If done right, app store videos are a great way to quickly show what your is about and an important part of your App Store Optimization strategy.

The end goal of your iOS App Preview and Store promo video are very similar: improve conversion on the app listing and get more engaged users post-install. But their formats and constraints are very different.

And this has been bringing a lot of confusion.

Even when discussing with some mobile marketing savvy clients or partners, we often explain the between video on the two stores. Including the “big black bars syndrome” and why we strongly advise against using your iOS App Preview on the Google Play Store. Especially for apps in portrait mode.

Let’s explore those main differences.

Differences in search results

Video iOS App Store

Search results and video on iOS 11

An iOS App Preview autoplays in mute in the search results.

If the App Preview has a portrait orientation (recommended), it is displayed along with screenshots #1 and #2. If the App Preview has a landscape orientation, it takes the full width.

The fact that with iOS 11 the video autoplays makes it great to catch visitors attention and increase the install rate straight from the search results.

 

google play store search results

No video is displayed in search results of the Play Store (left), except for some brand searches (right)

On the Google Play Store, videos don’t display on the search page. Although there is a video thumbnail for a lot of brand searches (tapping the play button opens a YouTube link).

Differences in the store listings (product pages)

product page iOS App Store vs. Google Play Store

Comparing video on the iOS App Store listing and the Google Play Store listing

On iOS you can have up to 3 videos, and since iOS 11 they autoplay as you swipe to put them in focus.

On Android the play button is on top of the feature graphic. So visitors have to willingly tap the button to watch your video. When they do, a Youtube link opens.

Differences for the videos themselves.

The biggest difference between videos on the two stores is that iOS App Previews have to be manually approved by Apple. Someone judges if the videos follow Apple’s guidelines, with all the subjectivity that this can result in.

Device specific (iOS App Previews) vs. YouTube video (Google Play Store video)

iOS App Previews are what Apple call “device specific”, and amongst other things this means that you are supposed to use a video that matches their app’s orientation.

Portrait app : portrait video. Landscape app : landscape video. If your app works both in portrait and landscape, you can choose your video’s orientation.

That said, there are some examples on the iOS App Store of videos in landscape for portrait apps. It’s taking a risk of rejection, and so far there was no confirmation that landscape videos perform better for portrait apps.

Because iOS App Previews are device specific, Apple wants you to create one video for the current iPhones (1080×1920 or 1920×1080 resolution), and a different one for the iPhone X (886×1920 or 1920×886 resolution). And yet another one if you want to display it to iPad users (1200×1600 or 1600×1200 resolution).

Note : not all “regular iPhones” (not iPhone X) have an actual 1080×1920 resolution, only the iPhones “Plus” do. But iTunes connect is now able to automatically generate the smaller sizes for the other .

A Google Play Store promo video is a Youtube video, which means it displays better if it is a landscape video.

Whether the user is holding the phone in vertical or horizontal position, he/she has to rotate it to watch the video.

Video for Google Play Store

No matter your video, users have to rotate their phone to watch it

If you were to upload an iOS App Preview in portrait on the Google play store, here is what would happen : Big Black Bars.

App Preview on Google Play Store

We kept the screen sideways because this is what happens to users: not only they have to rotate their phone but then because a portrait video was uploaded it means that only part of the screen is used

You’re also showing the wrong UI !

Since Google asks developers to remove an App Store badge so they can feature them, you can bet they won’t like you showing an iOS interface.

Content/style restrictions (iOS App Previews) vs. freedom (Google Play Store videos)

iOS App Previews are supposed to be mostly based on captured footage of the app itself, per Apple’s guidelines. You are not supposed to film people interacting with the device (live action) or create a video solely based on animations (and not showing the app itself). You are not supposed to show any device either.

Note: Because iOS App Preview videos now autoplay Apple encourages publishers to add copy (short and easy to read texts), whether overlayed on the captured footage or on text screens (text interstitials). This should be leveraged.

On the Google Play Store, there is no restriction on how your video looks like and its content. However Google does like it best when you only show Android devices and only the Google Play Store badge.

15-30s length (iOS App Previews) vs. no length restrictions (Google Play Store videos)

iOS App Previews have to be between 15s and 30s. If they are not, you won’t be able to upload them on iTunes connect.

Google recommends to keep the video between 30s and 2 minute. We advise to stay under 1mn, and 30-45s should be enough.

Conclusion

There are major differences as to how the videos are displayed on the two store and what the videos themselves can be.

You can have the same approach in terms of messaging and script, but you at least need to make some adjustments if you want your videos to both be approved and optimized for a specific store.

Plus, you can leverage the freedom that Google gives you to show your app the best way possible.

 

Check out the handy Cheat Sheet below to get the full list of all the most important differences for video on the two stores (pdf version HERE).

Differences between iOS App Store video and Google Play Store video

Learn more: iOS 11 App Previews in details and best practices.

Sylvain Gauchet

Hi there, I’m Sylvain and I’m one of the co-founders of Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.) where we find engaging ways to present mobile apps and games so our clients can either increase their conversion rates or improve their user acquisition.

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