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

App store preview videos have the power to bring your app to life and greatly impact your ASO. Learn how to optimize them for long-term app success.
Ian Griggs
Ian Griggs 30 August 2023
App Store Preview Videos – Do’s and Don’ts

This article was originally published on January 2021 and updated on August 2023

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 appeal to and engage potential users, therefore increasing app downloads. Great app store preview videos can also inform the user of what to expect after downloading your app, which greatly contributes to improving post-download retention rates. 

There are many ways to go about creating one, from doing it in-house with free online tools to utilizing a professional mobile marketing agency like Moburst to create some exceptional app store assets for you.

Why Are App Store Preview Videos 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 a video on landing pages can increase conversion rates by up to 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 utilizing videos is 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 the Play Store and 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. Here are some key differences to be aware of:

App Store App Preview

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, videos auto-play. This makes it even more critical to grab the user from the first second so that they continue watching.

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

App Store Preview Video

Play Store Preview Video

In general, the Play Store is a lot more flexible in terms of content and editing guidelines than the App Store. The Play Store also allows app owners to utilize the best space on 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 for App Preview Videos

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 video requirements

This should go without saying, especially when it comes to Apple, which is beyond rigid with its requirements. If you fail to follow their guidelines, they will most likely reject your submission.

Google tends to be a bit more lenient as far as what they allow in an app preview. Therefore, make sure to take advantage of this editorial flexibility when producing yours for the Play Store.

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 hold its own 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, 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, especially when it comes to your preview video. Poor-quality video can be a major distraction and will negatively reflect on your app, leading it to be perceived as low-budget. Therefore, make sure all of your app assets are top-notch and eye-pleasing, including the ones you use for your poster frame or feature graphic.

7. Do include a call-to-action

Each promo video should include a clear 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!

Mobile A/B testing is probably the most important part of ensuring you have an effective app store preview video. 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 most, as well as what features it’s important for you to highlight. As with app screenshots, you can also choose between landscape or portrait preview videos. Test to see which type best fits your app’s category and goals. For mobile games, landscape videos typically perform the best.

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. This is why working with a professional video production team with relevant experience can give you a wealth of benefits. 

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.

Look for Mobile Experts who are Well-Versed in 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 and an average attention span of 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 whoever is writing 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 to contain 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.

Find an Agency That Meets 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 galleries.

  • This is particularly helpful for gaming apps that 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. 

App preview Video by Moburst

“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 agency 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 3-D effects, the video production medium is an ever-changing one, meaning more than just a familiarity with the latest styles and trends is an absolute necessity.

Check Their 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 its 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?

  • 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, consider whether you want to be their maiden voyage.
  • 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.

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 require a company with its finger on the pulse of trends if you’re looking to make a splash. Plus, with app store video guidelines constantly changing, not being up-to-date on the latest changes can be a real-time and budget waste.

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.

Make the Most of Your App Preview Video: Final Thoughts

An app’s preview video is a crucial tool for driving sustainable app growth. Whether it’s demonstrating functionality, showcasing captivating gameplay, or enticing users to learn more, getting your preview video right is of utmost importance. Entrusting an expert agency like Moburst with this task ensures that you are guided toward app store preview video success with expert knowledge and resources.

Ian Griggs
Ian Griggs
Ian is Moburst's resident wordsmith with a passion for mobile advertising and digital marketing. A hopelessly loyal life-long New York Knicks fan, he's also an instant decaffeinated coffee aficionado.
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