This is a guest post by Hugh Kimura from MobileAction
Video marketing is becoming increasingly popular.
Because it works.
A recent report shows that 96% of B2B organizations use video in their marketing campaigns. Of these companies, 73% report a positive ROI.
But we all know that the app stores can be different from other marketing platforms. Does video work as well on the app stores?
More specifically, how important is an app promo video for the Google Play Store? It is worthwhile to invest the time and money to create a video?
Like anything else in app marketing, it depends on the app and the situation.
But that wasn’t a good enough answer for me. I was curious to find out how well promo videos work on the Play Store, so I decided to do some research.
One way to do it would have been to contact every app publisher with an app on the Top 50 in each category and ask them how well video is working for them. However, that method wouldn’t give me enough responses to be able to draw any meaningful conclusions.
So I decided to let their actions do the talking.
I examined all of the apps that were in the Top 50 on the Google Play Free charts, in every category. For each app, our Data Science team checked if the app has a promo video or not and compiled the estimated daily downloads for each one.
The estimated daily downloads numbers come from our proprietary algorithm that takes public data from different sources and uses them to give you a very good estimate of the number of daily downloads an app is getting.
These two pieces of information should give us a pretty good idea of how effective promo videos can be. Obviously, there are many factors that contribute to how many downloads an app gets.
However, examining the use of video on the Top Charts should at least give us a clue as to what is working and what isn’t.
In addition, I examined the Free Top Charts because this is where video is most likely to have the biggest impact. On the paid charts, top apps generally have more money for marketing, so paid campaigns can affect rankings and downloads more.
In this blog post, I’ll share my results with you and show you five Play Store categories where video is most frequently used and the average estimated daily downloads of apps that use video.
I’ll also dig into what appears to be the best practices in each category and the categories where the data shows us that you might not need to invest in an app video.
A quick note before we begin…
The Top 50 Free apps in each category were analyzed on one specific day, just before this post was written. Since rankings can change on a daily basis, this snapshot may not exactly reflect the apps that are currently in the Top 50.
But it gives a very good approximation of how many top apps are currently using a video in their Play Store profile.
Alright, on to the results…
The Overall Use of App Promo Videos For Top 50 Free Apps
Let’s start at the top and look at the overall use of promo videos in each category.
As you can see, overall video use is still pretty low. An average of 24% of all Top 50 apps use a promo video.
Even though Google launched app store promo videos long before Apple, adoption is still nowhere near 100%. So if you have the means to create a high-quality promo video, it might still be worth experimenting with because about 76% of all apps still don’t have a video.
This can help you stand out from the crowd.
Of these categories, there are four that use video the most.
We will look at these categories in more detail in the following sections.
But wait, what about games?
I’m glad you asked.
Here is a graph of the use of promo videos in the Top 50 free games, in each game category.
The average use of promo videos for games is almost double that of other categories, at 43%. Since we know that games typically make a lot more money than other apps, we can assume that either videos help a lot, or these companies simply have more money to spend on marketing.
Either way, if you have a game that is in one of the game categories with high video use, you should certainly consider testing a video because many of your competitors will have one.
Now that you know the percentage of Top 50 Free apps that are using videos, let’s look at the top five categories and how promo videos are being used in these categories.
We will also show you approximately how many daily downloads apps with videos are getting, versus apps that don’t have a video.
1. Overall Rankings
In this study, 36% of the Overall Top 50 Free apps use a promo video. This ties video usage in the Productivity and Weather categories, for non-games.
While 64% of the Overall Top 50 Free apps are not using video, we want to find out if a promo video might actually be hurting the conversion rate of these apps. So let’s go in alphabetical order and see if we can find any relationship between video use and estimated daily downloads, for each individual category.
The Business category is one of the top Free categories where promo videos are used the most. Looking through the list of apps, we didn’t notice any patterns where one niche in this category was using video more than others.
Among the many niches in the Business category, the Top 50 Free apps are primarily dominated by:
- Job search apps
- Office function apps (pdf, scanning, faxing, word documents)
- Business communication apps (Slack, Skype, etc.)
In this category, the average app with a video in the Top 50 got approximately 1,593 downloads per day. Apps without a video averaged about 1,355 downloads a day.
There are basically two types of promo videos in the Business category. The first is a very plain background, with just the phone or mobile device.
We see this in apps like Ziprecruiter, Fiverr and Polaris Office + PDF Editor. Here’s a screenshot from the Fiverr app:
The other type of video that we see in this category is live action scenes with people. A good example is the video from the Square Point of Sale app:
So if you are going to create a video in this category, these two formats are a good place to start.
