A Masterclass in App Store Videos

June, 26 2017

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In the context of an app store listing (or search results for iOS 11), video is the best thing next to trying your app. It might actually be even better, since you control the experience and can both educate users and show them what’s unique about your product.

There are two main types of users visiting the app stores: the ones that make their decisions based on the first impression (“decisive visitors” as StoreMaven calls them) and the ones that are going to look at many elements of your app store listing before they make their decision (“exploring visitors”).

Having an impressive video will help you with the second type, and can’t really hurt you with the first one:
  • Decisive visitors will see a play button above the feature graphic on the Play Store, and might just look at the graphic without opening the video. On iOS (post iOS 11), the autoplaying video will most likely capture their attention (because of the moving images) and they’ll watch a couple of seconds.
  • Exploring visitors will have the option to understand why your app is unique on a much deeper level by watching your promo video (Play Store) or your App Preview (App Store). With the possibility to have up to 3 App Previews on the iOS 11 App Store, they’ll be able to see even more!

Read more >> All the iOS 11 App Store ranking algorithm changes that matter

As of June 1st 2017, here are the percentages of the top 50 apps with a video on their app store listing on the App Store and Play Store (source: US App Store & US Google Play Store)




Top 50 Paid 64% 54%
Top 50 Free 18% 26%
Top 50 Grossing 38% 70%

Of course, you want to test and experiment to determine what kind of uplift using video could bring to your conversion rate. Based on 120M sessions of their testing tools, StoreMaven estimates that the uplift can go up to 20-35% and that users watching the video are 3 times more likely to install. We’ll need to observe the consequences of the iOS 11 changes (especially for games where landscape App Previews could be starting to look very much like game trailers or video ads to attract consumers).

On the Play Store, we’ve seen several clients increase their conversion rate. This promo video , for example, increased conversion rates by 15%.

How to make a good app store video

You’ll see in the following section that there are some differences between the videos on the App Store and the Google Play Store.

But there are also some common best practices and pitfalls. Let’s explore the main ones!

  • Check the competition - look at what other apps in your category are doing and get inspiration.
  • Start strong - whether the video autoplays (like it will with iOS 11) or not the first few seconds are critical to engage users.
  • Don’t try to show everything - keep things relatively short. Your app might have many features and benefits but you need to stay focused on the main value proposition.
  • Optimize for silence - a lot of users have the sound muted or on low volume, so make sure people can understand the message even with the sound off. Short captions, easily readable help (even more important and encouraged by Apple for App Previews post-iOS11)!
  • Display relevant content - don’t overwhelm users with too much but make sure you put them in the shoes of an active and engaged users so they grasp the full potential of your app or game.
  • Be mindful of the expert syndrome - some users are just discovering your app, and maybe even the app’s concept. Make sure a potential user can understand, even if he’s a novice.
  • Optimize for small screens - you don’t have a choice on iOS since App Previews are mostly based on captured footage, but on the Play Store make sure everything shows well on a small screen!
  • Don’t forget the call to action - it might be obvious, but make sure to include a call to action in the video to tell viewers what you want them to do (“Download today”, “Play now”, etc.).

Top 7 differences between App Store Videos and Play Store Videos

There are some quite fundamental differences between App Previews (videos used on the iOS App Store and the tvOS App Store) and Promo videos (videos used on the Google Play Store).

Below are the top 7 ones.

A note on localization: the ability to display a localized video used to be one major differences between the two stores. It could not be done on iOS (with the same App Preview displayed to all users) but possible on Google Play Store. With iOS 11, developers are able to localize each App Preview and decide of their presence and order.


App Previews (iOS App Store videos)

Promo videos (Google Play Store video)

Format Device specific. Full resolution list here (in the section “App Preview Resolutions”). iOS 11: up to 3 App Previews possible YouTube video. 1920x1080 recommended.
Guidelines Approval needed, with pretty strict/limiting guidelines. No approval needed, loose guidelines. Android badge and devices largely preferred by Google.
Placement & Display Pre-iOS 11: play button overlayed on poster frame, acting as the 1st screenshotPost-iOS 11: autoplay, muted, looped. 1st App Previews autoplays in both search results and app store listing. Play button overlayed on feature graphic, opening the YouTube video. Not displayed in search results.
Length Up to 30 seconds No limit
Update Requires an app update Can be changed at any time
Testing No way to A/B test without third party tools Can be tested with Google Play Store listing experiments
Video stats No stats available YouTube Analytics

Let’s take a closer look at examples for a few of these differences.


Because App Previews are device specific, they should follow the app’s orientation. A portrait app will have a vertical video (9:16), a landscape app a horizontal video (16:9).

Promo videos on the Play Store are all in landscape (16:9) since they are YouTube videos.

This is a big difference because you will have to make two different videos, which will not be interchangeable for a portrait app. If you were to use an iOS App Preview for a portrait app on the Google Play Store, you will not only end up with the wrong UI (iOS instead of Android) but also big black bars on each store video

An iOS App Preview displayed on YouTube

You also can’t use your Google Play Store promo video on the iOS App Store because it won’t be approved by Apple (Apple’s guidelines specify that you need to show the iOS app).

Placement and Display

The best way to understand the placement of the video on both stores is to see it in action.

iOS App Store

Pre-iOS 11, the poster frame (with the play button for the video) is displayed in the search results along with one screenshot. On the app listing, the poster frame acts as the first screenshot as well.

Post-iOS 11, the 1st App Preview autoplays in mute and is looped in the search results along with 2 screenshots. On the app listing, the App Previews (up to 3) are displayed first and before the screenshots. Each App Preview autoplays once it’s put in focus (i.e the 2nd App Preview autoplays when you swipe to see it).

app store ranking algorithmapp store ranking algorithm














App Previews autoplay in the search results of iOS 11


app store video

app store video















 Pre-iOS 11, you need to tap the play button to watch the App Preview

Apple might still be testing out some things though, because for some apps, the App Previews do not display with the screenshots but in a section down below called “A Closer Look”.

Google Play Store

On the Google Play Store, apart from a couple of layout tests from Google (or some “brand searches”), the feature graphic and the video are not displayed in the search results. Nor any screenshot for that matter.

app store ranking algorithmOn the app listing, the play button is placed above the feature graphic which is the first visual asset situated at the top. Once users tap the play button, the YouTube video is played.

app store ranking algorithmTesting

iOS App Store

iTunes Connect does not let you test an app store listing with video vs. no video or split test different versions of a video.

The only way to measure the impact of video is a before/after technique: keeping marketing efforts as constant as possible and comparing results 1 or 2 weeks before and 1 to 2 weeks after.

Using third party tools like Splitmetrics, StoreMaven or Testnet you can get much more insights: those tools “recreate” the app store listings on a page, and then you drive paid traffic there. With the iOS 11 changes the limitation of this will be that you won’t be able to grasp the impact of the video in the search results.

Google Play Store

Thanks to Google Play Store listing experiments, you can A/B test video (split test, really - up to 4 variants). It’s quite easy to set up, and by checking YouTube analytics you’ll also be able to get insights on viewer’s behavior (view duration, when people stop watching the video, etc.).


Video is a powerful medium to promote your app, and app store videos done right can positively impact your conversion rate. And make all your acquisition efforts more effective.

There are some common best practices in creating videos for the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, but also some major differences that you need to know to optimize your videos’ impact.

With the recent iOS 11 announcement, it will be really interesting to see how the mobile industry reacts and if video becomes even more mainstream than it currently is.

Written by Sylvain Gauchet, Co-Founder @ Apptamin

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