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Grow and optimize your subscriptions with new Google Play features

Niko Schröer
Business Development, Android Apps EMEA at Google
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2018 Google I/O
May 8, 2018, Mountain View, USA
2018 Google I/O
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Grow and optimize your subscriptions with new Google Play features
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About speakers

Niko Schröer
Business Development, Android Apps EMEA at Google
Larry Yang
Product leadership at Google
Angela Ying
Product Manager, Google Play at Google

Niko has been working with developers to drive their mobile apps business in different roles at Google for over half a decade. As a partner manager for Google Play, his latest obsession is to help Android developers build successful subscription businesses in apps and he continues to be deeply fascinated by the unique spirit and focus on innovation in the developer community. Niko holds diploma in Media Economics from the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne and is highly passionate about watching and

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Larry Yang is a senior product manager for the Play Commerce seller platform, responsible for helping developers monetize on Google Play. Previously Larry had product responsibilities on Project Tango, Google Fiber and GoogleTV. Larry has been creating innovative consumer products and services for over 20 years, including leading product management for video conferencing at Cisco and General Manager of the Xbox 360 console group at Microsoft. Larry has Electrical Engineering degrees from Stanford University

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Angela Ying is a product manager for Google Play. Her areas of responsibility include building both the consumer and developer facing experiences for managing in-app subscriptions. Prior to Google, Angela was an algorithmic trader at Citibank where she developed quantitative strategies to trade foreign exchange. Angela has an MBA from the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania and an AB in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Harvard University.

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About the talk

Subscription apps and games are seeing explosive growth on Google Play. Once you've mastered the basics, you need to constantly optimize in order to retain subscribers and stay ahead of the competition. Hear about the latest Play features that will help take your global subscription business to the next level.

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Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's session on subscriptions on Google Play. I want to give a special shout-out to all the people around the world watching us right now on the live stream Yahoo! My name is Larry gang. I'm a product manager on the Google Play billing platform by my fellow product manager Angela and our business development lead Nico. Alright, let's kick things off with a quick show of hands who here is already running a subscription business

on Google Play. Wow, that's like half over half the room. That's awesome. Alright, who here is looking to get started on running a subscription business on play. All right, that's like about a third of the room. That's awesome. Good news for all of you. Today. We're going to run through a whole bunch of features and capabilities that you can use right now to start a subscription business whether you're already exist already have an existing business here looking to optimize or grow or if you're just looking to get something started. But before we jump in let's take a

quick look and why were even all here talking about subscriptions? Subscriptions is one of the fastest growing businesses on mobile today and it's no surprise users have been telling us that they love subscriptions. They love the value that subscriptions provide and they love the access to continuous fresh content that they get via a subscription service. And users have demonstrated this love by making subscriptions a part of their daily lives. In fact 62% of paid android subscribers user subscription app at least

once every single day. And because users love subscriptions developers, love them to let's watch a short video highlighting some of the great success that you developers have had on subscriptions on Google Play. All right, that's pretty cool, huh? So this is a real Testament to all the great work that you developers have done on subscriptions on Google Play but together we can do so much more. So today we're going to share three things with you first, we'll recap some of the features

we've ruled out recently and share some of the successes that developers have seen with those recent features Next we're going to announce a dozen new features that you can put to work right away to help grow your business. And finally will give a sneak peek at some of the ideas that we have around the corner, but more importantly tell you how what you can do today to be ready for when those features are available. Tony go once you come on up and get us started tell us about what some of the successes developers are having today. Thanks, Larry. The past 12 months have been truly exciting

for subscriptions on Google Play. We as a team have worked hard to address the biggest challenging charges you are facing as Developers, for example of minimizing turn so quickly wants to run through three features. We are seeing successful developers use to do just that Number one is real-time developer notifications. Real-time developer notifications give you immediate notifications when the subscriber State changes for example, a subscriber renewed or canceled. Essentially it changes the way you operate your subscription business on

