Re-Discovering Ad Potential Through Playable Ads
FEB 05 2023

Do you need to find new, effective ways to deliver your message to your target audience at scale? We present playable ads.

As the name suggests, playable ads are ads you can play. Developers exhibit the highlights of the game and allow enough playing time just to draw users in. 

The ad can hit the targeted users when they surf the net or while playing games on their cellphones, asking them to play online or download and install an app and continue to play more. This way the players can make a better-informed decision about their options for going forward.

According to the data from Liftoff/Vungle, playable ads had achieved 12.6 billion hits, 200 million installments, and 805 billion expressions in a year-period from January 2021 to January 2022. For mobile marketing, playable ads are one of the most effective ones. Playable ads are also the most cost-efficient form of advertising, with an average Cost Per Install (CPI) of $1.01, which is the lowest CPIs among all advertising platforms.

Playable ads are a key component of online advertising, but it can be difficult to know where to start. There is a lot to learn about playable ads, from defining the term to sharing best practices. The purpose of this guide is to take you through everything you need to know about playable ads and their best practices.

Understanding Playable Ads Using The Puppy Dog Analogy 

If you search through older sales books, there is a technique called “puppy dog close.” You may have heard it before, but to refresh your memory, it starts with a salesperson who wants to sell a puppy dog. 

As a sales strategy, he lets the family take the dog home for a week, and if they don’t like the dog, no problem, they can return it anytime. The point is that after the puppy gets home, it starts to make its path to everyone's heart. 

All of a sudden, the father, who was against bringing the dog home, starts to play with it. The lovely puppy brings a little more joy and laughter to the family and the kids, and now everyone likes the puppy. 

At the end of the one-week test period, it is already difficult if not impossible for the family to say goodbye to their little puppy, especially since the kids have chosen a name for it and they have a good feeling about the little dog. So as you expect, most of the time, the puppy does not get returned, and the sales guy has successfully sold another puppy to a family, even though they were against it in the first place.

You can substitute the puppy with anything that functions the same way: a new large-screen TV, a brand new car, or in the digital world, a free trial of an application or a game. That is somehow the psychology behind playable ads, too. You let the users play a game for a certain period of time, and when you engage them and attract their attention, they are ready to purchase it to continue the excitement to enjoy more.

Do they work? Yes, just as ‘poppy dog close’ works.

Different Types of Platforms & Technologies Available for Playable Ads

You may have seen playable ads before. They are full-screen ads that can be considered interactive interstitial ads frequently seen on social media platforms or inside other apps. But from a technical perspective, there are HTML ads or interactive videos.

HTML Playable Ads

These ads recreate parts of the gameplay using HTML code and the game assets. They offer the most accurate presentation of the game in a limited time.

Interactive Videos

It is also possible to make video footage of a game interactive by using HTML to make playable ads. Interactive videos need less coding and are easier and cheaper to produce. However, since they do not replicate the exact game experience, they are not as effective as HTML versions.

Essential Elements Of Playable Ads

You don’t have much time to explain your game or app in a playable ad. Playable ads are 15 to 30 seconds, so in a minimum time, you have to make the maximum impact. 

After several years since the introduction of playable ads, and with a lot of trials and errors, we can now set foundation rules. It is widely agreed that playable ads follow the 3-part system: Tutorials, Gameplay, and call to action. The framework can be used for any game advertising and other similar apps. 


It is critical that your ad gets noticed within the first few seconds. Show users how to play your game in those few seconds. In such a short amount of time, you won't be able to explain all the features of your game. Pick the best part that is the highlight of your game and start from there. Show them you are promoting a game, then explain in a visual format how they can play the game and win. 

Use transparent overlay instructions about how to play the game. These instructions disappear when the user starts to interact with the game. The length of the tutorial depends on the nature of the game. Generally, lengthy instructions tend to lose user attention, especially since the ad may be played while they are playing another game. Grab as much attention as you can to keep them captivated and motivate them to install the game or app.


Here you give them your marketing message. You show them the elements you want to display. In just a few clicks/taps you should be able to showcase what they can do. An important section of the gameplay is to show users how they can win and receive rewards. This intrigues them to test the app to start winning something or get entertained.  

Call To Action (CTA)

Usually, installing the app is the ultimate goal for any playable ad. When the ad is completed or at a proper time, you can show the CTA. Show all your power to excite the user to install or buy your app. 

Your playable ads need to give users a sense of reward. You need to have a positive balance between all three parts to make it work hand in hand. If one part is weak, it affects all parts with no compensation. That is why the failure rate of gameplay ads is normally high.

The Benefits of Leveraging Playable Ads for Your Advertising Goals

If you are still wondering why you should use playable ads for your mobile apps and games, in addition to what you’ve read so far, here are some more benefits of employing this ad format.

Higher Retention Rate And Lower Uninstall Rate

Players usually have a few options to find a new game: see it on a banner ad; find it randomly in Google Play or Apple App store; see others play it or watch it on playable ads. There is no guarantee in other forms of advertising that a user won’t uninstall the app later. 

But for playable ads, the users have chosen the game based on their experience and enjoyment.  Since users have tested an app or a game before they install it, they already know what is ahead of them and what to expect from it, which decreases the chance to uninstall it later and the probability of in-app purchases also increases. This means that the lifetime value of the users also increases.

What does this mean to you as an advertiser? You can filter out users that are not interested and increase your ROI. Also, it is possible to control the money wasted on users who have low lifetime value. As a result of all the effort and analytics, you will get high-quality users who stay loyal to your app or game.

