Top 5 Mistakes Playable Ad Campaigns Make and How Your Brand Can Avoid Them


As the founder of a company that builds games for big brands, I’ve worked on dozens of playable ad projects. While playable ads are increasingly common and marketers looking to resonate with consumers are becoming more and more familiar with their use, we still see brands making mistakes pre, during and post-launch.

To save you from pulling your hair out over less than expected results, I’ve put together a list of five recurring mistakes I have observed, with the hope that advertisers, publishers, and developers can benefit from the insight.


1. Too focused on fun, not on the bigger picture

We often see brands getting super excited about a potential playable idea. Brainstorm sessions are a great deal of fun. Everyone tries to re-create the same in-game experience by default, without pausing a second to consider that users actually only want to be entertained.


 

When it comes to realizing the actual goals of the ad, some brands hesitate to think deeply in this area. There’s a certain paralysis when the conversation drills down to the nitty-gritty numbers such as installs, CPI, CTR, yield, down-the-funnel monetization, and other crucial stats.

Brands that succeed are those that realize the obvious, though not always adhered to fact that results matter more than how awesomely creative the ad is itself.

If you’re launching an HTML5 playable ad campaign and you’re in the performance marketing business the bottomline is simple: Metrics matter.

The goal of every playable ad is to optimal engagement at as low a cost as possible. If a brand spends $1 million a month on ad buys, these playables better deliver a healthy number of installs, sales or whatever metric your using to measure (and justify) your ad spend.


 

Otherwise, the hair pulling begins.

Brands that succeed are those that realize the obvious, though not always adhered to fact that results matter more than how awesomely creative the ad is itself.

By working backwards in the funnel, they arrive at better conclusions about what types of playable creatives work rather than letting creative drive the campaign on its own.

2. Not testing end cards enough

The end card matters a lot. Use the wrong message and you lose a potential engagement. Use a mediocre, yawn-inducing message and your click through rate (CTR) drops off the consumer cliff.

Successful brands spend time A/B testing end card creative. Every element including the text, images, buttons, and animation should be tested. Add on a layer of localization and you can see how many variations are created fairly quickly and what works best for your target audience.

Each A/B test is allocated a small amount of ad spend, before determining the one creative that works best. Once the best creative is found, pour oil into the fire. Successful brands turn on the ad spend and continuously monitor the ROI of each install.

3. Not optimizing FTUE

The First Time User Experience (FTUE) is the first action that the user takes, from the moment the playable ad is triggered.

We see plenty of examples where the FTUE isn’t optimized. This can range from slow load times to unclear instructions for players.

Successful playable ads go for the shortest time to load. Every kilobyte of your creative matters. Cut back on animated loading screens, bloated features and head straight to the action. Immediately the player is thrust into action, being asked to act.

Shoot for having a well-researched niche, before even thinking about playable ad development.

Imagine a mobile app user that’s playing a puzzle game on her phone. She sees a playable ad pop-up in-game (probably due to a reward she’s trying to get). Her fingers are still searching for things to tap when the ad is activated.

The absolute last thing she wants to see is a nice animation. In fact, she’s seen plenty of rewarded videos with cool animations. She wants action, and she wants to save the kingdom from being invaded.

Once we get to FTUE, the next step is to optimize it.

The best brands think about user experiences, such as tap, drag/drop, swipe/etc. Often times, the winning FTUE revolves around the simplest action: tapping or drag/drop.

4. Not commiting to enough ad spend

To succeed with playable ads these days, brands really have to allocate a sizable portion of their marketing budget. Gone are the days where $1k daily ad spend is enough.

These days, even a monthly $100k ad spend can fall short if the brand is in a highly-competitive niche.

By working backwards in the funnel, marketers arrive at better conclusions about what types of playable creatives work.

Competitors with bigger budgets are bidding far higher prices for user attention. Hence, your competition’s playable ads are showing on screens, instead of yours.

In technical terminology: That sucks.

With more ad spend, you get more data points, hence you’re able to tell if a playable ad really works at scale or not.

Shoot for having a well-researched niche, before even thinking about playable ad development. For example, if you’re in the app business, avoid competing head to head with the top 10 grossing apps in iOS and Android, when it comes to playable ads.

Instead, try different ad spend demographics, target different niches and find the place where your campaigns will resonate most.

5. Thinking through the entire ad funnel

A playable ad is not just an ad. We see brands make the mistake of contracting the playable to an agency or developer, and being hands off about it. They accept the finished playable, plug it into the ad networks, and watch dismal stats make their way back.

Successful playable ad campaigns consider everything: from development, to A/B testing, to launch, further iteration and then measuring the metrics along every single stage in the funnel.

The pros even detect deep events post-install : this enables them to determine how much future revenue an install can actually generate. It’s not uncommon for them to tell that $1 spend is able to generate $4 down the road – equivalent to a 300% ROI.

Would you like that!?

 

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