The Ultimate Guide to Using Video for App Marketing

So you’re having a promo video for your app or a game trailer produced (by us?). Or you’re producing it yourself.

You know why you’re doing it: if a picture (or screenshot) is worth a thousand words, imaging how powerful a video can be to show what’s unique about your app, etc.

You probably already have several ideas on how you’re going to use it.

But since you’re spending money and/or time on that video, shouldn’t you make sure you plan it right and make the best out of it?

Well, we’re happy to help you out with this. After all, it’s in our interest to prove you what we believe in: video is one of the best assets you can have when promoting your app.

Different Channels to Use Your Video for App Marketing

The type(s) of video you want to create is going to depend on where you plan to use it. And I’m not talking about the style here (motion design, live video, etc.), but rather the content and purpose of the video.

Before starting to work on your video, you want to know if you’ll use it on the app stores (and which ones – formats differ), for user acquisition (here to, formats can vary) or for something else (website, PR, etc.).

Not only we’re going to give you plenty of ideas on where to use video to promote your app, we’re also going to give you some tips on how to get the best out of every channel and what kind of videos works best on each.

Let’s dive in.

Video on App Stores

Video on the Google Play Store

This has (obviously) been one of our favorite features of the Google Play Store: it lets you add a video.

It’s one of the most visible assets on your Google Play Store page, as it shows up right next to the app screenshots.

In one click (or one tap if they are on their phone or table) and a few seconds, visitors can know why they need your app or want to play your game.

What’s pretty cool about it too, is that the views you get on your video through the Google Play Store count as views on YouTube. And the more views you get on YouTube, the higher your video is ranked in YouTube search results and therefore Google search results (more on that later – engagement matters a lot as well).

Video asset Google Play store

Video on the Google Play Store

A few tips:

  • Google Play allows you to localize your video, so you can have one video per language. That’s pretty awesome if your users don’t all speak English and you’ve produced the video in several languages.
  • If you haven’t translated your video itself in several languages, what you can do is create transcripts in different languages and add that on your YouTube video. Google Play will automatically display the right transcript based on the user’s language settings.
  • With experiments you can split test different variants of creative assets, including promo video. This means you can better assess the impact of video, and optimize your video so it performs better.

Video on the App Store (App Previews)

At the WWDC14, video was introduced on the App Store and it is called an App Preview.

Since then, we’ve produced quite a few. And if you want to read about our thoughts on why they are great and not so great as well as get some tips, check out this post on app previews.

Also make sure that you check out the WWDC14 video on the topic “Creating Great App Previews” to know more.

Here are Apple’s guidelines and below the main specifications for App Previews:

App Previews specifications

Video on Alternative App Stores (Amazon)

It’s not all about the App Store and the Google Play Store (advice #6).

If you have an Android app with engaged users, you should consider alternative app stores to get additional distribution channels.

The most famous is the Amazon App Store, where you can also have a video.

There are a lot of other alternative app stores.

Here are some that let you add video to your app page:

And if it’s a YouTube link those stores ask you, it’s another opportunity to get some views.

Video ads

Creating additional videos (usually between 15s and 30s) for your app is definitely a good idea if you’re considering video ads. You can use those video ads for user acquisition on Facebook, Instagram, Google or some video-focused ad networks.

Here are some video ads we’ve produced:

 

Facebook Video ads

Facebook ads allow to target a very detailed audience, at scale (advice #4).

You can match your database with Facebook to target your best users or reactivate some, find people that are like your best customers (lookalike audience), etc.

Their photo page post ads were pretty effective, with a direct “Install Now” call to action below it that leads directly to the App Store or Google Play Store.

And you can now have basically the same thing, with a video thumbnail that allow your potential customers to watch a video about your app. If they like what they see, they just have to tap the “Install Now” button and are brought to their app store.

VideoMobileAppAd

Here’s how the facebook video ads display – with a direct call to action!

Here is a case study on Facebook video ads for the Jurassic World game (we produced the video), which led to good results.

