What are Playable Ads?

Today, ads are getting more elaborated than ever before and it is a good thing because advertisers are looking for methods to attract more users with innovative solutions. This is the case of playable ads. For a definition, these are ads that you can interact with (play with). Users can test an app through these ads before downloading it. This can be the response for the reticence of users to old boring static ads. They offer the opportunity for the user to engage with the app and to figure out if he likes it or not. Of course, the condition for development team to take advantage of this kind of ads is to have an amazing app that can convince the user to download it after he used it for a little while.

How Do Playable Ads Work?

Advertisers need to be inventive, mainly because of the frustration that users experiment when dealing with an annoying ad. Even if mobile ads can be one of the most powerful weapons for mobile marketers and app developers, when you ignore their best practices and rules, ads might be a reason for uninstalls. So you need to be careful and creative while trying to convince people use your app. These ad model are of the most engaging ad types for game apps to present your app in an interactive manner. Now, let’s start with their working algorithm.
First, you can just look at one example with this little game with pandas. A playable ad offers free trial of an app before you can make the decision to download it. This means that it is using virtualization technology to stream a portion of the app to the user who will see how it works in a period of 30 to 60 seconds (and even 10 minute for Google ads) until he will be asked to download it. The trick is to discover the moment when potential users are reaching the top of engagement. Then you will pop up a message with a call to action button where you will ask them to download it if they liked it and if they want to use it further. For example, Hotel Tonight lets customers to look for last minute deals and if they want to book a room they have to download the app. Although you would think that Interactive Ads are more suitable for games, there are other areas where this type of ads makes the difference in front of users’ eyes, like social, travel and e – commerce apps.


Image Source: http://img.serveroute.com/panda_pop_v2/demo_portrait.html?dev_nomraid=1

Why Does It Matter?

We will point out some of the main reasons to use these ads.

  • Great conversion. The number of users that get impressed by this technique is larger because these ads are not seen like real ads. In this case, the user doesn’t feel that is being persuaded to do something. The impression is that he is receiving something for his own interest. So, the conversion rate is 7 times higher as mNectar states.
  • No annoying moments. Playable Ads are not intrusive. Your audience can choose if he wants to interact with them or not. They have an option to skip the ad if he doesn’t want to play.
  • Higher lifetime value. You can reach high – quality users because they are aware of what they are downloading so, they have a great lifetime value. If you don’t know how to calculate and maximize LTV (lifetime value) of your app users, you can check this post.
  • Reduced app uninstall rate. Google says that just 1 in 4 apps are being used after downloading it. But, this is not the case with this ad model. While users are already engaged, it is easier for marketers to increase the retention rate. If you can’t track your app’s uninstall rate, here is the list of 7 tools to track Android and iOS App Uninstalls.
  • Real tracking opportunity. It is a great advantage for marketers to use these ads because they can measure the real engagement and they can figure out faster the results of their work now that campaign is more transparent.
  • Higher app monetization. If the number of downloads is higher, so are the earnings for development and marketing team.

Successful Examples of Playable Ads

Now let’s look at some successful examples to understand playable advertisements better.
Google offers playable ad service since he acquired Agawi, a company specialized in streaming native apps, in June 2015. They use AppGlimpse streaming technology for Trial Run Ads. Users can test an app from search results up to 10 minutes before downloading it. AdWords Search Trial Run Ads gives customers the opportunity to interact with an app through a button called Try Now near the Download button.
Take a look at this ad for Cookie Jam. Don’t you feel you want to play it now?


You have also an option to make your playable ad rewarded to increase its chance to be downloaded. Extra lives or coins can make your ad more appealing to its audience. mNectar provides rewarded playable ads for game apps to let them acquire engaged users.
According to CrossInstall’s data, after applying playable ads strategy for their game they accomplished to increase the number of new users with 20%, 50% of programmatic traffic and 20% overall traffic and they highlight that conversion rates are 20 – 25 % bigger.
Another success from CrossInstall was their campaign for SGN Company for the game named Panda Pop that resulted into double-digit increases in revenue and LTVs. The ARPI was 158% higher than the average and day one retention rate was about 67%.

Final Thoughts

It is a sure thing that mobile marketing domain is getting more creative as days pass. It comes a long way from annoying ads to interactive playable ads, where users are convinced to download an app through an enjoyable manner. But, after you took advantage of playable ads, the next step is to think about your retention strategy, to keep those users and to convince them to use your app as much as possible.

  • olcaytocengiz
    Posted at 11:23h, 09 January Reply

    Great article Felicia and I must say I totally agree with the points you mentioned. Moreover, I would add that Playable Ads are not only great for game publishers or app makers, but also any brand or simply any business.
    I am the CCO of Gamewheel and our expertise is on Playable Ads also so I would love to share my experience regarding the topic. What I see is brands are slowly moving towards “Mobile First” digital strategies and their mobile marketing efforts become more and more sophisticated indeed.
    Similar to the your Cookie Jam story, we had seen that our brands like Burger King or Paramount used our Playable Ads and they maximized the performance with emotional value of marketing campaigns. So Playable Ads definitely helps brands to grow faster through digital media. Thus, we believe Playable Ads are there to stay and especially with new exciting opportunities like AR/VR, Messenger, Bots and Instant Games – the amount of creativity which could be expressed with Playable ads and with help of gamification is limitless. Here is a little article we shared about Playable Ads on our blog: http://www.gamewheel.com/playable-ads
    Moreover, for example in our case of Burger King, we managed to keep the retention of the app users high after installs with playable ads / gamified content inside of the app – delivering millions of brand minutes without additional media budget. This addresses the main point of many game and app publishers who have to pay millions of dollars to keep the engagement of paid downloads high.
    Also if you like please take a look at our stories in here: http://www.gamewheel.com/stories and share your thoughts with me, I’ll be glad.

  • Joseph Iris
    Posted at 12:46h, 24 July Reply

    Thanks Felicia, the article defines playable ads pretty well! One thing you’ve missed though is pre-caching the playable ads as apposed to streaming them. While streaming sounds like the ideal solution, it’s relies heavily on the end-users connection and also requires a robust and expensive worldwide server structure to try and fight the input lag – a pretty much hopeless fight that you’d find you lose more often than not while frustrating your end-users.
    I’m a product marketing manager at Persona.ly (http://persona.ly) and we’ve been on the forefront of playable ads before Google joined the game, pun intended. We’re working with some of the biggest names in gaming (Machine Zone, GREE, Jellybutton) and we’re also running interactive ad formats for e-commerce as well as transportation and travel apps.
    After running dozens of different playable ads and gathering and analyzing in-ad and post-install events, we’ve learned a lot about what users like the most about this format as well as what kind of interaction with the format can indicate higher user quality, and we’re convinced that playable ads specifically and interactive ad formats generally can drive much more engagement than video or static formats.
    One great example is the users that came through the playable ad we created for Pirate Kings – they produced 3x more in app purchases and had 2.5x higher 7 day retention compared to the industry benchmark. You can read more about our approach to playable ads in our recent blog post here: https://persona.ly/blog/2017/03/playable-ads-101-all-you-need-to-know-about-playable-ads/, and more about best practices on our guest post on AppsFlyer’s blog: https://www.appsflyer.com/rocking-playable-ads-like-pro/.
    Feel free to contact me directly here or our team at info@persona.ly if you have any questions or want to learn more about our interactive ad experiences – we’d be delighted to help.

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