Tom Simpson
Jan 18, 2019

The case for playable ads

Why ad gamification is on the rise and how the opt-in format solves the engagement challenge.

The case for playable ads

Mobile marketing and monetisation across Asia has its unique challenges, but there is one type of ad unit that we are starting to see emerge as a highly effective way of attracting and engaging users: the playable ad.

Playable ads are ads that enable users to interact with and experience an app before it is downloaded—similar to test driving a car. This works great for games and D2C. But it’s not just for trying out new apps. Brand advertisers can use playables to introduce an element of fun or competition, such as points, rewards, scoreboards, levels or rules in order to engage users in their branded experience.

Gamification has long been proven to deepen engagement and satisfaction with ads. It makes an ad participatory and draws in the user (pull tactic) versus simply illustrating or explaining (push). That’s why playables ads are here to stay. They attract and engage mobile users not just because they are new and different, but because they are truly opt-in. Rather than interrupt the content experience, they give the user the option of seamlessly moving into a different one—and when they’re done, moving right back, almost like an interlude.

Poised for growth, beyond just the app advertisers

Playables are currently being used by 64% of the world's top app install marketers, and budgets assigned to them are growing. Just last year, nearly half of mobile app marketers said playable ads are what they're "most excited" about, much more than full-screen or social video, with 71% noting that they find playable ads to be "effective at engaging with audiences."

While app install marketers were the first to fully harness the power of playables, creating mini-games that drive downloads of their game, we’ve seen other verticals quickly catch on. Entertainment companies have started to “gamify” their movie trailers: For Peter Rabbit, Sony’s campaign allowed players to chop veggies in an experience most gamers would find very familiar.

The experience was so engaging that not only did a significant portion of CTA clicks lead to local ticket purchases, but more than half of engaged unique users chose to play the game more than once. This multiplies the awareness impact and is a clear indicator of developing brand loyalty.

Interactive video with a competitive edge

Nestlé also chose to incorporate Playables into its #IyaBoleh (Yes, it is ok!) campaign for Dancow, a powdered milk product for kids that is popular in Indonesia. Aimed at tech-savvy, millennial mothers, it consisted of a video that followed a young girl who would ask her mother for permission to play with a kitten, climb a rope ladder, and participate in finger painting. Each story incorporated elements that encouraged users to interact with what was presented on the screen.

Users had to touch, tap, tilt, and swipe the screen to free it of dust, germs and paint. After each engagement, the mother would say “Iya Boleh,” which means “Yes, it is OK!” because she was confident that her child was protected with the right nutrition (e.g., Dancow). Due to its interactive and competitive nature, the campaign achieved a 74% engagement rate, twice the industry benchmark.

Leveraging "the big game"

Another effective tactic is to bring popular, well-known games from real life to the mobile screen—especially timed around major sporting events like the World Cup or Olympics. A number of brands in the automotive or food and beverage space, for example, have used expandable mobile web banners where users can try to score a goal to win.

These interactive gaming elements draw users in, making them more likely to take additional actions like viewing bonus video content, downloading a coupon or purchasing a movie ticket. These types of campaigns have worked on the mobile web but incorporating playable technology and in-app ads can take the experience to another level.

APAC publishers and advertisers, take note: The playable ad is here to stay—and that’s a good thing.

Tom Simpson is APAC VP for brand and exchange at AdColony.


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