Why are Playable Ads a Great Way to Pitch Your Mobile Game?

by Game Marketing Genie, on 23-Jul-2020 10:13:38

People don’t like watching online ads. Many internet users are fed up irrelevant and intrusive ads hence the rise of ad blocking extensions. The ad-blocking craze has pushed many brands to rethink their advertising strategy.

We are witnessing a shift towards ad formats that encourage interaction between brands and their users. People enjoy playing games and this makes interacting with a game through playable ads much more palatable. These types of ads have high conversion and retention rates compared to still images and video ads that don’t allow users to experience the game until they make the decision to download it.

In this blog, we will share best practice tips on how to create playable ads that will boost your ROAS (return on ad spend).

What is a playable ad?

A playable ad is an advertisement form that combines all core interactive gestures of a mobile game such as tap, touch, swipe, scoring and more to market a brand to its target users. 

Some of the features that make playable ads a key component of a successful game marketing plan include:

  • Interactive & fun: They expose consumers to experiences that create momentary fun and enjoyment!
  • On time: They load immediately to ensure they don’t disrupt the consumer experience
  • Frictionless & ephemeral: Users don’t have to download the game to play and interact with it.
  • Content-rich: The playable ad could include additional content like video trailers, sweepstakes, coupons, and more to enhance the user experience.
  • Opt-in experience – Users have the option to play or not.

When designed correctly, playable ads are your mobile game’s best possible elevator pitch. Not only do they highlight the benefits of your game, but also allow users to experience it first-hand before they download it. The users who go through the entire playable ad and proceed to install the game have an idea of what they will get from it, and this increases the chances that they will adopt the game for the long term.

App-Ad-Format

Figure 1. Source: eMarketer

28 percent of US app marketers believe that playable ads are the most effective ad formats for app marketing. A further 71 percent say they find they are effective when it comes to engaging audiences. These stats show that it’s time to include playable ads into your online game marketing plan, and below are some of the best practices that will help you create high performing playable ads.

When are they effective?

Playable ads are gaining popularity in the gaming industry because they work, but a lot can go wrong when they are not designed properly. Here are some of the attributes they need to fulfill to be effective.

When they’re short and simple

Your playable ad is a short elevator pitch for your mobile game, not a full product demo. Focus on sharing the best aspects of your game and don’t worry if you aren’t able to communicate everything through the ad. Trying to cram your entire game into the ad will result in a more drawn out experience, and this goes against the rules of interactive advertising which is to keep things short and sweet.

The maximum length should be no longer than 45 seconds, but 30 seconds seems to be the norm. Tests show that the CTR decreased when playable ads were longer than 45 seconds and shorter than 30 seconds. That midsection between 30 sec and 45 sec delivered the best results, and as such, you should stick to this range when making your creative.

When they provide tutorials to guide the player

Your game is new to users. Without clear instructions on how to play it, the onboarding process will be difficult, and this will dissuade gamers from downloading and adopting it for long term use. Your playable ad should guide users on the actions they need to take to progress through the game.

There is no time for a steep learning curve since you have just a few seconds to capture the attention of your prospects. Use pointers and short descriptive texts to help users understand what they are doing. But don’t point out everything though, you’re not trying to treat your audience like babies.

You can also choose to start the ad with “fake advice” so that the player fails and has to try again. This seems counterintuitive, but failure can help gamers understand the game quickly and make them determined to win. Mindworks used this strategy to make an ad and it resulted in a 32 percent increase of their IPM (installs per mille).

Tutorial written on white paper on clipboard with roses

When they show the USP of your game

Playable ads offer a “try before you buy” experience by letting prospects interact with the mobile game’s main features before they install it. Your chances of getting more users to download your game will be higher when the ad clearly captures the unique selling points of your game.

Gamers can quickly tell if your game doesn’t offer a unique experience. They can tell when your game is a cheap imitation of other titles in the market and proceed to cancel it within their communities. Developers need to create unique games that will stand out in the gaming community. The playable ads should also clearly capture the unique elements of the game to get players excited to try it out.

When the end results suit

Your ad should be designed with an outcome that increases the chances of the prospects hitting the CTA button. Most players like to win so creating an ad where the chances of succeeding are high is a great way to market your mobile game. However, this doesn’t mean that the ad should be incredibly simple as this is the quickest way to lose the interest of core gamers. Make your ad challenging enough but not so difficult as to leave players frustrated.

Alternatively, your ad could have a loss ending as the outcome. Failure will help the players understand the gameplay better, and this will motivate them to download your game so that they can experience the full version. Test the win/lose outcomes to find which would suit your playable ad better.

Golden trophy with black stand

When the CTA is noticeable, effective, and unique

Your CTA should be clear, unique, and attractive. Position the CTA appropriately through the ad to ensure prospects don’t miss it when they need to head to the app store to get the full version of the game. Your game has the moments that stand out and this is where the CTA should be located to keep your conversion rates high.

The CTA button should be outstanding by color and size. It should also feature creative copy to entice more users to click it. It doesn’t have to read “download now” when it can be game-specific such as “Start Racing” for a car racing app.

When you track results

Playable ads have different points where users lose interest and abandon them. Developers need to track in-ad events to identify the stages with high drop off rates. They should then take action and modify the problematic stages. Since it’s not advisable to make wholesale changes at once, use A/B testing to change one ad aspect and see how it affects the performance of the ad.

Game of Dice A/B Test - Playable ad length

Figure 2. Source: g2

g2 performed an A/B test to determine the appropriate length of their playable ad for Game of Dice. They started with a short gameplay flow that featured just 2 turns. The CTR for this gameplay length was very low compared to other playable ads the studio was running. They decided to increase the number of turns to 4 and this brought the best results.

This analysis shows that the best way to identify the most effective version of a playable ad is to test different aspects and continue iterating based on the results. There is no point in running an ad if you’re not looking at the results since you will not know what appeals to your audience and what doesn’t.

We have shared more information on the importance of capturing and analyzing data on our blog: Why Do Businesses Need Analytics to Succeed?

When they are authentic

Your ad will only be effective when it shows your uniqueness and authenticity. It shouldn’t come off as just another mobile game. Your title should have unique gameplay that will make it stand out from the crowd. It should properly capture the unique features to entice the prospects to download the game and experience the full version.

Your desire to stand out should not push you to create gameplay sections that don’t exist in your game. This move may help you trick players into installing, but once they realize that the advertised styles don’t exist in the real game, they will abandon it and trash talk you in their communities. Stay true to your game to avoid this embarrassment.

People jumping for joy in the sunset


Making a playable ad is hard. You need to create an ad that is true to your game, engaging, and will work on your audience’s platforms. Game Marketing Genie is here to boost your game marketing plan and help you attract more prospects. We can help you create the best playable ads and distribute them on the best platforms.

Are you ready to take your online game marketing to the next level? Check out our game advertising strategy and contact us for more information.

Need more info? Let's chat today about how we can make the most of your marketing opportunities.

Topics:Mobile Game MarketingGaming IndustryVideo Game Marketing StrategyVideo Game MarketingDigital Marketing StrategyPlayable Ads

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