cover app store preview video best practices, the key factors to consider when choosing who should create your app store preview video, and some inspiration. After all, there are few things that capture a user’s attention better than an awesome video.

Why is an App Store Preview Video So Important?

The statistics around video performance are impressive:

  • 55% of people pay close attention when consuming video – more than all other types of content. Video is proven to have higher engagement and conversion rates than images.
  • Including video on landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.
  • Consumers who view demo videos are 1.81x more likely to make a purchase than non-viewers.
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it compared to 10% when reading it.

More than these stats, though, is the fact that videos provide an excellent way to grab your potential user’s attention in an app listing. They’re given primary real estate in the app stores (although the formats differ slightly for both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store).

A video gives an incredible platform to show off your app dynamically. This includes the in-app experience (show them how easy it is to use) and unique features. Let them know what they have in store if they just go ahead and try your app. Once you’ve overcome this hurdle, you’re well on your way to achieving success.

App Store Preview Videos: App Store vs Google Play

The differences in preview videos for Apple and Google are subtle yet important. What follows are some key differences to be aware of:

Apple App Store:

For iOS, the app preview video is expected to demonstrate the app’s top features and UI, while taking a basic, straightforward approach. Like with most things Apple, the editorial guidelines are relatively rigid, and strictly enforced when submitting your app. For example, preview videos can only use captured footage from within the app. People interacting with the app, including fingers tapping the screen and over-the-shoulder angles, are a no-no, as is behind-the-scenes footage of the app’s development.

One of the biggest differences to the Google Play Store is that for the App Store, video auto-plays. This makes it even more critical to grab the user from the first second.

Another key point to take into account is the “poster frame”. This appears whenever app previews do not autoplay, so it’s really important to select a frame for your preview video footage that can “do the job” when video isn’t an option.

Google Play:

In general, Google Play is a lot more flexible in terms of content and editing guidelines than the Apple App Store. The Play Store also allows app owners to utilize the best space in the app page – the top of the page. Use this area to actively promote your app via a Youtube link (this is why the Play Store refers to it as a “Promo video”, as opposed to an “App Preview”).

The “Promo Video” does not autoplay, and in most views has a “Play” button as an overlay on the video. Remember, your Youtube link shouldn’t be a shortened link, and should be linked directly to the video itself (not, for example, to a channel).

Key considerations when making your app preview video

For sure countless app store preview videos have been produced since first appearing on the scene in 2015 as part of the iOS 8.  However, there are certain timeless principles and fundamentals to be aware of to best get the most out of your app preview and its video.

1. Do follow each app store preview requirements

Obviously this should go without saying, especially when it comes to Apple who is beyond rigid with their requirements.  For example, preview videos can only use captured footage from within the app. People interacting with the app, including fingers tapping the screen and over-the-shoulder angles, are a no-no, as is behind-the-scenes footage of the app’s development.  If you don’t follow their rules they will absolutely reject your submission if you don’t adhere to them.

Google tends to be more lenient as far as what they allow in an app preview.  In fact, they refer to their app store videos as a “promotional video” rather than an app store preview video, and aren’t opposed to more creativity beyond just the app’s functionality.  Therefore, make sure to take advantage of this editorial flexibility when producing yours for Google Play.

2. Do lead with your main message

Grab users’ attention immediately. The vast majority of users will decide in seconds whether your app is worth exploring further or downloading – or whether they’re not interested. As a result, your app preview video has to pack a powerful initial punch to pique their interest. Get to the main message (which should be the top unique aspects of your app) as quickly as possible. Most users won’t watch your video until the end.

3. Don’t leave important information for the end

If you save the callout of any key features or essentially the “knockout punch” until the end of your app store video there’s a chance most users won’t even get there. Pack as much powerful information into the beginning of your video as possible, but take care not to overload the user with information, and of course always provide context.

4. Don’t duplicate content

While repeating and reinforcing your message may sound like a good idea when it comes to app store preview videos, this can actually have the opposite effect. Once a user experiences the same key message for the second time, they’re likely to conclude that this is all the app has to offer and simply move on, thus having a counterproductive effect on your mobile marketing strategy.

5. Do create a video that can survive without sound

Keep in mind that most videos will be played without sound, so make sure that yours still makes sense when muted. Take advantage of titles and text. Consider sound an added bonus, and not an integral part of your preview video.

