Dan Greenberg, Chief Design Officer at ironSource, gives us the lowdown on what goes into designing hit playable ads, discusses where we can expect to see AR pop up in mobile gaming, and spills the beans on the game studio he admires most (spoiler - they build games for toddlers).

Read on for edited highlights from Greenberg’s podcast:

The shift from console to mobile gaming

“As the game industry shifted from console and desktop to mobile, people started to think about their players and their playing environments in new ways. Unlike console games like Call of Duty where players set aside time in their schedule to go home and play, mobile games need to be easily consumed whenever and wherever. The mobile game companies that really succeeded in the beginning were the ones who truly understood their players, and considered where and when their players were actually playing. By understanding a users’ casual playing environment encourages developers to build games with mechanics that are easily understood and can be picked up and played at anytime. ”

“Many mistakes were made in the beginning in terms of studios simply copying desktop and console mechanics to mobile gaming, but then people started to really think about where and when their players are playing mobile games.”

Competition drives innovation

“Competition drives game designers and developers to try new, innovative things. As it becomes more and more expensive to acquire new, quality users, we realize that organic is not what it used to be. The amazing days of having your game featured on the App Store and becoming a hit are over. Even if your game is not featured on Google Play or the App Store, that doesn’t guarantee anything - it’s great but it’s not enough. Competition is what’s driving the industry to try things like interactive mobile ads.”

Cutting edge of creative

“Advertisers in the gaming industry are always at the forefront of innovation and are always experimenting as the competition is fierce. There are a lot of great games and a lot of great studios. We’ve gotten to a point where there are so many amazing games on the market and they’re all struggling to get attention.”

Iterations + data = key

“We’re always iterating versions of the playable, and even soft launching the ads like you would do with a real game. What’s different between playable ads and old-school demos, is that we’re able to collect in-ad data. We’re able to see when and where users get stuck and we can assess the difficulty level of the playables. We collect over 100M events a day, analyzing like we would analyze game design, and were able to tweek and adjust accordingly.”

“The difficulty level of a playable ad has a massive impact on whether or not it will be successful. A pattern we often notice, is that even after 30 seconds, a lot of users continue to play, even if they’re able to exit out of it.”

“Every small change we make to the playable ad affects the conversion. We realized that if it’s too easy, and the user doesn’t find it challenging or interesting, they won’t download the game. When the game is difficult, they’re determined to try it and therefore they’re more likely to download it. In-ad data let’s us pick up on these patterns.”

But, will this integration cannibalize my app?

“We’ve proven time and time again that integrating playable ads from other games into your game won’t cannibalize your app. There is no effect on retention when users see other games they want to try and download. This reality is expressed in our numbers, in our data.”

Playable ads = more $$$

“When you integrate playable ads into your app, you’re going to make more money and it helps you make your game more sustainable.”


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