The secret to compelling playable mobile ads





We’ve talked before about the six steps to designing the best mobile video ads. In that post, we posited that while it can be tempting to think the secret comes down to being really good at guessing what users will like, the reality is that it’s a mixture of art and science that dictates ad performance.

Through years of testing and iteration, we found that while beautiful design can attract attention, it’s not always the most visually engaging ads that yield the greatest return. This can seem contradictory to the Mad Men marketers among us, but discovering the perfect combination of elements that get consumers to convert requires adding more science (in our case, data science) to the equation. Our data indicates that one of the most important elements in successful advertising is incorporating playable ads into your in-app video marketing campaigns.

What makes playable ads so effective?

Playable ads are effective at acquiring high-quality users because they allow people to sample what an app has to offer without having to download it first. This means that users who install an app based on a playable ad will likely be the target audience since they’llbe more inclined  to continue to engage with the app since they already know what to expect.

Playable ads provide an interactive experience that advertisers can use to highlight the unique qualities of their app and generate real interest with users. For a game, this could be playing part of a level; for a shopping app, it could be seeing how easy it is to redeem a deal–there are unique and engaging options for all types of apps.

Click above to see a playable mobile ad in action.

But how well a playable ad performs depends on how it’s implemented. Generally, they’re most effective when paired with an in-app video ad that showcases an app’s unique features or value. The video piques the viewer’s interest in the app, and when the playable ad is presented, the user is immediately able to satisfy their curiosity in a commitment-free environment.

At Vungle, using our mobile advertising best practices, our playable ad experiences drove 30 percent more installs than static ads and resulted in an increase in retention of more than 20 percent on average.

How to create the most compelling playable ad experience

At Vungle, we take user experience very seriously. We’re trusted by thousands of publishers to create ad experiences that resonate with audiences, while also complementing an app’s flow and encouraging user engagement. This important balance requires strategy and expertise.

Therefore, when creating playable ad experiences, these are the design principles Vungle follows to ensure they generate the best performance:

  • Always present a persistent “close” icon for the entire duration of in-app video ad
  • Use a clear call-to-action that shows users how to download or what to do next
  • Implement responsive design so that every ad shown is suitably presented and scaled for optimal viewing on any device type
  • Design for landscape and portrait viewing, and ensure publishers can set their preferred orientation for their app
  • Rigorously quality check all creative ad experiences before setting them live on our network
  • Reduce ad file size to allow them to download and render in optimal timescales. (Our playable ad experiences are typically less than 1.5 MB in size, while other industry players can be upwards of 15 MB, significantly impacting download time.)

We also never accept third-party playables on our network that don’t adhere to our strict design standards and UX benchmarks.

As for technology, we’re constantly improving our designs through the smart application of our creative optimization framework. Here’s a snapshot of how the process works:

  1. We leverage existing best practices research for playable experiences.
  2. We carefully test and iterate on existing creative with  goals to increase performance and minimize interoperability issues (e.g., how the experience renders on devices with different dimensions).
  3. We apply our data-science fueled optimization to automate and deliver the ad experience that is most likely to convert a user.

Finally, much like our other ad experiences, Vungle’s playable ads are built with a range of technologies including HTML5, CSS and Javascript.

How to incorporate playable ads into your marketing campaign

It’s been over a year since we released our first playable ad. Our goals then are the same as  now: 1) To ensure we produce an ad experience that both our advertising and monetization partners can be excited about. 2) Help drive the best performance for our partners. 3) Enhance user engagement.

Since then, Vungle has created hundreds of playable ad experiences. We have customizable  templates that support advertisers across every industry, from games to retail and for all manner of brands.

Want to learn more about how playable ads can grow your audience? You can contact us for more information.

If you’re going to Casual Connect in Berlin, be sure to stop by our lounge on the show floor. We’re also hosting an exclusive Casual Connect party on Feb. 8. Space fills up fast, so RSVP early. And if you want to learn how to develop a successful international mobile growth strategy, come to our fireside chat with Playrix on Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. at the conference.


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General Manager, Vungle Creative Labs

Si Crowhurst is head of Vungle Creative Labs. Previously, he co-founded We Love Mobile and served as global head of innovation at Amobee.

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