Playable Ads For Apps, Games and Brands

What are “playable ads”?

Playable ads are mini-games and tutorials that are deployed as ad formats. They provide previews of what an app offers. Both gaming and non-gaming apps have adopted playable ads to improve user acquisition(UA).

Unlike traditional ad formats, playable ads are highly interactive to users. These ads catch viewers’ attention, present gameplay, and convert users all within 30 seconds. They offer high conversion rates (CVR) and click-through rates (CTR) even in a competitive market.

How do playable ads work?

There are three main components in a playable ad: the Hook, the Gameplay, and the End Card.

The Hook - User attention has to be drawn into the ad within the first 5 seconds. The aim is to “hook” the user to the gameplay instead of letting them passively watch the ad.

Gameplay - For games, the gameplay mirrors the actual game experience, made into a highly optimized version. For non-gaming apps, gamification gives users the opportunity to try certain features of the app in a game-like manner.

Most importantly, the gameplay must be well-balanced, not too easy but not too difficult. Finding the right combination ensures that users enjoy the gameplay and maintain interest to patronize the brand.

End Card - The last part is where the call-to-action (CTA) feature can be seen. Users are directed to the app page for them to easily download the app.
Here’s a short video of a playable ad for mobile devices.

What can we expect from playable ads?

The main goal of using playable ads is to create more opportunities for brands to sell themselves online. This goal can be measured through conversion (CVR) and click-through (CTR) rates. Conversion rates refer to the actual download of the app while click-through rates are the number of views made by the ad.

Table 1: Playable Ad First Month Performance

Placement Impressions Clicks Installs CTR CVR
Facebook 2,120,000 263,400 12,800 12.42% 4.86%
Google 2,500,000 338,000 9,600 13.60% 2.84%
Unity Ads 3,000,000 405,000 23,800 13.50% 5.87%

Table 1 shows our client’s first-month performance of the playable ad on three major platforms, namely: Facebook, Google, and Unity Ads. Out of the 2.12 million impressions on Facebook, there were 50,000 clicks that yielded 12,800 installs. That’s a CTR of 12.42% and a CVR of 4.86%.

Likewise, the ad's 2.5 million impressions on Google Ad Network converted to 9,600 installs from its viewers, resulting in a 13.66% CTR and 2.84% CVR.

Finally, the playable ad performed best in Unity ads with a whopping 23,800 installs (5.87% CVR) from its 3 million impressions.

Chart 1: Playable Ad Versus Facebook Ads

Sample results of a highly successful playable ad from a casual game developer we worked with. Top 50 Grossing Game in the United States.

Let’s compare our Facebook results with the average CTR and CVR from Facebook ad formats. In Chart 1, the playable ad’s CTR performance exceeded the 0.90% Facebook ad benchmark. However, its conversion rate fell short with the 9.21% benchmark.

This comparison is expected given the fact that playable ads are still new in the app industry. We expect these numbers to improve as more viewers become familiar with playable ads, and more advanced playable ads are developed.

How effective are playable ads?

Like all online ads, playable ads are measured using Cost per Install (CPI) to determine their effectiveness. Using the example above, let's find the CPI of the playable ad.
First, we need to measure the total cost of deploying the playable ad. For example, one of our clients reported that their Facebook campaign had a cost per mile (CPM) of about $7. That means they spent about $14,840 to reach 2,120,000 impressions.

We can then compute the Cost per Install (CPI) by dividing the cost with the total number of installs (see Table 1). Our CPI for the Facebook ad is $1.13. That's better than the average CPI on Facebook, $1.80, giving a cost reduction of 37% on ad spend.

For more sophisticated clients, they track the playable ad’s performance using funnels. From the moment the playable ad opens to the install action, and down to in-app purchases, the performance is tracked.

The key factor why playable ads work is because acquired players from these ads have already pre-screened themselves in being a customer or not. Once they choose your brand (i.e. download your apps or buy your products), there’s a high tendency that they’ll become quality customers. Viewers who enjoyed the playable ad will likely enjoy the brand as well.

What are the benefits of playable ads?

Playable ads have advantages over traditional forms of ads. Here are some of the benefits that playable ads provide.

  • Higher conversion and retention rate - Playable ads are able to channel interest into conversions through engagement and interactions. These ads allow users to experience the app and understand how it functions, which helps in converting and retaining their interest.
  • Viewable user statistics - Advertisers can access user statistics, such as drop-off points and player performance, which are often absent in most ad formats. These KPIs offer relevant information in determining customer behavior for better market insights.
  • Immersive playthroughs - Added dimensions of creativity are made possible through playable ads. This allows innovation in creating more relevant and appealing ads that catch the user’s attention and focus.

How can playable ads be implemented?

Here are some of the innovative ways that playable ads can be used to market a brand.

Social Media and Website Ads
Redirecting interest and traffic of customers over several competitors is a tough task even for popular brands. However, brands that seek to earn popularity can benefit from interactive choices integrated into their playable ads. Creative ads that stand out include a complete experience that guides viewers to the intended result—actual product recommendation and sales based on the viewer’s interest and needs. The interest generated by the brand from such experience builds its reputation and makes it more recognizable for potential customers.

Product and App Promotion
Playable ads are highly viral forms of content for any brand. By adding the element of prizes (such as promo codes and gift certificates), these playable ads become more interesting to a wider set of audience. The added reach of playable ads and its potential to be frequently seen in social media can make previously successful promotion strategies become even more successful.

Where can you learn more about playable ads?

There is so much more to playable ads that can be explored. These innovative platforms allow businesses to interact with their customers at a more personal level. At the same time, users are also experiencing a less invasive and more engaging form of ads that they can enjoy.

A reliable partner that knows the ins and outs of how playable ads work can help you get started with innovative ways of advertising your business. You can learn more about how adding game-like attributes to your ads can create more sales opportunities and double your CVR and CTR.