Facebook video ads results

A few tips:

  • Choose the right thumbnail, which probably means creating a custom one that shows your app name and a screenshot, as well as other visual assets if it helps branding
  • App ratings are very important, since they appear on the ad. Don’t do facebook video ads (and probably paid advertising altogether) if you don’t have good app ratings
  • Craft the right one-sentence pitch. It displays above your video thumbnail.
  • Do not use too much text in the video: Facebook was previously limiting to 20% of text, and even though it is now more flexible do not go too far

Instagram video ads

As of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million monthly active users.

With stats like that, it seemed logical that Facebook decided to monetize it with ads. And this time, it seems it only took a few months to go from traditional square image ads available to just a few to video ads for mobile app installs available to businesses of all sizes, everywhere.

Instagram new ad formats

Additional ad formats available in Instagram (in addition to the “square photo ads”)

If you’re already managing ads on Facebook, using them on Instagram will be just as easy: you can use Facebook’s power editor.

And because you can now have landscape photo and videos on Instagram (not only the original square format), you can pretty much use your Facebook video creatives on Instagram as well. Max length is 60s, which is plenty for a video ad (best to keep it short).

instagram video ad

Instagram “lightweight” video ad by Boom Beach

Here’s what’s pretty cool as well: when tapping on the “install button” (“Jouer à ce jeu” in the picture above), the app store page opens within the Instagram app. Users are not even redirected to the App Store, they can download the app directly from Instagram.

At the time we’re writing this, the video ad format is pretty new so we haven’t seen it much around for now (here are a few – from Kabam games, pocket gems, game of war). Which is exactly why you should jump on the opportunity. And you can trust us on this, Facebook/Instagram is going to push on advertising and give you the tools to do it right.

A few tips:

  • When creating your video, keep in mind that as for the Facebook ads, the video plays without sound until the user taps on it.
  • Like other videos, the first few seconds are crucial. Especially since the videos autoplay. You want users to keep watching and decide to play the sound.
  • If you have more audience/better targeting on Facebook, test your video ads on Facebook then use the best performing ones on Instagram

TrueView for mobile app promotion (Google’s video ads)

Google is not new to ads.

Even though they’ve acquired YouTube a long time ago, it however took some time before they came up with a format for mobile app install ads.

Different types of Google Ads for apps

Mobile app install ads with Google (YouTube TrueView ad on the right)

We first heard of that format when Google reached out in April 2015, and were pretty excited about it. It works for both iOS and Android apps.

The “TrueView for mobile app promotion” campaigns let you reach people on YouTube that have interests related to your app or are watching content relevant to your app. Your ads only run on YouTube mobile and tablet apps (not on desktop) and you can choose topics, channels or even specific videos you want to target.

These TrueView ads appear before the video that a user wants to watch, with a “Skip” button that becomes available after 5s.

TrueView video ad for mobile app installs

How a TrueView video ad for mobile app install looks like

Below the video you can find the app icon, ratings and a call to action (Install button). When a user taps the Install button, an in-app App Store (or Google play store) screen appears to download the app directly from within the YouTube app.

You want to give users time to take action. It is a cost-per-view (CPV) bid model. Any interaction with your video (other than skipping) is counted as a view. And here is when you pay:

  • If your video is less than 30s, you pay if someone watches the full video (even if they don’t install the app)
  • If your video is more than 30s (don’t do more than 40s – you’ll see why below), you pay when the user watches at least 30s of your video
  • You pay if someone taps the “install” button

To make sure that you only pay for people interested in installing your app, Google recommends to make the call to action screen last five seconds or more (go for 10s). This long static call to action should prevent users from watching the whole video (or 30s of it if your video is more than 30s) without taking any action: if they leave you don’t pay, if they click install you pay (but you got what you wanted).

