What You Need to Know about Google Play Changes to App Ratings
At this year’s Google I/O conference, big changes were announced around how Google Play Store app ratings work. These changes are similar to the changes ushered in by iOS 11 two years ago. Now, in both app stores, review recency matters more than ever before. And that means being able to identify and activate your fans is more important than it’s ever been.
First, here are the two major ratings-focused changes that were announced:
- The average rating calculation for apps will be updated for all Android apps on Google Play. Instead of a lifetime cumulative value, the app’s average rating will be recalculated to give more weight to the most recent ratings. Pro: This update will allow customers to see a more accurate state of the app, including bug fixes and new features that provide a better experience, as experience over the years is not taken into account when determining the app’s rating. Con: The change also means that high-quality apps that have not released recent updates will now have a rating that potentially reflects a current state of decline.
- Google will now offer suggested replies to make it easier for publishers to respond to and improve reviews. When publishers respond to a review, they’ll now see three suggested replies created automatically based on the content of the review (still with the option to create personalized message from scratch). This change will likely lead to more people responding to reviews, and in Apptentive’s opinion, responding at all is always better than not responding.
Similar to Apple’s iOS 11 ratings updates, we were excited when we first heard that Google’s focus is shifting to make the ratings and reviews process easier and more transparent. With our mission to give every customer a voice, we’ve long played a hand in helping companies understand when fans are ready to rate the company’s app in the app store. In general, these updates provide a much better experience for people who use Android apps and help turn the current one-way feedback abyss into a two-way feedback loop between customers and brands.
For both iOS and Android customer bases, brands now need to be able to control pacing around how often they prompt for feedback, thoughtfully decide where the prompts are triggered, and place more weight on ensuring their mobile app’s experience is customer centric. The Google Play Store changes reward brands for correct pacing of prompts and listening to their customers, but just like the Apple mechanism, it’s opaque.
Google now gives publishers a look into the triggers they use to calculate an app’s rating, but they won’t reveal everything (for example, we don’t know the number of reviews required for the ratings algorithm to change, etc.). Despite the shift toward transparency, it’s still not your data; it’s theirs. But Apptentive is here to help give you more insight into what Google is doing behind the scenes. We’re lifting the lid on opacity, recency, and volume within the Play Store ratings algorithm by providing clarity on how the ratings changes work.
To continue our quest to build a digital world where all customers have a voice and transparency wins, we need your help. We created the form below to collect information around what brands are already experiencing from the Play Store changes, specifically looking at current app ratings and the new “suggested forecast” ratings shown in the beta program, which is now available to all users. Take a minute to leave your thoughts (anonymously or not), and help us better understand how these changes are already affecting app ratings.
Additionally, join us for our upcoming webinar Google Play Store Ratings Changes: Learn What’s Changed and Shift Your Strategy to Win at 10am on Wednesday, July 31st. Christy Culp, Apptentive’s Head of Customer Success, and Red Russak, Apptentive’s Senior Account Executive, will share what’s changing with Play Store ratings; what we already know from collecting current Play Store ratings data and comparing it to “suggested forecast” data; and how you can shift your ratings strategy to capitalize on the changes.
Remember, a customer’s rating is just a small piece of understanding how they feel—their feedback and the state of their relationship to the company has never mattered more. As suggested at the beginning of this piece, it’s never been more important to be able to identify and activate your fans. This process starts with one simple question: Do you love us?
If your teams need any help understanding the relationship between app ratings, customer experience management, and long-term customer value, let us know, as we can help.