Get in the Game: Six Tips for Designing Compelling Playable Adverts

Playable adverts are fast becoming the hottest way for companies to reach consumers on the go. But what are the top tips for running amazing playable ad campaigns? Here is our guide to mastering playable advertising for your mobile game or app.

Jeff Sue, General Manager of the Americas for Mintegral2018-09-06

Playable adverts are fast becoming the hottest way for companies to reach consumers on the go.

The highly interactive demo style adverts have proven their worth already, with companies like Miniclip reporting that their click through rate increased three fold and their cost per install reduced by 25% when they ran playable adverts.

But what are the top tips for running amazing playable ad campaigns? Here is our guide to mastering playable advertising for your mobile game or app.


1) Understand where playable units sit in the ad landscape

Before you embark on a playable advertising campaign, it’s important to think about where they sit in the mobile advertising landscape to get the most from them.

Playable adverts are one of the tougher ad units to get right. In comparison to low effort units like banners or interstitials, it will take time for your company to create a compelling playable ad unit that really captures the eye.

However, the flip side of that is that playable advertising units are far more engaging than just about anything around. By letting players experiment with a streamlined version of your game, playable ads are much more successful at filtering out uninterested users and securing installs from those who want to play further.

As a result, playable ad campaigns are a perfect way to go after the users you most want to impress. If your marketing analytics identify a particularly valuable segment of players, playable adverts will be your best way to reach them – making that investment of initial effort worth it in the long run.


2) Understand your game’s core mechanic

If a playable advert is a short lived opportunity to engage a certain group of players, then you want to make sure that what they experience is the truest representation of your game.

That means it is important to determine which of your game mechanics is the one that potential players will most identify with.

Angry Birds Evolution: is it more about battling or evolving? Tough choice for a playable ad designer

In some cases, it might be simple. Puzzle games or narrative choice games, for example, are hooked around one compelling way of playing. But for an MMO or an RPG, you may be faced with a choice between multiple mechanics such as levelling up a character or engaging in a battle.

So take time to talk to the designers of the game you’re advertising for to find out what they think the core hook will be for players. Chances are they’ll be closely aligned with potential player interest and will help you create that compelling demo easily.


3) Get to the point

Once you’ve identified the key mechanic, it’s time to build the creative. And if there was one specific tip that we’d reach for, we’d suggest a simple one: keep your advert punchy.

The biggest reason why you’ll need to go this way runs counter to the problems of most advertising formats. Whereas video adverts need to be kept short to stop viewers getting bored, playable adverts need to curtail their length to make sure potential players leave it wanting more.

Therefore, you’ll want to give players an incredibly short experience to keep them on side. This might involve shifting a couple of gems around, picking a single card in a CCG to see the effect or choosing a handful of options from a dialogue tree depending on the game.

But crucially, whichever mechanic and game you’re showcasing, it needs to do any of those quickly to hit home hard.


4) Don’t force your players to “git gud”

There are plenty of games and gamers out there who want to play games that force them to “git gud.” But unless you’re promoting a playable advert for Dark Souls, it’s important that your demo lets the player’s rapid action feel good.

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If a player is able to fail your advert, there is a much stronger chance that they’re going to have a dissatisfying experience and will not play it further. But if your advert either highlights key mechanics or allows them to feel powerful (e.g. drop in a really powerful card into a Clash Royale game), it’ll create a more compelling reason to play.

So do avoid the temptation to make your advert too hardcore for potential players. After all, you do want people finishing the advert so they can download your game…


5) Fix the funnel

Playable advertising campaigns are a great way to engage potential players. But if your great playable campaign is followed by a rubbish app store page or a crummy initial in game experience, chances are its effects will go to waste.

So it’s really important to spend time tweaking – or fixing – your funnel to make sure that it keeps as many players engaged as possible.

Do make sure that your app store page is up to date, has well tested assets and does all it can to support the efforts of the playable adverts. This will prevent players feeling underwhelmed after playing the game, preventing them from churning on the install page.

And do also pay special attention to your game on boarding experience before the first playable adverts drop. The experience of those early minutes of your game will need to closely match the experience of the advert, or otherwise the player could easily churn away,


6) Don’t think playable ads are just for games

Finally, don’t just think that a playable advertising campaign is just for apps. The key mechanic of a playable advert is interactivity, not gameplay.

Apps like Hotel Tonight could gamify the booking experience for a playable ad

As a result, just about any type of app could benefit from using the format. For example, a hotel app may use the playable advert to show the top hotels from a city the user searches for. A delivery app may let a user put in their postcode and see nearby takeaways that they could use. Or a dating app could let players quickly swipe through a few profiles before encouraging the install.

In short, playable ad units are not the preserve of game developers only. Provided you have a playful way of thinking and can distil your app experience into a single short action, you can easily repurpose a playable advert for all kinds of app campaigns.

Jeff Sue is the General Manager of the Americas for Mintegral, bringing 12+ years of experience in the ad-tech industry. Jeff oversees the user acquisition and ad monetizations parts of the business for the Americas, consulting developers on the opportunities in China and broader APAC. Before joining Mintegral, Jeff worked as a business development executive for NativeX, HyprMX, and Fyber.
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