5 Tips for Creating and Optimizing Playable Ads

Modern mobile devices allow marketers to create fully interactive ad campaigns, with users able to test the app before installing it.

Known as playable ads, the format is similar to a mobile game demo:

In this article, we will discuss the key points to consider when creating playable ad creatives.

Benefits of playable ads

Demo before installing

A playable ad is a mini game that offers players the option of trying out the main game mechanics before installing the app.

Playable ads rely on the age-old sales method of allowing customers to try before they buy. If they like the demo, as in the case of playable ads, customers are more likely to buy the product or install the game.

Engagement and retention

Our research shows that about 60% of users stop accessing mobile games a day after installing them, and about 90% a week following the install.

Most of the time, this is because the game did not live up to the user's expectations. Conversely, users who have tried the gameplay in the ad know what they are getting when installing the app. This engaged audience tends to open the app more often and stay in it longer, which increases LTV.

Data access to optimize ads

Traditional ad formats include a single static image or video that only informs the advertiser if the user has installed the app after seeing the ad. If the ad campaign performs poorly, the creatives are updated based on guesswork or comparison with competitors.

Playable ads include many elements, including duration of the tutorial, a Start Game button, difficulty of the game, and an Install button. All of these can be customized and monitored to optimize your ads. If the ad campaign fails to produce the desired results, the advertiser can always see at which point the game became too boring or too difficult for users, prompting them to skip the mini game.

Tips for creating and optimizing playable ads

Prepare the files.

Playable ads are HTML5 mini games played when the ad is viewed. Due to time and format limitations, advertising platforms place certain restrictions on playable ads. Here are, for example, playable ad requirements on Facebook.

The average size of your mini game may not exceed 2–5 MB. This requires optimizing all elements, images and models. Another good way to reduce the size of a mini game is to avoid background music in favor of quality sound effects.

This playable ad for Candy Crush Saga has no background music. It uses a scaled-down gameplay, simple sound and visual effects.

Simplify the game to basic mechanics.

Your game may have some unique features – a special atmosphere, feel-good dialog, or an evolution of character abilities after reaching level 10.

НMost likely, you will want to highlight all of them in your ad, but imagine if users have never experienced similar game mechanics? It is simply impossible to fit everything into an ad running for 30–60 seconds, not to mention the 5–15 seconds before the Skip button appears.

For playable ads, it is better to stick to the basic game mechanics. For example, offer small puzzles for puzzle games, two or three simple actions for match-three games, and a simplified version of building and expanding a base in strategy games.

If users enjoy the basic mechanics of your game, they are more likely to install it. And the additional features will be an extra bonus helping users to stay engaged for a long time.

Take the War Machines, for example. This shooter has a whole range of game mechanics, but in its playable ad you can make only one shot on target.

Make sure your tutorial is quick and simple.

It is important to strike the right balance between the tutorial’s simplicity and duration.

Keep it simple – always work on the assumption that users are not familiar with the game mechanics. They need instructions on what to do, where to press, and how to win.

Make it quick – going through the tutorial may be boring for users already familiar with similar mechanics, so it should not take more than two or three actions to complete. Also, don't forget about the limited display time of the ad and the need to move on to the game as soon as possible.

Note also that playable ads are a fairly new format, and not all users may be aware of their interactive features. The best way to make the tutorial quick and simple is to illustrate the actions with a cursor or finger pointing where to click to start playing.

Snake.io uses only two buttons in its mini game – the movement button, which starts the game, and the acceleration button, which is highlighted towards the end of the game.

Pick the right time for your call to action.

A mini game, as with any app promotion, should end with a clear call to action – install the app.

However, even if the user enjoyed the gameplay, your CTA overlay should still feature two buttons – install the game and return to the current app. Even if they liked your mini game, users should have a choice, so that the ad is not perceived as too annoying or aggressive.

Rely on metrics to determine the best time for the call to action – see when most users close the ad, and display the CTA at that moment or a little earlier.

For example, in this Royal Match playable ad, the CTA appears after users complete a mini game challenge.

Offer a reward following the install.

Users may be more likely to install an app if you reward them for their gameplay. For example, if users earned a loot box for completing a level in a mini game, you can promise that opening it will be the first post-install action.

Rewards that users can redeem after completing the mini game is another element that can be optimized using A/B testing to increase conversions.

In Crazy Engineer 3D, users unlock a new vehicle after completing the mini game. To get it, they need to install the app.

Optimize your playable ads with MyTracker.

In MyTracker, you can customize metrics to measure your ad campaign performance and optimize your current playable ads. All metrics data will be available in our user-friendly interface.

Tags: LTV gaming