One good strategy that we also noticed in this category is to use testimonials as the thumbnail screen on desktop (by changing the thumbnail of your YouTube video).
Here is an example from Ziprecruiter:
On mobile, you’ll want to test and optimize the feature graphic.
Even though a much higher percentage of games have a video, not all game categories utilize promos equally. Board games and trivia games use videos the least and Arcade and Strategy games use app videos the most.
When we look at the Arcade category and evaluate the apps that use video versus apps that don’t, the difference is quite noticeable. Apps that have a promo video have almost three times the number of estimated daily downloads.
When it comes to games, promo videos seem to be most effective in categories where there is a lot of action in the game or complex gameplay. In addition, exciting music seems to be the most effective.
If you can also tell a story about the game, that seems to be a great strategy. The video from Subway Surfers is a good example:
The fourth category where videos are used relatively frequently is in Productivity. This category is dominated by apps from big companies like Google, Microsoft and AT&T.
With all the marketing budget available at these companies, you would think that most of the apps in this category would have videos. But that’s not the case.
Only 36% of these apps use video. Even apps like OneNote from Microsoft, only use screenshots.
A possible reason for this is that these companies are so well known, that they are relying on their huge brand to get downloads and don’t feel the need to optimize their Play Store page.
When we look at the number of downloads of apps with videos, there also appears to be a slight advantage to using a promo video.
So if you have an app in this category, there are a couple of things that this data shows you. First, since there are a lot of big brands in this category, it might be worth listing your app in another category, if possible.
Second, if you do decide to stay in the Productivity category, a video might give you a slight advantage. Even the big companies in this category don’t use video for all of their apps, so a video might help you stand out.
In this category, simple but polished videos that features the mobile device and what it can do, seems like the best type of video to make. Here’s an example from the Microsoft Cortana app:
This category is interesting.
Weather apps should be pretty self-explanatory, right?
…or are they?
When we look at the data, free apps in the Top 50, with a video, get more than double the number of daily downloads.
Wow, that’s pretty significant. So based on estimated downloads, there appears to be a pretty big advantage to using a promo video in this category.
There are a few common things that we saw in weather videos. First, the videos usually feature great looking weather backgrounds, even if the video is just showing a mobile device.
Here’s an example from the NOAA app:
Another thing that was really useful was an announcer explaining how to use the app and what features are available.
One app that uses this is the MyRadar Weather Radar app. In this example, the explanation seems to be a little long and people might get bored. But if you were to keep things moving, use short spoken descriptions and up the quality of the image, it could help a lot.
Music doesn’t seem play a very big role in videos in this category. It should be pleasant, but not overwhelming.
So based on the download numbers that we have seen for free Weather apps, with and without video, it looks like there is an advantage to using a video. If you have an app in the weather category, you should certainly consider testing a video.
The Play Store Category Where Video is Used the Least
By looking at the previous examples, you may think that every app needs to have a promo video.
It’s just as important to understand where videos are used the least, so you know where creating a promo video is probably a waste of time.
In our study, the Free Library and Demo category had the lowest use of video.
Is this because these types of apps don’t benefit from a promo video, or is it something else? Let’s take a quick look.
When we analyzed the estimated daily downloads of apps with and without a promo video, here is what we found.
The apps without a promo video actually get slightly more daily downloads, but not by much. But as you can see, the top apps in this category don’t get a ton of downloads anyway.
So that is probably why most apps in this category don’t use a video. They don’t have enough downloads and revenue to justify the time and cost of a video.
If you are in one of these low video useage categories, be sure to do your research and find out if it makes sense to invest in a video.
To sum it all up, video is just one component of App Store Optimization. But as we have seen in this study, the top apps in competitive categories are using video.
…and by our estimates, are getting more downloads, compared to apps that don’t have a video.
If you have apps in these categories, then it is probably worth testing a promo video. Just be sure to follow these best practices.
Also remember to take advantage of Google’s Store Listing Experiments to test your videos against your screenshots and alternative versions of your video.
However, if your app is in a category with very low video use, you can probably get away with just screenshots.
I hope that this study has given you some useful insights to help you figure out if you need an app promo video or not.
About the author
Hugh Kimura is Head of Marketing at MobileAction. He’s passionate about helping others successfully market their apps and learns from some of the top app marketers and app marketing companies in San Francisco.
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