Google Play, especially in regards to minutes mising subscriber. Churn. Let me quote two of our top developers on this feature. Brain training at Olivet says real-time developer notifications have help them identify the exact moment you use a canceled so they can remind him of the benefits of a subscription and ties them to re-subscribe. A music streaming on ramill of stratum developer notifications because it lets them predict subscriber turn real time and quickly Target canceling users with window covers. The bottom

line is for developing serious about retention real-time developer notifications have to come up. second View we invested quite a bit and helping you combat involuntary churn because it's just so painful. You spend all this time building a great product or service. When you convince users to become subscribers to your product. Just so they may churn because for example their forgot to update their their form of payments. That's why we have seen such great success with Grace. Which allows you to

read which I was asked to retry to charge subscribers with payment has failed for Define. Of time. An account hold which lets you put subscribers and it's suspended stays until they update the foreman payment as a form of payment. Is you can see here in the example provided by our park on Musicmatch musiXmatch? That's notifying user about the payment that has failed. Leslie Wilfred really great feedback on the play cancel subscription reports. We launched last year on this stage actually over there. And how it

provides many ways to analyze your business and final to my station potential. Developments of a half made it to primary destination for business intelligence for anybody working on subscriptions in their company. So too quickly summarize or most successful developers show us how these features help him build great subscription services today. So we recommend all of you to check them out if you're not already using them anyways. Okay enough of features. You already know I want to welcome Angela to tell you all about the new

things were announcing. Pixie Girl we talked about how much users love subscriptions we strongly believe that by building a great user experience. We're also building a high-quality subscriber base. But we know that the user experience is not always perfect. So just taking a quick picks dropil out there. How many of you have hesitated to sign up for a subscription service because you thought it would be too annoying to cancel or what's up going to be a hassle to remember?

I know I have and I see a bunch of you guys have as well. And this is what we found them at user research users told us that while they can drive a lot of value out of their subscriptions. Once they signed up they also feel like they'll be trapped in the subscription without the ability to cancel. And since I majority of our users also have multiple subscriptions to manage their worried about they lose track of how much they're spending. These fears create a barrier for user signing up for your subscription. Ask and we want to address that fear. And so we're really too excited to

announce that we're launching a new subscription Center. This is a one-stop-shop for users to manage their subscriptions in Google Play. We've done a complete you that's over Hall of our old subscription page to make it easier for users to get more information about their subscription easily fix their payment issues and do other actions such as restore their subscription, but rather than talk about it. Let me just show you how it works. Nico has graciously volunteered to be my demo person. Can I get to forward on the side

sleep? Okay, we're just going to do this and open the hamburger menu. Okay, so we're looking at Vincent barralies account and we can see that subscriptions is now at a very prominent position on the hamburger menu. This is something new that has already been launched. So, let's see what happens when you go into subscription. Vincent doesn't actually have any subscriptions but there's a new empty state with a get started like so let's see what happens when you check get started. We talk at startup. You see that there is a whole new selection of different subscription asset. That users can explore.

And keep in mind that this is not the final version. This is something that are amazing merchandising team is working on making a better Experience day after day. So let's actually see what the subscription Central us when the user has them subscription. Can you switch the Wendy's account, please? Okay, so we can see that Wendy actually has three subscriptions in her account. One of them has a payment declined which needs to be addressed. But in general we can see that she has all this information about her subscription including SKU name, which is something that we didn't have before and in

order to go in and manage a specific subscription just have to stop somewhere. So Nicolet stop on automatic stop subscription. So let's say that Wendy just got a new credit card and she wants to use that for her subscription and she wants to update that payment method. So Nicolet stop update under primary payment method. So now we can see all the payment methods that Wendy has in her account. So let's go ahead and switch that to the new to the new credit card. We're done. Right? Well,

we've actually lost his cool new feature. So you can either chop got it. And you know, when you can go back to enjoying her bubble tea subscription or we can tap add backup to add a backup payment method which is a payment method that will charge in case the primary fails and this is also a new feature that we that we have already launched and is available today. So let's go ahead and use the old credit card at the backup. Awesome, and so now we're all set. So let's switch back to the Flies, please. Sorry.

With the launch is the subscription Center. We're also launching a new deep links specifically designed for developers. You can director users to manage or fix their subscriptions from your app over email over web really over any platform and a super easy to implement. All you really need is the tax name in the steam name to construct a deflating and then you can put that deep Link in a button or from any of your properties. So let's cut that down up to the devil to see how this works. I need my yak fix. Can you open the fabulous Yak app?

