Google Play Autoplaying Videos.

Google Goes Autoplay: What this means & how it could affect your ASO strategy

A few weeks back a slight whiff of smoke began to filter throughout the industry. 9to5mac had gone through Google Play’s new beta code line by line and discovered a few intriguing anomalies

Chief among them was the potential for video autoplay when they discovered an opt-out (of autoplay) option for users already embedded in the code. And where there’s smoke there’s fire. 

Google confirmed 9to5mac’s findings by subtly including in their docs that autoplay will go live in the beginning of September. Date unspecified. That means pretty much anytime since Sunday. 

Because this feature could drop any day now, it’s important to be ready so here’s what you need to know. 

1) Monetized videos are a no-no

If your current video is set up for monetization on Youtube (or contains copyrighted content with monetization claims), you must disable ads by November 1st in order to keep the video eligible for Google Play. That or upload a different video without monetization claims. 

This is all to avoid the situation where a user in Google Play will see an ad instead of the app video content intended, causing confusion and ultimately leading to decreased conversions which hurt everyone. 

2) It will impact user behavior. 

We know this because we saw it happen two years ago with iOS. Autoplay fundamentally disrupts how users behave in the app stores because it disrupts what assets they see and which ones they engage with. 

From video watch rates to screenshot engagement, we don’t just calculate the final outcome of tests but we capture the user behavior within the test app store pages as part of our analysis. This enabled us to assess the impact on behavior of the change to autoplay. 

After analyzing over 4 million users from iOS 10, before the introduction of autoplay, the video watch rate hovered around 2.59%-8.95%. Comparing that to iOS 11 (and over 7 million users sampled), the video watch rate jumped to between 71.08%-82.73%. 

Currently, the video watch rate for Google Play is 6%-8% but we should expect the same generous jump in these numbers as happened with iOS 11. 

But this also serves as a warning.

Before autoplay, the most impactful part of a video was the poster frame. Now that the poster frame instantly disappears when the user lands on the page, the content within the video is far more important. And particularly the first 6-7 seconds before most users drop off to explore other assets or make an install decision. 

During the transition from iOS 10 to iOS 11, many developers and marketers were late to optimize their video content (as they had relied on the power of their poster frame to do the heavy lifting and had subsequently focused their attention on that instead of the actual content within the video itself). This meant that all of a sudden, the previously ignored (read: poor quality) internal video content was front and center. And that badly optimized video resulted in unnecessary and entirely avoidable conversion rate drops of 15%-20%.

So how can you prevent the same from happening to you?

As there’s very little time to prepare (T-any minute), we’d recommend the following:

  • Monitor your Play Store page daily to ensure you know when the autoplay rollout reaches your app, it might roll out in phases in different countries/locals. 
  • Comply with the monetization guidelines mentioned above to avoid external ads being displayed instead of your video content. 
  • Analyze your existing video. Break it down into chapters and review the relevant messaging conveyed in each. Focus on optimizing your messaging for the first 6-7 seconds. We wrote an article about how to create highly-converting videos for the iOS App Store. Most of the tips are relevant to the new Google Play store

There are still many unknowns — will videos loop once they’ve finished autoplaying? Will they pause on the final image? Will they push users to the first screenshot — and we will continue to monitor the rollout closely. Once we have enough data, we’ll share our insights and recommendations for how best to advance your optimization goals under these new page conditions and how it affects all other aspects and assets.

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