Playables have become increasingly popular on mobile. Here’s a look at how they are created currently & how AppOnboard is changing the game.

Picture this: you’re playing your favorite mobile game when a video ad starts playing. You may usually try to skip out of it (in fact, 65% of people skip online video advertising as soon as they get the chance). If the ad is not skippable, you may choose to tune-in to it. Other times, you may set your phone down and do something else, waiting until it finishes. While there have been advancements in viewability tracking in mobile, even the latest technology doesn’t take into account that a lot of the times, it is only human to skip out off the ad.

This is one of the reasons interactive formats are becoming increasingly popular in the world of mobile advertising. With the global mobile advertising market set to reach $215 billion by 2021 (Source: Magna Global), nearly accounting for 3/4 of total digital budgets, brands and performance marketers alike are looking for more interactive ads to improve and in some ways, guarantee engagement. It is not surprising that “playables” (short for playable ads) have become one of the fastest-growing ad formats on mobile.

Playables are essentially mini-games that allow users to play with a few taps and swipes. Maybe you’ve seen one or played with one recently. There are two primary technological approaches when it comes to creating playables, HTML5 and cloud-based app-streaming. Both methods have upsides and downsides:

  • HTML5: This uses web technologies (HTML, Javascript, CSS) to essentially make a complex rich media ad. This makes trafficking the playable easy, as it doesn’t require an SDK integration, and advertisers can widely distribute them across programmatic inventory. The downside is the playable experience has to be built within the limits of HTML webviews on mobile, which oftentimes leads to unresponsiveness, buggy audio and limitations in the types of playables that can be made. For example, the HTML5 method can create a simple 2D Match-3 game, but creating a 3D action game is extremely challenging and often times not feasible.
  • App-streaming: This method works by actually running the real app/game in the cloud and broadcasting it on your device’s screen. The app is being streamed to your device in real-time, and your interactions are streamed back to the app. This requires a good amount of technology, backend computing power and a fast internet connection. Several companies across online and console gaming have made attempts at building app-streaming technology services. The major drawback with this method is the latency and poor rendering quality, which have yet to be overcome.

Here at AppOnboard, we create what we call Full-Fidelity Demos, which play (no pun intended) in the same arena as playables. However, we do not use HTML5 or app streaming to create our units but rather have built out a proprietary creation platform and mini-game engine to do so. These demos allow users to engage with a high quality and high fidelity representation of an app or game before downloading it.

We consider them the new class of playables.

AppOnboard’s Full-Fidelity Demos allow users to experience accurate representations of apps before installing.

We can create a Full-Fidelity Demo for any app or game (2D or 3D) that allows users to get an accurate representation of the app’s gameplay and experience (the app is the ad). We hypothesized that this would lead to higher quality users on the backend, since users would have often completed the app’s actual onboarding process in the demo before choosing to install. Initial results have validated this hypothesis as our demos have driven return on ad spend (ROAS) ranging from 200–850%.

And while our demos are great solutions for user acquisition and monetization, they also drive product insights via our patent-pending Chronological Heat Maps. With every demo we launch, advertisers are also given heat maps analytics on where users are tapping, swiping and engaging. This makes our Full-Fidelity Demos powerful tools when it comes to soft-launching apps, A/B testing new content and informing product decisions.

If you are interested in learning more about AppOnboard and our Full-Fidelity Demos and Chronological Heat Maps, please click here or contact us at