Oh man. I wanted to access that premium article about Yaks. But all I see is a dead Yak. So I guess let's meditate and nothing happens. Okay, so I just followed the Deep link and now I'm in the manage subscription page for the fabulous yakout and I can see that there's an action required. So there's a problem with my account and that the awesome thing is GTA for me to fix this problem. So let's go ahead and fix that problem. So it looks like the old credit card was actually the credit card which we

wanted update earlier has been declined. So let's go ahead and update that to the new one. Awesome. Looks like a subscription has been updated. Why don't we check whether we can access the Gap premium subscription again? Nice the payments been fixed and we're back to the premium experience. And I'm so happy. She's just over the moon with joy. Let's cut back to the side, please. Finally, I'm very very excited to announce that will be launching a survey to users for when they cancel the

subscription. This is a feature that many many of you had asked for and you can access the survey answers through or server-side API today and eventually you'll be also be able to see the answers in console reporting. So we're still rolling out the user-facing changes, but because we've already lost the API if you clear yet today, you'll see a small percentage of the answers that users have already input. So let's get back to the demo to see how this works. Funny. Let's go to the Play Store and to Wendy's account again.

Wendy is not only a big fan of yeah, she also loves narwhals, but she's gotten kind of tired of a narwhal monthly newsletter. So let's just cancel that subscription for her. So let's go into normal and then it's really easy to just tap cancel subscription. Now what we see is a quick user for the use of those quick surveys to the user to get the developer some feedback as to why they're canceling and there are already a few pre written answers, but when he has a pretty specific reason and can select other type in that reason so Nico she told you what that reason was,

right? I mean, I guess they are an endangered species so that make sense. Alright, let's finish canceling a subscription cool. And the nice thing is Even If Tomorrow Wendy wakes up and she's realize she's made a huge mistake. She can actually go back and restore your subscription in the subscription Center. Awesome. So now Wendy can continue to enjoy her norel subscription even next month and that's it for the demo. So let's go back to the presentation.

Google we've always believed that if you focus on the user all else will follow because of this new user first experience to easily manage subscriptions user full trust our store and engage more with your apps. With a subscription Center will also be able to deliver more capabilities to you that developer the Deep Linkin cancel survey are just two examples of these new abilities. So let's go back to Larry and Nico will tell you about the other new developer features that were coming out with. Thank you, Angela. Can we get a round of applause for a Flawless

demo execution? So when I'm not busy demoing things that I owe so to say in real life. I'm part of the Google Play business development team. the Google Play business development team works with on a daily basis work directly with subscription developers of all kinds of backgrounds around the world naturally with a lot of people and ideas for features, which we then take to RPM teams such as Larry or Angela and to see how he can solve these things we hear about So one of their request is that

you develop a style that you want more flexibility in issuing refunds to your users. Current currently on the service. I'd API you can only refund the latest subscription order using the purchase token. You cannot issue a refund using the order ID issue a refund for previous subscription order or do partial refunds? And that's reading of idea when dealing with subscribers. Well, I have great news for you, Nico. And for everyone here, we've now close these gaps. We're extending the server-side API now to support refunds

using order IDs, that means refund a specific subscription renewal. Not just the latest one. And starting today, you can also issue partial refund. You can do that on the play console. You can actually go over to our sandbox afterwards and see a demo of that an action and this feature will also be available on our server side API next week. I'm sure that would make a lot of developers really happy. Another request we've heard a lot. It's maybe the longest longest standing feature request that I personally know of is price

changes. At the moments. You cannot change the price of an SKU once it's been created. Obviously very very limiting for businesses, especially for businesses whose costs have gone up. The currently the only way to do this is to create a new SVU and get you this to operate. That also means that you that developers have to do all the heavy lifting like messaging users or canceling users who don't operate. So we've heard so much about this feature from Nico and other business development partners that we figured the easiest way to

make them happy with just build the teacher. So I'm pleased to announce. We now support mandatory price changes on existing skus. All right, that's so let's say you need to roll out a price change to all your users. Maybe your cost of content is gone or the tax structure has changed in one of the countries to do business in so now all you need to do if you go to the play console choose the country or countries where you need to change the price energy price in quick save and you're done. 30 days

before the user's renewal date we start sending we play start sending emails and push notifications asking the user to agree to that price change. We also give you the developer a 7-Day Head Start so you can also message the user in app. If that renewal day comes and the user has not agreed to the price change. We will take care of canceling at user. This feature is currently in Early Access. If you're interested in trying it out and joining our Early Access program, please visit the link that you see on the screen here.

