In 2013, the global ad blocking craze pushed the ad industry to rethink its strategies — users were fed up with intrusive, irrelevant, and boring ads. In response, we slowly saw mobile ads shift towards ad formats and creatives that both took advantage of the mobile medium, and also created a value exchange between users and advertisers. Then it became video ads, which is a hit with both players and developers. Now there’s a new breed entirely: playable ads. Playables allow users to build defense towers and play match-3 fruit puzzles— all within the ad, no install required.
What is Playable Ads?
Picture this: You are playing your favorite mobile game, when a video ad suddenly playing in the background. You may usually try to skip out of it (in fact, 65% of people skip online video advertising as soon as they get the chance). If the ad is not skippable, you may choose to tune-in to it. Other times, you may set your phone down and do something else, waiting until it finishes. While there have been advancements in viewability tracking in mobile, even the latest technology doesn’t take into account that a lot of the times, it is only human to skip out off the ad.
Playables are essentially HTML5 mini-games that allow users to play with a few taps and swipes. This innovative creative had challenges early in the game with limitations on streaming technologies. Today with the rise of HTML5 and optimizations in game development, the time is perfect for playable ads.
Incorporate playable ads into your marketing strategy
Playable ads are a great tool for drawing users to an app. Advertisers in markets across the world focus their KPIs on acquiring high-quality users, as opposed to prioritizing scale. This shift couldn’t come at a better time.
According to iMedia, playables result in CTR (click through rates) up to seven times higher than video ads. They also result in double the user retention rates compared to video ads. Even more interesting, the ad format increases the LTV (lifetime value) of users acquired, because they demoed the app before installing. This means more long-term revenue, better ROAS (return on ad spend), and decreased cost-per-click (CPC). They drive the most engaged users, deliver higher eCPM to the publishers, and they are fun.
Best Practices for Playables
While playable ads are a new format, most of the industry best practices still apply. You should test a lot, flaunt your unique selling proposition, and make sure to convey your game by showcasing the most exciting elements, moments, and actions.
Loading times should be short so that the user has a chance to interact while the ad is displayed and visible, so they won’t become frustrated by the experience and browse on.
Guide players at first and then let them discover on their own; using visual cues such as arrows and hands, to show what actions to take and how.
Having a positive experience increases chances of download, which means a challenge is good but while letting them win. Allow for a sense of accomplishment, so not too easy or too hard, find the sweet spot.
A playable ad is not a video, think about the number of interactions they take rather than the amount of time it takes to complete the mini-game.
Allow the user to convert at any time by always showing the call-to-action from start to finish. (This does not prevent you from designing the final CTA more prominent!)
Do not aim to re-create your game in HTML5, this is not the goal, make it clear what type of game you are advertising, give them a taste for later levels you know are most desirable, and use high quality graphics.
Use targeting to find users who are ready to engage
Like games, playable ads are going to have a niche. If your users are on the iPhone 6, will your ad fit to the aspect ratio? Or are you advertising to players who already lean towards your game’s genre? For instance, mobile casino developer Product Madness leveraged affinity targeting and their wide user base to find new players, raising overall conversion rates far over static ads.
In general, player targeting is key for optimized campaigns and especially important for playable ad formats.
Create an end-to-end experience
A playable ad’s task is to condense what makes a game fun into a 15-30 second ad. Developers will only have enough time to fit in the basics. These elements will include actions players need to do to progress in-game, like swiping to transfer burger patties to frying pans, as well as motivators such as scoreboards or combo multipliers. Cut out all the excess and focus on the core gameplay elements.
Playable ads are the latest formats to drive tremendous engagement and conversions on mobile — and as developers learn the format, it will only get better. By crafting a design that works for your target audience, developers can truly use play to get paid.
Benefits of creating playable ads
Playable ads are a great addition to any marketing strategy as they’re a way to demonstrate an app’s capabilities or the gameplay. Benefits of playable ads are as follows:
1. Entice Users to Install
2. Highlight One Feature or Many
3. Act as an Enhanced First Impression
4. Provide Insights on Helpful Analytics
5. Improve Conversion
Playable ads are becoming an important tool for brands gaming and non- gaming to increase engagement, higher quality user, stronger retention and ROI on advertising spend, and the key to good ROI with playables, is analyzing the game events and optimizing the gameplay.
Even if developers incorporate these ads into their marketing strategy, they’ll still need an App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy to make sure that their app’s metadata is optimized so the app is discoverable. Regardless of how helpful playable ads may be for a marketing strategy, developers will need ASO.
To succeed, you need to work closely with UA team, gather feedback and improve the original creative.