Why Google Play is banning app testimonials (and what developers should do instead)

The company’s update to its app store policy seems like a direct hit against ASO. Experts suggest alternative techniques

Google’s decision to ban user testimonials from app descriptions in the Google Play store could make certain aspects of app discovery more difficult. (Image source: Google Play screen shot)

Perhaps Crest did it best when it kept it simple with that old claim that four out of five dentists recommended its toothpaste. It’s not the way we normally think of testimonials, but companies have long used glowing comments from customers in some way that get reproduced on websites, including blurbs from critics plastered on movie posters and book jackets.

Android apps, at least in Google’s view, should be considered a different beast altogether.

In a recent change to its Google Play store developer guidelines, the company suggested there were too many times when what was supposed to be honest validation of an app or mobile game seemed more like an exercise in manipulative app store optimization.

“Please do not include user testimonials in your app description. They tend to be dubious and are frequently utilized to include references to popular search terms and competitor apps in violation of the policies outlined here,” Google noted under the “Keyword Spam” section of its Play policies and procedures. “Let your users speak for themselves via Play’s comment review system.”

According to experts in the marketing of Android apps, Google’s decision won’t put any developers out of business overnight, but it could make certain aspects of discovery and driving installs more difficult.

“It’s a reasonable request,” said Jeff Hughes, who published a book called Android Apps Marketing. “Testimonials are an effective way to promote a product but Google is asking developers not to place them in the app description because they can’t be verified and in some cases developers are using certain keywords found in other similar apps so that their own apps will be found in a search. Google, like Apple, is trying to ensure a more level playing field for all app developers.”

According to Tom Cummings, client accounts director at app marketing firm Fiksu, users are already well-conditioned to look at the reviews section to see what other “real” people think.

“App developers should use their descriptions to highlight what their apps do, provide meaningful updates, and outline key features and benefits,” he said. “App developers that give more time and attention to user feedback and reviews, when improving their apps, are most likely to improve their actual ratings.”

Value of testimonials varies

Dave Bell, co-founder and CEO of Gummicube, advises a range of clients on marketing app strategies. He said the value of user testimonials varies largely based on the type of application.

“For most consumer applications, the typical user behavior is to check out a couple of the most recent reviews posted of the current version of the app and base their decision on those comments,” he said. “When you are marketing an app with a more complicated value proposition (for example, like a business application) testimonials can be particularly useful.”

Like testimonials, reviews are always an important factor in the organic discovery and download of an application, said Gary Yentin, CEO and co-founder of App-Promo.

“However, that said, people tend to look at reviews as an aggregate and hence look at the sum of all the reviews for the application in the review section, so removing the one or two from Google Play will not make much of an impact,” he said. “The best form of app marketing is organic and social where people refer the app to their friends. This is still the most powerful and most viable form for app marketing.”

Bell, however, said good app store optimization (ASO), which has become a bigger topic in mobile circles over the last year, is far from an attempt to fool consumers.

“With millions of apps in the marketplace, the app stores are becoming more and more like the Internet and today 70 percent of all downloads are actually coming from search,” he said. “Even when you look at paid marketing channels, having an understanding of organic user demand and user behavior inside the app stores can help developers design advertising/promotional campaigns that have higher conversion and better returns.”

The historical challenge with ASO, Bell added, is that nearly all of the keyword tools in the marketplace simply pipe in data from Google Web Search or the Google Keyword Planner. “Unfortunately, there is very little overlap between web search behavior and mobile search behavior in the app stores–so finding a partner with the right dataset is extremely important,” he said. Gummicube is focusing on aggregating this kind of data and leveraging it for its clients.

Apple had similar concerns

This issue is by no means isolated to Google. Several years ago, Hughes pointed out, Apple stopped allowing reviews by those who received a free download code from the developer. Apple had a similar concern, that the reviews from free downloads would naturally be tilted in the app’s favor.

“I would also draw a distinction between copying a review from iTunes, which may be less desirable or have less value, versus including an added-value testimonial like providing a snippet of a review from a magazine or website,” he said, adding that while it’s possible that Apple may implement similar policies, it is likely that it will pursue an agenda to guard its specific ecosystem, “which isn’t really the same ‘under the hood’ as Google Play.”

Cummings agreed. “The one exception would be testimonials included from major publications or reputable reviewers,” he said, citing online journals such as Lifehacker, “but even then it may cause the app description to be rejected. Developers will have to decide on a case-by-case basis if the endorsement is worth the risk of delaying approval.”

