Your Ultimate Guide to Playable Ads

Mobile Playable Ad

Mobile advertising has come a long way from static banner ads, providing app marketers with a wide variety of ad formats to select from. We have already covered banner and video ads in our previous articles and in this article, we aim to give you a comprehensive guide to one of the most engaging ad formats - playable ads.  

What are playable ads?

The concept behind playable ads is much like test-driving a car before making an actual purchase. Generally used by mobile game app marketers, playable ads offer audiences a snippet of real gameplay and show what makes the game fun within fifteen seconds to one minute. Once the snapshot of the game ends, a call-to-action (CTA) is displayed so the user can install the game if they want to. It’s an ad that doesn’t feel like an ad.

Unlike static or animated ads that portray only a glimpse of the game or a short video ad that features a showreel of gameplay, playable ads offer the audiences a chance to experience the game themselves. By the time the user is finished playing with the ad, they already know what to expect from the app and will install it if they want to continue playing the app game.         

Why Invest in Playable Ads?

Playable ads are consistently prated as the most effective ad format among industry professionals. Typically, mobile users install a new game app and try it for a while, only to realize it’s not their cup of tea. This leads them to either never open the app again, or immediately uninstall it. With the “try before you buy” concept, playable ads solve this problem, resulting in improvements in different metrics:

  • Lower uninstall rate - As the users make experience-based decisions, playable ads guarantee high LTV users early in the user lifecycle and as a result, effectively reduce app uninstalls while generating high retention and engagement rates.
  • Higher ROI -  By filtering out users who wouldn’t enjoy the app, the advertisers minimize money potentially wasted on acquiring irrelevant, low LTV users. Even if the cost per install (CPI) for playable ads is more expensive than a typical video or banner ad, the ROI ends up being higher.

Basic structure of a playable ad:

Playable ads consist of three components: the tutorial, gameplay, and the call to action. 

  • The tutorial - This is the first part of the playable ad. It should be short and simple, only including the information necessary for the user to start playing. Playable ads need to be intuitive for the best results. The tutorial is also the part of the playable where you should clearly indicate that the user is playing on an ad and not the actual game.
  • Gameplay - The gameplay does not need to wholly reflect the game. It should be a simpler snippet,  focused on specific elements that introduce the experience, such as a tutorial or an early level. The time frame for the gameplay can vary from 15 to 50 seconds.
  • A call to action - The CTA is the final part of the playable ad which appears once the gameplay phase is done, and it incentivizes the user to convert by downloading the app from the app store. The CTA should be quick and easy to understand. 

Types of Playable Ads

There are two types of playable ads in terms of how they are created: 

  • Pure HTML Playables - These kinds of playable ads are created from scratch using HTML code and the creative assets of the app. They feature one or more elements of the app and make it easier to depict the app functions. HTML playables offer full control over the ad and are more convenient for producing various iterations while testing due to the code-based deployment.

  • Video ad playables - These playable ads combine footage of the promoted app with HTML UI elements to create an interactive ad. Interactive video is a smart choice for playable ads that are graphic-heavy, where the visual presentation is difficult to refine. Compared to pure HTML, playable ads using interactive video require larger files and result in high network strain.

Creative Tips to Enhance User Experience

Tip #1: Keep it simple

Playable ads should be easy to understand, especially in the tutorial phase. Don’t overwhelm the users with too many rules and give them time to enjoy the ad. 


Tip #2: Make the difficulty level accessible 

Find the right balance between making your playable ad challenging to engage the user, but not too easy so that they lose interest quickly.


Tip #3: Show your actual gameplay

Though you need to create a simplified snippet of your app, don’t forget to showcase the most attractive features of your app. Let the users feel the excitement, show the reward possibilities, make them want more of the game. 


Tip #4: Go for no audio

Our recent campaign showed that playable ads without audio perform better than the ones with audio across a number of metrics. The no audio ad registered 358.76% better click-through rate (CTR), a 46.10% better cost per install (CPI), and a 314.28% greater return on investment (ROI) which was 122.72% above the client’s goal.


Tip #5: Experiment with non-gaming apps

Although playable ads are perceived as an ad format for mobile gaming apps, non-gaming apps such as eCommerce or utility apps can also benefit. In our recent article, we highlighted several strategies that can be used for non-gaming apps, like “Droppable” mini-games for supermarket apps or a “Hidden Object” mini-game for a chocolate brand app. Follow this link for more details on how to benefit from this popular ad format for non-gaming apps.


Playable ads naturally bring in higher-quality users who already understand your app and have the intent to continue using it. If you haven’t leveraged playable ads yet, now is the right time to think about it.


Topics: Creative Insights