Growth 7 min read  - May 17, 2023

How to Create the Perfect Playable Ad for your mobile game

By focusing on these aspects and leveraging the insights gained from in-ad metrics, you can create playable ads that resonate with your audience, increase brand awareness, and drive app installs.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article about a mobile gaming app that claimed to be getting a whopping 95% of its installs from a single playable ad. 

This staggering number piqued my curiosity and made me wonder if other mobile app publishers and game studios could achieve similar results by leveraging playable ads effectively.

And indeed, after extensive research, I found out that most use cases showed how playable ads could significantly enhance user acquisition strategies. We’re talking about an ad format that offers engaging experiences that drive high-quality installs and a high ROAS (return on ad spend).

In this blog post, I'll share some tips and best practices I discovered to help you make the most out of playable ads for your mobile games.

Summary

  1. Why Playable Ads are a Game Changer
  2. Playable ads benefits
  3. Create the Perfect Playable Ad
  4. In-Ad metrics
  5. Playable Ads today

Why Playable Ads are a Game Changer

Playable ads have been gaining traction for a good reason – they offer an interactive and engaging advertising experience for users, giving them a taste of the game before they decide to install it. The users you acquire through playable ads are more likely to be genuinely interested in your game, leading to higher retention rates and overall better ROI.

As I mentioned, a company like ITI Studio generated an astonishing 95% of installs for their game with just one playable ad. This single ad's success increased the in-view rate (IVR) on both operating systems by 77% and lowered the cost per install (CPI) by 56%. These impressive results led ITI to allocate a staggering 96% of its advertising budget to playable ads.

Considering the global mobile gaming market, projected to reach $338 billion by the end of the decade, it's no wonder that 28% of US agency professionals have found playable ads to be the most effective in-app ad format. Playable ads convert 2.6x better than other static formats and lead to a 53% average monthly impressions increase.

Moreover, recent surveys from Appodeal partners’ revealed that, when publishers and studios integrate playable ads into their user acquisition strategies, they get:

  • 70% more installs, 
  • 60% more clicks (CTR)
  • and 40% greater return (ROAS) 

Given the challenges of privacy constraints introduced to the market in recent years, the data strongly support the demand for playable ads.

So, if you're looking to boost your app downloads and user engagement, playable ads should definitely be on your radar. 

Playable ads benefits: attract engaged users, improve long-term retention, etc.

You might already be aware that playable ads attract engaged users and improve long-term retention. But why does this matter for mobile app publishers and game studios? Let's dive deeper into the benefits of using playable ads and how they can contribute to your app's success.

Users who install a game after engaging with a playable ad already know what to expect. They're familiar with the basic game mechanics and can start playing right away. This often leads to higher user retention and increased player lifetime value (LTV). According to Appodeal partners, playable ads can increase your retention rates by up to 40%.

Although the cost per install (CPI) for playable ads is higher than video or banner ads, the return on investment (ROI) is also higher, making it worthwhile. Moreover, since users have already experienced the game before installing it, those who might not enjoy it are already excluded. This allows game developers to focus on engaged and interested users, ultimately saving money in the long run.

Additionally, the performance of playable ads is easier to monitor, providing real-time insights into user engagement. This allows you to adjust and optimize the ad's difficulty or other aspects if it's underperforming.

In summary, playable ads offer numerous benefits, including:

  • Increased engagement: Playable ads shorten the customer journey through the sales funnel, leading to faster decision-making.
  • Valuable analytical information: Interactive ads provide real-time insights, allowing you to test, tweak, and optimize for maximum user retention.
  • Higher retention rates and reduced app uninstalls: Users who install the game after engaging with a playable ad are already familiar with the game mechanics, resulting in higher user retention and audience LTV.

However, playable ads have some cons, compared to other ad formats. Playable ads are more complex in terms of technical aspects. As a result, creating a playable ad demands a significantly greater amount of time, effort, and financial investment.

How to Create the Perfect Playable Ad

One of the most common things we’ve noticed in use cases featuring playable ads is that this ad format is not just one component in a larger user acquisition funnel; they serve as a funnel themselves. 

For this reason, when creating effective and engaging playable ads, professionals in the industry tend to break down the essential components.

The following section is a compilation of the most common elements, features, and best practices found in several use cases and success stories, many of which come from Appodeal partners. 

Context & Audience

Understanding the context and audience is crucial for creating a successful playable ad. 

Adapting the playable ad to your player’s motivations will help you develop a better campaign. For example, if you have a casual mobile game, you can create playable ads featuring different aspects of the game that appeal to various player motivations. 

If your mobile app is more complex, you may want to keep the playable simple. Don’t put all the eggs in the sack. Sometimes less is more.

And if your target audience is unaware of the specifics of your game, you can even combine multiple ad formats to provide users with the context they need. For instance, you can create an ad creative that combines videos, playable ads, and attention-grabbing end cards for a more engaging ad experience.

Tutorial

The tutorial briefly introduces the main game mechanics and should be short and simple. Similar to your mobile game, the tutorial should serve as a hook to engage viewers and get them interested in the game.

