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

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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

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

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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

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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