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What is a playable ad?

by Katy Jensen on Jun 12, 2018

There are many types of mobile ad formats, but one specifically has exploded over the past few years: playable ads. Put briefly, playable ads are interactive ads that let users try out the core functionality of an app or game, like a free demo. This allows users to experience an app or game before they commit to a download, rather than simply viewing a static image or passively watching a video ad. Playables have proven to be effective at increasing conversions and retention, and ultimately, player LTV and revenue. They’re so successful that we’re expecting to see a 200% year-over-year increase in playable ad output in 2018.

Crafting an effective playable ad will require following some best practices. The main thing to keep in mind is to have clear focus and show off the feature of your app or game that you think will drive people to download. Even though many games are focused on long-term rewards, their corresponding playable ads need to provide instant gratification in the minimal time the ad allows for gameplay.

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Difficulty level is also something to pay attention to. If a game is too easy or difficult, prospective players may not want to download it. Above all, playable ads should have a clear invitation to play and be rewarding. For example, you can show an animation of a hand dragging a tile in a match-three game that results in a colorful burst of particles or by offering a meaningful reward to the player like in-game currency.

The format also lends itself well to cross-promotion. Playables are an ideal ad type for gaming apps, which means that potential new users will likely see them while playing other games. It may seem counterintuitive to allow other games to advertise in your app, but it can actually boost engagement and loyalty to your brand.

Although playable ads are obviously tailored toward mobile games, the format has also been used for other types of apps. The challenge here is to “gamify” an app that really has no gaming aspect in and of itself. Often this means employing a trivia or survey-style ad to allow for engagement with the brand.

Playables are just one of many mobile ad formats. For a breakdown of the most popular mobile ad formats, be sure to check out our infographic here.

Katy Jensen is AppLovin’s marketing coordinator.

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