Google’s decision doesn’t necessarily mean developers should avoid testimonials, especially if they are legit, Hughes said. The Play store isn’t the only place to post them. “By all means use testimonials on your app’s website if you have one… and you should,” he said, noting some developers lack even basic ways to be found online. “Cross marketing between apps from the same developer is also another way to gain more exposure for your app.”

This article appeared in Fierce Developer on Jan 12th, 2015  –


Welcome to 2015 – App Promo Winter Newsletter

App Promo

Happy New Year

App Promo would like to thank you, our valued clients,  for an incredible 2014!  Over the past year we welcomed new developers from Hong Kong and Latin America,  and an expanding portfolio of innovators from the U.S. and Canada.  As 2015 rolls in, we’re delighted  to announce two new services to our app discovery and monetization toolkit:  (1)  Cost-effective app preview video production (see below), and,  (2) Social content development, production and planning.  We wish you all continued success and a healthy, prosperous 2015.    Let’s rock this year!  

App Store Optimization

Meet @Apppromo at #CES2015

Don’t let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas!  App Promo will be attending #CES2015,  January 5th through 7th and we’d love to meet YOU.  On Monday, Jan 5th,  CEO Gary Yentin will speak at the Appnation Conference (Cosmopolitan Hotel), and is also a panelist at Digital Hollywood, Jan 6th   (Las Vegas Convention Centre).  Tweet @AppPromo to meet up – our schedule is filling up fast.



We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new App Preview service, specifically designed for the new iOS 8 App Store and GooglePlay. 

Back in June, Apple announced that developers would be able to create and upload a 30-second demo to their App Store listing. The videos appear next to the app screenshots and have become a promotional must-have.

Early  reviews for the service have been great .  Our script-to-screen process covers it all – from storyboard and graphics to original video (if needed) and professional voiceover.  Check out our work at on the @Apppromo website  HERE    Contact us today at info@app-promo.com for a custom quote for your application.

Featured App
Bandai Namco-Cinemagic

Get ready for Award Season
with Cinemagic
CINEMAGIC by Bandai Namco is an amazing new movie match and puzzle game that will be available for smartphones (iOS and Android) worldwide, January, 2015! in the United States.
City King iPhone App

CES Wrap Up and Mobile Implications 2015

Unable to attend CES?
We’ve got you covered! App Promo and Tapped Mobile will present a curated, half-day morning session on Thursday January 16th at the TIFF- Bell Lightbox, recapping CES 2015. A panel of Canada’s top digital executives will discuss the implications of the mobile industry shifts and announcements, and share insights into how they see the year ahead unfolding.  Join us for this dynamic session!
Enjoy a cup of coffee, light breakfast, and come in from the cold to warm up with Mobile Insights 2015.

Click here to register

Mobile Personas 2015

How well do you know your customer?
A clear understanding of specific audiences — and how to reach them —  can make or break a new app.  The 2015 Mobile Personas Study is a comprehensive analysis of mobile behavior, attitudes and trends to help agencies, brand marketers and manufacturers develop effective mobile strategies. Mobile Personas is a collaboration between Brandspark International (consumer and shopper insights), Tapped Mobile (mobile advertising) and App Promo (app strategy and monetization).
Click for more information
Copyright © 2015 App Promo All rights reserved.
For more information about App Promo or to read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy visit us at www.app-promo.com

Mobile Insights 2015 –  A Recap of CES 2015 with Implications and Insights for the New Year

Welcome to 2015 and the year of ???


App-Promo and Tapped Mobile have survived the madness of CES 2015 and are pleased to present a curated half day morning session on Thursday January 16th at the TIFF- Bell Lightbox, recapping CES 2015 with a panel of the top digital executives in Canada discussing implications from CES and insights into how they see the year ahead unfolding.

Enjoy a cup of coffee, light breakfast, and come in from the cold to warm up with Mobile Insights 2015.