A few other tips:

  • Make the first five seconds count – after those 5 seconds, the user can skip your ad so you need to convince them to stay!
  • Keep it short, between 20 to 40 seconds
  • Show it in many ways – repeat your message using different videos with the same theme (think Clash of Clans)
  • On your 5s to 10s end frame, make sure you showcase your mobile app, the official mobile app stores icon and a call to action

Twitter video ads

There was no way Twitter would stay on the sidelines, especially since they’ve been allowing mobile app promotion via app cards in June 2014.

About a year after, they’ve introduced mobile app install ads with video.

It’s an immersive experience to have video directly in the tweet. It creates great performance and lets marketers convey a lot more about what the app does

– Richard Alfonsi, Twitter

Time will tell how effective those Twitter mobile app install video ads are, but if you already have a video ad for your app our your game and your audience is on Twitter you should definitely give it a try.

Targeting works pretty much the same way: you can target by location, specific devices and OS (including new devices), mobile carriers, but also things like keywords/followers/interests or using your own data with Tailored Audiences.

Anatomy of twitter app install card

Source: Twitter

Most advices you’ve already seen on this blog are also valid for video ads as well. Except here it’s also the actual video asset you need to focus on.

Twitter mobile app video ad

Videos are autoplay and like for Instagram and Google, there is an in-app download page appearing when tapping the Install button.

Some tips:

  • Get inspiration from some case studies/success stories (not video specific) as well.
  • Try out different variation of your video (especially the beginning) to see what performs best, and also tweak the copy

Specialized Ad networks

Ad networks are now coming up with better “native” ads, that don’t ruin the user experience. And many of them have also made a move to video ads, as they have better conversion rates.

It started with companies like Vungle, Ad Colony that specialize in video ads.

Vungle and the others are a great way to get revenues for your app if you use the right placements and make sure it fits well into the user experience.

Most of the videos ads used by ad networks are 15 seconds, sometimes 30s.

Chartboost

Chartboost example: user plays the video to obtain a new life

It’s quite short, and you have to make sure you include the essentials: your app name, key benefits or gameplay, and a call to action. It makes for a very dynamic video that’s to the point.

Here are a few companies that can help you either monetize or get users with video ads:

  • Chartboost (they now put a big emphasis on video ads)
  • Vungle
  • AdColony
  • AppLovin
  • TapJoy
  • Milenial
  • MobFox

A few tips for your 15 seconds trailer:

  • Make sure your app name is mentioned and show your icon/logo so people can recognize it later on
  • Insert a clear “Download now” call to action at the end
  • Focus on showing the key parts: impressive gameplay or cool benefits of your app
  • Keep any text you’re displaying very short and big enough (they’ll be seen on a mobile device and have to be readable)

The TV ads trend for mobile app promotion

You’ve probably heard about the Superbowl commercial for Clash of Clans, that cost Supercell around $9 millions, and later became the most popular Super Bowl ad on YouTube.

If Supercell (and Machine Zone with Game of War) spends that kind of cash on a TV commercial, it’s for brand recognition/perception. The idea is to make it more likely for users to download the app when they will see an ad on Facebook or Twitter.

But that doesn’t mean TV is not a good channel for user acquisition. At the App Promotion Summit 2015 in London, Lieferando and Adjust shared an interesting case study on Lieferando’s TV campaigns.

Using their Business Intelligence tool and RapidApe they were able to identify which downloads result from the TV ad campaigns (even though it’s not 100% accurate) and to find out which programs and spots were the most effective. They adjusted the targeting and decreased the CPI by 70%.

selectors for tv ads identification

This is how they identify an app download from the TV ad

We shared what we believe were the most interesting points in our App Promotion Summit summary post and you can find the full video below.

Another company, QuaidMedia, is specialized in driving app user acquisition with burst TV. They can help you from campaign creation (we can too – hit us up!) to media planning and buying as well as analysis.

TV ad campaigns for mobile apps are not cheap, but they are getting more and more affordable and can prove to be a very interesting user acquisition channel. So you might want to add this to your existing marketing mix.

