App Video Previews: Tips & Step-by-Step Walkthrough

My first App Preview Video was a total disaster.  It took 2 weeks to develop and cost me over $2000.  When it was finally submitted, it got rejected.  This post will save you hundreds of dollars and hours of extra work so you don't make the same boneheaded mistakes I did.

So…  Are app videos worth the effort?  What apps need videos and what apps are better off without?

Apple introduced several new search engine optimization tools with the release of iOS 8.  One of the most debatable and under used tool is the Video Preview.

What you NEED to know about video previews is:  They're cool.  They're new.  And they'll get you downloads.  Now how the hell do I create one?

Why did Apple decide to introduce Video Previews?

There are still lots of skeptics about video previews.  Plus we haven't had an overwhelming amount of developers use previews.  So its hard to measure how video previews correlate to downloads.  However, video previews on the Google Play store have played an important role.  Apps with Video Previews in the Google Store get higher search rankings than apps without.

Fact: Video previews increase your SEO.  When Apple releases a new feature or SEO, they want people to take advantage of it.  If you're looking to increase your SEO, start thinking video peview.

What apps should have a video preview?

The rule of thumb is – if you feel a video will help get your app's functionality across, do it!  There are a couple categories that will benefit more than others:

  • Photo/Video – Apps with photo and video editing functionality will benefit from video previews
  • Utility – Apps that look standard but offer unique features that may otherwise be overlooked
  • Games – Especially games with high quality graphics and fun mechanics (like accelerometer controls).   Checkout Tinytown video preview for an example.

Before you spend $$$ on a video preview, remember…

Video previews are just one small piece of the puzzle.  ASO/SEO and metadata need to run in harmony in order to reach the charts. Before you create an app video, you should already have finalized your:

  • Code and Design developmentblueprint
  • Launch Plan
  • Title
  • Keywords
  • Metadata
  • Screenshots

Video previews are the LAST thing I work on.  Checkout this post for more things to consider before building an app.

 What you need to know:

Apple has not completely locked down the video preview process yet.  Previews are still in their infancy and missing a few screws.  But once developers and Apple figures out how to tighten them up, they will explode.

Apple does have several regulations they heavily enforce.  Its great for the buyer, but hard on us developers from a marketing standpoint.  To help get an idea of what Apple approves, checkout a video preview similar to the one you want to create and take a similar approach.  Make sure you follow Apple's regulations closely.  Here are a few restrictions you may have not considered:

  • Not a promotional tool – Videos are more of a preview tool than a promotional tool.  Don't follow the same marketing structure you might use for other ASO, like screenshots.
  • Required Devices – You need a Mac running OS 10 Yosemite and an Apple device running iOS 8 or higher.  Don't bother with iPhone 4, its not supported with video previews.
  • Dimensions – Its recommended you upload videos to as many devices as possible.  Don't cut your audience short.  Preview dimensions are available for iPhone 5, 6, and iPad in both landscape and portrait.   Make sure if you outsource your video preview, you have them export to all devices.
    • iPhone 5: 640×1136 ; 1080×1920
    • iPhone 6: 750×1334
    • iPhone 6 Plus: 1080×1920
    • iPad: 1536×2048 ; 900×1200
  • File Size – Keep files under 500 MB
  • Length – Between 15 and 30 seconds
  • Video Formats – .mov, .mp4 or .m4v extensions
  • Minimal Advertising – A majority of the clip should be captured straight from the app
  • IAPs – Show In App Purchases and costs
  • One Localization – Cannot translate to more than 1 language
  • Safari – Safari is the only browser Apple allows to upload to iTunes Connect

Checkout the infographic below for a roadmap to a successful preview (TechSmith):

infographic

 

Capturing your app

Here are 3 easy ways to capture your app:Capture

  1. Lightning Connector – Use your USB cord with Quicktime on Yosemite OS or higher.  Super easy, but crashes frequently.
  2. Simulator – Run the code on your computer and capture your screen.
  3. Reflector – Simple and cheap program, no cords needed.  Allows capturing through airplay.  You will need software such as Snapz Pro to record your screen.

Editing a video

Once you've captured your app onto your computer, its important to clean it up.  Apple recommends iMovie.  iMovie is not the easiest software to work with, but it will save you a ton of time down the road.  For exporting to the App Store, iMovie is your best bet.

Checkout the video above for a walk-through of editing clips on iMovie and uploading to the Store.

Submitting a video preview

Easy.  The same drag and drop steps apply to screenshots as they do to video previews.  Check your format, size, and video duration, then simply drop it in the upload section.

Your video previews will go into review once you've provided a binary, all metadata and have Submitted for review.

DIY VS Outsource?

Outsource your videos.  They're extremely easy to create, but time consuming.  Here's how to measure whether to do it yourself, or hire someone:DIY

If it takes you longer to give instruction to a freelancer than to do it yourself, just do it yourself.

I hired a Fiverr freelancer for $5.  All I did was send him 5 screenshots and the copy I wanted in the video, he did the rest.  There are also premium companies like Apptamin that produce high-end videos starting at $1190.

To sum up…

Yes, make a video preview.  It will help your SEO and downloads.  Think of other creative ways to use your video preview clips, like with Social Media campaigns.  Throw them on your Instagram, Vine, and Facebook pages.  Or create an ad video and cross promote your other apps.

