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Playable Ads have exploded in popularity in recent years as a powerful format for game developers to attract and acquire new users. Playable ads represent an innovative form of digital advertising, one that is more immersive and interactive than those of the past. This “try before you buy” format allows developers to showcase the best parts of their applications and ultimately attract and acquire new users.
Playable ads are consistently seen as the most effective ad formats among professionals in the sector. Its success in mid to heavy level gaming applications is due to a gradual change in monetization models as more games are converted through a hybrid IAP + IAA model. By including ads embedded in RPGs and other games that have traditionally relied on in-app purchases, developers are achieving significantly higher user acquisition rates and, as gamers already know what to expect, LTV tends to be higher. This spike in traffic channels is especially true for midcore and hardcore games which traditionally didn’t have as many opportunities for monetization.
Playable ads use three main elements: a quick tutorial, gameplay, and a conversion call-to-action ending card. As a general rule, the tutorial should be a quick instruction on one of the game’s most appealing features. Gameplay should follow this same rule. Conversion and retention can be further improved with award-winning content that keeps players engaged.
The concept is simple, however, playable ads have important aspects for developers to consider.
Playable ads tend to take a tremendous amount of time and effort not only to produce, but to iterate as well. If done manually, iterations and a / b testing can take a very long time. Many developers try out one or two playable items, factor in the time and cost of producing additional playable items, and then stick with the video. As a result, automation platforms are common and help developers focus on what converts and what doesn’t. So what elements and features should developers look out for when considering playables?
The first is to really understand how your audience will interact with your playable. Unlike midcore and hardcore games, hypercasual or casual games will be easier to navigate. This means that midcore and hardcore games should be looking to break the core gameplay down into several pieces. User preferences differ wildly, as do the creative elements of each iteration. A higher level of granularity towards these playables could mean focusing on a game’s costumes, difficulty level, weapons, etc.
Second, it is important that the gameplay really impresses. This means that it’s important to use all the creative tools you have available while keeping them light and highly interactive. This can include anything from background music and horizontal / vertical versions to 3D or 360 degree game landscapes.
Now more than ever, the data embedded in ads is becoming extremely important to effective targeting and new user acquisition. Apple’s changes to IDFA have seriously affected the way businesses target users. While advertisers should still have access to historical data on how users convert, it won’t last forever. And as more users embrace or opt out of version 14.5, advertisers will need to closely monitor the transition and adjust their targeting strategy accordingly. The IDFA changes mean that creatives become more important in strategy, however, an advertiser’s approach will be more dependent on contextual targeting and generalized aggregate data for iterations.
A huge benefit of playable ads is that advertisers can use the data embedded in ads for performance analysis and to learn more about their user behavior at different touchpoints throughout the player experience. Analysis of interaction data helps advertisers iterate and optimize ad creatives more efficiently and efficiency is essential with playables to protect margins. Again, it will be a much simpler process if you are analyzing through an automation platform.
Native ad experiences continue to lead the way in performance and user experience. Interactive ads, like playables, serve as the ideal medium between an ever-growing need for creative data-driven information and the importance users place on immersive mobile experiences.
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