Build a subscriptions business on Google Play with these new features and best practices

Posted by Tom Grinsted, Product Manager

Subscriptions can be a sustainable source of revenue, allowing you to invest in your long-term business growth with confidence. Subscription apps are growing rapidly on Google Play; the number of subscribers doubled in the last year and spend on subscriptions has increased 10-times over the past three years. To help the growing number of subscription businesses we’re seeing, we introduced the subscriptions dashboard in the Google Play Console at I/O 2017. Today, we’re adding three new subscription reports covering acquisition, retention, and cancellations to help you understand your data and make informed business decisions. Find information below on the new features, our updated best practices to help you grow your subscriptions business, and stories from other developers succeeding on Google Play.

New subscription reports now available in the Google Play Console

Three new subscription reports in the Google Play Console

The acquisition report enables you to evaluate different acquisition channels, including Adwords and UTM-tagged campaigns. This can help you identify which channels and campaigns are the most successful in acquiring new subscribers.

The retention report displays the lifetime retention of a customized cohort of your subscribers. It allows you to easily compare different subscription products, plots key events such as the end of a free trial, and provides forecasts to enable you to make decisions faster.

Finally, the cancellations report. This detailed cancellation data shows when a user cancels, either voluntarily (such as when they choose to cancel) or involuntarily (for example, when there is payment failure). You can also see whether the cancellation was accompanied by the person uninstalling.

We’re continually working to improve the Google Play Console. If you have ideas or feedback on how we can improve the subscriptions features, please let us know.

Take advantage of the new Google Play Billing Library

To benefit from these features, you need to be using Google Play Billing as the payment method for subscriptions in your app. Implementing Play Billing is easy with the new Google Play Billing Library. We’ve also updated Play Billing so the billing permission will be enforced when the buyer tries to initiate a purchase rather than when you publish your app. This means you can publish a single APK in both Play Billing supported and non-supported countries (rather than maintaining a separate APK that does not use the Billing permission for non-supported countries). Remember to check first if billing is supported before trying to offer any in-app purchases.

Become a ‘subscriptions first’ company and succeed on Google Play

As developers become more sophisticated with their subscriptions offerings on Google Play, our most successful partners have learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work well. Niko Schröer, a partner manager with expert knowledge of subscription apps, has a new post on Medium to help you become a successful subscriptions company. In the post, you’ll find a link to our detailed user research on Android subscribers [PDF] published in June 2017, which offers helpful insights into what users look for in a subscription product. We’ve also published some new best practices on subscriptions, which you can read along with other tips to succeed on Google Play in the Playbook app.

How other developers are succeeding with subscriptions on Play

Viki, a Singapore based video app, uses subscriptions to build a sustainable and predictable revenue stream, allowing them to invest in original content and provide better premium experiences for their users. Total revenue from subscriptions grew over 200% over the year, and by 700% in emerging markets like the Middle East and Latin America. Watch Alex Chan, Senior VP of Product and Engineering at Viki, tell the story.

The developer of Anghami, a popular music service in the Middle East and North Africa, increased the number of subscribers in their app with user interface experiments and introductory pricing. During one promotional period, Anghami used introductory pricing to increase new sign-ups by 400% compared to their average daily sign-ups. Find out more about how Anghami achieves subscription success.

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