Why Playable Ads are the Key to Engaged Users

By Anna Schmitt | May 31st, 2017

App engagement and viewability have been pressing issues for app advertisers who want to reach users without being perceived as annoying. Mobile app advertisers are always looking for innovative ad formats that not only convert well, promoting large install volumes at scale, but also result in engaged users and subsequently maximized LTV per user. But how can app advertisers be sure their app is downloaded by high-quality users who will enjoy the app and engage with it?

When you look at most ads for gaming apps, they do not actually represent the advertised product very well. Due to this, users often expect something different from an app than what they'll actually get after the download. In order to minimize this "expectation gap", it can be helpful to give a preview of the app experience in the ad already. In case of gaming apps, showing a preview of a level in the game can get audiences excited about what comes next. For non-gaming apps, too, playable ads are an exciting medium to explore. This can be through interacting with the booking process in case of a travel app or letting audiences get a peek into the product range for an eCommerce app.

The strength of playable ads lies in the fact that the user gets to experience the app before deciding to install it. This results in lower CTRs but higher CRs and LTVs of those users acquired.

How a Playable Ad Works

Playable ads are innovative, interactive rich media ad formats that let users try out the app on an opt-in basis before deciding to download it. Such ads act as a preview of the app experience: by engaging with the ad unit, a user can interact with the game or app for a short amount of time - usually around 30 seconds - from directly within the ad. After the preview ends, it is important to place a powerful call-to-action to make the user convert - should they be impressed by the quick glimpse of the game.

Types of Playables

Minigame - With this version, an app developer creates a mini version of the actual game embedded inside the ad that mimics the real game.

This version is suitable for a game category with simpler graphics and game mechanics, not necessarily for RPG games with complex 3D-graphics. It is important to note that with the Minigame types of Playables, the app experiences are never 100% like the actual game.

Streaming Playable Ad - For this version of playables, the vendor downloads the game, hosts it in their cloud and displays part of the app inside an ad - it works like streaming inside the actual app.

This solution is completely scalable for all kinds of games, including RPG games with complex 3D-graphics. It is also scalable for the non-gaming vertical.

Benefits of Playable Ads

  • Better conversion rates: Playables drive greater performance due to providing a testing function of the game or app. By creating a version in the ad that is close to the actual app or game, advertisers are able to offer a more tangible experience to users rather than them having to guess about the app’s usability - this helps to increase the likelihood of them downloading the app. Also, due to the opt-in nature of this ad format, it means that users will be more receptive to the messaging, once they’ve consented to engaging with the ad.
  • Higher engagement rates: According to mNectar, playable ads show greater engagement than interstitial or video ads and user retention rates are four times higher than with any other mobile ad format. Playable ads are also said to positively influence app ratings in the app store - with apps linked to playable ads having higher ratings than those that aren’t.
  • Increased retention and LTV: Since playable ads show higher engagement, users who have downloaded the app after experiencing it as a preview through playable ads are already better informed about what to expect from the app. This results in higher quality installs that, in turn, offer an increased LTV.
  • Must-have ad format for gaming advertisers: Due to the interactive element and demo function of the app, it is the ideal creative for the gaming vertical but also suitable for non-gaming app advertisers allowing them greater flexibility in telling their story and engaging audiences through interactive creatives.
  • Increased brand awareness: The interactive elements of playable ads make them easy to recall and offer high brand awareness, which is interesting for advertisers who are looking for brand recall alongside performance.

Playable ads offer a great solution to the twin problems of viewability and monetization that app advertisers face in the competitive app space. Advertisers looking for increased LTV and better conversion rates must experiment with different ad formats depending on their KPIs. Playable ads with its many benefits can help app advertisers, especially those at the “launch” phase of the app lifecycle.

Anna Schmitt
Anna is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at AppLift and is based out of our Berlin office. Aside from work, she is a passionate photographer who loves to travel and also write short stories. If you catch her in deep thought, she's probably either dreaming about her love for London or planning her next meal at an Asian restaurant!

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