The whole customer journey in one ad unit

Advertisers are accustomed to guiding prospects through the traditional marketing AIDA (attention, interest, desire and action) funnel by using multiple ads and varied creative across devices and channels. This makes it challenging to obtain an accurate picture of the full customer journey. Mobile playable ads, on the other hand, allow you to build an entire funnel within one ad type. They capture users’ attention with the promise of an enjoyable experience, build interest as users engage with the interactive ad spot and evoke desire and ultimately, action, with a strong call-to-action.

Unlike customer journeys that encompass a variety of touchpoints, from television spots to mobile ads, every single user action in a playable ad is measurable, and nearly every aspect of the ad unit can be optimized to maximize performance. It is akin to the e-commerce conversion funnel and how companies measure and optimize every step on the path to purchase, from the impact of a promo code to the ease of the checkout process.

There is a good reason why seven out of 10 advertisers find playables effective. In addition to engaging users, playables also allow app developers to pre-qualify downloads since they give people a taste of the app’s value proposition before they download it. This helps companies drive more cost-effective marketing and obtain high-value users, as the ones who download the app know what they are in for and are more likely to become active users.

Playables aren’t just for gaming. Companies in all verticals can use them to promote apps and products. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use playables to guide users through the path to conversion. It takes the right creative, smart optimization and strategic sequencing.

The right creative   

Marketers must invest time in the creative process to ensure they craft the experience that is most likely to evoke action -- or at least push users a step closer toward conversion. It is important that playables give people a taste of the actual app experience, otherwise you risk users downloading the app but not using it because they were expecting something different.

Gaming apps often create playables that mimic game play. But many gaming and non-gaming apps are too complex to recreate in a short ad spot. Marketers’ goal here is to create an ad that captures a user’s attention, piques interest and provides a taste of the app experience.

Smart optimization

Playables can be refined in endless ways. The challenge for marketers is determining which variables are most relevant to ad performance. For example, an app for reading comics. To promote the app, the marketer creates an ad unit that allows users to preview a comic by sliding through the first 25 screens of a story. The marketer monitors how many screens people are viewing and where users tend to drop off. This is similar to measuring how long people stick with a video ad, but it is more valuable because you are measuring actual interactions. You don’t have to worry about users putting their phones down while they wait for the video to end.

The comic app team can optimize in a variety of ways. It can feature different comic books, and within each, choose different characters and parts of the story to showcase. It can also experiment with more or less screens. Perhaps stopping at screen 12 prompts more people to download the app to finish the story. Or maybe users will engage with 50 screens, and the longer length of engagement correlates to more downloads.

Another powerful variable, specifically for gaming, is how easy or hard the ads are to beat. Apps targeting casual game players often make playables simple, so most people will experience the joy of winning. On the other hand, more serious gamers appreciate a challenge and might be enticed by a CTA to “get their revenge” by downloading the app to try again.

Strategic sequencing

A single playable unit can move some users through the entirety of the marketing funnel. But should users drop off, marketers can serve sequential playable ad units to entice them to continue the journey. Again, measurement and optimization are key. Let’s say a user drops from the comic app playable on screen seven. The marketer can retarget the user with a playable experience that starts where they left off. If a user played an interactive ad and lost, a marketer could target them with another version of the ad -- perhaps one that is easier to beat -- and invite them to “try again, and this time, WIN.”

By measuring strategic variables and optimizing them accordingly, and by retargeting users based on their behavior within playable ad units, marketers can drive more users toward their end goal -- without needing any other type of ad format. The only limits to the ways in which playable ads can be optimized and sequenced are time and the imagination of the campaign manager.

Tim is a veteran in mobile and app performance marketing with a particular focus on the programmatic sector. As Co-Founder and CEO of AppLift, he has created one of the leading platforms globally for mobile app marketing.

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