6.  Do put an emphasis on aesthetics

It’s important to keep your audience in mind while constructing your entire app preview, but especially when it comes to your preview video. Poor quality video can be a major distraction and will reflect poorly on your app, leading it to be perceived as low-budget. Therefore, make sure the visual assets you are using are top notch and eye pleasing, including ones you use for your “poster frame.”

7. Do include a call-to-action

Each promo video should include an action for the user to take after watching. Usually this will be to download the app, but it can be phrased in a number of ways that are contextual to your app.

8.  Don’t use restricted video

Make sure your video is not age-restricted and does not contain any copyrighted or unlicensed content. This sounds simple, but has implications across sound, graphics, and the video itself, and if it falls outside the app store preview guidelines could lead to disqualification.

9.  Do test, and test again!

This is probably the most important part of an effective app store preview video (everyone’s doing it). Your video should be based on a number of parameters including how users found your app, what aspects of your app users will connect with lmost, as well as what features it’s important for you to highlight.

Who Should Be Producing Your App Store Video?

With all of the above best practices and many more, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out the best app store video alone, especially if you aren’t an agency that has the necessary app-specific experience. Which is why working with a professional video production team with relevant experience can give you a wealth of benefits.  Keep reading to find out in what ways.

What’s more, you can check out this ranking from DesignRush featuring the best video production companies in San Francisco – many of the agencies are also global (like ourselves), or offer their services across the U.S. too.

Writing For The Small Screen

You may be working with a video production company, but well before you get to the visuals it’s all about the writing. With only half a minute to work with maximum, and the average attention span less than that, your video must be written in a way that tells a compelling story in virtually five seconds or less. In other words, it needs to be as light on fluff as possible.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It’s also important that the writer of your App Store Preview Video is experienced in writing for that particular medium. Just like writing for blogs vs. banner advertisements differs, the same can be said for App Store Preview Videos. This is because of the various nuances in the rules and guidelines for each app store.

For example, Apple is extremely strict about the content of app store preview videos and requires it only contains footage found in the app. If the video your production company delivers is of a promotional nature it will not be approved.  Thus, all that time and money you’ve invested in your production company will be for naught should that be the asset you receive from them in the end.

On the other hand, Google is much less restrictive when it comes to their preview videos, especially when it comes to giving them a more “salesy” flair. Consequently, in order to capitalize on this opportunity, it’s important that your production company’s writer has either advertising or marketing writing experience, especially when Google is giving you the chance to make it exactly that!

Lastly, it’s important that the production company’s writing talent is a wellspring of creativity and not just a one-trick pony. You may have a good idea of what type of video will resonate with your audience, but until it’s put into action you won’t know for sure. For that reason, it’s important to A/B test with several video variations, and in order to do that, you’ll need more than one video concept to compare it against.

The Ability To Meet Your Video Needs

Any video production company can create a 30-second “teaser,” but preview videos are specialized and require an “app expert” touch. This involves being able to show the benefits of the app in an eye-catching way. Therefore, your video’s producers must have a strong understanding of what makes for a good UI, and what parts of it should be placed front and center when presenting it. It’s one thing to tell your audience what your app can do, but it’s no comparison to the impact of actually showing them.

Additionally, not all preview videos are created equal, and that is certainly the case when it comes to apps in the Google Play Store. Its less restrictive guidelines regarding frame size and orientation provide app publishers with the opportunity to mix and match in their gallery. This is particularly helpful for gaming apps who want to display their still-image screenshots in portrait view in order to encourage scrolling, while displaying their video in landscape – the way in which gameplay is most commonly presented. That said, what works for one type of app doesn’t always hold true for another, which is yet another one of the values of working with an experienced app preview video production company.

Video in Landscape Orientation

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

– Jan van de Snepscheut

It’s one thing for a video production company to know how to tell a story visually, but being able to deliver on that promise is quite another. Moreover, it’s incredibly hard to make a splash with a cutting-edge preview without a mastery of the technology utilized in today’s video making. From two dimensional animation to 3D effects, the video production medium is an ever-changing one, meaning more than just a familiarity with the latest style and trends is an absolute necessity.

Track Record

Beyond the creative and technical skills required to produce an amazing app store video there’s another factor that must be taken into consideration, your production company’s track record and their ability to execute. Before passing on the keys to your vision for it to be brought to life, you must be sure they’re up for the task.

How do you go about this?

