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Game On: The Rise of Playable Ads in Modern Mobile Gaming and Beyond

Game On: The Rise of Playable Ads in Modern Mobile Gaming and BeyondVictoria Kensington
Tech Insights
Game On: The Rise of Playable Ads in Modern Mobile Gaming and Beyond

Playable ads are the future: people absolutely love them. A recent study discovered that interactive advertising has three times the conversion rates of traditional video ads, with inside-ad games showing conversion rates up to 700% higher than other ad formats. But what sets this advertising apart from the ones we're accustomed to? Let's explore with an example:

Even those who love buying clothes online still agree that it's a good idea to try on a jacket before buying. Checking the fit beforehand can save you money, time, and frustration. It's always nice to try things out before making a purchase, whether it's something physical or a digital product. Unfortunately, not all brands offer that option.


Imagine this: you're browsing your favorite mobile app, and you see an ad for a game. While you might want the ad to end quickly, there's a cool twist—you can actually try out the game in the ad! Pretty neat, right? Essentially, you get to play a mini version before deciding to download the full game and maybe spend money if it's not free. We'll delve into the benefits of this advertising approach for brands, helping you understand its widespread appeal and why investing in it can yield a significant ROI. Let's jump in!


What are Playable Ads?

To kick things off, let's establish a clear yet informative definition of playable ads, serving as the cornerstone for this article. Playable ads are not your typical ads; they're interactive experiences that invite users to actively participate and have a little fun. Imagine a brief, game-like adventure right within the ad itself! Instead of just watching, you get to play around and get a hands-on feel for what's being advertised.


Affectionately known as "playables," stand out as top-tier advertising components, often presented as opt-in experiences. Crafted predominantly in HTML5, these ads boast swift loading times, ensuring users can dive into interactive content promptly. The allure lies in the immediate engagement, empowering consumers to take actions such as making a purchase, indulging in a mini-game, snagging a coupon, enrolling in a loyalty program, or participating in a sweepstakes. What's more, the seamless integration of social media and email sharing options makes it a breeze for users to spread the joy of these ads within their network. It's not just an ad; it's an interactive journey waiting to unfold.


Here's the cool part: when it comes to mobile gaming apps, playable ads take the spotlight. They give you a sneak peek into the actual gameplay or features of a product or service. It's like trying on a pair of shoes before buying them but for digital experiences.


So, how do they work their magic? Playable ads are designed to be engaging and immersive, letting you test out a snippet of what's on offer. Whether it's a quick game level or a demo of an app's features, these ads aim to capture your attention, make the advertising experience more enjoyable, and help you make informed decisions about what you might want to explore further or even purchase.


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Key Statistics

To show you why playable ads are a big deal, let's check out some numbers. These stats prove that consumers like this kind of advertising.

  • Playable ads are 32% more likely to be remembered than video and static ads, and they hold 47% more attention than video ads.
  • More than 50% of game developers in the United States purchased playable ad campaigns (37% purchased regularly and 17% occasionally).
  • According to ironSource, playable advertising can increase retention rates by 30 to 40%. As a result, the CPI is higher than that of a video or banner ad. However, the ROI ends up being higher, making it worth a shot.
  • Burger King was one of the first businesses to deploy playable advertising to promote interaction in 2015, with 336,700 plays and a click-through rate of 40.25% in just 14 days. The incentive provided was a Burger King voucher, which was sufficient to persuade people to participate. 
  • Playable advertising is by far the most cost-effective strategy for driving installs for gaming apps, with an average CPI of $1.31. This is expected, given that they provide appealing chances for audiences to explore before committing.

