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Playable Ads: A practical Guide

Playable Ads: A practical Guide

Smartphones have become a big part of our lives, and according to one UCL study, many people feel the same about their mobile devices and homes. In fact, an average person spends around five to six hours a day on their phone, not counting work-related smartphone use.

Aware of this, marketers began to put greater focus on mobile advertising, making playable ads one of the most prominent ad forms among advertisers looking to boost performance and brand awareness.  

We explain what in-app playable ads are, the benefits of in-app advertising, and how you can effortlessly make them.



What are Playable ads?

Playable ads are an effective type of in-app ads. There are two cases for them. Firstly, playable ads as interactive ads that enable users to test an app before downloading it. The fact that in-app playable ads allow consumers to test-drive a game before installing it makes them more attractive (and more effective) compared to other ad formats.

Secondly, they can be a fun engaging way of promoting a brand who wishes to provide an immersive experience. For example LIDL has had great success with embedding mini-games into their apps and as part of their advertising campaigns.

In-app ads are usually short (they last anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds) and highly engaging due to their interactive components.

We usually associate playable ads with mobile game marketing and in-app ads since it’s easier for users to try out games, get hooked and install them.

Examples of in-app playable and interactive ads used for mobile game marketing.


However, other industries also use in-app ads for various purposes. This is how Lendi, an Australian fintech company, used this type of ad for a brand awareness campaign. The result? Lendi managed to increase the number of its incremental leads by 30% and decrease the cost per lead by 65%.

Most commonly, in-app playable ads are created in HTML5 which allows them to load quickly, engage users instantly and lead them to take an action.

How much revenue do in-app playable ads generate?

For app downloads in particular, statistics in the US show us that playable ads generate anywhere from $11 to $25 for every 1,000 ad impressions served to users. However, we should mention that this depends on the industry, the efficiency of user targeting, as well as the type of playable ad.

The elements of playable ads

We can usually break down playable ads into three main components:

  • Tutorial component. The tutorial component shows users how they can interact with the ad. Usually, the tutorial component is brief and allows users to interact with the ad immediately.
  • Interactive experience. The interactive experience has the task to engage users and lead them to take action. For instance, if users are watching a playable ad for a game, the interactive experience component will show them a snippet of real gameplay.
  • The end screen. The end screen usually contains a CTA button, which drives users to make an action. The message of the CTA button can vary and it can range from calling customers to downloading the app, taking coupons, learning more, signing up for an email list, and so on. 

Storyboard of a mobile playable ad showing the transition of the animation and actions required to complete the mini-game.

Types of playable ads

We can split  them according to their presentation and design. This is how we have: 

  • Interactive videos 

Interactive videos are a type of in-app ads. They are highly engaging, and over 50% of game developers consider them as the most lucrative type of ad.

Interactive videos, or playable video ads, allow users to choose to view or skip them, and they appear at different points through user interaction with an app.

The most popular use for interactive videos is a reward video ad that allows users to play the ad in exchange for in-app rewards, and they usually appear in the critical moments of the game.

  • Passive and urgent

In the majority of cases, in-app playable ads are closely tied to the concept of limited time. For instance, some ads urge users to make a fast choice and interact with an ad to avert disaster. On the other hand, passive ads will run on their own. Typically, they will still have a hook, but will still provide some entertainment even if the user does not interact with the application.

  • Cached and live ads

Generally speaking, in-app ads aren’t preinstalled on the apps they play on. If it was the case, we’d see the same ads over and over again on individual apps. Instead, they’re downloaded from the internet and it’s usually mandatory to have a live internet connection to engage the user and track their interactions with the ad. However, certain campaigns download before they’re activated and can be launched even when the user is offline. These types of ads we call cashed ads. 

Benefits of in-app playable ads

This type of ads comes with a wide array of benefits, especially for businesses within the gaming industry. To provide you with a better insight into what you can get from this ad format, we listed some of the benefits below.

They are engaging and fun.

The biggest benefit of these ads hides in the fact they’re highly engaging and fun. They employ multiple senses through visuals, sound effects, and the ability to interact with them.

They are not intrusive and don’t try to sell immediately. Instead, they offer an immersive, engaging, and fun experience to potential customers.

