What, How and Why in Playable Ads

In 2013, the global insanity on ad blocking prompted the advertising industry to rethink its methods - users are tired of intrusive, irrelevant and boring advertisements. As a result, mobile advertising has gradually shifted toward formats and creatives that have taken advantage of mobile platforms and also brought value to both users and advertisers.

In 2014, the rewarded video (or RV) format became popular, giving users local currency in exchange for watching video ads. Finally, there was an advertisement that fascinated users and improved their experience. But now, several years later, advertisers are actively experimenting with a new advertising format that expands the boundaries of interactivity even further: playable ads.

What is playable ads?

As you might guess by name, this is an advertisement that you can play. This is one of several types of mobile advertising available to advertisers today.

Simply put, playable ads are ads that offer users interactive gameplay fragments, known as “micro-games.” At the end of such an advertisement there is a call to action (for example, to install an application), it is solely for choice and usually up to one minute in length, that is, time to magic can be only 15 seconds.

But most importantly, users like them. They provide a pleasant advertising experience - while not only showing what the advertised application actually looks like, but also fully involving and intriguing users.

How do playable ads work?

In addition to reflecting the “spirit” of the application, playable ads also offer users a lot of opportunities and interaction points - unlike any other ad in the applications. They consist of three components: instructions, gameplay and end card.


A short and concise instruction introduces the player to a mini-game. For three seconds, she effectively immerses the user into the game and explains exactly how to play. It should be interactive with an intuitive design that does not require too much action. From the very beginning, users should understand that this is an advertisement with which they can interact.


The next component is the actual gameplay. Despite the fast and simplified version of the game, it still gives users the opportunity to see what the game is like. After 10-20 seconds, users must understand whether they want to install the application and continue to play. For example, in the case of a game, users can play an exciting beginner level. In the application for the camera, users can take a photo and put on it an unusual filter.

End card

The last is the end card. Here, the playable ad shows a clear call to action (CTA) - that is, it prompts the user to install the application or take any other further action. If this is an advertisement for installing applications, and they choose to install, users are redirected to the app store for download.

Throughout the entire playable ad, there should always be an option to leave the game, ensuring that users feel in control and the experience remains positive.

Why playable ads?

Recently, advertisers around the world have been focusing their KPIs on acquiring quality users, as opposed to quantity. This transition could not happen at the best of times. Now with interactive ad formats such as playable ads, advertisers are more than ever ready to acquire users with high LTV.

Try before you buy

Playable ads work according to the “try before you buy” scheme, allowing you to see the main features of the application before installing it. Users who ultimately install the application after a few seconds of addictive gameplay are more likely to open the application later and will continue to use it over time. Such users will become players with a higher LTV.

This is also due to the fact that such advertising is inherently fun and fun to play. As in the case of the Super Bowl ad, viewers are eagerly awaiting viewing, playable ads are the ad format that users really want to face.

Reduce the number of deletions, increase retension

As a rule, the percentage of application removal in the first hour can reach 25%. The rate rises to 64% in the first month. But by guaranteeing a high level of LTV at an early stage in the user's life cycle, playable ads effectively reduce the percentage of application removal and increase retention later, as users who come through playable ads know what to expect from the application. In practice, we know cases when at playable ads retensions rose to 30-40 percent.

Ultimately, this process helps advertisers save money because it excludes users who don’t like the app - minimizing money that could potentially be lost on acquiring irrelevant users with low LTVs. Thus, even if the cost of one installation of playable ads is more expensive than that of regular video or banner advertising, the ROI will be higher in the end.

Access to internal advertising data

Finally, playable ads can provide advertisers with a large amount of data, giving them real-time information about users who see their ads. Unlike other advertising formats, which, like black boxes, do not tell us why the user likes the advertisement or why he installed this or that application, playable ads give developers more transparency.

If you see that too many users lose the mini-game in playable ads and therefore do not install the application, change the difficulty level. Although there is a very thin border between the “average” and the “difficult” level, users respond better to the “average” because it combines a positive winning experience, as well as a challenge and intrigue of the game. So you will increase the percentage of involvement and the number of installations. Only interactive formats can provide enough data to accurately understand what is wrong with your ad, and how to better optimize it.

Outside gaming

Currently, playable ads are mostly limited to the gaming industry. But considering how attractive and interactive they are, we can expect them to switch to more non-gaming categories of applications. Often, game developers and publishers are the first to use the latest innovative mobile advertising formats. This was true for the offerwall, interstitial and rewarded video. As in other cases, as soon as playable ads prove their success in mobile games, non-game applications will follow this trend and also take it into service.

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