A few tips:

  • Don’t assume that you need to display your ads during the most viewed programs. Test out TV programs out of prime time and see what works best.
  • Test out your video ad creatives on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube (or specialized video ad networks) and use the ones that work the best for your TV ads

Video on your app website or landing page

Increase conversion with a video on your app website so visitors can get what your app is all about quickly, or see some gameplay.

If your app website or the landing page you’ve created has the right layout, your potential customers will get everything at a quick glance: your headline along with a short description, your promo video and a call to action (CTA) to download the app.

Here is a good post on landing page design for an app, and we’ve also wrote a few blog posts on app websites.

You actually don’t have to wait until your app is released to embed your promo video on your website. You can have a “coming soon” version, with a call to action inviting to get notified when the app launches. With some video platforms like Wistia, you can even have a sign-up form directly at the end (or during the video).

Once your app is available, change the video with the app store badges at the end as well as your CTA.

A few tips for embedding a video:

  • Put the video above the fold, or right after your call to actions (usually the app store badges)
  • Pick the right thumbnail, one that integrates nicely and will get viewers to click. Don’t hesitate to create a custom thumbnail.
  • If you use a “play button” rather than a thumbnail, make sure it’s visible enough so visitors know there is something to see there.

A few examples :

mailbox-landingpage

This is how the Mailbox landing page looked after they launched

Snapchat-small

The Snapchat homepage, with a button to launch the video full screen

monument-valley-small

Monument Valley landing page, with the app store badges followed by video

94Degrees-small

The 94 degrees landing page, with the app store badges followed by video

Video platforms we recommend to embed your video:

YouTube

When talking about video, YouTube is obviously part of the discussion.

While it might not be the perfect platform to embed your video (ads before the video, banners, thumbnails at the end, etc.), you have to put your video on YouTube.

And not only because you can use that YouTube link in everything Google (Google Play Store – see above – or Gmail – see further below)…

…But because YouTube is simply the second search engine in the world.

An engaging video with a good amount of views (it’s not all about the views, engagement is also taken into account by YouTube’s search algorithm) will help your app get more exposure.

Whether you have an app for football fans or a todo list app, helping potential customers find your video through YouTube will get you more downloads. And since they’ve watch your app promo video, they’ll already know what they’re getting into.

A few tips to get your video found (it’s really quite similar to ASO):

  • Choose the right title, making sure your app name and some keywords are in there (but keep it user friendly). Don’t hesitate to add “official”: as more and more videos and reviews of your app are shared, you want the one you crafted with love (or had someone produce) to be found easily
  • Description
    • Include a link to your app or website in the first 2 lines (the ones initially showed to viewers)
    • Make sure to include keywords in your video description. It can be the voice over script, your app pitch or description, etc.
    • End the description with other important links
  • Choose the right tags, and put the most important terms first
  • Create a custom thumbnail and make sure it works well when it’s both big and small

Get your app reviewed by bloggers and journalists

Bloggers and journalists are busy.

Really busy. At least the ones you want to review and talk about your app.

They receive hundreds of emails. Some have terrible pitches, some have good ones.

We’ve talked before about how to pitch your app (and others as well) and by including a YouTube link to your video in your pitch you give to your contact a quick and easy way to understand what’s unique about your app.

“A video provides the quickest way to initially assess your app, letting [bloggers] know if it’s worth downloading and testing further” – Erica Sadun – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

It’s easier for them than reading a press release. Or than actually downloading the app, creating an account (give them logins if you need them to do that by the way) and trying it.

With a video, they can watch the first 10 seconds. If it looks like something worth their time, they’ll probably watch the rest of the video.

And if they like it what they’re seeing, then they can download your app and try it out.

“Most bloggers use Gmail, and a YouTube video in an email pitch catches the eye more than any other link” – Maxime Perignon – AppAdvice Daily

A few tips:

  • You can also put a link to your video in your press release
  • Again, make sure you have a good thumbnail

Email signature

One of the great things about Google is that they integrate their products one with the other.

So when you have a YouTube link in your email (not the short YouTube URL though, the full one), it displays a video thumbnail at the end of the email.

