How Brands Can Use Playables To Tell Compelling Stories

Kerryn Gower
27.07.21 10:24 AM Comment(s)

Often, when people think of playable ads, their minds initially go straight to gaming. Typically thought of as an ad format that works best to showcase real gameplay before the user downloads an app, they’re often overlooked by consumer brands as a viable marketing initiative. 

In 2020, global mobile ad spend reached $276.21 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to increase to $341.18 billion this year (Statista). This spending increase is due to the fact that people are spending more time on mobile devices every year. Daily mobile internet consumption is set to increase to 155 minutes this year, a 17% increase from 2019 (Statista).Because of this, brands have an opportunity to reach people where they’re spending large amounts of their time. Not only do playables reach these people on mobile, with their format they can efficiently engage users and turn them into customers. 

Many brands have already started incorporating these interactive types of ads into their marketing plans. However, simply launching a playable with no thought or plan won’t serve the best results. It’s important to make sure the playable is strategic and working for the brand. By telling an engaging story with playables, brands can drive the highest results.

Why You Need It

Consumers are spending upwards of 2.5 hours per day on mobile devices, yet mobile has typically been a challenging space for brand advertisers. This is because of data and measurement issues, challenges capturing consumer attention, and brand safety concerns. Playables are designed to capture the time and attention of the mobile consumer in a captivating and brand safe way. This is where playables come into play. TreSensa compiled data from over 100 playable ad campaigns between 2016 and 2019 and found that the average engagement rates for playables served as in-app interstitials range between 15% and 30%, meaning that when presented with a playable, roughly 1 in 5 consumers will choose to engage with it and spend time with a brand.

Some of the most important reasons brands should be using playables are:

  1. They’re Consumer-First: Playables mimic the activity consumers naturally do and enjoy on their mobile devices, leading to the high engagement rates they garner.

  2. They’re High-Performing: As an opt-in ad unit, those who choose to engage with playables spend more time and are more likely to move beyond awareness and consideration, driving down-funnel performance such as sales, sign-ups, subscriptions, and more.

  3. They’re Measurable and Data Rich: Playables are made up of three core elements - tutorial prompt, game/interactive experience, and end card - each of which collect a unique set of metrics. Because playables are predominantly built in HTML5, interactions and data can be easily captured and leveraged for insights into consumer preferences, sentiments and behaviors.

  4. They’re Brand Safe: Playables are full screen ad units and they are placed within curated environments on mobile which can alleviate brand safety concerns.

Telling A Story Through The Consumer Journey

In order to reach the ideal consumer, brands should think about the entire customer journey and tailor messaging and campaigns to each phase. By considering how users will respond and interact with ads through their journey, brands can see more success with playable campaigns. For awareness, consideration, and action, different campaign aspects and KPIs should be considered. 


For consumer awareness, someone may first be exposed to a playable on a social app like Facebook. On Facebook, when consumers are exposed to the playable in-feed, they have the choice to opt-in to the experience. The playable is typically presented as full screen (on mobile), and the consumer can engage with the playable directly in the feed just as they would other content native to the specific social media platform.

Playables in the awareness stage need to be designed to be initially eye-catching and engaging to appeal to those scrolling social media. Additionally, they should somehow represent the brand, products, or services in the playable creative. In this phase, capturing first-party declared data is important to further nurture users through the journey.

Reese’s utilized a playable on Facebook in order to engage their audience. Their playable saw the following results: 73% engagement rate, 43% completion rate, and an average time of 1.35 minutes spent with the ad. Click the ad below to play it for yourself.


In the consideration phase, playables on social media and in mobile gaming apps are a great way for consumers to learn more about the brand. When run programmatically through mobile exchanges and/or ad networks, mobile games are a prime placement channel for playable distribution. Mobile games are commonly overlooked as a placement channel for advertising by brands, but research shows that people of all ages, genders and income levels are playing mobile games. In fact, the mobile gaming industry recorded 12% more players in 2020 than in 2019, with over 2.5 billion players (Business of Apps). 

Mars Wrigley used a playable ad campaign to bring awareness to a new product. They promoted their Airwaves Caffeinated gum through a playable that engaged consumers and allowed them to interact with Mars Wrigley and Airwaves Caffeinated gum in a fun and appealing way. The endless runner playable highlighted that Airwaves Caffeinated gum increases alertness and focus. The goal was to pick up airwaves gum and avoid obstacles, promoting the player to be alert and energized through Airwaves Caffeinated gum. The playable was successful seeing a 63% interaction rate, 14% replay rate, and users spent an average of 34 seconds with the playable.


Once the user is familiar with your brand and products, it’s time to get them to take action. Whether it’s downloading an app or purchasing a product, the calls to action within the playable for consumers in this stage are very important. 

Prompting users to engage with the playable for a reward, such as a coupon, is a great way to increase action taken. Dunkin was able to increase visits by offering a coupon to redeem in-store for a discount on coffee. Upon completion of the playable, users were able to download a coupon, contributing to over 90k incremental in-store visits.

As a form of immersive marketing, playables are a highly engaging ad format that enable

full-funnel marketing in a single ad unit. It represents the culminating output of technological advances in the advertising space coupled with evolving consumer behavior. The effectiveness, scalability and authenticity of playables are growth drivers in a world where consumers respond more positively to creative and organic brands experiences.

The consumer experience within the ad unit is immersive, interactive and perhaps most importantly, convenient. This provides instant value to the user, a fun and frictionless way to deepen their connection with a brand, driving brand affinity and action. Consumer convenience, scalability through programmatic buying options and full-funnel marketing measurement opportunities make it clear that playable ads are not only here to stay, but they will continue to rapidly grow in popularity alongside technological advancement and shifting consumer behavior.

Get started creating your own playables by contacting us today. Or sign up for your free trial of the Mobile Ad Suite where you’ll have access to our library of 35+ instant playables by clicking the button below.

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