  1. Ask for references from past clients, as past performance is usually indicative of future results. These should be easy to procure and the company should be happy to provide them (assuming they don’t have something to hide). If the production company is new, think long and hard about whether you want to be their maiden voyage.
  2. Ask for past work samples. Seeing really is believing when it comes to the quality you can expect to receive. The company’s “showreel” is a great place to start. And if the company doesn’t have one, well…that’s a red flag. Assuming they do, besides all the fancy effects, pay close attention to what’s actually on it. Do they have experience producing app store videos? If so, what do they look like? Find out which of the samples are from paying clients. Videos made on spec are a great way for a company to show off its talent, but won’t give you any sense of their actual experience.

App Store Preview Video Agency: The Way Forward

With only a limited amount of time and strict guidelines to follow, creating an app store video is its own distinct creature. Having a writer who can generate multiple concepts to A/B test is the key to success, and one with marketing or advertising experience can give you a significant advantage. Constantly evolving technology and styles requires a company with its finger on the pulse of trends if you want to make a splash. Plus, with app store video guidelines constantly changing, not being up-to-date on their parameters can be a real-time and budget waster.

It may seem trivial to put a price on years of app store video production experience, but a lack of it will more than likely result in a costly expense. While not many one-stop shops can bring all that to the table, at Moburst’s full-service video production and design studio, we’re always up for the challenge.

Awesome App Store Preview Videos

Finally, in the interests of “don’t tell me, show me,” we looked at the top three apps in Apple’s App Store charts, across both the Top Paid and Top Free categories. If an app didn’t make use of a video in their listing, we chose the next app that does.

Without access to the metrics and testing behind each of these videos, we can’t know if these app videos are effective; for example, if they are good for conversation rates, or not.

The aim is to provide you with different video ideas that are worth testing.

Top Free App Videos

1. Tomb of the Mask

Preplay image: Arcade-style opening screen with rich color contrast, app name displayed prominently

What the video does: Video of in-app gameplay

What user action the video encourages: “Tap To Play”

What it offers: An action-packed view of what it’s like to play the game. Full of quick-moving flashing colors.

Tomb of the Mask’s App Store video

2. Hello Stars

Preplay image: Leads with an intriguing headline: “Don’t Let Him Sleep”

What the video does: Slow-moving explanation of how the game works, with in-app gameplay

What user action the video encourages: “Get it on the App Store”

What it offers: Emphasizes the key differentiator of the game: the satisfaction of hitting the character with a water balloon by choosing the right size circle.

Hello Stars’ App Store video

3. Fortnite

Preplay image: Main characters

What the video does: Intersperses in-game, action-packed gameplay with splash screens highlighting key features of the game.

What user action the video encourages: “Play it with friends”

What it offers: Engages the user from the first second with quickly-switching scenes from the game. Different splash screens with large text highlight key features of the game

Fortnite’s App Store video

Top Paid App Video

1. Forest – Stay focused

Preplay image: In-app scene.

What the video does: Shows how the app works and how it rewards you, along with various features.

What user action the video encourages: “Start planting today” and “The tree will wither if you leave the app”.

What it offers: An insight into the app’s methods for improving your productivity, including the timer, plant growth and rewards system.

2. Da Vinci Eye: AR Art Projector

Preplay image: An in-app instruction.

What the video does: Takes you on a walk through of how the app works with a fast motion demonstration.

What user action the video encourages: “Pick any photo”.

What it offers: A simplified overview of how the app works to make the whole process look easy for anyone from beginner to advanced artist. It makes it appear as though anyone can achieve a perfect drawing in only a few simple steps.

3. TouchRetouch

Preplay image: Logo and call-to-action.

What the video does: Showcases numerous examples of how the app removes unwanted features from images, e.g. wires, pimples, or anything obstructing a view.

What user action the video encourages: “Remove unwanted content from photos instantly”.

What it offers: A diverse range of images from portraits to scenic shots, from neutral colors to bright colors, that can all benefit from the removal of ‘distracting’ objects that the photographer/ subject may dislike. It highlights the app’s main feature at play in a way that proves flexibility and high quality.

Make the Most of Your Video: Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these app videos taken from some of the App Store’s most successful apps will give you ideas and inspiration for your own app store video, after taking on board our dos and don’ts and considering recruiting an agency for the task, of course.

Whether it’s showing off your app’s functionality, showcasing awesome gameplay or tempting the user to find out more, a video is one of the most important tools in driving your key metrics – so it’s really important to get it right! An agency is best equipped to lead your way to app store preview video success.

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