I think it's so awesome that you finally let developers do that give you that flexibility to actually grow your business. I'm sure developers will office additional flexibility and in building their subscription business on playing. Which actually brings me to another ask? I mentioned earlier how much developers Law Office subscription reports and that retention is the key topic. So what we've heard quite a bit is that you develop was asked for reports that provide even more details, especially on the topics on retention and cancellations. Tulare I know we have a lot to

share here. You want to Jump Right In? So we have a lot of great news in this area as well. So a tile last year we announced our brand new subscriptions dashboard. A lot of developers have told us that they love their reports and many of our top developers use those reports every day to gain insights on to their business, but you have all asked for more capabilities, which is why we've extended to new capabilities in our subscription reports. Let's take a quick look at what those are. First we're creating a new retention report now. It's super easy to

go in and look at specific cohorts Say by SKU or dates or by country. Now you can also drill into your free trial conversion and other interesting metrics in this report. And you can also look specifically at how many renewal. Various users in the cohorts of Advance through after all that's the name of the game when you're running app subscriptions business. So the second Chandra making is when making improvements to the cancellation report. Here's where you will see the data from the cancellation survey that Angela

Nico showed you earlier. I'll also give you details on how your wind back and your attention features are performing such as account hold and Grace. All in all this feature. We rolling out over the next few weeks and it's going to help subscription developers like you understand and optimize your entire user life cycle. You can get more details on our new reporting capabilities in tomorrow's session on analyzing and benchmarking over on stage 3 at 9:30 tomorrow morning. I said a lot but are you done now? I think we have more to it too late. Now. I got a few more

things like that. They're going to cut us off with at the end of the session. So just real quick here a couple other things. I want to share with you. All you all have asked for the ability to do quick and renewals on your test descriptions. So we've now world that capability out for example, a monthly subscription a multi test subscription will now renew in just 5 minutes. You also wanted the ability to create an intro price. That's different from your regular occurrence. So we've now rolled out that capability so you

could say for example offer a dollar for 90 days and then kick into $10 a month on your subscription. And finally, we have the capability for you to offer an upgrade but keep the users renewal date and charge an incremental prorated price. This last feature is only available with the play billing Library what you'll hear a little bit more about later. Alright, thanks Larry. I think my brain hurts when trying to remember all those new features he discovered. So let's just recap we watch 12 new features and total both producers and for developers on the other side. We've created a better

user experience with the new subscription Center including app Discovery backup payment method new deep-linking and a cancel survey for the developer. We're going to do a ton more flexibility including improve refunds ability to change SKU prices and advanced reporting and more. We folded the features that are available now, so go check them out as soon as you can. All of these other features were working out on rolling out in the next couple of weeks. So these are the features that we've been working on this past year. but what are we going to do next year and the year

after that Larry you want to tell them or Yep. So these features we just shared are things you can use right now to grow your business, but we're not done. Our Engineers are harder. We're coming up with new features that you that will help you acquire and retain your subscribers The for example, imagine if your users could sign up outside of your app say from the play store or from anywhere else on the web or what if you use this to pay with cash. What if we offered the option for users to temporarily pause or subscription instead of

outright canceling them or maybe we can help you win back users by getting them to reactivate a subscription. Well after the subscription has expired does it mean that every single time we Lounge one of these new features our development have to rewrite all of the code. You know that I knew you were going to ask that. So we we thought a lot about this. So our goal is to be able to build all these features in such a way so that you don't have to do you do a little work as possible. Our goal is to get as close as possible to zero integration and we want that to

happen on both the client side with your app as well as on your server side integration. That sounds great. But how are you going to do that? All right, just just relax. I got this. All right. Let me let me just give me a few minutes. I'll talk to you how we're going to make this happen. All right. The first let's talk about what you need to do on your client side. The last ball at playtime we announced version 1.0 at the play building Library. The play billing library is an abstraction layer on top of a metal file API updates automatically when you

update your build dependency file and the next time you come by later out. So now there's no more searching reference code sample code and copying it and hoping you got the right version and all that stuff all taken care of automatically. Today we're announcing version 1.1 of the play billing Library this version includes the feature I mentioned earlier were you can upgrade and keep the expiration date and we will when we roll out price changes that feature will also only be available via the play billing Library. Using a play billing library is very very simple. There's just three

easy steps to know Ohio presentation is complete without showing some code. I'm going to go and show a few the code examples for this now. You're probably thinking, oh no where near the end of the session now, you're going to show me a bunch of code. Don't worry the whole point of showing you this code is to show you just really how little code it takes to use the billing Library. The first all you need to do is add this one line to your build deck railing dependency file. Second you need to report create the billing client instance and to do that Chris out of the listener.

