Modern mobile devices afford marketers the freedom to create fully interactive ad campaigns that allow potential users to experience your app, brand, or product in a unique way. In many cases, this can include a small preview of what the full game or app has to offer, but it can also include full-fledged interactive experiences that deepen relationships between brands and their target audiences.
At Vungle, we work closely with publishers and advertisers to identify opportunities to leverage playable ads, no matter the category. While playables are most common in mobile gaming, they can be deployed in any app category once marketers learn how to use them effectively. Here, we’ll explore everything that goes into a playable ad, including how to decide if they’re a good fit for marketing your game or app.
Playable ads are an interactive advertisement format that lets users experience core app functionality or brand experiences within the limited scope of an ad placement. The format is most commonly used to promote mobile games — hence the “playable” term — providing users with a brief taste of gameplay.
For example, a marketer looking to promote a word puzzle game might deploy a playable that features a partially-completed puzzle and prompt the user to solve it by tapping and dragging the final few letters to win the round.
Whatever the genre or app category, playable ads are typically full-screen and last anywhere from 15 seconds to a minute. Once the user completes the ad content, they are presented with an end card and CTA directing them to install the full version of the app.
In the U.S., playable ads generate between $11.00 and $25.00 for every 1,000 impressions served, but these numbers vary by app category and target audience. Casual and hyper-casual publishers tend to drive the highest performance for playable ads, as their players are frequently on the lookout for new gaming experiences.
It’s worth noting these audiences also embrace low-cost, high-return ad formats like rewarded video, which makes placement styles that support playables a vital part of any game publisher’s monetization strategy.
Whether you’re using playable ads to share a branded experience or preview your app’s core functionality, they need to do so in a file format that can be deployed via a network without sacrificing performance. To maximize efficiency, most playables take the form of HTML ads or interactive videos. If you don’t have resources in-house, there are a variety of creative agencies that specialize in playable ad development. If you’re looking for a trusted playable creative development partner, the experts at Vungle Creative Labs bring more than 20 years of mobile advertising experience to the table. We also recommend working with any of the following vendors:
HTML ads fully recreate one or more elements of an app using HTML code and official art assets. From a user perspective, this format is preferable because it allows for the most accurate depiction of your promoted app. Interactive HTML ads also provide a greater degree of mechanical control through the user interface while allowing for rapid-fire creative testing thanks to their natively web-based deployment.
Video-based playables combine footage of a promoted app with HTML UI elements to create an interactive ad. This approach is ideal for complex, graphics-heavy games where the visual presentation is difficult to refine. For mobile studios, interactive video playables are the easiest to program but lack the nuance and engagement of customized HTML ads. What’s more, they place a higher strain on network connections based on video quality.
Mobile gaming has been widely recognized as a ubiquitous pastime that transcends demographic boundaries, making gamified content an effective way of attracting user attention for any product or service, from restaurants to banking apps. In fact, mobile games account for 33% of app installs, 10% of daily time spent in-app, and 74% of consumer spend. In the U.S. alone, players have eight mobile games installed and play two to five each month. Any publisher or marketer looking to monetize or promote their brand is well-served by leveraging playable creatives.
For game publishers, ad networks that support playables afford them greater monetization benefits than those limited to other rewarded and non-rewarded formats. When advertisers deploy playables through an SDK network like Vungle or via programmatic channels, it fulfills that opportunity with minimal effort from publishers. As more companies look to adopt innovative new formats thanks to their powerful performance potential, publishers reap the benefits of the growing competition.
Playable ads drive engagement by their nature, particularly when they target mobile gamers. Marketers looking to drive a high return on ad spend see strong monetization and retention performance from users acquired through playables, and with good reason. Campaigns that effectively demonstrate what users can expect from the full version of the game or app are likely to attract a well-qualified audience. The most creative marketers have even found ways of combining playable ads with deep linking solutions to deliver users from completed playable ads deeper into the first-time user experience, with their in-ad actions carrying over.
Playables may be mobile advertisements, but they demand specialized considerations that aren’t necessary for other ad formats. As a starting point, it helps to treat playables not as ads, but as interactive experiences that hint at a larger product.
The following best practices will help you make the most of each campaign:
In a mobile game environment, playables perform particularly well when deployed through rewarded placements. In fact, rewarded placements are almost mandatory in order to ensure ad performance due to the fact that participants need to be prepared to take action in order to engage, which isn’t always possible via an interstitial placement. Be sure to include rewarded ad placements wherever possible in your game or app to ensure that you’re taking advantage of the earning potential that playables provide.
Playables may recreate gameplay from a mobile game, but they don’t need to reflect the whole game. Instead, focus on a specific element that introduces the experience, such as a tutorial or early level.
Most playables run from 15 seconds to a full minute, so there’s little time to waste. Keep the ad as simple as possible so users can grasp the basics with a single glance. This is one reason why hyper-casual gameplay aligns with playables so effectively, but other genres can fit with a little work.
When a playable begins, users might not realize the ad is interactive. Highlight or animate any gameplay elements so users know what, where, and how to engage with the playable.
Present your best and leave them wanting more At the end of the day, playables hint at a richer gameplay experience just one app install away. Feel free to tease at other features. A puzzle game might describe new mechanics in the end card, while story games put forward a plot twist.
Playables require a little extra work to deploy effectively, but the rewards for publishers and advertisers are clear. At Vungle, we work with all of our advertisers to create stunning, triple-A quality ad creative that drives growth for advertisers and revenue for publishers, all without diluting the user experience.
If you believe playable ads are a good fit for your app, or if you’re looking to monetize your app with a network that can deliver premium playable demand, Vungle can help you get started. Our complete monetization and in-app advertising solutions focus on quality creative and consistent fill rates to give you the highest return on investment. Get in touch with our team to deploy the most engaging placements for your players!