Remember that simplicity is key in most mobile ad formats, especially for non-gaming apps. A playable can be as simple as choosing a favorite among songs or movies for streaming apps or a short, interactive quiz for a news app. 

This is the ideal situation for concise, straightforward copy and visual cues like flashing hands. Communicate to the user that they must take action. Employ powerful action verbs such as "match," "tap," "strike," and so on.

Gameplay

Playables don't need to represent the full game experience but should showcase basic, early-game features and mechanics. Focus on demonstrating the gameplay experience, including different game assets, animations, music, and sound effects.

Unlike the tutorial, the player interacts with the game without much guidance. 

Think about how to represent your game in the best light, and consider all the selling points of your game. It's a good idea to divide the core gameplay into several elements, showcasing different selling points with each playable ad.

Call to Action

Most playable include a call to action (CTA), either embedded throughout the ad or appearing at the end. The goal is to invite users to download the game, leading to a conversion. 

The CTA should be clear and convincing, with creative copy and bold visuals directing users to download the app or act brand-appropriately.

While you can include the CTA after the viewers are done playing, it's better to make the download button available throughout the ad. That way, users can choose to install the game at any point.

Post-Install Experience

Align your playable ad creative with the authentic in-app experience. This approach is crucial for down-funnel metrics like ROAS (return on ad spend) and LTV (lifetime value). Working with an ad partner like Appodeal's Creative Studio can help you strike the right balance, make informed creative decisions, and create custom strategies to make an impact.

Rewarded approaches, such as giving players virtual currency or in-game items in exchange for viewing an ad, can also be effective. For non-gaming apps, rewards could include coupons, deep discounts on products or services, or gifts with purchases. 

Giving users incentives to complete the activity in an interactive ad increases the chance they'll see it through to the end and take the next action.

In-Ad metrics: New KPI’s to identify a successful playable ad

While standard ad performance metrics like CPI, CTR, CPA, and ROAS are relevant to playable ads, the interactive nature of these ads introduces additional, valuable "in-ad metrics." These metrics help measure the effectiveness of various elements within the ad and provide insights for improving future iterations.

Second 1 Retention (S1 Retention)

Unlike mobile games focusing on Day 1 (D1) retention, playable ads emphasize Second 1 (S1) retention. S1 retention ensures users understand the ad is interactive and requires their engagement. Utilize clear copy, engaging visuals, and strong action verbs like "match," "tap," and "strike" to guide users.

High S1 retention indicates a well-performing playable ad. If your KPI is centered around S1 retention, your campaign likely focuses on brand awareness, aiming to create a memorable ad experience and later converting users through retargeting.

Second 6 Retention (S6 Retention)

Optimizing the tutorial phase, which occurs within the first few seconds, is crucial for retaining users. Employ best practices like showing hands for swiping, highlighting key buttons, providing clear hints, and offering concise instructions to improve S6 retention. This metric measures the effectiveness of onboarding users into the ad, reducing the chance of user frustration and app abandonment.

Second 14 Retention (S14 Retention)

At around 14 seconds, users should be fully engaged in the ad. The gameplay, a vital yet challenging section to optimize, must balance difficulty and enjoyment. Guide users without revealing all the answers and keep them engaged. Consider the game genre when optimizing for difficulty, as it can impact user behavior.

S14 retention measures overall ad enjoyment, as users at this stage have shown interest in the gameplay and are more likely to enjoy the actual game.

Second 30 Retention (S30 Retention)

By S30, users have completed the gameplay, viewed the end card, and encountered the CTA to install the game. These users are the highest-quality acquired players. However, reaching S30 does not guarantee an install. Optimizing for S30 involves carefully crafting CTAs, using appealing colors and graphics, and considering the difficulty level of the gameplay.

Winning or losing the game can significantly impact S30 retention. Users who win are more likely to continue through S30 and ultimately convert.

Start with Playable Ads Today

Playable ads are revolutionizing the mobile advertising landscape, offering engaging and interactive experiences for users while providing valuable insights for developers and publishers. By understanding the importance of this ad format and implementing best practices, you can create the perfect playable ad that appeals to your target audience, effectively showcases your game's features, and encourages user interaction.

Key components of successful playable ads include understanding the context and audience, crafting effective tutorials and engaging gameplay, developing a strong call-to-action, and ensuring a seamless post-install experience. In addition to standard ad metrics, playable ads benefit from unique in-ad metrics such as S1, S6, S14, and S30 retention, which help measure and optimize various elements within the ad for maximum performance.

By focusing on these aspects and leveraging the insights gained from in-ad metrics, you can create playable ads that resonate with your audience, increase brand awareness, and drive app installs. With the right balance of creativity and optimization, you can make a lasting impact on users and elevate the success of your ad campaigns.

Take advantage of the power of playable ads in your future ad campaigns by partnering with Appodeal. Our expertise and advanced ad optimization solutions will help you create captivating, high-performing playable ads that increase user engagement and deliver impressive results for your app or game. Don't miss out on the opportunity to stand out in the competitive mobile market – start harnessing the potential of playable ads with Appodeal today!

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Marc Llobet
Product Marketing & Growth @ Appodeal
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