The mobile advertising industry is shifting, and all signs are pointing towards playable ads becoming the next big thing. In fact, playable ads became the most used ad format last year by mobile users, outperforming interstitials, video, and banner ads. On Facebook’s News Feed, users who downloaded an app from a playable ad were 6x more likely to make an in-app purchase and to engage with the app 60% more often. It could be that in an age where a new generation of users are growing up with a digital-first mindset, playable ads offer them a more interactive and immersive experience than other formats. Or it could be that playables give UA managers unique insights into their campaign performance, which is particularly helpful in a post-IDFA era where there’s limited transparency into how users interact with your creatives.
There are many explanations for why playable ads are on the rise - and why you should include them in your UA strategy. To break this down further, John Wright, Head of Global Growth Partnerships at ironSource Luna, shares the top 5 reasons your campaign needs playables.
1. Achieve incremental scale by diversifying your creatives
With any UA strategy, you need to avoid pinning all of your hopes and resources on one type of creative. There will usually be a particular creative that performs best and helps you attract more traffic than other types, but if you look at any of your campaigns, you’ll notice that one type of creative doesn’t take 100% of traffic. Each brings its own traffic that represents incremental scale. Other types of creatives can also bring value in the form of higher user quality - different ad units resonate with certain audiences, so can yield higher ARPU.
One type of creative doesn’t take 100% of traffic. Each brings its own traffic that represents incremental scale.
Playables give you the opportunity to diversify your creative strategy to attract more scale and reach high-quality users who tend to engage more with this ad type. Users interacting with playable ads tend to drive higher LTV because they get a feel for your app before installing it, so they’re more likely to retain. This ad unit can also perform better on certain networks and platforms - the better your creative performs, the higher your eCPM, and the more incremental scale you can achieve on top of the traffic you’re already generating from your other ads.
Hero Squad by 8SEC used to rely only on video creatives and GIFs. Using Replay, they increased their video production and testing abilities, then began using Elements to turn these video creatives into high-quality playables. Improving their video creatives and expanding into playable production helped the 8SEC team diversify their UA and start reaching high-quality users at scale. Their game achieved 74 million impressions and increased CVR by 30% with the creatives built using ironSource Luna.
2. Optimize more effectively with unique access to in-ad data
Playables present a unique opportunity to gather in-ad data not available in other ad units. In contrast to video ads which only have impression and click data, setting up in-ad events in playables lets you measure user behavior, like engagement rate, time to engage, and completing an action (e.g. completing the tutorial). You can then use these metrics to optimize your in-ad experience - knowing how users interacted with your playable can help you adjust your creative strategy to appeal to other users more effectively.
Your developers can also use this data to make sure that the flow from pre- and post-install feels seamless. When users get a smoother experience going from the creative to playing the game itself, they usually retain for longer. If you’re seeing high user dropoff right after installing, for example, your playable needs to be optimized to more accurately represent gameplay.
Knowing how users interacted with your playable can help you adjust your creative strategy to appeal to other users more effectively.
Getting a full view of the user funnel in your playable can also benefit the game design itself. Let’s say you see the win rate of your playable is very high, but CTR is low. This could mean users find the creative too easy and aren’t tempted to install your game and keep playing. You make gameplay in the playable more challenging, which lowers win rate, and you see CTR increase. This indicates your users prefer more challenging gameplay. You then use a snippet of your playable as a video creative, which helps the entire creative set perform well.
3. Combat ad fatigue by making many, quick variations of your creative
Designing more versions of your creatives can overcome the major obstacle of ad fatigue. The more times users see the same creative, the less likely that they’ll convert - showing them the same ad doesn’t make them more tempted to install your game. Trying new creative concepts lets you reach the users that didn’t download the first time by showing your game in a new light. The more variations you create, the more chances you have to find a twist that hooks these users. With playables, you have the ability to quickly try out new creative components and make optimizations without having to go through the recording and editing process of videos. This makes it faster and easier to build many versions of your ad so you can reach users in new ways and encourage them to download your game.
For example, Tastypill used Elements to concept-test more playables. Within one month, they built and tested 20 playable ads - within three months, this increased to 172 Elements-built playables. Overall, they doubled their ability to concept-test, which helped boost the IPM for their game Bottle Flip 3D by 115% and drive 33 million impressions. They also no longer needed to rely only on their Unity developers for playable production, which gave this team 3x more time to devote to game improvements and live operations.
4. Stay ahead of competitors
Your UA team should be following - and, more importantly, testing - new and innovative strategies. And playables are among the latest innovations in mobile marketing. Before, static interstitials were the most popular ad unit until video took over. While video remains a majority of the market, there seems to be a shift towards more user-friendly and intricate creatives, like playables. Younger users have grown up with videos and even playables as their first introduction to mobile advertising. With the major platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Snap now offering playable ads, users get these immersive experiences where they spend much of their time.
Now, 28% of app marketers cite playables as their most effective in-app ad format, but we’re expecting this to increase. Get into the game and ahead of your competitors before you end up as a late-comer.
In addition to the ones we’ve already gone over, Sunday, a studio that once wasn’t running any interactive ads, used playables to stand out from the saturated game market and achieve incredible success. They used Luna Playable to start building them internally with the development team they already had in place. Doing so improved the efficiency of their creative workflow without using more resources - for their game Cat Escape, they created 16 playables that helped increase IPM by 55% so they could scale into the top 10 within 10 days.
5. Test a new game feature before you build it
Unlike video where you need to record footage from the game itself, you can build playable experiences that aren’t necessarily available in the game at that stage. This gives you a unique opportunity to test game features, like new characters or mechanics, without actually integrating them into your build first. That’s a big advantage because changes to your build can affect in-game metrics - playables let you test the feature first so you prevent any negative impact to retention, playtime, and user quality. It also ensures you’re making game design changes based on actual data.
Playables let you test the feature first so you prevent any negative impact to retention, playtime, and user quality.
You can see how a new element performed in a playable ad then test it in your build to confirm it moved the needle for your in-game KPIs.
Running with playables
Every UA strategy can benefit from playables. These are five of the top advantages, and you could discover even more once you start running with this ad type. Getting started with in-house playable production can be simple. Using a tool like Luna Create Hub you can build playables without any coding or use Unity to design immersive experiences from your game’s existing assets. Stay ahead of the curve and see for yourself the impact playables can make on your UA campaigns, and on your entire operation.