Types of Playable Ads

  1. Gaming Adventures: Immerse users in a sneak peek of your gaming app through playable ads that showcase brief yet thrilling levels. Allow users to experience the excitement firsthand, enticing them to download and continue the adventure.
  2. Virtual Try-Ons: For fashion and retail brands, offer users a virtual dressing room experience. Let them mix and match clothing items, providing a playful and interactive way to explore your product offerings before making a purchase.
  3. Destination Discovery: Transport potential travelers with playable ads in the travel industry. Allow users to virtually explore destinations, activities, and accommodations, sparking their wanderlust and driving interest in booking a trip.
  4. Interactive Workouts: Fitness apps can engage users with playable ads that simulate quick virtual workout sessions. Showcase your app's features and motivate users to download it for a more comprehensive fitness experience.
  5. Culinary Creations: Cooking apps and food delivery services can entice users with playable ads that let them virtually prepare a recipe or customize a dish. This interactive approach not only showcases your app's functionalities but also appeals to the foodie in everyone.
  6. Test Drives for Autos: Automotive brands can leverage playable ads to simulate a test drive experience. Allow users to navigate through virtual landscapes, experiencing the performance and features of different car models, encouraging them to explore further or visit a dealership.
  7. Educational Exploration: Educational apps can utilize playable ads to provide a glimpse of their interactive learning modules. Create a mini-lesson or quiz, showcasing the app's educational value and encouraging users to delve deeper into the content.
  8. Health and Wellness Journeys: Healthcare apps can offer interactive experiences related to wellness. Develop playable ads that guide users through relaxation exercises or health-related simulations, emphasizing your app's benefits.
  9. Entertainment Previews: Streaming services can use playable ads to provide users with a sneak peek of a movie or TV show. Let users interact with characters or scenes, enticing them to subscribe for the full content experience.
  10. Financial Simulations: Finance apps can utilize playable ads to simulate the ease of using their services. Create interactive scenarios related to financial transactions, showcasing the user-friendly interface and features of your app.


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Benefits of Playable Ads

We have already repeatedly mentioned that this type of advertising has many advantages. Now, let's dive deeper into these benefits.


Benefits for Brand Advertisers

Mobile media consumption revolves around tapping, swiping, and interacting with content on devices. In stark contrast to conventional static banners and video ads, playables establish a holistic sensory connection by engaging sight, sound, motion, and active touch. This immersive approach creates a leaning-in effect, allowing advertisers to capture undivided attention, garner time, and forge a personalized 1:1 relationship with consumers that leaves a lasting impact. The transformative potential of the ads for brand advertisers in the mobile realm is significant, and here's why:

Consumer-Centric Engagement

Playables emulate the natural activities consumers enjoy on their mobile devices, contributing to the high engagement rates they consistently achieve.

High-Performance Dynamics

As an opt-in ad unit, the ads attract users who willingly engage, spending more time and increasing the likelihood of progressing beyond awareness and consideration, ultimately driving down-funnel performance metrics like sales, sign-ups, subscriptions, and more.


Measurable and Data-Rich

Comprising three core elements – tutorial prompt, game/interactive experience, and end card – playable gather a unique set of metrics. Leveraging HTML5, these interactions and data are effortlessly captured, providing valuable insights into consumer preferences, sentiments, and behaviors.


Brand Safety Assurance

Positioned as full-screen ad units within curated mobile environments, playable ads alleviate concerns related to brand safety, fraud, and viewability.


Effectiveness on Mobile

A recent survey by Sapio Research highlighted playable ads as the most effective format for in-app advertising, as cited by US agency professionals.


Benefits for Consumers 

Playables seamlessly blend gamification and interactivity, leveraging core mobile gestures like touch, swipe, flip, and tap, making them an ideal and consumer-friendly ad unit for mobile platforms.


Interactive and Enjoyable Experience

Playable ads captivate users with an interactive and enjoyable journey, satisfying the consumer desire for momentary delight.


Frictionless and Ephemeral

These ad units are designed to be frictionless and ephemeral, removing the need for downloads and enabling users to seamlessly continue their media consumption.


Opt-In Experience

The ads empower consumers with the choice to opt in, allowing them to decide whether to engage with the content or not.


Immediate Loading Capability

Thanks to MRAID 3.0 pre-caching, playable load immediately, minimizing disruptions to the consumer experience.


Content-Rich Elements

Playables, built-in HTML5, go beyond interactivity by incorporating additional content elements such as video trailers, couponing, sweepstakes, ticketing, and more, enhancing their overall richness and appeal.


Engaging, Choice-Driven, and Content-Packed

It's not just an ad; it's an experience that engages users, provides choices, and delivers a content-packed encounter that's poised to captivate consumers.


Ways to Create an Impressive Playable Ad

From a technical point of view, it can be challenging to create a smooth, playable ad. But by adhering to straightforward rules, you pave the way for the creation of an engaging advertisement that not only captures attention but also serves as a powerful tool to boost your sales. 


1. Engaging Gameplay:

Craft a captivating and enjoyable game experience that not only showcases your product or service but also entertains users. Keep it simple, intuitive, and aligned with your brand message. Remember, your primary goal here is to motivate people to try out the mini-game, so don’t overcomplicate things.