Once your contact opens your email (that’s why you need a good headline/subject), if he uses Gmail he’s just one click away from your video.

Not only will your contact appreciate it, it also means that you drastically increase your chances of your app being considered for review: once the video is launched, your pitch starts!

Influencers in your niche

In our app marketing strategy guide we talk about getting feedback from influencers early on.

Just as bloggers and journalists, the people you’re asking feedback to are most likely busy. Sending them a short email with a YouTube link makes it easy for them to decide if they’re going to help you.

When you reach out to people, don’t just ask them “what do you think”. Try to have precise questions, that they can answer in a few minutes.

A few other ways to use your video

AppPicker

appPicker has been featuring mobile apps and their trailers for quite some time.

By registering as a developer, you can send their team your video so they display it on their website and app.

There is no requirement for length, but keep in mind that people’s attention span is short. So we’d advise against going over 60 seconds.

Startup-Videos

If you’re a startup and you’ve put more budget in to produce your video (basically if you have an on-location video for your app or some custom animations, with some nice storytelling) then you can submit your video on Startup Videos to give your app more exposure.

Video on Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Vine

Once you have your video, you should of course share it on your social media accounts to let your followers know about your app or game.

Now that Instagram gives the possibility to have videos (including landscape format), it gives you another place to share yours.

And if you feel like it, you could even produce a 6 seconds video for your Vine account!

Pitching / App Awards

Ever had to pitch your app on a stage? If you haven’t, you should start looking for contests and awards where you could do that.

If you have ever tried doing a live demo of your app, I bet it didn’t go as smoothly as you had hoped: internet connection is not working, something that always worked great before bugs on the app, you’re a bit stressed out and can’t present the app well, etc.

But if you have a well-thought video that shows what’s great about your app in a short time, then you just have to launch it while you’re on stage.

If everything else goes wrong (I hope it doesn’t) at least they know what your app does or how your game looks. And you can keep your focus on pitching the aspects not covered in the video and answering questions.

Sending out a cool video when you’re applying to an award also gives a quick way to the jury members to evaluate your app.

Exhibitions

What better than a cool video to catch the eye of the attendees passing by your booth? Besides maybe some booth babes (although they probably don’t work that well).

Put an HD video on a screen, and you make sure that people can get a nice introduction to your product.

A few tips:

  • It will work better if the video can be understood without sound
  • If we produced the video, ask us for an uncompressed HD file for maximum quality

Investors / Crowdfunding platforms

It can be hard to pitch an app that doesn’t exist yet.

But what if you need funds to actually develop it?

Video can be produced working only with screenshots or .psds, and can help you pitch investors or potential backers.

On a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, you don’t want to show only the app: you have to tell the story behind it as well as the team.

If you’re pitching to investors, what’s great about having the video is that you can put the app in its best light.

No messy live demo. And you keep your energy for the speech about your team and objectives.

Forums

A good way to promote your video, find early adopters and maybe even influencers is through forums relating to your app niche.

Of course you have to get some authority there and be involved with the forum before starting to do any promoting of your app. But if you identify the right forums and start early this shouldn’t be a problem.

Once you have something to show (first designs, screenshots), start talking a bit about your app. If you have an app video, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t post it.

And if all promotion is forbidden on the forum (read the rules!), then have a link to your app website and/or video in your signature.

Quora

Quora is a great place to get some answers from experts or people in general.

Your app might be worth mentioning in some answers, as long as it’s relevant and not blatant autopromotion.

If you do mention it, think about embedding a YouTube video so that people see instantely what you’re talking about.

That’s about it for now. Bookmark this guide today: we’ll update it as new ways of using video for app promotion become available.

8 August,2016

 

Sylvain Gauchet

Hi there, I'm Sylvain and I've been working for several years on marketing mobile apps. With Apptamin we believe that we can help developers better promote their apps by creating cool app videos and sharing what we've learned...while learning more!

I'm French and English is not my primary language, so you're welcome to correct me if I make a mistake.

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