What is going on today?
We are living in a time of rapid development in technology. In the world of advertising it is no different. Just look at the 1960s and 1970s, where a colorful full-page spread was sufficient to create a hype. With the rise of technology, internet and mobile devices, that were supposed to make advertising more poignant, instead the unwanted happened – the public became desensitized, developing “banner blindness” and some even are agnostic towards advertising. You cannot really blame the public. Here are some facts: 5.3 trillion ads are being served per year, flooding the internet by squeezing into every available pixel of space, causing 70 percent of mobile users to use ad blockers. 1 Advertising has lost sight of a very basic principle – THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE. Advertising is supposed to be entertaining, adding value, giving people the WOW-effect. With the access to technology today, shame on us if we only settle for the mainstream and be a follower instead of an adopter. Serving ads should be given more attention in order to achieve quality. Banner ads are low cost, agree on that, but what is the use of such a priority when the ad does not reach where it is supposed to.
As if the matter is not bad enough, we now have a whole gang of fraudulent destroying further the reputation of digital advertising. In 2016 alone, it was estimated that there was a loss of $7.2 billion due to fraud.2 The following year in 2017 saw a figure that more than doubled 2016, $16.4 billion. Effectively, for every $1 an advertiser invests in advertising, they only get $0.44 of value. One analyst claims if publishers would remove middlemen, the CPM shall increase from $1 to $5.3 These alarming figures creates a lot of fear and insecurity amongst the advertisers. At the same time the public is annoyed with all kinds of misleading ads, auto-redirects, video auto-play ads any many more.
Just as how we saw Napster mutated, different methods of fraud are also evolving. As the amount of revenue flowing into the digital advertising increases drastically, typically so are criminal activities that surround this business. Be it CPM (impressions-based) fraud, CPC (click-based) fraud, CPI (install-based) fraud, post-install fraud or Bots, they are all targeted at ads that are easy to manipulate. Just imagine that about 25 percent of video ad impressions and more than half of third-party sourced traffic was fraudulent. This means that every fourth click on a video ad is not done by a real human. Of the overall website traffic, 56 percent is accounted by bots.4 This means that more than half of the clicks and filling up forms on ads were not done by humans. Clicks or filling up forms that are normally done by human, could be manipulated using Bots or other methods. All these activities result in NHT (non-human traffic). NHT created by fraudulent are targeted to trigger ads, causing advertisers to pay even though the ad did not actually reach its target.
Killing two birds with one stone!
“Houston, we have a problem.” Two to be exact in this case. “Bird” one, would be having content in the ads that are not appealing to the public. With playable ads, not only is the content rich, it is maximizing interaction with the public. Just as students in school tend to learn under an interactive environment, so do the general public respond better to ads that are “talking” to them. In order to fulfil THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE, marketers would have the technology today to use the right game to target the right market segment. Where woman would be prone to play casual games such as “Gummy Drops” or “Bubble Rush”; or teenagers who would be attracted to play MMO-RPG-like games such as “Castle Defense”, advertisers can re-skin these games with their brands and products. With high CTR and user retention (players who play the game multiple times), this can only speak for a high quality of brand awareness.
“Bird” two, would be fraud. As compared to standard ads, where the CTA (call to action) is a simple click or filling up a form, with playable ads it will be very complex for a bot to imitate human behavior. Furthermore, it is possible to track more human behavior in the playable ads, thus giving advertisers better chance to identify bots.
What are playable ads?
People love to play. That is the truth. Period. About two thirds of the US regularly play video games on a mobile or a console. Advertisers can also use game formats to introduce rewards. It is already well known that CTR (click through rates) would rise up to seven times higher than video ads.5 One more strength of the playable ads is that it increases the LTV (lifetime value) of users acquired. This is because the user gets to have a demo before installing the app. This leads to long term revenue, better ROAS (return on ad spend), and decrease cost-per-click (CPC). In some cases, the ARPI (average revenue per install) could increase up to 158% compared to their average by simply using playable ads. Instead of having a one-way communication as do static or video banners, where information is being presented to users, with playable ads, the advertiser engages the user. With a game mechanic, playable ads could include social features that allows the players to invite people in their social network to participate. This could easily be achieved in a form of challenging each other to get the highest score on the leaderboard.
Where to get it?
Typically, Ad Networks may provide such services, however they are bound to publishing through their respective partner platforms. There are also Ad Networks without such capabilities. A service provider who specialized in HTML5 mini-games would be the partner to look out for. Considering the Flash is an out-dated technology, and HTML5 simply give the advantage of playing it on multiple systems as it is web browser based. Working with service provides with multiple game-mechanic templates readily available also will shorten development time and thus the cost also. Many will make the mistake of comparing the cost of different Ad Formats such as Banner Ads to Playable Ads. This is like comparing a bicycle to a car. Instead, comparing potential value return, effectiveness and brand image should be the main criteria for consideration.