They rely on a psychological aspect, as they present a challenge and a reward, making players more motivated to seek the satisfaction of the reward.

Lastly, as the audience engages with the ad through gamified elements, they’re more likely to respond to CTA compared to a traditional banner.

They help with data collection.

According to statistics, playable ads bring up to seven times higher conversion rates compared to video ads. Since they illustrate the game experience, users can often tell right away whether they’ll enjoy the game. Those who stay until the end usually love the game and are more ready to leave data such as email addresses or phone numbers which makes the data collection process much easier.

They are better for customer acquisition.

Since they run on the “try it before you buy it” model, in-app mobile ads are much more attractive to consumers. Instead of selling immediately, they engage and inform users about the product, allowing them to make a fully informed decision.

Furthermore, in-app playable ads don’t look like ads which makes them more effective. Lastly, they are an opt-in ad format. Unlike non-skippable ads, users can choose to interact with them. This is another reason why playable tends to convert more users than other formats.

Because of this, running this type of ads is more profitable than running other ad forms. In fact, data shows that, for instance, Bagelcode experienced a 3.2X improvement in return on ad spend on Android and a 1.4X improvement in return on ad spend on iOS using this ad format while Rovio saw a 40% lower cost per paying user and a 70% of the increase in return on ad spend.

They offer improved retention rates.

Have you ever bought something only to discover you made a poor purchasing decision? This rarely happens with users who buy products through in-app ads, as watching and interacting with them already sets their expectations.

For the gaming industry, this means that potential players are already familiar with the basic game mechanics, which allows them to start playing right away which results in higher user retention and high player LTV (lifetime value).

They provide better access to ad analytics.

Another benefit of playable ads hides the ability to access in-ad data. More specifically, ad owners can track every interaction with the ad, which allows them to track its performance and optimize ad creatives.

Examples of interactive playable ads used by big brands in the entertainment industry for kids.

Tips for producing playable ads for mobile games

For those ready to test how in-app playable ads can help them improve their sales, we prepared a few tips to get them starting. That said, while making playables make sure to remember that:

Less is more

You don’t have to recreate the whole game to make an ad. Instead, you can go by the “less is more” principle and focus on demonstrating the early game features and mechanics that will show how your game works, just enough to make potential customers interested enough to download it.

Choose carefully what you show.

While the gameplay in the playable ad needs to be simple, you still need something to impress people and get them interested in the game. To do this, make sure to think twice about how you can represent your game in the best possible light. Think about which game features are the most interesting, which storylines can make users more attracted to your game, and so on.

Think about your target audience.

If you want to make a compelling ad, you need to think about why people want to play your game. Think about player motivations and craft an ad based on these assumptions.

Let’s say you have a hidden objects game with puzzle game meta-layers with design and makeover meta-layers.

You could create a playable ad that shows the core gameplay (find hidden objects) and attract people who’re motivated by cognitive challenges. However, you could also make a playable that would show how users can do a makeover on a home. That’s the second group of players that could be interested in your game.

Make a good CTA

A good call to action button is an integral part of every ad. CTA is usually by the end of a Playable Ad and shows once users have interacted with it. However, we do recommend putting a CTA throughout the whole ad and allowing users to choose to install the game at any point.

Induce desire

While playable should be simple they should also induce desire in potential players to download the game. That said, they should hint at an interesting experience that is one click away. For instance, you can show a storyline with a cliffhanger that will make people want to know what happens next.

Test and change

Stellar ads are made through a long process of trial and error. As we mentioned before, you can always check in-ad data and check the user behavior. The best thing is that each ad element within the playable ad is trackable and you can always track and analyze when users perform actions such as tapping, clicking, or swiping. You can also make several ads and track which one performs the best and push that one over the others.

Reward your audience

It’s known that in-game rewards and achievements make us feel better. You can leverage this fact and add a reward message or animation to the user’s success in the game to make it more appealing.

Make the most out of the words

You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the written word. That said, we recommend you use expressive words throughout the playable that will make a sense of urgency and make people more likely to install the ad.

Where to use playable ads?

