Playable ads – interactive advertising that demo a product – saw a surge of popularity in 2018, thanks in no small part to Facebook introducing the format as one of its advertising options.
These ads offer advertisers the opportunity to showcase their product's biggest advantages and potential customers to enjoy a fun 'test drive' before they buy.
The biggest benefit of using playable ads is that they enable a user to experience that moment of discovery – when they find out they really do want that app – before they've committed to downloading it.
This leads to an increase in both conversion rates and retention rates compared to static images or video ads because these formats don't allow the customer to experience the app in the same way until after they've made a download decision.
10 Dos and Don'ts For Playable Ads
Playable ads are growing in popularity because they work, but there's also a lot more that can go wrong.
We've collected ten best practice tips that will help you create high-quality playable ads that help you boost your return on ad spend (ROAS):
DO Make It Easy
You only have a few seconds to grab and hold the attention of your prospect; there's no time for a steep learning curve. You must provide them with very clear instructions (even if you think it is obvious) and should include visual clues on the screen to help them – a pointer hand can be effective.
DON'T Try To Cram Your Entire App Into The Ad
Your playable ad is a 30-second elevator pitch for your app, not a fully-featured demo. Focus on promoting the strongest selling point of your app and don't worry if you can't communicate everything. You may need to simplify your app, or even create a somewhat abstract version of it (especially if your app is not a game) to get your point across.
DO Make Your CTA Clear
Make your call to action clear, concise, and attractive. If possible, have it displayed at every stage of your playable ad; it does not matter how engaged your audience is if they miss the button that will take them through to the app store.
DON'T Assume Playable Ads Are Just For Games
Mobile games are the most obvious target for playable ads, but non-gaming apps can benefit from them too. The idea is to gamify a certain aspect of the app and use it to communicate your biggest features in a fun way.
Playable ads don't even have to be for apps: Burger King's Angriest Whopper playable ad challenged users to catch falling jalapenos with their burger; those who won received an exclusive discount. The game was playable more than 300,000 times in its first two weeks and achieved a 40.25% CTR. If a playable ad can help sell burgers, it can probably help sell your app.
DO Allow The Player To Win
Most people like to win, so it's no surprise that playable ads tend to perform well when there's a good chance that the user is going to succeed. If in doubt, test multiple difficulty levels and compare results.
DON'T Make The Ad Too Large
Playable ads must be small and lightweight otherwise they will take too long to load. Ads with a file size above 2MB are likely to see loading times reduce engagement levels. Ideally, you should aim for between 500k and 1MB.
DO Give The User Time To Complete The Game
Your objective is to ensure the user completes the game and progresses to the end screen and main CTA before they get bored and move on. Generally, this should be possible in 45 seconds or less. If your ad is longer, users might lose interest – consider simplifying it further or removing one or two steps.
DON'T Ignore Your Wider Brand Strategy
Playable ads are a fun way to market your product, but don't lose sight of your brand strategy. Your playable ads should be just one component of a multifaceted ad strategy, and you should expect potential customers to have seen your other ads already.
Because of this, your playable ad must be instantly recognizable as part of your brand, and the message it gives should be in line with other ads you run.
DO Optimize Your App Store Page
A successful playable ad will direct a large volume of traffic to your store page. At this stage, they still have not committed to downloading or making a purchase, so the images and copy on this page must reinforce the message they received from your playable ad.
DON'T Forget to Test
No ad is perfect – you should not only track engagement with your ad, but you may also want to split test different creatives against each other. Because playable ads are more complex than other ads, you should be tracking not just CTR but also engagement over time and completion rate.
If customers are abandoning your ad part-way through you may want to test the current creative against a shorter or simpler version, and in some cases, a more complex version may perform better. Continuous A/B testing is the only way to ensure continuous improvement.