Event Overview
8:30 Registration, Networking, Coffee and Light Breakfast

9:00 Welcome and Opening Comments.
Jed Schneiderman, CEO TappedMobile
Gary Yentin, CEO App-Promo

9:15-9:30 CES 2015 Wrap Up

9:30-10:00 Agency Insights
Jake Norman, CEO Mindshare Canada
Bruce Neve, CEO Starcom MediaVest
Will Pate, VP Digital Strategy, M2 Universal
Matt Di Paolo, Managing Director Digital Innovation, Sidlee
Moderated by Jed Schneiderman, TappedMobile

10:00-10:30 Brand Insights
Jonathan Dunn, Associate Director Sales Marketing, Bell Digital Media
Rahul Raj, VP Marketing of Ecobee
Mark Childs, Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung

Moderated by Gary Yentin, App-Promo

10:30-10:45 Mobile Personas 2015
Mark Baltazar, Vice President, Brandspark International

10:45-11:00 Recap and Questions and Answers

Registration Information

Registration is limited to the first 100 registrations and is free for qualified agencies, brands and digital innovators.  Simply click on  bit.ly/Mobileinsights2015 to register

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays 2014 from @Apppromo

Its been a very busy year for @Apppromo (our best ever!) and we want to take this time to thank all our customers, followers and friends. Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy holiday season and looking forward to another record breaking year in 2015!  Cheers!
Hoiday 2014

@Apppromo announces new service App Previews for App Stores

@Apppromo is excited to announce the launch of its App Preview service specifically designed for the new iOS 8 App Store and GooglePlay. Enclosed is a sample that was created for @SecurifyApp.  We have had great reviews and hoping to share this success with our clients new and old. Contact us today for a custom quote for your application.

SecurifyApp makes it safe to be Home Alone during this holiday season

Global emergency response app immediately alerts the authorities while sharing your location.

Securiy Icon

Securify Icon

PRLog – Dec. 9, 2014 – NEW YORK — More Americans fall victim to accident, theft and crime during the holidays than any other time of year. Securify mobile app for iOS and Android, brings emergency response into the 21st Century, enabling users to alert authorities within seconds while simultaneously sharing critical location and additional information (text, audio, images). Securify delivers a new level of safety and security for the entire family – whether at home or on the road. The app is particularly valuable for travel and any time users find themselves in an unfamiliar location.

“We cannot rely on yesterday’s technology while reporting today’s emergencies. Securify understands that every emergency has to be treated differently so all this information is necessary to provide a better and more effective service.” said Carlos Gotlib Micha, CEO of SecurifyApp.com

Securify allows you to accurately and precisely provide authorities with information (location- GPS, audio, images) about any type of emergency in seconds. The app displays real-time information about the progress of the emergency alert.

 Reporting less than 5 seconds means faster response times for your emergency.

No speaking: Silence is golden, especially in certain emergencies. With Securify help is only a tap away.

Real-time feedback: Stay calm and informed with the progress of your alert.

Agents: Feel you need an agent? If you want to speak with someone, they’re just another tap away.

Recording: Enable 1 minute silent recording so agents can better assess your situation. You can also send as many voice notes, as you need.

Pictures: A picture is worth 1000 words; share your images with an agent for more accurate help.

About Ububble
Ububble is the mobile development company behind the Securify Application. Privately owned, Ububble is an industry specialist in global safety and security, working the government of Mexico, while focusing on developing mobile apps that help consumers live safer worldwide.

The SecurifyApp can be downloaded from the Apple App Store at www.bit.ly/SecurifyIOS and the Google Play Store at www.bit.ly/SecurifyAndroid

For more information, please visit www.securifyapp.com
View our promotional video at www.bit.ly/SecurifyVideo
Like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/securifyapp
Follow us on Twitter @Securifyapp

For Media Contact and further information:
Nikke Slight, @Apppromo
e:  nikke@app-promo.com
m: 1-917-971-7169



  • No events yet
Download our White Paper

Latest Tweets

Canada regulator says wireless providers must treat content equally http://t.co/QVvhv64PPf via @reuters
Android Game Apps Are Becoming As Profitable As Those On The IPhone (via @BusInsiderAU) http://t.co/cGCYKKVqB1
Facebook profit soars 34% on the back of mobile ads http://t.co/mZTvms1CIw
App Engagement Among Younger Users (14-17 Years) a good chart to study in reference to #AppMarketing and #Engagement http://t.co/ZXxS6N13JB
You’re spending more time playing mobile games than ever before http://t.co/28Mn1muACo
Apple’s iOS 8.1.3 Update Doesn’t Need So Much Space http://t.co/vIVjAXCFqH via @WSJD
Apple Reports Record First Quarter Highest-ever revenue & earnings Growth led by record revenue iPhone Mac & AppStore http://t.co/z9G1f9C9jR