If you’re considering making a playable to promote your game, you’ll be glad to hear you have several options for deploying it. Different platforms that support in-app mobile ads can bring entirely different audiences and improve user acquisition efforts. These platforms include:

Web playables or playable Google ads

While mobile is definitely a preferred ecosystem for playables, websites are also futile grounds for serving them. The best thing about playable Google ads is the fact you can find plenty of websites that are popular within your target audience and promote the app there.

Facebook and Instagram

Playable Facebook ads, but as well playables for Instagram are extremely popular among marketers, and with a good reason. First and foremost, these networks have several billions of active users which means that the ads served through them will reach more (relevant) people. Secondly, their networks are mainly used for leisure and entertainment and their users are more prone to playing games.


Snapchat offers the possibility of making playable AR ads in its Ads Manager. Marketers can choose among hundreds of 3D objects, animations, and effects to build their ads. However, it’s important to mention that these AR ads come with specific guidlines and restrictions marketers should be aware of.

Google and Apple Play Store

Those who want to try playable ads should definitely serve them through Apple App and Google Play Store. However, in terms of users, serving playables through iOS is different compared to Android. The good thing is the App Store makes double in revenue compared to Play Store’s, making iOS users more prone to making a purchase.

Through its platform, Google also offers the possibility of building playable units within the display ads. Marketers can use Google Web Designer to build HTML5 playable ads and create interactive content using drawing tools, text, and 3D objects.

TikTok playables

TikTok is a relatively new social network, yet it’s not far behind Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat when it comes to advertising possibilities. This is how TikTok, as well, beside other exciting ad features, offers a possibility of delivering playables to its users which benefits gaming companies who can now reach a younger population present on this network.

Playable Ads Examples

Playables are, by far, one of the best ways brands can engage users. Firstly, because they’re mainly made for mobile, a device we spent the most time on, secondly because they’re engaging, short, and personalized, but as well because they don’t sell immediately but let consumers get immersed in the experience.

Here, we present you with a few successful examples of playables, to help you get better insights into how you should make one.

Example #1: Google Playable Ad by AGCS Works

AGCS' Google playable ad, designed and built to run on Facebook.

AGCS coded the Google Play Points playable ad for Facebook, and it’s one example of successful Facebook playable ads. To be more specific, Google Play Points represent a system Google implemented into the PlayStore as a way for developers to increase interaction and awareness with their apps, while giving users more ways to benefit from using them. Among other things, users get in-app purchases without having to spend money directly.

Example #2: The Gift Game by AGCS Work

AGCS' interactive and in-app ad built for Universal Picture.(Source: AGCS)

Probably one of the best examples of a successful playable ad campaign is the campaign AGCS Works did for The Gift Game. The campaign achieved impressive results and game makers were rewarded with a 90% click-through rate and increased DVD Boxset sales.

To explain it better, Universal Home Entertainment Benelux challenged us to promote a range of DVD box sets during Christmas, as an ideal gift for friends and family.

To make the campaign as engaging as possible, we created an interactive HTML5 game for them, which gave gift suggestions based on the steps users took in the game.

Example #3: Zero waste chef

AGCS' Zero Waste Chef playable ad designed and built for Food Circle.(source AGCS)

If you’re eco-conscious, you’ll love the Food Circle’s card game Zero Waste Chef. The creators of this game have the goal to teach people how to be less wasteful of food. In the game, each player represents a food organization that needs to create the meals out of the ingredients they receive. Furthermore, they can freeze, dehydrate or pickle some of the ingredients they got but don’t need and use them later in the game.

The winner is the player with the most points, i.e. the one who used the ingredients the best.

We made a playable for this game in a way that we gave users 5 ingredient cards and a choice between one of 6 recipes. Their task is to use as many ingredients as they can.

Make a playable ad for your game!

Interested in trying playables but don’t know how to make them?

The AGSC Works team is here to help you!

Regardless of your marketing strategy, we can guarantee we can offer you engaging, high-quality HTML5 banner ads that will help you stand out.

Our team of dedicated professionals, prides itself on producing fast, agile, precise, and quality solutions while reducing production time and costs at the same time.

Want to learn more? Book a call and find out how we can help you!

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