Playable Ads: Banner Advertising Reloaded 

Gamification, i.e. the inclusion of game elements in marketing content, has become one of the most effective methods to engage and activate consumers. The effectiveness of gamification is usually demonstrated by improved KPIs across the entire customer journey, from awareness in the top funnel to retention rates in the lower funnel. 

As the latest development, playable ads are attracting attention – both from marketing and advertising specialists and from individual target groups. Playable ads bring back the classic display banners with the impact and glamour they exuded as a breakthrough innovation in the years after 1994. 

Banner blindness 

From astronomically high click-through rates of up to 40% back then, we are now down to an average of 0.1%. The banner fatigue that has developed among consumers is largely self-inflicted by the online industry. On the one hand, through the excessive number of ad placements and on the other hand, through aggressive advertising formats such as pop-ups or non-closable interstitials. With the “Coalition for Better Ads“, publishers have largely put a stop to this uncontrolled growth through self-imposed industry standards, but users’ skepticism about online banners remains.

An Infolink study already showed around 10 years ago that 86% of consumers consciously or unconsciously block out banners. Even without technical aids such as ad blockers, many of the cost-intensive online campaigns disappear into insignificance because they fail to attract the attention of readers.  

Yet large-area banner formats, such as the wide-board or the half-page ad, offer the best conditions for high visibility with a simultaneous branding effect thanks to their excellent placements.  

Awareness and interaction thanks to gamification 

Instead of seeing a static image or video, as is usually the case in digital advertising, gamified ads allow users to experience a product directly by interacting with the ad itself. Therefore, an interactive and thus intense consumer experience is a prerequisite for being able to improve the relationship between consumer and brand. Ninety-eight percent of consumers have a greater tendency to make a purchase after a positive experience with the product. 

Furthermore, market research shows that average interaction rates for playable ads are between 15% and 30%, which underlines the enormous potential of this form of digital advertising. Classic banners rarely achieve values above 1%. 

Playable Ads vs. Ads in Games  

Playable banner ads are not to be confused with digital ads in games. For the active gamer, the focus on gameplay and immersion in the virtual gaming world is the central element of this leisure activity. There is little receptivity to advertising messages, especially those that do not focus on other games. 

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Playable Ads vs. Ads in Games

Playable ads, on the other hand, are usually placed on news or service websites, which readers access with a certain curiosity and willingness to consume information. 

Psychological effect of gamification 

Games appeal to the elementary behaviors of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Engaging in a game has hardly lost its appeal for most people since childhood. And the prospect of winning or topping a leaderboard hardly loses its appeal as we grow older.   

However, this is not the only explanation for the far above-average interaction rates. With the increasing interactivity of ads in the digital media environment, consumers are playing a more active role and have more autonomy and control in their interactions with products and companies. This perceived control is likely to be another key factor in the effectiveness of interactive marketing. Because of their playful nature, Playable Ads allow users to interact with the ads and manipulate objects within the ads, rather than passively viewing them in a different context. Compared to non-interactive banners, this gives the feeling of controlling the advertising message. 

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Psychological effect of gamification 

Playable ads also take advantage of the fact that we humans like to be distracted when we are bored. One example of this is second screen use during TV consumption. When processing media information, the lack of variety leads us to look for additional tasks and engage in media multitasking.  

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Playable ads require more attention in conception and implementation than static online banners, and it pays to invest the same care in media planning. The extra effort involved in defining a whitelist of quality platforms from the news, special interest and services sectors is compensated for by better performance. The targeted selection of first-class placements with a low refresh rate, and the selection of devices suitable for play and environments with a high affinity to the product also ensure that the campaign KPIs can advance into previously unattained dimensions with playable ads. 

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