I connect to Google Play. Of course, don't forget to build your own retry retry policy in case your client loses the connection. And the third and final step is a force to call the proper method as you go through your purchase life cycle just like you do today. That's it. I'm convinced. It's so straightforward that even I get it. And it's actually very close to zero integration. But you know, it's still it's late afternoon. And I think we've had enough slide with code. So ended at the end of the day what really matters is

how developers actually like in in my favorite quote here comes from Joe Birch is an Android Angelina tougher and he's also a Google developer expert who called Google Play billing Library a dream come true and we're making this dream come true for thousands of developers today already. So if you like me did not memorize the code on those slides note on this link here on this slide to learn more. So remember with the play billing Library one animation is

much much simpler. Just a lot less code to manage new features will be rolling out of the future will only be available using play billing Library. Currently it's only available for Java and kotlin developers but a C plus plus version is coming soon. Okay, so that's what you need to do on your client side. Now, what here's what you need to do on your server side earlier. We talked about real-time developer notifications. Let me go through a little bit of detail what it is and how you can use it today and then how will prepare you for the future? So with real-time developer

notifications, you set up a Google Cloud pubsub integration and we send you a real-time messages whenever important events happened with your users subscription the for example when you have a new user that signs up or an existing user that renews will send you a message and you now know you need to continue or you need to Grant a new entitlement will continue to Grant entitlement to that user. If today you integrated and implemented account hold and by the way case you weren't looking on that video. You really really should integrate with a cow hold. We now send you a real-time develop a

notification when the user has a payment issue and goes on hold or when the user recovers from their payment issue and they come off hold so now immediately you will know when to withhold at settlement order Grant back entitlement to that user. This is super important. If you have a service that operates cross-platform so you have users sign up on Android but might consume on way or other mobile platforms. Real-time developer notifications. Also tell you about voluntary cancellation where the user chooses to cancel in this situation when you get that message right

away, you should start trying to win back that user maybe remind the user about some new content that's coming up or tell him about some features that you notice that they haven't used in your app and using the Deep link that Angela told you about earlier you then try the user back to the subscription Center where they click on the restore button and with one tap their baby come an active subscriber again. So these are some of the things you can do today right now with real-time developer notifications. But in the future if you integrate now, you'll be ready for some of the new

things that will be rolling out like say user temporarily pause with her subscription will send you a developer notification. So you'll know that's happened or if we got a user to reactivate your subscription after it's expired. You'll get a real tan developer notification and you now know to Grant entitlement back. But remember with real-time developer notifications the notifications only telling you that is subscription state has changed you still need to call or server-side API query the full state of the subscription. I know exactly what you need to do exactly what action you need to

take with that subscriber. So as I mentioned earlier, we have developed a notification has become an essential part of our top develop top developer subscription setup. Check out the details of how to set up retail developer notifications on this link which takes it to the developer Pages not all the details. So remember if you want to future-proof your integration be sure to use both play billing library on your client side and integrate with real-time developer notifications on the server side. All right, if that was a lot of stuff. So

give us a couple minutes here. We're just going to real quick recap all the stuff that you be introduced to and told you about. So we started off with talking about how much you left. No subscription. Thanks to the great work you have done thanks to the great products and subscription Services. You have lounges you operating. We shared with you 12 new features including many features built around the new subscription Center. And finally we talked about how you can use the play billing library and integrate with real-time developer notifications so that you're ready as we were

all out new features. Yeah, because obviously this is only day 1050. So there is there more gray sessions that you should definitely check out chewy want to recommend you is the 6 p.m. Session on games today, which will also talk about the prescriptions and games and then tomorrow at 9:30. You can lower much more about all the great reports. We only touched on today. You can also check out demos of lot of the features. We've announced in the sandbox, which is over there. And we also have an office hours specifically for Google Play subscription tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. If you have more

questions join us over at the Android and play conversations area right after the session. I think it's just on the other side of the wooden deck to your right as you walk out. And lastly, we would love to get your feedback after all. How is Nico going to get better at his jokes if we don't give him feedback. Okay, that's it everyone. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your eye out.

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