The Dos and Don’ts of an App Store Preview Video

Shachar Aharonovitch Barak

There are a number of tremendous, proven advantages to having a top-class app store preview video. A good video will grab a user’s attention, keep them engaged as they learn about the app, and increase the chances that they will download the app. Another 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.

Why a Preview Video Is Important

While the formats differ slightly, for both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, video is given primary real estate.

Video is proven to have higher engagement and conversion rates than images, and a video gives an incredible platform to show off your app dynamically. This includes how a user interacts with the app, in-app experience, and unique features.

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:

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 Google 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).

Dos and Don’ts of an App Store Preview Video

Here are some “Dos and Don’ts” for App Store preview videos:

  1. Lead with your main message

Users will decide in seconds whether your app is worth exploring further or downloading – or whether they’re not interested. Your promo video has to pack a powerful initial punch to pique their interest. Then, make sure you 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.

  1. Don’t leave important information for the end

Following from the last point, don’t rely on leaving a key feature or a “knockout punch” for the end of your video; most users won’t even get there. Pack as much powerful information into the beginning of your video as possible. Take care not to overload the user with information, though.

  1. Don’t repeat the message

Repeating your message sounds like a good idea. When it comes to preview videos, this can actually have the opposite effect. Once a user experiences a key message for the second time, they’re likely to conclude that this is all the app has to offer – and simply move on.

  1. Video must stand on its own – without sound

Most videos will be played without sound. So make sure that your muted video makes sense, and make use of titles and text. Sound should be seen as an added bonus, and not an integral part of your preview video.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 got to to your app, what aspects of your app users will connect most with, and what features it’s important for you to highlight.

Great Preview Video = Great Results

Planning your app store preview video is of critical importance and can be the “make or break” factor when it comes to the success of your app.

Video is one of the most potent weapons you have – to appeal to potential users, to engage them, and to ensure they stay engaged after download. Use it wisely!

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