The App Store is evolving, users are outgrowing screenshots and looking for new mediums to show what the next wave of technology will bring to our devices.

For an example of a kickass DIY preview, checkout Tinytown's video preview.  Or you can browse a bunch on Tumblr.

Got a sweet video of your own?  Leave a comment to show it off!

How to Make An App
 

COMMENTS

  • Shul January 20, 2015

    If you are having a hard time with making an app preview. you can find a great service here, with great tamplates http://www.apppreviewcreator.com/

  • Richard January 20, 2015

    Thanks, that’s very helpful breakdown.

    We tried to do a few videos ourselves and found them a pain in the behind to create something that woud convert page views into downloads.

    So we tried one of the cheaper video production companies (appvideomachine.com) and I must say it was a good service as they give you an account manager and walk you through the process and advise, here’s one of the 3 vids we did with them:

    http://vimeo.com/110226159

    Not sure how they video compares to Apptamin but not bad for $200 and it seems to have helped our downloads too (hard to quantify as we updated ASO at same time)

  • Mark January 20, 2015

    @Richard –

    Sweet video! Ya I’ve found with services, it’s important to require 2-3 revisions. If you can get them to guarantee it will get approved, even better!

  • Peter January 20, 2015

    Thanks Mark, a very helpful post. A quick question for you – if you use your Yosemite OS as the method of recording your iPad screen is it possible to add voice over narration at the same time?

  • Mark January 20, 2015

    @Peter – Totally! Open QuickTime -> File -> New Movie Recording -> Select the dropdown arrow to the right of the record button -> Select Built-In Microphone.

    The video will then record with your computer’s microphone.

    Also make sure you’re selecting your Apple device on the Camera dropdown.

  • Anne January 20, 2015

    Great post! Could of really used this info a couple of months ago!

    I must say now, after 4 months since these previews have been available that I prefer outsourcing as there’s enough to focus on with graphics and ASO! I’ve done a couple of videos myself that killed my downloads (maybe unrelated but it was a basic reskin app and not exactly the best game!).
    A bit tired of struggling to make ROI and happy to try previews.

    @Richard, that video looks cool, so this http://appvideomachine.com/? It’s actually less than $200 and thinking to repurpose the video for different apps.

  • Mark January 20, 2015

    @Anne – Outsourcing is the way to go! Especially with Video Previews. Even thinking about formatting previews to different device sizes gives me a headache.

    With games, it really helps to have a game with solid graphics. If the game is not of high-quality artwork, it will hurt your ASO. I used TinyTown as a perfect example. The game itself is pretty basic, but the graphics make it sparkle. Awesome graphics in a video paired with an enthusiastic voice gets me fired up!

    If you’re looking for ROI, Video Previews should be last on your list. Don’t drive an app into even more of a loss by investing into things like Video Previews. Read your negative reviews and figure out what you can do to improve the app, and more importantly make the code shine! Try new titles, keywords, screenshots, price variants. Even after tweaking and tweaking, sometimes codes just don’t takeoff. If you come to a realization to why your app didn’t give you the return you were originally hoping, adjust and try a new theme/skin with some different search optimization. Don’t give up!

    Wish you the best!

  • Anne January 21, 2015

    @Mark You are so right! And if you add the Apple rejections you get when making it yourself. You wait, you get rejected, you submit again and so on… time consuming and lots of headaches!!!
    I am willing to go the extra mile and invest in this. And they should get approved, that is why I am paying. I am sure this is something they guarantee as it is such a soft spot!!

    Yeah, I am going through all those things as well to improve the apps but, sometimes I feel it depends on the app too.

    All the best!

  • Robin January 27, 2015

    How do you add a preview to an existing app? Do you have to resubmit the binary to do it? And if you’re resubmitting the binary can you submit the identical binary or do you have to change something in it?

  • Mark January 27, 2015

    @Robin-

    Great question Robin! The short answer is no. You can follow the same steps I outlined in the video except not upload a new binary and instead submit your app straight for review. If you want to submit the same binary, it will not negatively effect your app or review.

    Hope this helps pour some more wine in that full glass of yours!

  • Robin January 27, 2015

    Thanks for the fast answer! I’ve order a gig off fiverr so now I can keep drinking vino and let someone else take care of the problem!

    I’m so glad you emphasized outsourcing. I was going to play around with attaching the lightening cable and trying to edit it myself but it wouldn’t be very professional. I’m not sure it will make much difference with this particular app as there is nothing exceptional in the graphics or features but it’s worth a try. Practice makes perfect. Once we learn the process we can do more…

    Thanks for your help 🙂

  • Christian February 16, 2015

    Great Post!

    We uploaded a preview video for our app in mid Jan, but measuring the impact has been a real pain. Any suggestions to how we can verify if having a preview has helped at all?

    Thanks

  • Mark February 16, 2015

    @Christian –

    Thanks for the feedback! You are 100% correct, measuring the impact is hard to do. For Android apps, a majority of the successful apps have app previews, but the data isn’t there yet for Apple.

    I’d recommend simply measuring downloads over a 2 week time-period. Measure with video, and 2 weeks without video. I wish we could deep-link our videos to collect data on how many people view them, but Apple hasn’t given us that option yet.

    Good luck!
    -Mark

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