Playable ads

January 10, 2024   ·   3 min read  ·   Edit on GitHub 

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Have you ever come across one of these playable mobile ads? As someone who plays mobile games to pass the time when I don’t have WiFi1, I come across these with some regularity. It’s honestly a brilliant concept on paper, and yet those who make them keep making the same mistakes every time, rendering them more or less worthless, at least insofar as it pertains to me being convinced to buy/download their game.

First and foremost, these demos are often much too preoccupied with getting you to go to their app store page ASAP. Obviously, the goal of the ad is to get me to go there, but if you just force me to go there when I haven’t yet made up my mind, I’m just going to click away unsatisfied, and neither of us benefits. Some take you to the store page after a certain number of taps, others seem to use a time limit, but regardless: over-eager app store redirection is a mistake. If I didn’t get a good enough feel for your game from your playable ad to decide “this sure is fun; I’m going to install it,” sending me to the store page is just an immediate disqualification instead.

Assuming the ad passes the first hurdle, which is already an extremely rare occurrence, we come to the second mistake, which is making the demo too short/small in scope. A good demo should be one full level from the full game. Or, if the game isn’t level based, one full “play session” worth of content. Again, I get that you want me to go install the full game rather than keep playing your ad, but if your ad doesn’t give me a good enough feel for the game to make up my mind, I’m going to stick with the status quo, i.e. not installing your game.

Finally, and to be honest, most egregiously, having your playable ad be nothing like your actual game. This isn’t just an issue in playable ads as it’s an issue in the entire mobile game adspace—advertising something that is nothing like the product you’re advertising (or, more sneakily, having all your advertising feature a “mini game” that technically is within your game, but that has nothing to do with your core gameplay)—but it feels even more deceptive in the playable ads. If your game can’t stand on its own merits, tricking me into thinking it’s a different game sure won’t convince me.

Nobody who makes these things will read this and produce better playable ads. But I just wanted to put it out there.

  1. If I do, I’d usually rather consume video content, like YouTube or TikTok.

© 2024 Alexander Krivács Schrøder. CC-BY-SA Some Rights Reserved.  

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