The advertising industry has come a long way from blinking banner ads. Increasingly, we’re seeing mobile advertisers moving on to ads that take full advantage of the intimacy and engagement that the mobile medium enables, creating ads that are designed with user engagement and enjoyment in mind.

The latest and greatest ad unit is what the app advertising industry is calling “playable ads.” Instead of cluttering ad space with irrelevant or intrusive ads, advertisers can give mobile users what they really want -- high-quality advertisements they can play and interact with.

What better way to advertise an app than to offer an interactive snippet of the in-app experience that grabs attention and pulls the user in?

What are playable ads?

Playable ads are app advertisements - most often used by game advertisers - which offer users a snippet of interactive gameplay, ranging from 15 seconds to 1 minute.

Once the snapshot of the game ends, the ad includes a call to action (CTA) to install the advertised game. Most of the ads are completely opt-in, meaning users can choose whether or not they want to interact with the advertisement, and ensuring high-engagement.

The most attractive part of in-app playable ads, however, are the incredible conversion rates advertisers are enjoying, and the promise of high eCPMs and therefore increased revenue for publishers.

What should advertisers know about playable ads?

Data shows that playable ads see conversion rates up to 7x higher than video ads -- which are already quite high to begin with. In contrast to video ads, which typically do a great job of illustrating gameplay experience to users, since playable ads are interactive, users are actually able to tell whether they’d enjoy the game or not.

Because playable ads are true to the spirit of the game despite being so short, those 15 seconds or so are often enough to convince users to install the advertised game.

By letting users try out the app before installing, playable mobile ads also reduce app uninstall rates and which represent wasted advertising spend on the advertiser's part.

Once converted, a user who interacted with a playable ad is also much more likely to be a high-quality user, who will continue to play the game in the future. In fact, data shows that user retention rates of playable ads are about double that of traditional video advertisements.

What should publishers know about playable ads?

On the other side of the coin, playable mobile ads provide app publishers with great revenue opportunities. The more successful the ad is for the advertiser, the more money publishers generate for their app.

In addition to improved app monetization, playable ads can help boost publisher reputation as well. If users know that they’ll find enjoyable playable ads in the apps of particular publishers, they’ll keep coming back hoping to find more.

In fact, we saw that one of our own clients who stopped serving rewarded videos actually faced backlash from users. They had come to expect rewarded videos in their playing experience, valuing the exchange it represented. As playable mobile ads become just as common in the near future, it’s not impossible to imagine the same sort of reaction.

Today, with users increasingly blocking all but the most valuable, relevant or enjoyable advertisements, the mobile advertising industry is shifting accordingly -- and playable ads are simply the next step in the evolution towards a more balanced value exchange.

In addition to improving user experience, user-initiated playable ads and even rewarded videos are being championed for solving viewability and ad blocking concerns, since users have to click to accept the advertisement. Moving forward, we can expect to see more mobile ad units continue to follow in the path today’s playable ads are paving.  

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