Advanced Analytics Help You Target Your Customers

playable ads analysis provides comprehensive and real-time data. It means you can know why a user liked your ads and how and why they installed them. There are more clearly defined criteria to assess and optimize playable ads that make these analytics possible. As an example, look at the list of metrics below to have an idea about which parts you can measure:

Tutorial Prompt Metrics

Play game Metrics:

CTA Metrics:

An Easy Way to Reach Gen Z

There is no doubt that Gen Z is a gaming generation. Over 87% of Gen Z said they played video games at least once a week on smartphones, video game consoles, or PCs. This opens up a lot of opportunities for brands to advertise in-game, especially if they have other attributes that appeal to Generation Z. 

The conversion rate of interactive ads is already up to seven times higher than that of video ads and based on the online behaviors of Gen Z, it is likely that these numbers will continue to increase.

For more information on marketing to Gen Z, check out our blog Tips for Effective Youth Ads.

Which Platforms Host Playable Ads?

Playable ads need to be hosted on an ad server, which is advertising software that runs online ad campaigns. Advertisers, publishers, ad agencies, and ad networks can use ad servers to promote their ads. The ad server controls what ads should be displayed at what time and what website or mobile app.

When creating playable ads, you should know that every ad server has its software development kit (SDK). SDKs are a set of programs and software tools that these ad servers use to run ads on their platform. 

According to MightySignal the most popular SDKs on the market for iOS are the following:

Moreover, the most popular SDKs for Android are:

5 Platforms You Can Run Your Ads On

Other than inside apps, you can run your ads on different platforms. Let’s check out four of these platforms.

Facebook And Instagram

You can choose FB or Instagram to run your playable ads. Users can see and test drive your app before installing it, which gives them an immersive preview of your app. You can display your app or game with a lead-in video in your News Feed or Stories that prompt users to play. You can also offer people a preview of your game right after your ad and before they install it. Facebook uses a rigorous algorithm to select the most engaged audience for you, which increases your chances of finding high-intend players of your game or your app. 

Google Play Store

HTML5 playable ads can be used in the Google Play store that most Android users go to for installing secure apps and games. Therefore, an interactive and entertaining experience before installing your actual app can be appealing to users. 

What happens if someone clicks on your playable ads but does not take immediate action to install your app? Then Google measures interactions and their impact on conversions accurately. On the Google Play store, the 'engagement' metric is defined when a user interacts for the first time with the ad or clicks on your playable ad to install an app. You receive bills for charging per engagement (CPE) from Google, and conversions from your HTML5 playable ads are counted when a user decides to install your game or app within 30 days of the engagement. 

As an advertiser, this means that you can measure the accurate performance of your playable ads and the conversion rate of your app or game for later optimization.

Apple App Store

iPhone users enter the Apple App store to download apps and games. The dynamics in iOS and Android are different when it comes to users. You have to be familiar with Apple's terms and conditions so you can run your campaigns accurately. But it seems that iOS users are more willing to buy apps than Android users. The comparison shows the App store makes almost double what the Play store does in revenue.


You can create your playable ads from scratch with coding or use TikTok's additional tools to make your playable ads without writing any code. Each tool has its advantages and limitations. The tools on TikTok include:

Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

3 Examples of Playable Ads Best Practices

Burger King

Burger king used playable ads for their most popular sandwich that is Whopper. They made a game called ‘Angriest Whopper Game’. After 14 days of the campaign, the average CTR was 40%, and about 136K coupons were won. After 2 months, over 1 million game sessions were reached, and more than 2.5 million players were involved.

Royal Match

Royal Match is a match-3 puzzle game published by Dream Games in 2021. The playable ad format was used to promote it and soon it became the highest-performing playable ad in the first quarter of 2022. The ad had all the elements mentioned earlier in the article. It started with a simple tutorial to get users started, a short captivating section of gameplay, and a CTA for a user to retry or install the app.

At first glance, the ad for the game was simple but it ended up being outstandingly successful, with over 12 million downloads on the iOS App store and 10 million on Android.

Blackout Bingo

Blackout Bingo is a simple bingo game from the casino category on the App store, and the arcade category on Google Play. The game has reached more than 100 thousand downloads on Android.

The game is excellent for relaxing and pastime, and the playable ad for Blackout Bingo exhibits that. The only thing users need to do in the playable ad is to locate and click called-out numbers. To make it even easier, the called numbers are highlighted on the board. The catch is, users need to be quick in order to win, which creates excitement for the ad.

Final Round: Playable Advertising Through Innovative Strategies & Tactics

There is no question that users enjoy and choose to engage with playable ads. It offers a clever test drive of an app or a game. Players can close it or choose to take part in it, and the analytics vividly shows those who choose to participate in the playable ads, install the app, or spend on in-app purchases. 

The average lifetime value of users and the conversion rates for the playable ads are staggering. Additionally, the amount of data you acquire from all the analyzing tools can speed up your winning chances. You can use playable ads to test your idea about a game or use them to target quality users for your apps and games. However, as promising as it looks, the failure rate of playable ads is high enough to stop you in your tracks and make you consider the best strategy for it. 

At Driver Studios, we have a team of experts to help you achieve your goals. Whether you want compelling video, kid-friendly content, or access to COPPA-compliant networks, we’ve got you covered. All you need to do is Contact Us and let the winners’ game begin!