Playable Ads

It is apparent that nobody likes to "read" advertisements (except those from Google Ads). Since Text Ads became outdated, Marketers moved to image/video ads. But there also, people got fed up with intrusive, irrelevant, and annoying ads.

To keep them engaged, Marketers nowadays started using ads that are playable. Unlike the regular static banner/video ads, this doesn’t feel like an ad. It offers seamless ad viewing user-experience and gets undivided attention from its audience.

So, what are Playable Ads?

IAB states that...

Simply put, Playable Ads or simply "Playables" are the type of ad which is free and interactive snippets of a brand or product presented in the format of a game. This ad unit is made to use an audience's sensory connections like sight, sound, motion, and touch. They are not forced upon people, instead it is entirely opt-in. A “try before you buy” type ad unit. Consumers can find Playables primarily within leading social platforms, mobile gaming apps, and entertainment/media apps or sites.

Since it is a short video preview of a Brand/Product, a user gets actively engaged with it. And when they tap on the in-app video, they will be taken to a full-screen demo to interact with the app’s main features before downloading it - exactly like doing Test Drive of a car before purchasing it!

Finally, when the game ends, a call to action button or link is displayed or can also be shown throughout the demo. If the person likes it, they can take steps like, making a purchase, downloading coupons, signing up for a loyalty program, etc. or share it via various social platforms.

For example, if a playable ad of a brand is placed in a mobile game of basketball. Users will be prompted to play the game, if agreed they need to dung 10 times in a row to get free coupons for that brand. Lastly, a call-to-action appears to either shop now, keep playing or share on social.

Benefits over others

Playables are built mainly in HTML5 (leveraging IAB's MRAID 3.0). They load timely and quickly, are light in nature, and flexible enough to work in many different mobile placements or environments like Desktops, in-apps, or mobile web.

Because there are more moving frames in a playable ad, it furnishes a large amount of data. Using it, advertisers are able to see where the user is tapping the most, how long they are engaged in the game, or if they are choosing one object over the other.

Advertisers can ultimately find out the segments to modify/optimize for the betterment of performance. Eventually, this information helps advertisers save money because this kind of measurement weeds out those users who are not interested.

With Playable Ads, brands can increase the CTR up to 2-3 times, boosting sales and ROAS.

Pepsi’s “Summer Quest” playable featured five levels in a jumper-style game. It had a persistent call-to-action to enter Pepsi’s Summer Sweepstakes. The campaign had a 35% completion rate and 94% click-through rate from the end card to enter the sweepstakes.

Source PDF

Key segments of Playable Ads

Playables primarily consists of three elements:

1. Tutorial Prompt

Made to prompt the user on how to interact with the ad, using Instructional and visual cues.

This provides metrics like -

Click-to-Open / Click-to-Play / Swipe-Up-to-Play Rate / Click-to-Start or Engage

2. The Game

This is the interactive experience for a user, appears in one of two placements:

> Interstitials – A full-screen placement, where primary ads come up before, in between, or after the primary content.

> Rewarded - This placement is adding "value in exchange" to the user for providing their time and attention (rewards like, get free coins, get goodies, lives, etc.).

This provides metrics like -

Impressions, Clicks, Watch Time, Viewability, Engagement Rate, Time Spent, etc.

Some custom metrics that are primarily advertiser-specific are, the numbers of times brand items collected, total levels played, power-ups achieved at which level, etc. Apart from that, all standard video metrics are also collected.

3. End Card -- This is the ultimate one, having call-to-action items like, shop now, download coupons, learn more, sign up for newsletters, watch more videos, etc.

This provides metrics like -

CTR, CTA Rate, Replay Rate, Share Rate and more

In a recent global campaign, New Balance leveraged a playable ad to raise awareness among its target audience, 13- to 24-year-olds, about New Balance’s new line of Fresh Foam sneakers. New Balance partnered with Treena, Inc. to create a playable called “Fresh Foam Cloud Jumper,” where consumers bounced “Newbie the Bunny” from cloud to cloud. The playable’s end card had the call-to-action to shop the sneaker or play again. The playable was distributed programmatically in-app and on leading social platforms.

You can play the demo here

The aforementioned elements and their metrics help advertisers gauge what part drives the most action. Advertisers can -

  • Track, as Playables provide premium 1st-Party data that can be used to determine the optimal execution.
  • Optimize, like editing game length, level of difficulty, visual effects, to provide the best user experience and thus influence them to do any action.


From a Brand's perspective, we can say that Playable Ad is one of the safest ad units available today because -

  • Playable Ads always run full screen (well, almost) and are 100% viewable.
  • They are shown into placements available on nearly all social platforms and apps. Hence brands are aware of the location where the ad might appear.
  • They are interactive and are nonlinear, i.e., not uniform across executions. Due to the individual play sessions, bots cannot infiltrate and corrupt it.
  • Robust tracking identifies suspicious patterns addresses them accurately.
  • In the Programmatic World, brand safety tools reduce bids or don't bid at all if there is any suspicious placements/activity.
  • MRAID 3.0 is a crucial factor.
  • Open Measurement Software Development Kit, or OM SDK, allows for consistency and streamlines measurement and viewability measurements.

These and many other factors help a marketer in achieving their KPI without bad user-experience, ads are served to real human beings, and most importantly, they are having fun!

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