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3 Ideas for Making Playable Ads a Boon for Retailers Too

Written by: Erik Mansur, VP, Product and Engineering

In August Facebook debuted Playable ads, allowing gaming companies running app-install campaigns to let users play a game within an ad before downloading it.

A fun Playable ad with clear instructions can lure in gamers and improve app installs as a result. Gaming company Rovio saw a 34% lower cost per install when utilizing Facebook Playable ads for Angry Birds Blast, as compared to traditional video ads for the same title.

Related post: What Ecommerce and Gaming Advertisers Can Learn from Each Other

While Playable ads were designed for mobile gaming companies, the format is versatile enough to also benefit ecommerce brands. You may ask: How can ads offering game snippets be applied to a furniture store or outdoor apparel company?

Before I answer that question … a little background.

The ultimate goal of Playable ads is to increase app downloads, but a more immediate one is user engagement. Playable ads are ingenious “thumb stoppers” for distracted consumers, with the knock-on effect of boosting installs. Industry data shows Playables see conversion rates that are 4X higher than regular interstitial video ads.

For ecommerce brands, mobile apps are a challenge because they aren’t the only way consumers can engage with a brand (hello, desktop and mobile browsers). But mobile apps arguably “bring the retail store to the user” (via phone screen visibility and push notifications) more effectively than a bookmarked website.

“The ultimate goal of Playable ads is to increase app downloads, but a more immediate one is user engagement. Playables are ingenious “thumb stoppers” for distracted consumers.”

The good news is that retail app downloads have increased over the past two years — U.S. retail app downloads in Q1 2018 were up 35% year over year, according to eMarketer. However, most mobile users have just a few retail apps on their smartphones, favoring larger retailers.

Here are three ideas for how retailers can capitalize on the Playables format to increase app downloads.

Live the brand lifestyle

Most brands cultivate a lifestyle based on their products. Nike caters to casual exercisers, fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes. So how about a Nike Playable ad where an athlete has to complete an obstacle course in a certain time?

Camping gear and travel equipment company REI aims to embody the spirit of outdoor adventure. So how about a Playable ad where a kayaker has to maneuver through rapids to get to a campsite?

In both of these hypothetical examples, users who complete the game challenge would see a pop up promising 15% off their first purchase if they download the company’s mobile app. This adds extra incentive to push users toward a downstream objective. Just as important, they’re engaged in a fun activity that holds their attention within an environment that’s aligned with the brand’s look and feel.

Simulate the app experience

Part of eBay’s buying platform is based on timed auctions, so why not turn that into a game inserted in a Playable ad? Users could try to outbid others in a one-minute mock auction. If you win, you’ll get a 15% discount off any item if you download the eBay mobile app.

Both Ikea’s and Wayfair’s mobile apps allow consumers to use AR (augmented reality) and their phone cameras to view how furniture would look in their living rooms. How about a Playable ad with AR where the user must assemble a room with furniture and is given a design score at the end? If the score is a seven or above users get a 15% discount on any item if they download the mobile app.

Related post: Nanigans and Rovio Join Forces to Score with Facebook Playable Ads

I’ll admit: AR within advertising has not come to fruition. But given the amount of attention AR is being paid by companies like Apple and Facebook, one could argue it’s only a matter of time before users can grant a Playable ad access to their phone cameras.

Play dress up

Beauty and apparel brands now thrive on personalizing their products for consumers online using AR. Sephora’s “Virtual Artist” feature lets users virtually apply make-up; Nieman Marcus uses in-store “Memory Mirrors” that let shoppers record 360-degree videos of themselves “wearing” different outfits; similarly The Gap’s “DressingRoom” feature applies AR to trying on clothes.

“Camping gear company REI aims to embody the spirit of outdoor adventure. So how about a Playable ad where a kayaker has to maneuver through rapids to get to a campsite?”

There’s no reason these features couldn’t be adapted to Playables. Users could apply make-up on the face of an avatar or choose suit and dress combinations for men and women. In the Playable, they would the be rated for style, fit, color coordination, etc. A high enough rating means a 15% discount on the first item they buy after downloading the app.

Regardless of how Playable ads are deployed or designed, ecommerce companies have a unique opportunity to increase mobile app adoption via Playable ads. In fact, “Playables” may soon be an outdated term — maybe “Interactive ads” is a better way to describe such a versatile and immersive advertising experience.

Check out our Instagram Stories guide for new advertising tactics to try and common pitfalls to avoid.

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