When Apple first introduced iOS App Store videos (called “App Previews”), those videos did not autoplay. This means that there was a play button on top of the App Preview video thumbnail, which Apple decided to call “poster frame”.
Table of Content
- App preview poster frames
- buy keyword installs
- buy app installs
- buy app ratings
Because this poster frame was displayed first in the “gallery” (where the screenshots are), it would “replace” the first screenshot (or more exactly, it would be placed before it). To watch the video, visitors would have to tap that play button. This was very similar to how the play button for the promo video is now displayed a Google Play Store listing.
The poster frame was therefore one of the most important creative assets of an App Store listing. Surprisingly, it was still widely neglected.
Since iOS 11, App Preview videos autoplay both in the App Store search results and on the product page. This makes the poster frame (the “video thumbnail”) less critical. However because it occupies primary real estate in the search results and the product page, it is still something that developers need to get right (yet often get wrong).
In this post we’ll first take a look at what are poster frames, how they are now displayed, why they are important and how to select them. Then we’ll go through interesting video poster frame examples on the App Store, some “fails” and share a few best practices.
WHAT ARE APP PREVIEW POSTER FRAMES?
The poster frame is a frame/image of the App Preview video that Apple uses as video thumbnail:
- Before the video autoplays (for a split second, or more for slow connections);
- When a competitor’s video (above or below in the search results – including Apple Search Ads) is playing;
- For users that enabled “Low Power Mode” in their settings and currently have low battery (i.e. low battery disables autoplay)
- For all users that turned off video autoplay in their phone settings.
This frame needs to be planned ahead so it’s part of the video to make sure it fits nicely with the app’s screenshots and emphasizes the right things. If the screenshots are changed (and therefore the value propositions put forward change as we;;), the poster frame might need to be adjusted.
It’s not about just having a pretty image (although that’s good too), it’s also about having the right messaging. And a messaging that complements nicely both the screenshots (especially the first 2 ones) and the start of the video itself.
WHY ARE APP PREVIEW POSTER FRAMES ARE IMPORTANT?
Do you feel your app store screenshots are important?
If the answer is yes, then by now you probably have a good idea of why these video thumbnails are important.
Because the poster frame “takes the place” of the first screenshot, it is one of the most important App Store creative assets.
Yes, it is displayed for a very short time. But there are so many instances that can lead to this poster frame being seen by potential users (see a few above) that you need to get it right.
HOW TO SET YOUR IOS VIDEO POSTER FRAME OR THUMBNAIL?
To select the poster frame (video “thumbnail”) of your video on the App Store, you first need to upload the video on iTunes Connect in the Media Manager.
Once the video is uploaded, Apple seems to select by default the frame that is at second 0:05 of your video.
But this might be a terrible frame!
So what you want to do is hover over the App Preview video for which you’d like to change the poster frame and click Edit Poster Frame.
You then get the option of setting a different poster frame by playing the video and stopping where it’s the most relevant.
Once that’s done, you save the changes.
15 EXAMPLES OF GREAT APP PREVIEW POSTER FRAMES
A lot of developers do set a specific poster frame and don’t overlook it completely.
But who does this right? Who plans for that poster frame as they are creating the video, so that everything on the App Store listing fits nicely together?
To really answer this we would need data from A/B testing poster frames on the App Store…And we know that’s not possible (yet!).
But we went through the top 50/100 apps and games and listed 15 examples of poster frames that we believe are nicely planned or set.
Note: we are not “judging” here the app, the screenshots or even the video. Just the App Preview video poster frame and how it fits with the rest in the search listings.
This poster frame works well. Like on the screenshots next to the video, we have a background with food. On top is illustrated (and explicitly mentioned) the main value proposition: with the app, you can pick up McDonald’s curbside, in the restaurant or driving through.
The messaging on the 2 screenshots complement this well, with further details: you order through the app, and you can even get deals.
The only improvement we see here would be to make the text easier to read.
This poster frame almost looks like a screenshot as well. It is however part of the video, and works great in the search results: in the 1st screenshot (in the middle) is branding and the main value proposition. On each side information that complements this.
The only downside of this App Preview poster frame is that in the search results it’s a bit hard to see the UI clearly when displayed smaller like this. But between the copy and the main elements of the UI (like the ratings) it’s easy to understand you’re looking at a list of restaurants.
For landscape App Preview videos, the poster frame is even more important: there are no screenshot to display additional information.
The poster frame by Ebates is very much “in your face”, but it got a lot of things right:
- Easily readable copy (the landscape format helps!);
- A great preview of the UI with: branding, the kind of brands you can get deals on and even cash back examples.
This is an example that has been on the App Store for a while, and Mimi Music definitely planned for that poster frame.
Branding and the main value proposition is in the 1st screenshots (in the middle), and the phone frame on the left is “overlapping” it as well. What they did in terms of implementation is adding a specific frame/screenshot at the very beginning of the video, for a split second: just enough to select it and so that even when the video autoplays you get a glimpse of it.
Star Walk 2
The poster frame that Star Walk 2 chose out of its App Preview video is explicit and makes it easy to understand what the app is about, both through copy and showing examples of constellations.
Toca is not new to the game, and it’s no surprise they get their poster frames right.
For this one the gameplay is nicely chosen and the copy on the top left makes it easy to understand the game further.
The thumbnail for this App Preview video is hard to miss.
Used along screenshots showing the gameplay, it helps explain the purpose of the game and give some context.
Fortnite has a branding advantage, so it makes sense to put it front and center in their App Preview poster frame. They therefore decided to select a frame from the end screen of their videos, that has the Fortnite logo as well as some (famous?) characters.
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