Kongregate Developers Blog

Playable Ads: The Most Fun Ad Ever!

If you’re looking to paid advertising to grow your user base, you probably already know that it’s getting harder and harder to engage users with standard ad formats. Look around and you’ll notice that new ad types keep popping up, and while during the last few years the market has continued to move toward video ads, this year we’ve seen the growth of playable and game-simulation ads to be the most innovative ad type yet.

Admittedly, we’ve tested a lot of different ads, and we’re here to proclaim that if you’ve not tried playable ads as part of your UA creative tool set, you may be missing out on some big growth opportunities. Playable ads create an entirely new ad experience built around the player -- an ad that doesn’t feel like an ad and is actually welcomed by users.

Here are a few advantages of playables that we like from our experience:

  • Natural User Experience: It’s a great way to allow users to experience the game before installing an app. They offer the meat of the game, showcasing the app’s main highlights and gameplay. These ads blur the boundary between app and ads, offering rich experiences where users can spend more valuable minutes interacting with ads.
  • Higher Quality Users: It brings higher-quality users into the app because users are pre-qualifying themselves as an “engaged” user if they download after interacting with the ad. Users have basically already tried before buying and know what to expect from the app.
    • Increase Conversion: It offers a higher conversion rate because users understand what they're downloading before getting to the landing page.
    • Increase Retention: It improves the retention rate because users are more likely to engage within the game because they already know the gameplay before downloading.
    • Higher LTV: They pre-qualify users before they reach the advertiser, as they offer deeper experiences; these users engage at an increased rate than those received from other ad channels like native and display.
  • Trackability: It provides solutions for keeping track of creatives, since there are tools that can measure engagement and drop-offs within the playable, something less applicable in video.
  • 100% Viewability: Users have to opt into the playable and interact with it in order for it to count as a view.
  • Increases Transparency: It strengthens the brand that is advertised by being more transparent in product advertising.

And to prove how effective this type of ad is, here are our performance results from a creative test we ran for a top title in our portfolio. As you can see, the playable outperformed all other ad types by a large degree when it comes to installs per 1000 impressions (IMP). The key factor is the much higher conversion than average (up to 40% percent) that pushes up eCPMs to very competitive levels and helps win more volume in ad networks. On average, we’ve seen playable ads perform up to 3x more effectively than other formats, including interstitials, native, and video.

Now are you interested in getting your playable game on? Here are some tips to make your playable ad more effective.

  • Keep it simple: Show users the best features of the game, but try not to complicate game mechanics with a playable. A complicated playable will turn users away.
  • Mirror game experience: Try your best to use the real game engine and retain game fidelity or else you may bait and switch users.
  • Incorporate different lengths: Try 15 seconds or 30 seconds, but refrain from ads longer than 60 seconds.
  • Clear call-to-action: Similar to the first-time game experience, make sure the playable has a tutorial feel with clear messaging so users don’t get confused.
  • Test vertical & landscape formats: Your game may be in one format, but ads will often be in both. Be sure to make both versions to maximize inventory availability.
  • Reduce ad file size for easy download: Playables take a lot a of development work and could become very hard to load. Networks will want you to keep it to a manageable size.
  • Quality check user experience: Remember to QA your playable. It is extremely important to make sure that all elements generated in the playable are formatted correctly. Sometimes a playable can break, and you leave users trapped and confused.

Final thoughts: playable ads have been very effective for advertising our mobile apps, and we feel that this is just the beginning. Looking ahead, we’re seeing playables incorporated into large networks from Facebook and Google to exchanges, and becoming an advertising standard just like videos and display. We expect playables to become more sophisticated and get paired with other ad units, such as video, to create a more contextual experience of “seeing” and “playing” together. If you haven’t tried playables, now is a good time to explore and invest in this ad type.