2. Clear Call-to-Action (CTA):

Ensure that users know what action to take next. Whether it's making a purchase, signing up, or exploring further, a clear and compelling CTA guides users seamlessly through the next steps. These ads sometimes come with delays before the CTA, and users may find it frustrating if the delay extends beyond a few seconds. It's crucial to consider these nuances during development, as each technical gap could result in financial losses. Every second counts, so ensuring a seamless user experience is not just about engagement, but also about safeguarding your investment.


3. Quick Loading Time:

Optimize your playable ad for fast loading. Users should be able to jump into the interactive experience swiftly, minimizing any potential drop-offs due to slow loading times. We’ve already mentioned this: the smoother the app is, the more money you’ll make. 

4. Mobile-Friendly Design:

Tailor your playable ad for mobile devices by considering different screen sizes and orientations. A responsive design ensures a seamless experience across various mobile platforms, allowing users to engage effortlessly and ensuring your message is effectively communicated, regardless of the device they're using. This adaptability not only enhances user satisfaction but also expands the reach and impact of your playable ad campaign.

5. Value Proposition Integration:

Clearly communicate the value of your product or service within the playable ad. Highlight what sets you apart and why users should be excited about what you offer. ​​For instance, if you're promoting a fitness app, showcase its unique features, such as personalized workout plans, real-time progress tracking, and expert guidance, to emphasize the value users can gain from using your app.

6. Interactive Storytelling:

Weave a narrative within the playable ad, making users feel connected to the brand. Engage them emotionally and create a memorable experience that goes beyond a typical advertisement. Consider an interactive ad for a travel app that immerses users in a virtual journey, allowing them to explore destinations and activities. This storytelling approach not only showcases the app's features but also creates a sense of adventure and connection.


7. Incorporate Feedback Mechanisms:

Allow users to provide feedback within the playable ad. This not only enhances interactivity but also provides valuable insights into user preferences and responses. A gaming app could integrate a feedback feature where users can share their thoughts on the gaming experience or suggest improvements, fostering a sense of involvement and community within the user base.


8. Social Media Integration:

Enable easy sharing of the playable ad on social media platforms. Leveraging social sharing features can amplify the reach and impact of your interactive content. Imagine a cooking app with a playable ad that lets users virtually prepare a recipe. By integrating social sharing, users can showcase their culinary creations, generating organic buzz and expanding the app's visibility across social networks.


9. A/B Testing:

Experiment with different elements of your playable ad, such as gameplay, visuals, or CTAs. Conduct A/B testing to identify what resonates best with your target audience and refine your approach accordingly. If you're advertising a mobile game, test variations of the game mechanics or visual styles to determine which version attracts higher engagement and user retention.

10. Analytics and Measurement:

Implement robust analytics tools to track user interactions and measure the performance of your playable ad. Use these insights to iterate and improve future campaigns. Consider a fitness app's playable ad that tracks the number of virtual workouts completed or the time spent exploring different features. Analyzing this data helps in refining the ad strategy and tailoring future campaigns to better meet user preferences.


11. Customization for the Target Audience:

Tailor your playable ad to resonate with your specific target audience. Consider demographics, interests, and preferences to create a personalized and appealing experience. If your target audience includes adventure enthusiasts, an outdoor gear brand could design a playable ad featuring an interactive camping experience, aligning with the interests of the audience and enhancing the ad's effectiveness.


12. Compliance with App Store Policies:

Ensure that your playable ad complies with the policies of the app stores and platforms where it will be displayed. Adhering to guidelines helps with a smoother approval process and wider distribution. As an example, if your playable ad includes in-app purchases, ensure transparent communication about pricing and follow guidelines to prevent any potential issues related to app store policies, ensuring a seamless user experience and broader accessibility.


In summary, this article has unraveled the essence of playable ads, revealing their purpose and compelling reasons why diverse brands should harness this innovative advertising format to boost app downloads. In essence, brands across various spectrums and industries have the opportunity, and indeed the imperative, to embrace playable ads actively. This form of advertising stands as a contemporary, intriguing, and highly effective tool for engaging audiences and driving results in the digital landscape.

Discover the perfect advertising match for your brand by leveraging Axis' powerful combination of functionalities for supply and demand owners crafted explicitly for playable ads. Register today and embark on a journey to elevate your advertising strategy, seamlessly connecting with optimal partners and achieving unparalleled precision and impact in your campaigns. With Axis, the world of programmatic advertising is at your fingertips—dynamic, engaging, and ready to propel your brand to new heights.

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